A car can fail to start for many different reasons. Failed components, dead battery, bad gasoline, poor maintenance are some of the main reasons why my car wont start. The worst time for a car to fail to start is on a road trip. We delve into the top 20 reasons that cars do not start and discuss what owners can do to solve their car starting problems.
20 Reasons On Why Your Car Won’t Start
The following are some of the top reasons car owners are unable to start their cars. In some situations, you may have to have your vehicle towed to the car repair shop to have the problem diagnosed while others have simple solutions and can be dealt with by the owner.
Car owners can avoid many of these causes and save money by regular car maintenance, including oil changes and keeping their car in excellent running condition. Check your owner’s manual for maintenance schedules.
1. The Key Battery is Dead
The key FOB has become standard for many cars. The FOB provides another level of security for the owner. If the FOB is not near the vehicle, the car can not start. Owners need to keep the FOB in their pocket or purse and press the ignition button.
Even cars with regular keys may have this security feature. All of the FOB’s depend on a battery for the system to operate. A dead FOB battery causes the FOB to malfunction. You may not even be able to unlock the car with your FOB. Check the battery of your key periodically.
2. Wheel Lock is On
Modern cars have an anti-theft device called the wheel lock. When the key is removed, the steering wheel locks in place. Occasionally it can be challenging to insert the key into the ignition switch because the steering wheel is locked and preventing insertion of the key. Try nudging the steering wheel in both directions which should allow you to insert and turn the key to start your car.
3. Empty Fuel Tank
Forgetting to listen to the warnings and check the needle on your fuel tank display could leave you stranded. Many people push the limits, and they rely on the mileage left on your fuel tank display.
This is an average of your consumption of fuel. Changing speeds, more city driving than usual can lead to an empty tank earlier than expected. Keep your fuel tank topped up. Believe it or not sometimes you car isnt starting because it needs gas.
4. Bad Spark Plugs
Spark plugs, spark plug wires, and ignition systems have been improved to a large extent in new cars. They typically last beyond the hundred-thousand-mile mark. However, these elements can deteriorate for several reasons and may make your car difficult to start, deliver poor fuel economy and poor acceleration. Confirm your plugs and wires are in good condition.
5. Car Battery Dead
Dead car batteries are a common reason a car may not start. Leaving the dome light on mainly if the light stayed on for an extended period, corroded battery cables, and old batteries that are approaching the end of their life cycle are some of the reasons your car may not start.
If the starter motor is turning slower than usual, have your battery checked out. A simple test can determine the overall health of the battery and if it should be replaced.
Also, it is always good to carry jumper cables just in case you need to jump start your vehicle if your battery runs dead.
6. Corroded Battery Terminals
Corrosion builds up on battery terminals over time and can reduce the transfer of power to the starter motor. Remove the cables and clean them before replacing the wires on the battery. Ensure that they are secure before starting the car.
7. Broken Starter Motor
A broken starter motor thankfully has become less common with late-model cars. However, when they fail, your vehicle is inoperable. The engine may lose teeth and not engage with the flywheel properly.
If you hear a clicking sound, the motor may be broken or not receiving enough power from the battery. Try jump-starting the battery. If the starter still has a clicking sound, the starter motor has likely failed.
8. Apply More Pressure on the Clutch
Depressing the clutch before attempting to start the car triggers a clutch switch which in turn tells the car’s computer that the clutch is ready for you to start the car.
The same applies to automatic transmission vehicles. In this case, the brake must be depressed. Either the operator forgot to depress the clutch or the switch itself may be defective.
9. Broken Battery Terminal
A broken car battery terminal or a broken car battery cable or even a loose cable connection can stop the electric current from being transmitted to the starter.
If some power is getting through, the starter may click; otherwise, there may be no power at all. Even your dash lights, dome lights, and headlights can not operate if the terminal is broken.
