Common Causes (and How to Fix It)

The joy of owning a car can make your day both a highlight and nightmare. It's a great feeling to drive your car off the lot. But, those feelings can quickly turn sour the first time the car won’t start. 

If you find yourself wondering why your car won’t start, we’ve got some common causes to consider. While there can easily be more, these are 10 probable reasons why your car won’t start. It's possible to identify which of these causes with some mechanical expertise. Let’s have a quick overview of some of the possible reasons:

The most common reason a car won’t start is due to a dead car battery or loose car battery terminals. It can also be caused by a bad starter, but if it cranks but won’t start it could be caused by a faulty spark plug or a clogged fuel filter.

These are not the only causes. Here’s a more detailed list of the reasons why your car won’t start:

Índice de Contenido
  1. Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start
    1. 1. An Inactive Battery
    2. 2. Loose or Corroded Battery Terminals
    3. 3. Dead Alternator
    4. 4. Bad Starter motor
    5. 5. Failure of the ignition switch
    6. 6. Defective Spark Plugs
    7. 7. Out of Gas
    8. 8. Fuel filter clogged
    9. 9. Malfunctioning Fuel Pump
    10. 10. An electronic malfunction

Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start

1. An Inactive Battery

Low Battery Voltage

The first thing you need to check if your car won’t start is if the car battery is charged or not. You might have accidentally discharged the battery over the course of the night, or the battery may be old.

Car batteries can weaken over time and eventually fail. Some times it's obvious that something is coming, while other times you may not be aware of the possibility. Batteries can also be damaged by accessories. You might be able save some battery life by keeping a jump start in your car. This will allow you to make it to work or home. 

RELATED: DEAD Car Battery – What to do & What Causes it?

2. Loose or Corroded Battery Terminals

Battery Terminal Corrosion

If the battery isn’t dead, it could still be causing your problems. To make sure that nothing is corroded or loose, inspect the connections. 

You should ensure that the clamps are tightened on the terminals. The connection could be affected if there are any signs of corrosion. Thankfully, it’s simple to clean the terminals with a solution of baking soda and water. 

This will prevent future problems. Make sure to clean and inspect the connection. 

RELATED: Battery Terminal Corrosion – Causes, Fixes & Prevention

3. Dead Alternator

Alternator Location

A faulty alternator is another reason why a car battery can die. It charges the battery during the vehicle's operation. If it stops working, the battery will not receive enough charge. 

Sometimes, the alternator may be dying. If the alternator is failing, you will notice dimming headlights. Additionally, if the serpentine belt starts to slip or is worn, it won’t be able to power the alternator, thereby leaving you with a dead battery. 

After replacing the battery, many people discover that their alternator has failed. 

RELATED: 6 Reasons Why an Alternator Isn't Charging

4. Bad Starter motor

Car Starter Motor

The starter starts your car's engine. It’s a simple electric motor that connects to the battery and sends signals to the engine to start when you turn the ignition switch. 

If your car is completely dead once you turn the key and you can’t hear anything from the engine, it is very likely that your starter is bad.

After the engine turns over, it is out of the starter's control. However, when it fails, the car won’t start. You might notice a slight cranking sound or no movement at all. This issue is typically accompanied by a clicking sound, which indicates a failing starter. 

A Mechanic Tip You can tap the starter by using a stick or other similar tool while your friend flips the ignition switch. This will help you start the engine. It is likely that the starter motor has failed.

The starter should be checked if your battery is in good condition but the car's engine still isn't turning.

RELATED: Five Signs That Your Starter Motor is Not Working

5. Failure of the ignition switch

Ignition Switch

If the battery has a charge, the starter is fine, but you still can’t get the engine to turn over, it could be a faulty ignition switch causing your trouble. This cause can also be accompanied by other signs.

When you attempt to start the engine, look out for blinking dashboard lights or a lackluster sound coming from it. You might also not be able turn the key, which could indicate that your ignition switch is defective.

Related: 6 Signs that Your Ignition Switch Has A Bad Taste 

6. Defective Spark Plugs

Spark Plug

If your car engine turns over, but the car won’t start anyways, it is time to check the spark and fuel. First, let’s begin with the spark plugs.

These modern vehicles are capable of running for a very long time without the need to replace spark plugs. However, once the car hits about 100,000 miles, it’s often wise to replace them. 

A failed spark plug can cause a host of problems, including misfiring, rough idle, poor fuel economy, miscarrying the engine, and an illuminated Check Engine Light. But, faulty wires or plugs can prevent your car from starting. 

READ ALSO: 6 Signs You Have Bad Spark Plugs

7. Out of Gas

Out Of Gas

Your vehicle needs fuel to run, so if the tank has been emptied, there’s no way you are getting the motor started. Most of the time, your engine will be unable to start if you're driving.

Today’s vehicles have accurate fuel gauges that show you exactly how much gas you have left in the tank, so there’s no reason to run out. Plus, you shouldn’t run your vehicle with less than a ¼ of a tank of fuel, or the pump could go bad. 

8. Fuel filter clogged

Dirty Fuel Filter

Fuel filters are an essential part of fuel delivery systems. The fuel filter traps contaminants and debris that could otherwise damage the engine and injectors. 

As time passes, however, fuel filters can get clogged. The fuel filter can become clogged, causing the fuel flow to be impeded and the engine not being able to burn the required components. 

The fuel filter should be replaced every six months. Check the owner’s manual to find out how often you should replace the fuel filter. 

RELATED: Five Signs Your Fuel Filter Is Clogged or Bad

9. Malfunctioning Fuel Pump

Cars Fuel Pump

It is responsible for transporting the gasoline from tank to engine. If the gas can’t get to the engine, there cannot be a combustion process. 

To ensure performance and maximum speed, the fuel pump needs to supply fuel at the appropriate pressure. The fuel pump starts working immediately after the engine is started. The fuel pump will fail if the fuel is not able to reach the engine and the vehicle will be unable to start. 

You might experience a rough idle or hesitation when the fuel pump is starting to fail. 

READ ALSO: 8 Signs That Your Fuel Pump Is Not Working

10. An electronic malfunction

Mouse Ate Car Cables E1616091618484

Our cars today are equipped with all the most recent technology. These conveniences may also cause problems. Equipment like remote keyless entry and starting modules can malfunction. 

Consider the example of the new Start buttons. The ignition key is gradually being replaced by this advanced design as a way to start. Although the Start button receives a code via a proximity key it is possible for it to fail. Bad batteries can also cause problems when you try to start the computer. 

One thing is sure; if you pay attention to the symptoms your vehicle is showing, you should be able to figure out the reasons why your car won’t start.

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