How do I Troubleshoot a Nissan Altima Engine That Won't Start?

by Sara McArt
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If you're having trouble getting your Nissan Altima to start, there are a few quick and relatively simple things that you can check yourself before an expensive mechanic has to be called. In many cases when a car will not start, there is an issue with the electrical system that must be diagnosed. You can save time and money by diagnosing the issue yourself with simple tools, and you may even be able to make the repairs yourself.

Step 1

Put your car in park and apply the emergency brake for safety. Try to start the car. If the car tries to turn over but will not crank to life, your problem very well could be a dead battery. Turn on the headlights; if the lights are dim or not on at all, your battery needs a post. Use a set of jumper cables to try to start the car; replace the battery if even a jump fails to start the car.

Step 2

Test the battery cables of the car by wiggling them if the car will start on occasion but not every time. You could have an electrical short. Tighten the cables to the battery posts if they are loose at all. If you notice that corrosion is forming on the battery terminals, connectors or cable ends, pour a carbonated beverage over them to remove corrosion. Clean the battery terminals with a battery terminal cleaner to get the most direct connection possible.

Step 3

Try to start your Nissan Altima while listening very closely to the sounds that it makes. If you hear a whirling noise followed by a clicking noise, there is a solid chance that you may have a starter problem. Remove the air cleaner with a screwdriver to gain access to the starter, and tap on it. This may engage the flywheel and start the car. Contact a mechanic about replacing the starter if this also fails. This is a fix that you may be able to make but can be challenging.

Step 4

Place the key into the ignition and try to turn it. If the key will not turn or gets jammed, you may have a broken ignition switch. Do not try to force the key. This could break the key off in the switch. Contact a mechanic about having the switch replaced.

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