10. Security System Delay (Wrong ignition key)
Attempting to start your car with the wrong ignition key does not work. The cars security system is looking for an electronic signature associated with your key. If it does not receive this signature, the security system can not allow the car to be started. Losing an electronic key or FOB can leave you with a vehicle that cannot be started and driven.
11. Bad Ignition Switch
Ignition switch failures occur from time to time. Keyless entry vehicles depend on an electronic signature to be received before they can start the car.
Cars that still require a key to be inserted and turned may have their ignition switch damaged because the wrong key was used, or the switch was damaged in some way. If the key cannot be turned or the car does not start when it is turned, the ignitions switch could be defective.
12. Fuel Filters Clogged
Fuel filters are designed to filter out any impurities from the gasoline before it gets to your engine. Dirt and grit can accumulate in your fuel tank and fuel lines over time. Running on a low fuel tank can allow some of this material to find its way to the filter. If too much is caught, the fuel filter can be clogged and not allow sufficient fuel to be passed to the engine.
13. Faulty Alternator
If the alternator is not charging your battery, it can quickly discharge and your car can not start and could stall any time. Check to confirm that the belt driving the alternator is still in place and not slipping.
A faulty alternator or a discharged battery should cause a check engine soon light to be illuminated. You may have to have a mechanic check for codes generated by the engine control module to diagnose the problem.
14. Electrical System Problem
Electrical system problems can make it difficult to start your engine. Everything from bad sensors to a faulty ECM (Engine Control Module) can cause your car to run roughly or not even start at all.
A bad alternator, battery terminals, an old battery, loose connections, corroded connections, bad ignition cables, and more. Have your car looked at by a local mechanic! They can use a code reader to assess the problem.
15. Bad Fuel Injector
Fuel injectors can have carbon and dirt in them, which disrupts the flow of fuel. Electrical connections may be loose or corroded. Your car may run roughly if only one fuel injector is not working correctly. It should either be cleaned or replaced. While the mechanic is doing the work, replace all of them to eliminate future issues.
16. Timing Belt Replacement
Timing belts are designed to last from seventy-five to one hundred thousand miles. They control the timing of your valves and camshaft so that the pistons and valves are in the correct position to deliver maximum power from the engine. A worn timing belt can cause severe damage to the engine in addition to being unable to start the engine.
17. Belt Unbuckled Security System
Drivers and passengers who do not buckle up while in a moving vehicle are placing themselves at risk. However, an unbuckled seat belt only generates a warning in the car to the driver and occupants and does not prevent the vehicle from being started.
18. The Instrument Panel is Not Ok
One indicator of electrical problems is that your instrument panel is not ok. There may be one of more indications that something is not as it should be. The check engine soon light is one of the first indicators that something is wrong.
Check for error codes saved in the ECM. Depending on the vehicle, other warning lights may be illuminated, providing a better indication of what may be wrong with your engine.
19. Check Fuel Pump and Relay
An engine may suddenly stop and cannot be restarted if your fuel pump and relay stop working. When the fuel pump is working, you may hear a low hum from the pump as it pumps fuel to the engine.
The relay turns on the fuel pump and off as the fuel is needed. Check the fuse for the relay to assess if it has failed. If you feel that the fuel pump or the relay has failed, have a professional mechanic inspect the system.
20. Bad Cold Start Valve
A cold start valve enriches the air-fuel mixture when starting an engine in cold weather. A bad cold start valve does not deliver sufficient fuel to start the engine. Your car may be difficult to start in cold weather, fuel economy declines, and engine performance may also decline. It may even misfire or stall unexpectedly. An auto mechanic can diagnose the problem and replace the faulty valve.
Why Does My Engine Cranks But Isn’t Starting?
If your car engine cranks but does not start, there are a few potential issues that can be eliminated. Obviously, the car battery, the starter motor, and the battery terminals are working correctly.
