Q: My car takes forever to start

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My car takes much longer to start than when I first got it a few years ago. What's going on, and can I fix this issue?

The charging system consists of a battery, starter and alternator. The battery supplies power to the starter, turning the engine over. Once the engine is running, the alternator keeps the battery charged. A dying battery can be due to age or a failing alternator and/or starter. If your vehicle has a voltage gauge, turn the key once to turn on the dashboard. The gauge should read around 12 volts. When you start the vehicle, it should then read around 14 volts. If the gauge shows less than that, it’s a good indication your battery or alternator is failing. Now the fuel system consists of a pump, filter, injectors, and a regulator. The pump pushes the fuel from the tank through the fuel filter, capturing any debris that may clog the fuel injectors.

Next, the fuel injectors deliver the fuel into the engine. The regulator controls fuel pressure and without proper fuel pressure, it will be more difficult to start your car. A drop in pressure can be caused by a faulty regulator or a weak pump, or by a clogged filter or injectors. The ignition system provides a spark to ignite the fuel in the engine. Components in the ignition system can vary from one car to the next, but the components that they do share are spark plugs. Worn-out spark plugs will have a difficult time igniting the fuel in the engine, which will result in longer cranking time.

Overall, longer cranking is a sign of one or more parts starting to fail. It’s a good idea to have a mechanic determine why your car is hard to start and provide you with a proper solution to address your concern and keep your vehicle reliable.

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