Starting a car for the first time can be challenging especially if you are just learning to drive. Fortunately, the process of starting a car is designed to be easy, whether your car has an automatic or manual transmission. This article will walk you through both possibilities, just read the following steps to get started.
Part 1 of 2: Starting a Car
Step 1. Get into the driver's seat and fasten the seat belt
Fasten your seat belt. Do not drive without wearing a seat belt! It is dangerous and illegal in many places.
Step 2. Insert the key into the ignition
The starting point is usually near the steering wheel. It is like a round piece of metal, usually with an inscription on it and a lock in the center. Insert the key fully into the ignition once you have found it.
- For most vehicles, you will need the key that came with the vehicle. You can usually use a copy as well, as long as it's done correctly.
- Some newer car models may not have a traditional key. You will have to find a button to start the car on these vehicles; it usually has something like "engine start" written in it and is in a visible place.
Step 3. If you are starting an automatic car, place the gear selector in the "P" or "N" position
"Automatic" refers to the transmission of the car. This means that you don't have to do the change yourself as the car does it automatically.
- If the car has an automatic transmission, there will only be two pedals. In some automatic cars, a flat rubber pad is placed on the left end of the driver's footwell. This is a "dead pedal" that is meant to be a place to rest your foot and is not really a pedal.
- Automobiles with automatic transmission have a device called a neutral safety switch that prevents the engine from starting unless the gear selector is in the "P" or "N" ("Park" or "Neutral") positions. This will prevent the car from starting in gear.
Step 4. If you are going to start a car with a manual transmission, place the gear stick in “N” or ‘neutral’
- If the car has a manual transmission, it will have three pedals, where the furthest to the left is the clutch pedal.
- It is important to be sure that the transmission is in neutral (neutral), meaning that none of the gears are in gear, before attempting to start the car. If the car is in “one gear” or is sending engine power to the wheels through the transmission when the engine starts, it will jerk when starting and stop. Transmission damage can also occur in some cars if they are started in gear.
- You can check that a manual transmission car is in neutral (neutral) by moving the gear lever slightly, if it moves freely then it is not in gear. If the gear stick is stuck, as if at one point, then the car is in gear. While pressing the clutch with your foot, move the shift lever out of gear before starting the car.
Step 5. Turn the ignition key to start the car
You will have to turn the key two points and press against a spring-loaded third until it stops at the end to start the car. Use the same hand you used to put the key in and make sure not to take the key out while turning it
- Release the key just past the starting point. If you keep the key turned longer after the engine is running, you will hear a very screeching sound coming from the starter gear and the engine gears grinding at the same time. This, of course, is very bad for the car.
- The first two points are labeled "ACC" for "accessories" and the second as "ON". The first position allows you to use the radio and other electrical accessories, the "ON" position is the position the key returns to after pressing against the contact spring.
Step 6. If the engine won't start, try these tricks in order
Sometimes after turning the key in the ignition, a perfectly good car fails to start. Don't worry, it's not the end of the world.
- If the key does not pass past the first or second point and the steering wheel does not move, it is because the car has an activated steering lock. A steering wheel lock is a safety device designed to help protect your car from starting uncontrollably. In these cars you may have to "shake" or turn the steering wheel slightly back and forth to allow the key to turn.
- If the car won't start, try pressing hard on the brake pedal or clutch pedal while turning the key at the same time. This is a peculiarity present in some new cars designed to prevent them from moving unexpectedly when they are started.
- If the car still won't start, try turning the key the other way. Some older cars may not follow the same sequence as modern cars.
Step 7. Be careful when engaging the gears
Some (not all) manual transmission cars are equipped with a clutch safety switch that cuts power to the starter unless the clutch is fully depressed. This means that you have to press the clutch pedal to start the car.
When the engine is running, do not suddenly release the clutch in gear or press the gas pedal as this will cause the car to jerk and most likely stall, causing it to stall suddenly. You can prevent this from happening by making sure the car is not in gear before starting with the lever movement method explained above
Step 8. Look in your mirrors to avoid anyone, objects or cars, and drive safely
Make sure you follow the rules of the road and be a responsible driver.
