Q: My car died while driving and now the car won't start. There is just a click when turning the key but lights turn on.

asked by on February 10, 2017

My car died while driving and won't turn on. When I turn the key, there is no sound except for a single click. The lights are still on and we tried jumping the car just in case and it had no effect. The starter is only 2 years old but there is a slight oil leak. The check engine light is on. Is this problem able to be fixed myself or do I have to take it in?
My car has an automatic transmission.

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The check engine light may hold important clues as to what is going on. During a check engine light diagnostic, a certified mechanic from YourMechanic would use a code scanner to retrieve the specific diagnostic trouble code(s) from your car’s PCM that have caused the check engine light to illuminate. Using those codes, the appropriate individual vehicle components or sub-systems (often a sensor, circuit, and the like) are then carefully tested, based on specifications set forth in your car’s Factory Service Manual, to pinpoint the cause of the fault or the reason why the check engine light has illuminated. Once the faulty part or component is identified, it is explained to your satisfaction and the mechanic will let you know of the cost to repair.


A second approach would be considered if the diagnostic trouble codes from the check engine light diagnostic do not reveal the cause of the no start. In a scenario like yours, that is if there is no starter operation with the key held in the "start" position, the procedure is to test for power to the starter motor. If there is no power, then the electrical circuit supplying the motor has a fault. That circuit begins at the battery and includes grounds, wiring (some of which is very heavy cabling), fuses, relays, the ignition switch and terminations. Basically, with a fully charged battery, and with the key held in the "start" position, the starter is either getting power or it isn’t. With the key in the "start" position, if the starter motor is getting power but the starter doesn’t work, then the starter is condemned and replaced. On the other hand, with the key in the "start" position, if there is no power to the starter, then the circuit is traced until the fault in the circuit is found. In addition to a faulty ignition switch, faults can include high resistances, due to corrosion, wire strand breaks, or loose terminals, which can only be diagnosed using a voltage drop test. If you desire that a certified mechanic resolve this, please simply request a no start diagnostic and the responding certified mechanic will get the problem diagnosed and repaired for you. Requesting any of the above services I have referred to above will get you to the same end point: we will get the fault diagnosed and repaired. Please let us know if you have further concerns or questions as we are always here to help you.

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