Car Hesitates To Start - Causes & How To Fix

It is a given that cars start up first thing every morning. When you go out to your car and find out that it struggles to start, you realize that something isn’t quite right. It is possible that your car won't start if it hesitates. How can you quickly fix this problem?

Low fuel pressure, or an engine sensor problem are the most frequent causes of hesitation when starting. Bad spark plugs and ignition coils could be the cause. Low battery voltage or a poor starter could also cause the problem.

We will evaluate each possibility in this guide. Some are less likely than others. Each condition is also explained. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. There are many reasons why your car is having trouble starting.
    1. 1. Questions about the fuel system
    2. 2. Sensor for a bad engine
    3. 3. Connector/Bad Battery
    4. 4. Fouled Spark Plugs or Ignition coils
    5. 5. Poor Fuel Quality
    6. 6. Malfunctioning Starter
    7. 7. Filter Clogged
    8. 8. Failing Alternator
  2. Car freezes and needs to start

There are many reasons why your car is having trouble starting.

Many parts can cause your engine to not start. Therefore, it's important that you identify and fix the issue immediately. The modern car uses advanced computers to monitor each sensor and store trouble codes if it fails.

Therefore it’s important to read the OBD trouble codes with a code scanner before you start replacing any parts or doing any further diagnosis. These are the things that can make your car not start.

1. Questions about the fuel system

Cars need fuel and air to operate. To get an engine started properly, fuel must be able to reach the engine. Fuel system problems can cause fuel to not get where it needs to go if there are any.

The fuel system has many components. However, if you have diagnosed the problem with the fuel system then it is important to determine which part needs replacing. A clogged fuel filter, malfunctioning fuel pumps, and fuel injectors could all be the culprits.

The engine must inject more fuel during the initial start-up than it does when running. This can lead to low fuel pressure.

2. Sensor for a bad engine

Bad engine sensors can lead to the engine control module injecting too much fuel or not enough during start-up. This results in either a rich mixture of air and fuel. As there are many sensors within your vehicle, it is crucial to first check for error codes.

If your car hesitates to start when the engine is warm or cold, that’s a strong symptom you could be facing a bad engine coolant temperature sensor. Starting problems could also be caused by an MAF sensor problem or a poor camshaft sensor position.

3. Connector/Bad Battery

The battery in your car provides enough voltage to start the engine. As the battery starts to fail, it can’t provide enough voltage to get the engine cranked over right away. It might take a while. As the battery gets older, it will be able to provide fewer cranking amps. This happens most when temperatures are colder. 

Your problem could be due to poor connection. If there’s any corrosion on the battery cables or posts, the battery won’t be able to transmit the power needed when starting the vehicle.

To ensure that everything is in order, you should inspect the connections of your battery. Baking soda and water can be used to clean the battery. The battery should be checked for health every so often. To have it checked at no cost, most auto parts shops will accept them. As soon as the battery starts to die, replace it, so you aren’t left stranded. 

4. Fouled Spark Plugs or Ignition coils

You also need to deal with the ignition system. It can be more difficult to start the engine if spark plugs fail. Performance issues can also develop as the plugs become older. 

If you are changing the spark plugs at recommended intervals, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you haven’t changed the plugs and the engine is getting hard to start, it doesn’t hurt to pull them and take a look. These plugs might need to replaced. 

If the ignition coils get bad it can cause weak sparks.

5. Poor Fuel Quality

Not many people think about the type of fuel that’s going into the car. In reality, many people are tempted to look for the lowest-priced option while not thinking about the potential damage to their engine. Poor fuel quality can lead to blocked injectors, failing sparkplugs, and many other problems. 

If you think you’ve put bad fuel in, you can try an additive to get the car running. For better protection, make sure you only fill up with premium fuel. 

6. Malfunctioning Starter

The vehicle may be less responsive to turning as the starter motor wears. The starter gear engages when the key is turned. This causes the starter's flywheel to spin fast enough that the engine can start. If it’s not able to spin fast enough, the car is going to struggle to start.

Bench testing is the best method to test your starter. If you don’t know how to do this, most auto parts stores will do it for free. 

7. Filter Clogged

To get the engine to start, it needs both fuel and air. If the air filter has become clogged, one part of the equation isn’t making it to the combustion chamber, possibly causing some hesitation. 

Most cars have an air filter that you can check easily. Plus, it’s not expensive to put a new one in. This vital part should be maintained at a regular rate. 

8. Failing Alternator

The alternator can fail, which could cause problems starting your car. The alternator needs to charge the battery while the vehicle is running, but if it doesn’t, you might not have the cranking power you need. Many people don’t realize the alternator is bad until they replace a battery and find out that wasn’t the issue.

Your local auto parts retailer can also test the alternator. You can also test the alternator yourself. You can test the battery voltage using a multimeter with your car's engine disabled. You can test the voltage again by running your car engine. With the engine running, it should show a higher number. 

Car freezes and needs to start

If the car is only having trouble getting started when cold, it could be due to the battery struggling to supply the cold cranking amperage that’s needed. Two amperage ratings will be displayed when choosing a new battery. You should first look at the cranking amps. The second one is cold cranking amperage.

The battery will work fine when temperatures are moderate. It’s when the temperatures drop that problems start to occur. The CCA rating shows how many amps the battery provides to the car starter for thirty seconds at 0°F. The CCA rating is always lower than the cranking amp. 

Most cars can start using the CCA number listed on the battery. However, as your car ages there may be problems. As the battery starts to age, the CCA will start to drop. You might not notice the problem in the summer months because the CCA isn’t needed. That’s why it’s important to check the health of your car battery before winter sets in. By knowing that it is struggling ahead of time, you can prevent getting stuck with a car engine that won’t start. 

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