Troubleshooting Guide: Why Wont My Car Start?

Troubleshooting Guide: Why Wont My Car Start?

February 21, 2024 0 By CarGuy

There is nothing more frustrating than turning the key in the ignition and hearing nothing but silence. You keep asking yourself the question “Why wont my car start?”.

The reasons behind this situation can be many. This is why we prepared a comprehensive guide where we will explore the potential causes and also offer some insights for you to gain an idea about diagnosing and solving this problem in your car. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the article!

Understanding the Question: Why Wont My Car Start?

Let’s first learn more about the question why wont my car start? What does it mean for you?

This is a problem where you put the key into the ignition, you turn the key and the car does not want to start.

The car can continuously crank and not start and also not crank at all. These are two different problems.

So, you need to bear this in mind when it comes to solving the problem. We are saying this because there could be different things behind each issue.

But you should not worry because we are going to elaborate on everything you need to know!

Causes Why The Car Wont Start

Now let’s take a look at the causes for this problem when the car does not want to start and learn why is this the case.

1. Dead Or Weak Battery

One of the most probable causes for the car not being able to start is a dead or weak battery.

Car batteries have a limited life, usually 2+ years and once they reach this lifespan, they can create such problems.

A weak battery will make the car continuously crank and not start. A completely dead battery can only trigger a rapid clicking sound from the starter motor before eventually completely failing.

The solution to this problem is to replace the battery with a new unit and this will solve the problem in 90% of the cases.

2. Bad Starter Motor or Starter Solenoid

A bad starter motor or a bad starter solenoid can also cause such a problem to appear in your car and you to ask the question why my car wont start.

The starter motor is an electric motor that rotates and turns over the engine so the car is able to start. The starter motor rarely fails.

The component that fails more often is the starter solenoid. The solenoid sits on top of the starter motor.

Whenever this component fails, the car will not even want to crank. So, if you turn the key and there is nothing going on, you might have a bad starter solenoid.

3. Broken Ignition Switch

A bad ignition switch can also cause such a problem in your car. So, what is an ignition switch?

This is the switch that is activated when you insert the key into the ignition. This switch is activated and the car cranks.

If the switch is broken, the car will not want to start. This is a fairly common problem, especially in older models.

4. Problem With The Fuel System

A problem with the fuel system can also cause your car not to be able to start.

The fuel system is an integral part of the starting process. Especially the fuel pump and fuel filter.

If the fuel pump is malfunctioning, you will not get fuel at all. So, the car will not be able to start.

The second common cause is the fuel filter, this component can clog up and prevent fuel from flowing. In other words, you can have an obstruction in the fuel lines.

In older cars, the carburetor can be a problem and this component can cause the car not to be able to start.

And last is that maybe you have an empty gas tank. This is why checking if you have enough fuel is an important thing to do.

5. Mechanical Problems Inside The Engine

Mechanical problems can also cause the engine not to start and you asking the question why wont my car start?

There can be a broken timing or serpentine belt, seized engined, or poor compression.

All these things can cause your car not to be able to start. So, doing a compression test and checking the belts is always a smart idea.

Diagnosing the Problem: Why Won’t My Car Start?

When you are faced with such a problem when the car is reluctant to start, it is very important that you methodically approach the problem and diagnose the cause of this problem. Here are some tips that will really help you out with this job.

1. Check The Battery

The first thing that you should do is to inspect the battery. Make sure that the battery is healthy. So, how you can do this?

You can do this simply by turning on the headlights and the interior accessories. If lights flicker and don’t power on, it means that the battery is dead.

Also, what you can do is get a multimeter and see what voltage the battery is producing. A good voltage should be 12.6 volts when the engine is turned off.

If the voltage is lower, the battery is weak and is causing this problem.

2. Inspect The Starter Motor

If the battery is good, you can also take a look at the starting motor and the solenoid.

Usually, whenever there is zero response from the car, one of these components has failed.

Unfortunately, troubleshooting this component might require more expertise. So, we recommend that you give this job to professionals.

3. Test The Ignition System

Checking the ignition system is another good idea. The ignition system plays a very vital role when it comes to the ability of the car to start.

The ignition system includes the spark plug and coils. These components can be tested with a multimeter and OBD2 scanner.

So, this also requires more expertise. This is why we don’t recommend this type of work to beginners.

4. Check The Fuel System

Checking the fuel system is also a good idea. Especially checking the fuel pump.

You can do this quite simply by turning the key over. Whenever this is done, you should hear a click from behind where the gas tank is located.

If you don’t hear a click, it means that the fuel pump is not engaging. This will leave your car without fuel and the car will not like to start.

Also, replace the fuel filter if it was never replaced. This component might end up clogged up and cause such a problem.

5. Inspect For Mechanical Problems

And if nothing helps, you should definitely check the engine for mechanical problems.

Inspect the belts and make sure that they are nice and tight. If they are loose, you might want to tighten the tensioner.

If the belts are good, the engine might be probably seized. This is common, especially on engines that haven’t been started in a while.

Finding Solutions: Addressing “Why Won’t My Car Start?”

Once you diagnosed the cause of your car’s failure to start. Now it is time that you solve the problem depending on the root cause. Here are some of the most common solutions.

1. Charge Or Replace The Battery

One of the first things that you want to do is to charge the battery. There are many products out there that you can buy for this purpose.

This charger is really good, especially for cars that sit for a very long time in storage.

If the battery is really weak, you might want to replace it completely with a brand-new unit. This way, your car will be more reliable.

2. Replace The Starter Motor or Solenoid

If the starter motor or solenoid is bad, you will have to replace the component.

The starter motor is rather an expensive component to replace, while the solenoid is far cheaper.

Usually, the solenoid is the one that fails most often.

3. Replace The Ignition Switch

Replacing the ignition switch is a good idea if you deem that the switch is the culprit of the problem.

A professional technician can easily inspect the switch and determine whether it is faulty or not. This is rather an inexpensive repair.

4. Address Fuel System Problems

If there is a problem with the fuel system, you will need to replace the faulty components.

It is a very good idea to replace the fuel filter for starters and if the fuel pump is bad, this component will cost you more. Fuel pumps for certain models are very expensive.

In older cars, the carburetors can be a problem and in many cases, you will need to rebuild them or completely replace the carburetor.

5. Seek Professional Help From A Mechanic

And last but not least, take your car to a shop and let the technician handle the problem.

A professional mechanic will quickly find what is causing the problem and will address the issue in no time.

This is why if you are without experience, we strongly recommend that you contact a professional and let them handle the problem for you.

Conclusion To Why Wont My Car Start?

“Why wont my car start?” is a question that troubles many vehicle owners at some point. No car is perfect, sooner or later, you will not be able to start the car.

In order to solve this problem, you first need to understand the causes and learn how to diagnose the problem, then troubleshoot and resolve the problem.

Whether it is a simple battery replacement or a more complex repair, such as a starter motor replacement, addressing the problem is the key in order to bring your car back to normal operating order.

FAQ To Why Wont My Car Start

Why Wont My Car Start?

There can be many causes behind this problem. The most common one is a dead battery. However, there can be problems with the starter motor and solenoid, ignition problems, fueling issues, and mechanical problems.

How Expensive is it To Fix A No-Start Problem?

Fixing this problem can vary from $100 to $1,000. It really depends on the root cause of the issue because some components cost more to replace than others.

If you want to read more, you can check our articles on oil on spark plug and the flashing check engine light.