You twist the key and the car cranks but won’t start. So, you try it again in the hopes of a different result, but still, it won’t start. Now, what do I do now? For most of us, it’s off to the internet to google it, because the internet knows everything. Instantly we get 3 videos and a dozen forums back telling us that the fix is only minutes away.
Three hours later, 5 videos of “ do this one thing to fix your car” and countless forum posts of people arguing about the color of the coil and you are still no closer to the answer you need. Now you are more confused than ever about what to do.
The internet has changed everything, the way we live, the way we fix our cars or do anything. From buying parts to fixing our cars it seems that the internet is the first stop for most. We now have all this information at our fingertips, but how do we know if any of it is right? We have all seen that you-tube video that shows the guy in his garage using laundry soap to fix oil in his cooling system and claiming he saved $1000’s of dollars over having a shop fix the car. But in reality, many of the things we see online are just not true or are based on opinion rather than fact.
We have entered into the YouTube realm. We will never stop the tide of misinformation, but we can only hope more people see our approach. In our videos, we show the tools and techniques that may have been lost to time. Often we are making videos that have already been done before. We have no worries that it has been done before, we just do our thing.
Asking the Forums
Recently I read a forum post where a shop had removed an engine from a customer’s car and then it would not start after re-installation. The shop was asking for help because the car had no spark and they did not know how to find the problem. The forum moderator that answered the question told the shop to apply a power source directly to the coil and see if the car would start. This is the worst thing that the shop could do as it would result in causing more damage to the car’s ignition system because the car in question used a CDI-type ignition.
So, if a shop couldn’t fix a problem and was using a forum to try and find the answer, what can I do?
To diagnose a problem, you first have to understand the system that is causing the issue. The car has all the answers and it is sitting right in front of you. You just need to know how to ask the right questions to get the answer about what’s wrong.
If we take the shop that had the engine out and then had no spark when they put it back in we can narrow down the issue. Assuming that the car drove in under its own power, then the most likely problem would be a wiring connection issue. This is because the wiring harness has to be disconnected to remove the engine and really one of the only variables that have changed. The chance of a component failure while the engine is out is highly unlikely. If the shop was familiar with the vehicle type they would be able to test the incoming and outgoing signals to the ignition system and should be able to locate the problem quickly.
Herein lies the problem, the information available today for the older cars is slowly disappearing. Most of the factory repair manuals have not been printed in some time. The ones that are still available can be very expensive. Many of the mechanics that worked on the older models are gone from the industry. Lost mechanics and along with them many of the tools used to work on the cars. Today’s mechanics are more comfortable behind a laptop than they are at performing manual diagnostics. Mechanics today may not know the old ways or old systems.
So, where does this leave us when our car won’t start? Unfortunately, not in a very good spot. You can continue to troll the internet and hopefully get lucky and find some relative information. Or have the car towed into an experienced shop? Once again how do we find an experienced shop that really knows the product? This too can mean hours of research that can often lead nowhere.
My best suggestion is to visit the shops in your area. And take a look at the types of cars in the shop. If you are driving a classic Porsche and all the cars in the shop are Hondas, this may not be the place for you. Once you find a shop that looks like it will meet your needs, talk to the owner or mechanic, ask them what experience they have. Ask them if they have the tools and the information to work on your specific model of car. You can even go as far as asking to see the shop and their library of manuals.
The other option is to train yourself. Depending on your abilities there are specific courses available on many different cars. Depending on your skill level and your toolbox budget this can often be a long-term solution, versus the quick fix now.