Car Engine Won’t Start – How To Solve It?

Posted on April 6th, 2010

From the time a driver gets his “P” or probationary license until the day he finally decides to give up driving, a driver will face countless emergencies.

Broken windscreens, fires breaking out in the engine compartments, brake failures and the car being unable to start, are but some of the major troubles faced by a driver.

Today’s article will therefore concentrate upon one of the above troubles which a driver faces. The topic selected especially for this article is none other than the problem of a vehicle not being able to start. How do we solve this problem?

Some people believe it’s only the old cars which usually cannot start. And the new cars usually provide no trouble at all to the owners. In fact, this is a wrong assumption.

If you know nothing about vehicles, you will understand that mechanical problems such as a vehicle not being to start pertain to both old and new cars. Whether a car can start or otherwise, depends on one important factor which is the condition of its battery.

There is one thing I should advice you before continuing any further with this article. It has always been reiterated before that an automatic car cannot start if it does not have a good battery.

While talking about this topic in my Kursus Pendidikan Pemandu (K.P.P.) class just a week ago, a young Indian mechanic tested my knowledge regarding this interesting topic. The mechanic put up his hand and cheekily inquired, “can an auto vehicle start if its battery condition is weak?”

Of course, readers all should now know what I answered. This young mechanic smiled and nodded his head, as if agreeing with what I said.

For being able to answer, I should actually convey my thanks to my many mechanic friends such as Ah Lau, Ah Keng, Wah Chye and Raman. Not to forget too, my good friend Abbas from Kampung Delek, Telok Pulai in Klang.

This article today, will not touch upon the subject of why a vehicle cannot start. Only upon the subject of what one should do if one is faced with such a predicament.

If you are faced with such an emergency, there are actually 2 things which you can do:

1) Push start the vehicle.
2) Jump start the vehicle.

And if you do not wish to opt doing the above 2 things, the only alternative is to replace your car with a new battery.

In a short while, I will attempt explaining to readers of this blog how to execute the two things above.

The reason why I have not chosen to write on this topic earlier is that I feel it’s not easy to write about it. As this blog is now almost 1 year old, topics to be written upon have in fact become a scare commodity.

I therefore have no other choice but to write upon it even though it’s a difficult one to attempt.

First of all, let’s deal with the problem of “push starting” a car.

Push Starting A Car

Push starting a car is dangerous. It should not be done by people who do not know how to do it. Therefore “P” drivers and drivers who have very little experience should avoid to push start a vehicle.

It could lead to unforeseen accidents. A few weeks ago in Terengganu, an inexperienced girl was asked to sit inside the car to control it. Her friends push started the car.

When the car suddenly started, the girl lost control of the car and it crashed through the walls of a supermarket, went down the escalator inside it. It was reported a young girl, doing her shopping, was killed in the incident.

How do we push start a car exactly?

The steps to be followed are:

i) Put the ignition on.

ii) The driver controlling the car should ideally put the car in gear 3. Some suggest gears 1 or 2. It does not really matter which.

iii) The driver should press the clutch down as his friends begin pushing the car.

iv) When the car had gained enough momentum, the driver is advised to leave up the clutch suddenly. The car then jerk violently and this should then start the engine.

v) The moment the car starts, the driver should quickly step on the brakes, free gear and rev the engine quickly.

Do not permit the engine to die off. This would then require the car to being pushed again.

Jump Starting A Car

Next, we move to the question of how to jump start a car with a pair of jump cables. Jump cables in fact are one important item which we should have in our car. Good jump cables can be obtained from supermarkets and spare parts shops in town.

One good jump cable, which I wish to recommend to readers is Bosch. It costs around RM75 – RM90.

If your vehicle’s battery system is weak and the car cannot start, this is what you have to do:

i) Either bring the donor car alongside the car whose battery is weak or arrange for both cars to be with its head facing one another.

ii) The jump cable has 2 poles. Red (positive) and black (negative).

iii) Taking the positive pole, connect it to the positive pole of the car whose battery is weak.

iv) Connect the negative pole to negative pole of the car whose battery is weak.

v) Start the ignition switch of the donor car. Rev its engine hard to ensure a strong surge of current is supplied to the car whose battery is supposedly weak.

vi) Another driver who is at this time manning the car with the weak battery should attempt starting the car.

If done correctly, there should not be any trouble starting the car now.

When the car with the weak battery starts, the driver manning it should rev its engine hard in order to keep it running. When the engine begins to idle perfectly, it’s now time to disconnect the jump cables one pole at a time.

With the completion of jump starting the car, it’s now time to roll up the jump cables for safe keeping in the booth. We may not know when the next time will be when we will need it again.

After jump starting a car, mechanics suggest that the car should ideally be taken for a spin for quite a distance to allow the dynamo system to charge the battery.

However, it would be better if the car battery be sent to the battery shop to have it recharged for a few hours. Recharging a battery takes but only a few ringgit.

It is hoped that with this article, drivers who have very little experience in either jump starting or push starting a car, will now have the necessary know how to perform it.

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9 Comments • Posted in Car Maintenance


  1. fred

    i think this topic really helped thanks

    • Cikgu Yap

      I feel elated the article has been to your assistance.

  2. Salihin Rahim

    Push Starting a car
    v) once the ar starts, the driver should immediately step on the CLUTCH and rev the engine, then brake to stop the car, keeping it in high idle to avoid killing the engine.

    • Cikgu Yap

      You seem to have missed out from my article. The statement should read, “once the car stars, the driver should immediately step on the clutch, free gear, and keep it in high idle to avoid the engine dying off again”. Remember, you’ll have to free gear.

  3. Amir

    1.the gear is the most important thing which u most put on 2or3 its hard to in gear 1 to start and also harmful for your car. push start car after the car is started u shouldn’t press the break first because the car will be off first clutch and then break.

    For the auto cars also you can’t do push start.

  4. autobizz

    Thank you for your effort to create such informative article.
    Car cannot start is a nightmare for a lot of people.

  5. effect

    Cikgu Yap, when jump starting, what is the setting of a donor car? the article only explains the car whose battery is weak..

    • Cikgu Yap

      When conducting jump start, the donor car should be in neutral. Put the donor car handbrakes on. When the cables are correctly fixed to the car with the weak battery, ignite the donor car and rev its engine hard to ensure a strong surge of current.

      If all goes well, the driver, meaning the car with the weak battery should have little problem starting the car. All other steps remain the same as per the article above.

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