Here are a few things that you can do to try and revive a dead engine

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There isn't a worse way to start your day than being in a car that refuses to fire up. There are plenty of reasons why your car might not start. Here are some of them and the things you could do to avoid being stuck.

Dead battery

Car batteries can lose their charge for more than a few reasons. Leaving the lights on has to be number one. If you crank the engine and nothing happens, it means that the battery doesn't even have sufficient charge on it for a single start. Replace the battery and clean the battery connections to ensure good contact. If you can't replace it at that time of day and still need to get your car going, then you will have to jump-start it.

Lights off

If your car's battery is around three years old, then chances are that it will be at the fag end of its lifecycle. Such batteries take longer than usual to recharge. When you are starting your car, from the small parking lights to the air-conditioner, must be switched off to reduce the load on the battery.

Automatic choice

If your car comes with an automatic gearbox and refuses to crank up, chances are that it might be in some other mode than ‘P'. Press the brake and change into this mode if you have a problem. If your car has a manual gearbox, depress the clutch and start the engine. Some manufacturers such as Hyundai allow their cars to start when the clutch is depressed. This is a safety measure which ensures that you never start the car with the gear accidentally engaged, which could lead to the car jumping forward.

Bad ignition switch

If the starter is still silent, it may mean a faulty ignition switch. Turn the key to the ‘on' position (not all the way to ‘start'). If the warning lamps on your dash don't light up (and your battery connections are clean), the ignition switch is bad. If they do light up, turn the key to the start position. The dash warning lights should turn off at this key position (in most cars). If you're not sure, turn on the headlights. When you try to start the car, the lights should either dim (a lot) or turn off completely. If they do, your ignition switch should be okay. If not, the switch will need replacement.

Missing the spark

If your car's starter motor spins but the engine doesn't fire, then chances are that the spark plugs may be wet. Dry them and the leads with a water dispersant like WD40. Using a blow dryer to remove any dampness from them is also a smart move.

Fuel filter

If the fuel pump is working properly and fuel is still not reaching the engine, the problem could be a clogged fuel filter. Ideally, you should replace the fuel filter every 10,000km or so.

Take a break

Repeatedly cranking your car's engine puts considerable load on the battery and drains it. It's a good idea to give a 10-minute break before trying again.

Fuel up

Some owners run on bone-dry tanks. As a rule, keep at least five litres of fuel as reserve.

How to jump-start

Check your car's battery first. If you live in a low-temperature area, chances are that the electrolyte solution inside the battery has frozen. Don't try to jump-start such a car. If there are cracks in the battery casing, don't try to jump-start it. Both ignitions should be off. Each battery has a positive (+) and a negative (-) terminal. The positive terminal usually has a cover and the negative usually an uncovered, plain black cable.

Connect the other end of the cables to your car's battery by installing the positive clamp onto the positive post of the dead battery. Make sure the clamps do not touch each other. Connect the negative clamp to a clean ground on the engine of the dead car or directly onto the negative battery post. Connecting the negative clamp onto the engine will reduce the possibility of a spark around the dead battery.

Start the car that is doing the jumping and let it charge your dead battery for five to 10 minutes. Then shut off its engine. Turn the key in the ignition to make sure you can start your car. Remove the negative clamp from the car providing the jump. Do not allow the clamps to touch. Remove the positive clamp from the same car. If the car still doesn't start, chances are that it's not going to.