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Q: My car was working fine yesterday, and now it won't start.

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Yesterday my wife vacuumed our 2010 Mazda 6 using a handheld vacuum that plugged into the cigarette lighter/power source that is built into the car. She at one point had started the engine in order to back the car out of the garage and she said it started up fine -- no issues. Last night I went to drive the Mazda and it will not start. It tries, but it will the engine will not start. I did notice a slight smell of gas as I tried a few times to fire it up and this caused me to think the engine was flooded, and I tried pressing the gas pedal to the floor as I turned it on to nip avail. Next I suspected a dead battery but I hesitated at this thought because the interior lights and headlights seemed to be functioning at their normal capacity. I then tried jumping the car battery using our 2001 Toyota Camry solara, again with no changes in sound or noticeable effort on part of the engine. Any ideas as to the likely culprit would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

My car has 55000 miles.
My car has a manual transmission.

Hi there, thanks for writing in. There is a possibility that the vacuum may have drawn too much power from the accessory plug causing a short, although this is unlikely. You should have a check engine light on which would have registered some kind of fault codes in the car’s computer. The smell of fuel would be normal if it were cranked several times without starting. This also indicates that there should not be a fuel supply issue, which leaves the issue of spark or ignition, which could be many possibilities. I would recommend having an expert from Your Mechanic come to your home to diagnose and repair the issue by using a scan tool to download the trouble codes from the car’s computer.

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