One of the most inconvenient experiences any driver can face is when a car won’t start. Suppose you need to go to work. You put a key into the ignition and try to start your vehicle, but it doesn’t start.
That said, specific reasons can contribute to your car not starting.
If you’re unsure about those reasons, don’t fret. We’ve put together this guide to highlight them.
Let’s check them out.
Table of Contents
We also have an article to help you if your car won’t start after driving for a while.
1. Your battery is flat.
We have a dedicated article about troubleshooting a car that won’t start though the battery is good.
One of the common reasons your car doesn’t start could be a flat battery. A couple of things may cause your battery to be flat.
This can often be the reason if your car won’t start the first time but start on a second or third try.
For instance, if you leave your lights on after parking your car. If your car doesn’t turn off the lights automatically when your ignition is off, the headlights will stay on and deplete the power of your battery.
Your battery may also die because the connection cables are too loose.
Or because power cables have corroded, therefore incapable of transferring power to the starter. If your car has an alternator problem, this may also affect the battery. However, electric cars don’t have an alternator.
Sometimes, the power of your battery may go down because you haven’t driven your car for quite some time.
Signs that your battery is flat:
In most cases, when your battery is flat, your starter will make a rapid clicking sound.
So when you try to start your car, the battery won’t have sufficient electricity to power turn the starter that should start your engine.
Other signs of a flat battery include:
- Your headlights are dim.
- Your car has a slow crank.
- Your battery is causing intermittent sparks.
First, avoid leaving your headlights on, especially if you’re driving an old car. Next up, if your battery is pretty new, then consider recharging it.
You have two options: You can either put your battery on another idling car. Or ask another driver to jumpstart you.
Then drive your vehicle at least for 30 minutes to allow your alternator to recharge your battery.
While charging your battery, avoid using your radio, lights, or anything that will make recharging your battery difficult.
On average, most quality car batteries last for three years. Care and maintenance significantly affect the quality of your battery. So consider replacing your car battery if it is older than three years.
2. You’re out of gas
When your car is out of gas, it is not likely to start. The same happens if the fuel pump of your vehicle is not working.
Debris from the tank may block gasoline from flowing to the engine from the gas tank. The residue may also clog petrol filters and prevent your car from starting.
Make sure that you clean your fuel pumps.
Also, check this article if your diesel car won’t start.
3. Your car has an electrical problem
Electrical problems may cause your car not to start even when there is nothing wrong with the starter. Those issues include your fuse box, spark plugs, and battery cables.
It is always crucial to check your car’s electrical components. Cases of vehicles couldn’t start because rodents had gnawed at the wires are also common.
So, open your bonnet and check if there are no hanging wires.
4. Engine problems
Generally, your car will need four key things to start: spark, fuel, compression, and spark. If your engine has low compression, it would be nearly impossible to start.
Many times this will cause the check engine light to flash in the dashboard.
Your car will likely have a compression problem when a gasket leaks.
Your car may not start because it has an engine problem. Various mechanics of the engine may prevent your car from starting. For example, if your crankshaft is not in good condition, your car won’t start.
The same will happen if your car can’t get enough spark to begin the combustion. That spark has to occur at the right time; otherwise, if the spark happens too late, this may cause your car not to start.
We recommend that you service your car regularly. A mechanic will check your vehicle. And if any engine parts may cause your not to start.
A mechanic will replace it. A mechanic will recommend whether you should overhaul the entire engine.
5. Faulty immobilizers
Another potential reason for your car not starting could be a faulty immobilizer. This problem happens typically when the immobilizer is too old and your car’s security can no longer recognize it.
You should also be sure that your vehicle isn’t among cars without immobilizers.
At times, immobilizers may not function because you need to replace the batteries on your key fob.
So, it’s often tricky for an ordinary driver to know the cause of the immobilizer not working.
Try replacing batteries on your key fob with new batteries.
Then try to start your car. If you still can’t start the car, the problem could be the immobilizer. Or you might have damaged the key fob. We recommend you call your auto electrician to look at your vehicle.
Most auto electricians use tools that detect any electrical faults.
If they recommend that you replace your key fob, replace it immediately.
7. Alternator problems
Alternator problems are some common causes for cars not starting. An alternator usually won’t break down without sending out warnings. It’s always advisable to pay attention to those signs.
- The first common sign is a flashing red battery light after starting a car.
Or, the battery light may not turn off once you start your car. When you see this happening, know there is something wrong.
- Another sign is a dim battery warning light.
- The battery light doesn’t come on at all. Please take this as another warning that your alternator is about to die.
- You hear a screeching sound from the engine.
- Your lights are flickering.
Once you leave your alternator problems unattended, that may lead to your car not starting. Why? Because your battery depends on your alternator.
If you don’t maintain your alternator, it will likely break down.
To avoid this problem, ensure that once in a while, you disassemble your alternator. Then clean or replace faulty or worn-out parts.
While at it, ensure you avoid using low-quality parts on your alternator. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble starting your car.
8. A jammed ignition
If you jam your key in the ignition, you’ll likely have problems starting your car. The worst thing in this situation is that your steering will lock. I’m sure you know what will happen when you can’t turn your steering wheel.
Your ignition may jam because your car is not in the park position. Or your car’s computer thinks the key is still on while it is off.
The easiest way to solve this issue is by moving the steering wheel gently. Then slowly try to rock it to see if the key won’t turn. If it doesn’t, stop and call someone to help you. Preferably a mechanic.
One potential reason your car won’t start is that your fuel injectors are dirty. So make sure that you clean the nozzles of the fuel injectors regularly. If you can’t clean them yourself, find someone to do it for you.
Cleaning fuel injectors is not something that any other car owner can do.
It requires a skill that you may potentially don’t possess. Hence, it would help if you took to a qualified mechanic to look at your fuel injectors.
You can contact your dealer if you’re unsure which mechanic to use. Alternatively, get that information from your car manufacturer.
If you are stuck on the side of the road, call your car road assistance service. Most car manufacturers offer roadside assistance that any driver can use.
Alternatively, you can contact someone nearby to help you start your car.
Leave the car idle for a while
Lastly, if you occasionally use your car, we suggest you start it and leave it idle for at least one minute. Please don’t leave it idling for too long as that may contribute to pollution.
Or even cause your engine to damage some critical parts of the engine quickly.
And make sure you avoid revving the engine too hard, especially after starting your car.