Part 2 of 2: Solutions if the car won't start
Step 1. Be aware that cars can refuse to start for many reasons
Check your car's manual and take it to a mechanic if possible. If you really have to go somewhere or if you can't contact a mechanic, you can start it yourself.
Step 2. Learn how to start a car in freezing cold seasons
If the car won't start and it's very cold outside, you may have to "pump fuel" or add additional fuel to the engine to make starting easier. Whether or not it depends on whether the car has an injection engine or carburetor engine.
- If the car was made before 1990, suppose it will have a carburetor. A carburetor is a mechanical device that mixes air and fuel and sends it to the engine. In these cars, you "pump the fuel" a couple of times by pressing the accelerator pedal before starting. When pumping fuel the carburetor sends a small amount of fuel into the engine. Each time you step on the gas pedal of a carburettor-equipped car, more liquid fuel is pumped into the engine.
- Be careful when pumping fuel into a cold car. Giving too much fuel before starting can “choke” the engine and fill it with too much fuel and too little air to properly burn liquid fuel, which itself does not burn easily. Take a look at the tips to see how to start a flooded engine.
- If the engine has stalled, fully depress the accelerator pedal and crank the engine. A fully depressed pedal will add more air to the engine to dry up excess fuel. You may need to crank the engine longer than normal to get it to start. Once you get it started, release the accelerator.
Step 3. If your car's crankshaft won't “spin,” consider bypassing the battery or replacing it
Discharged batteries are by far the most common reason that engines won't start. To get your car to start again, you will have to charge your engine battery. Otherwise, you will have to change the battery and put a new one.
Step 4. If the car makes a clicking noise but won't start, consider replacing the alternator
Your mechanic can easily or even do it yourself to find out if the alternator needs to be replaced.
Step 5. If the car battery and alternator are good, but the car won't start, consider replacing the starter motor
It is an action that can be done by your mechanic or yourself.
- Once you start the engine, before you start off, make sure there are no small animals, such as cats, that tend to hide in places that are near and under your car.
- For cars with a power button, you may want to press the start button after following the steps you need to do before.
- Make sure you have the correct key. Many modern cars have anti-theft systems that prevent the car from starting if you use the wrong key. If your key has a "chip" near the base or a transponder built into the head, even a copy of the key will not work. You will be able to unlock the ignition device, but the car will not start.
- For a diesel vehicle, you may first need to warm up the heaters (GM, Ford) or the grill heater (Dodge). This is usually represented by a light on the instrument panel that will turn off after a few seconds after the engine has warmed up. See related articles for more information.
- To put the vehicle in motion, on cars with a manual gearbox, set the parking (or hand) brake before pressing the clutch.
- Get to know your vehicle first. Knowing exactly where to put the key will save you time and work.
- Some cars (for example, Renault) have an immobilizer setting whereby you have to press the lock / unlock button on the remote before the engine starts.
- In cars with manual gearbox, beware of sudden movements when using the clutch. If the car is in gear when the engine is started, it can be propelled forward (or backward if in reverse) when the engine "starts cranking." This can cause property damage or even injure a living thing in front of or behind the vehicle. Practice with these cars and understand how manual transmissions work before you start driving in places where you could have an accident or injure someone.
- Cars and other vehicles are not toys or things to play with.. In the hands of a person who has not been trained to drive or is not trained to drive, it is likely to cause serious injury or death to others. Never try to start a vehicle if you are not competent to do so. If you are driving for the first time, do so under the supervision of someone who is competent!
- If the car won't start, don't keep the engine running. Do not crank the starter motor for more than 60 seconds in a five-minute time. The starter motor has to cool down between uses. If you fail to follow this rule, you will most likely burn out the starter motor, which is basically a small electric motor that supplies the initial force to get the engine to start. Once this happens, the only way to get the car to start is to carry out an expensive replacement. If the engine does not start after several 60 second attempts there is something wrong and you need the help of a professional.