Your engine may not be receiving sufficient fuel due to no gas in the gas tank, a bad fuel pump or fuel pump relay, a clogged fuel filter, a bad cold start valve, bad fuel injectors or your spark plugs/ignition cables could be bad.
In some situations, a car that won’t start can cause the check engine light to be illuminated indicating the ECM has saved an error code. Check the obvious, i.e., fuel in the gas tank.
Arrange for your car to be inspected by a professional mechanic to determine the reason for failing to start. While the vehicle is being checked, owners can have their summer tires rotated and balanced.
How to Clean Corroded Battery Terminals?
Corroded battery terminals have an ashy white deposit around them, which over time can decrease the power transfer efficiency of your battery. Cleaning the battery terminals is pretty straightforward.
- Use a disposable towel to wipe away as much of the material as possible
- Disconnect the battery cables starting with the positive terminal (do not allow the battery cables to be short-circuited)
- Wipe away as much of the white ashy material as possible from the terminals and the wires
- Mix 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in a small bowl of distilled water
- Use an old toothbrush to apply the baking soda solution to the cables and terminals
- Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands
- Wipe away the excess material and then wash the battery with water
- Avoid getting the paste on other car components
Car Won’t Start, but Battery is Good
Figuring out why a car does not start can be a process of elimination. There are several easy steps to take to sort out why a car doesn’t start. For example, the common reasons your car won’t start are:
- Fuel tank is empty
- The clutch or the brake peddle is not depressed
- Steering wheel lock is engaged
- The battery in the electronic key or FOB is weak
- Using the incorrect key
- Verify that fuses related to the ignition system are good
- Verify that the alternator belt is tight and not slipping or broken
Then there are more challenging issues or reason your car won’t start that may need the services of a professional with the appropriate test equipment. These include:
- Cold start valve is defective
- Spark plugs are faulty
- Neutral safety switch on
- Ignition wires are broken
- The fuel filter is clogged
- Dirty air filter
- Fuel pump or relay is broken
- Fuel injectors are dirty or defective
- The timing belt is worn
- Battery is dead
- Battery terminals are corroded
- The alternator is faulty
- The starter motor is broken
The check engine soon light may be flashing or glowing solid indicating that there is a problem that has generated an error code which is stored in the ECM. A code reader can read this code, which may provide some guidance regarding the problems starting the engine. Sometimes you car isnt starting for silly reasons like empty fuel tank, neutral safety switch or dead battery.
What to Do if Your Vehicle Wont Start?
As you can see in this article, there multiple reasons why your car can fail to start. It is crucial to check the battery of your vehicle periodically, and always carry jumper cables in case you need an emergency jump start. Sometimes the car overheats, but in most cases, a dead battery is proven to be a common cause why your car wont start.
Check your owners manual if you see warning signs and lights radio on. You can find more related articles down bellow with great information about your car. Also, If you notice that the car check engine light stayed one when you start the engine, then the car owners manual will be your first choice of information.
The engine wont start due to many factors including car overheats, worn timing belt, bad ignition switch, and many more. Schedule an appointment with a car repair shop as soon as you notice some of the previous symptoms to avoid complete engine failure.
Nothing ruins your morning faster than getting into your car, turning the key and finding nothing happens. When your car won’t start it slams a screaming halt to whatever plans you had. According to the Chicago Tribune, the number one cause of this is a dead battery.
If you check the battery and notice that it is working correctly and your car doesnt start, then you should consider scheduling an appointment with a local car repair center for a complete check-up. Also, things like a dirty air filter, defective spark plug, and bad alternator are common causes when the car doesnt start, and the car battery is in good condition.
When your engine starts to fail due to extreme road trip driving conditions, it is best to take your vehicle to a car repair shop to make sure they run a complete system check-up. Regular car maintenance will ensure your vehicle will continue to run safety.
Most times you car isnt starting for simple things like empty fuel tank, neutral safety switch or FOB dead battery. Make sure you take your car periodically for car maintenance and oil changes.