Car won’t start? Causes and How To Fix

The most common reasons your car won’t start are either due to dead or dying batteries, loose or corroded battery connections, a damaged alternator, or even a problem with the starter.

If your car won’t start, it’s hard to tell right away what the problem is. That’s why we’ve made a list of symptoms of common automotive issues that cause your car not to start.

Additionally, we discuss how to identify the car part causing the car not to start and how to repair this problem. Below is a list of reasons why your car won’t start:

Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start

Reason 1: You Have A Bad Battery

Car won't start

If your car’s engine is too slow, your car won’t start, or even worse, the car won’t crank at all, or nothing happens when you try to turn your car on, you may have one of the following issues.

First, a corroded or loose connection or an electrical draw may be the culprits as well if there is corrosion evident on either your battery terminals or even in your alternator that may be damaged. 

It is most likely that your battery has a problem if you try to jump-start the car, and it works.

However, you should identify whether the battery is nearing the end of its lifespan or whether it needs to be recharged.

Low or dead batteries could be caused by a faulty alternator. It could also be caused by additional loads such as lights, fuse boxes, alarm systems, sound systems, and more.

Bad Battery Symptoms

  1. Dim Headlights
  2. Clicking Sound When You Turn The Key
  3. Slow Crank
  4. Need To Press On The Gas Pedal To Start
  5. Backfiring

Also Read: Key Stuck In Ignition? Here’s How To Remove It

Reason 2: You Have a Bad Alternator

Bad Alternator

If your car won’t start, you may have to deal with more than just the initial problem.

Sometimes, when you experience issues with your headlights dimming or receiving no sound from your stereo outputs, your car will start, but you cannot continue driving. Your alternator might be having a problem. 

 Another means through which you can test if your alternator is bad is that you set the AM radio on a low-frequency station in your car where there’s no music at first.

After putting the car in motion and letting it idle, while you’re driving becomes louder or fuzzy, this suggests that your alternator might be malfunctioning and will inhibit your car from starting up.

If your car won’t start or crank, but the headlights somehow work, a fault has likely been found with the starter and any other parts connected to the engine.

After starting up your vehicle and turning on the ignition, if you observe an “engine” or “battery” warning light, it could mean that a problem exists in your charging system.

Also, a car that starts up in an instant but then moments later dies again (often referred to as a “quick-starter”) may be an indication that your alternator isn’t working properly.

It’s important that you take your vehicle to a mechanic so it can be checked.

Bad Alternator Symptoms

  1. Car Won’t Start
  2. Your Check Engine Light Comes On
  3. The Headlights Are Dim Or Flickering
  4. Other Electrical Malfunctions
  5. Strange and Unusual noises
  6. Your Car Battery Dies

Also Read: Car Shakes When Braking – Why & How To Fix

Reason 3: You Have A Bad Starter

Bad Starter Symptoms

A car’s starter is essential for setting the overall operation of a vehicle’s engine into motion.

It does this by channeling electricity from the battery to the engine so that it can start-up and run.

The starter relay, which is located on top of the vehicle battery and starter motor, is responsible for sending power to these components. If your car’s motor and starter relay are not functioning properly, your car won’t start. 

Bad Starter Symptoms

  1. Something Sounds Off
  2. Your Light Come On But Your Car Won’t start
  3. Your Engine Doesn’t Crank
  4. Smoke From The Hood
  5. Oil Soaked Starter

What to Do If Your Car Won’t Start

If you use the above indicators, you should be able to figure out what the problem is.

If you don’t wish to do your own car diagnostics by yourself, buy an electric jump-start (this will start and keep the vehicle running), then take it to a mechanic to have the electrical system examined, both the charging system and the starting system needs to be inspected.

Your car’s battery should be checked regularly. This check should include an examination of the level of fluid in the tank and check for corrosion on the posts (the terminals with + and -) as well as cables to ensure the battery is securely connected and not corroded.

A battery test conducted with the use of electronic technology should be carried out as well, as the test provides more information than a traditional load test does.

A battery test using electronic technology measures both voltage and cold cranking amps (CCA).

Also, check the alternator’s current output and voltage. It’s important to keep an eye out for any signs of defective diodes as they convert electrical energy from AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current).

Whenever you decide it’s time to replace your alternator, you may want to consider upgrading to a more potent version.

However, let your auto service center decide if it’s actually possible as not every vehicle is upgrade-ready before making the investment.

In cases where the alternator is working properly, examine for any problems in other parts of the charging and starting system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would a car suddenly not start?

A damaged or broken stater is another reason why a car won’t start. The starter is an electrical motor attached to the battery. Its function is to control the motor (i.e., pistons, crankshaft, etc.) … If the starter is damaged or fails to work, the car won’t start properly, or it may not start at all after turning the ignition on.

Why is my car not starting after getting gas?

The majority of the time, when suddenly your car won’t start or crank after filling up, it’s due to an issue with the engine pump. The pump that pumps fuel in the fuel tank is kept cool by the fuel inside the tank. If the fuel level was low, the pump could get too hot, and when you add cool fuel to the tank, it causes the pump to fail.

What causes a car not to start if the battery is good?

If your car won’t start if the battery is good, it could be a result of a bad starter. Your car’s starter is responsible for transmitting the electrical energy generated from the battery to the solenoid that controls the starter to crank the engine and start it. The car won’t start if the starter is bad.

When your car won’t start, but all the lights come on?

If your car won’t start, but all the lights come on, this usually means that your battery is failing due to bad connections, damaged terminals on the battery, or a dead battery. Another indication of the “car won’t start, but lights come on” problem is pushing the ignition button to turn the ignition. This is a sign that there is a problem with the ignition switch and that the solenoid has not been active.

Can fuse cause a car not to start?

A damaged fuse within the starting circuit may be the reason why your car won’t start. Also, damaged wiring or dirty wires connecting to the battery or the solenoid for the starter (or wiring that is loose) may prevent power from getting to the starter. This could cause your car not to start.

What can cause a no crank or a no start?

When you notice that the pump for fuel, injector, or fuel filter has been damaged, the damage could cause the condition of no crank or no start. If the filter has become blocked and the fuel flowing into the engine is blocked your car won’t start or crank. Another part of your car that could be defective is an engine’s fuel delivery line.

Will low oil cause a car not to start?

Insufficient oil levels could cause the engine to stop working or not spin and this could cause your car not to start. A car that seizes due to the absence of oil is often the cause for the engine being dismantled. Not only do low levels cause a car not to start, they could also cause damage to the engine.

Can you jump a car with a bad starter?

Jumpstarting a car that has a poor starter won’t help to get the engine started. Jump-starting can only increase the battery’s power. A car with a manual transmission and problems with its starter might need to be towed or be pushed to get started; however, this isn’t the case for an auto transmission vehicle.

Will a car start with a bad alternator?

If the alternator fails, it could mean that there aren’t enough sparks in the plugs to sustain the engine and cause it to stop in the middle of operating or to experience difficulties getting started. Don’t ignore this warning sign, and your car won’t start.

Why won’t my car start but the radio and lights work?

If the lights and/or radio are on, but the car won’t start, you could have corroded or dirty batteries terminals. These terminals link the electric system and battery. Try to jumpstart your car. This could verify or discredit that battery is the source of your problem.

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