Four Tips To Avoid A Roadside Assistance Call

February 23, 2011

It's not always easy to decide to call for help when faced with a car that won't start. Whether the reason is pride or the cost of having to get a tow truck, you might want to try these fixes to four common problems before you decide to make that call.

Key won't turn in the switch? The first time this happens it seems like your key will never turn to start your car. Over time owners usually learn the tricks that enable them to start the vehicle. The cause is a worn key. The tricks are to grab the steering wheel with your left hand and continuously jiggle it back and forth while attempting to turn the key. If this does not work, try lightly tapping the key with a hammer which will set the key in the tumbler and enable you to start the car. Remember to get a new key because the problem will only get worse eventually your only alternative will be a tow.

Gear shift won't move from park? When all the conditions are right, it may seem impossible to get your shifter to move out of park. This is the result of excessive pressure on the transmission causing a malfunction in the interlock system that requires you to have the brake pedal depressed before being able to move the shifter into drive. The excessive pressure is usually caused by the way in which the car is parked--either on a grade, against a parking barrier or possibly with the front wheels turned tightly against a curb. You might avoid calling for help by gently rocking the vehicle back and forth and then attempting to move the shifter from the park position.

No sound when attempting to start? The neutral safety switch prevents your car from starting in anything but park or neutral. It is possible that if this switch has just begun to fail, you will get a silent no-start condition. Try moving the shifter to neutral to start the car. It's worth a try and it may save you the cost of a tow job.

Jumper cables fail to start the car? Did you ever wonder why the tow truck operator is successful at jumping your car and you were not? It usually is about the cables and the connection between the cables and the battery terminals. Invest in a decent set of cables. If you compare the weight of the clamps and the gauge of wire used in the cables, the difference becomes evident. When the cables are applied to the batteries in the two cars, it is usually a span of 10 to 12 feet. Over this distance it is very easy for one of the connections at the battery terminals to become loose. Make sure they are properly attached and tight before proceeding.

Sometimes there are very low-tech fixes to what may seem, at the time, to be intricate problems. These four tips may be all you need to know to avoid raising the repair process to a needless higher level.   
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