If your battery is good and your car won’t start, there are several things you can check to get the vehicle up and running.
Sometimes the problem can be as minor as insufficient fuel or as major as a faulty fuel pump or starter.
After conducting thorough research, we came up with a list of possible causes why your car won’t start even when the battery is good.
1. The Car is Not in Park or Neutral
Your car won’t start if it’s in gear.
Check to make sure you’re in a park or neutral position, and try starting the car.
If your car uses manual transmission, push down the clutch pedal.
Note that if your car normally starts in neutral and won’t start in park and vice versa—or it starts in gear, you could be having a bad neutral safety switch.
This is dangerous as it means you don’t have enough control over your car’s operation.
Consider getting help from a professional before driving the car.
2. You Have a Faulty Starter
Your car’s starter has one primary function; to get the car running. The starter relay transmits power to the starter motor to do its job.
Check this article specifically if your car won’t start though the starter works fine.
That means if the relay or motor is faulty, the engine won’t crank, and the vehicle will not start. If you notice you have a bad starter, you can call in a mechanic to replace it for you.
Here are a few more signs that you have a faulty starter:
- Engine won’t turn on: Your interior lights come on, but nothing happens when you turn the ignition.
- Intermittent starting issues: If your car starts sometimes, and sometimes it won’t, or it fails to start but starts when you give it time, the relay could be losing its ability to transmit consistent signals.
- Whirring sound: The clicking sound could be a good sign of a weak starter. This sound may be present in some cars, but not all. The sound usually indicates that the starter is trying to send a message to the motor, but the motor is too weak to turn over the engine.
- Smoke: An overloaded electrical circuit can become too hot, resulting in smoke from a short circuit or blown fuse.
Starters do wear out over time. If your car is older than ten years with its original starter, then it’s reasonable enough to get a new one.
This is even more common if you live in extremely cold regions where your starter has to work extra hard to get the car started in the morning.
3. The Ignition Switch Has a Problem
Also known as the start switch, the ignition switch is responsible for distributing power from the battery to the main electrical components of the car.
When there is an issue with the switch, there will be no power in the starter or ignition system, and your car won’t start.
Ignition switch problems are not the most common because they are often confused with battery or starter problems.
As a result, here are a few symptoms to check:
- The keys won’t turn in any direction
- There is no noise from the starter motor
- The vehicle won’t start
You might also experience a car that won’t start after driving a bit.
4. The Fuel Filter Could Be Clogged
A fuel filter is responsible for delivering clean fuel from the gas tank to the fuel injectors.
That means it keeps contaminants and other debris from entering the engine.
With time, the fuel filter can get clogged with dirt, and in extreme cases, the fuel filter can impact how the vehicle runs.
When clogged, the engine won’t receive any fuel from the fuel tank due to reduced fuel pressure, and your car won’t start.
This can also cause the gas pump to click instead of filling up gas.
Experts recommend changing the fuel filters every 20,000 miles, but you can always confirm this with your manufacturer.
5. You Don’t Have Enough Gas in the Fuel Tank
It’s prudent to start with the most obvious reason to avoid wasting time opening unnecessary components.
While it takes very little fuel to start most cars, don’t overlook the fact that you might be low on fuel. Get a gas can, add fuel to the tank, and start the car again.
There’s also a good chance that your fuel reading gauge could be faulty, especially if your fuel empties to the point that your car won’t start.
It’s possible that the indicator could be broken. That’s why it doesn’t show you the correct reading at the right time.
Apart from lack of enough fuel, there is a good chance that your gas could be bad. Gas can degrade and start losing its combustibility after six months.
If your car has been sitting around for a long time between starts, consider mixing the old oil with fresh oil to produce enough combustibility to start a car.
If the gas is too old, you may need to remove it and add clean oil to run the car again.
During winter, your vehicle may suffer from frozen fuel lines. Remember, the emptier the fuel or gas tank, the more room there is for water vapor to form and freeze inside the fuel line.
6. You Have a Bad Fuel Pump
Located in the gas tank, the fuel pump helps pump fuel from the gas tank through the fuel lines and to the engine.
It will cost you more than $500 to replace a fuel pump. While the problem can be serious, it’s pretty easy to diagnose it even if you’re not a car expert.
When you turn the ignition to “on,” you will hear a faint whirring sound that lasts a second. This is the fuel pump sending gasoline to the engine.
If you don’t hear this sound, the fuel pump could be faulty and need replacement.
7. It Could Be a Ground Cable Wiring Problem
Also known as the negative battery cable, ground strap, or ground wire, the ground cable is a heavy black battery cable connecting the negative terminal of the car battery to its body.
This cable is the foundation of your vehicle’s entire electrical system, as almost every electrical component of your car flows through it.
If there is something wrong with the ground cable, your car can’t start because it cuts off the power flow.
To check if your ground cable is faulty, check for the following signs:
- Defective fuel pump
- Flickering or dim light
- Dead battery
- Hard setting
- Sporadic sensor failure
- Clutch slipping in the AC compressor
- Damaged throttle or cables
- Electrical devices turning on and off
8. The Timing Belt Needs Replacing
The timing belt is a rubber strip that rotates the crankshaft and cam in the engine at the appropriate time. It is an essential engine component as it can affect how the engine functions.
The timing belt guarantees that the engines’ valves open and close at proper intervals to ensure that the pistons and valves never come into contact with each other for stable combustion.
Like the fuel pump, a timing belt can also be quite expensive to replace.
If the timing belt fails, the engine won’t function, and if it breaks down when the engine is running, it can damage the engine.
A bad timing belt prevents the required combustion for ignition, meaning that the engine won’t turn over. If you notice a significant oil leak near the engine, you could have a busted timing belt.
You can have the timing belt replaced. If your car is not fitted with a high-quality timing chain, enquire if you can install it as it lasts longer than the rubber belt.
9. The Ignition Coil is Too Weak
The ignition coil is responsible for converting battery voltage into an electric spark.
Due to wear and tear or damage, the coil may not be powerful enough to accomplish this task. You can use a multimeter to test the current running through the ignition coil.
If you get a reading of 12,000 volts or more, the ignition coil is still strong enough, but anything lower than that indicates a problem.
Fortunately, you can detect problems with your ignition coil early enough and replace it before it becomes serious.
If you use the car every day or more than three times a week, you must have noticed a few things when the vehicle was running that indicate a problem with the ignition coil. Some of these include:
- Engine misfires
- Surging during acceleration
- Car dying when idle or at a stoplight
10. Broken Distributor Cap or Bad Spark Plug
If you have a good battery, enough fuel, and everything else looks fine, and your car won’t start, you could have a faulty spark plug.
Your car requires the correct air-to-fuel ratio and spark to start the combustion system.
If broken, the spark plug may prevent fuel ignition, and the vehicle may not move.
Signs of a bad spark plug include:
- Engine misfires
- Notable reduction in fuel economy
- Acceleration issues
- Roughing idling
The distributor regulates electricity to spark plugs igniting fuel. It is responsible for high voltage current from the ignition coil to the spark plugs.
It’s fitted with a rotating arm or rotor inside a distributor that helps protect internal parts of the distributor. The rotor also connects the internal rotor to the spark plugs.
If the distributor cap is not tight or the rotors fail to operate efficiently, the spark won’t travel, and your car won’t start.
A bad cap is often accompanied by sputtering or tapping noises.