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With a no crank/no start condition, the first thing to check is the battery. The battery or battery problems are the number-one cause of this type of no-start condition. A quick way to check your battery is to turn your headlights on. If the headlights come on and are nice and bright, not dim or dull, then it's likely your battery and its connections are okay.


The best way to test a battery is with a load tester. There are two types: a carbon pile and an inductance tester. They both do the same thing, but one is electronic and the other is analog. The carbon pile is the analog type tester. For this type, you hook the tester up to the battery and after you verify the voltage reading, you activate the carbon pile resistor to put a load on the battery. The surface charge of a good battery should be 12.6v or higher. When load testing with a carbon pile tester, you don't want to see the voltage drop below 9.0v during the test. If it does, the battery is bad and should be replaced.

battery tester

It’s also important to note that you'll get the most accurate readings on a fully charged battery. If your battery is below 12.6v, charge the battery first, then do your load testing for best results. When you charge the battery, don't go for the fast charge. Use the slowest setting possible. It's best to bring a battery back to full charge slowly. Also, don't recharge your battery with your alternator. This can actually damage your alternator by overworking it. Use a standalone charger on the lowest amp setting when charging a dead battery. I often perform the load test twice to remove what is called the surface charge from the battery, which often occurs after it's been charged by the battery charger. This method helps eliminate false readings.

With an inductance tester, things are much easier. You hook it up to the battery, enter some basic information that can be found on the battery sticker (the CCA rating or cold cranking amp rating), and push the button. In a few seconds, you have a readout that tells you if the battery is bad or not. This type of tester uses a different means to test the battery electronically. It's more accurate in its assessment of a battery’s condition and, admittedly, easier to use. You also don't need to charge the battery before testing with a conductance tester because it uses special black magic to count the available electrons inside the battery instead of stressing it with a load. Both testers will work, but conductance testers are considerably more expensive.

 Inductance Battery Tester

Once you've figured out whether the battery is good, it's time to move on to the next step. For me, this is to check the battery connections themselves. You'd be surprised at how a dirty battery connection can affect electrical system performance. The corrosion buildup between the battery terminal and the battery cable can cause a no-start condition the same way a loose battery connection can. This is a simple, and often overlooked, cause of no crank/no start problems. So make sure your battery cables are clean and tight. You can use baking soda, an old tooth brush, and a little water to clean a battery. Try it; it works pretty good.

Here's a video on checking battery cables that you might find helpful. It shows exactly what's happening when you have a bad connection at the battery terminals.