We understand how it feels when your car won’t start, but the battery is good. Well, having a good battery doesn’t mean that everything else is working.
There are many systems in your vehicle separated from the battery and might be having an issue.
Let us walk you through the car's main reasons won’t start, but the battery is good.
Even if you think that the battery is good, probably by seeing the lights working or the radio functioning, it doesn’t indicate a good battery. Therefore, the first thing you need to confirm and check is the battery.
How did you know the battery is good?
One of the most common reasons for your vehicle not to start is a dead or bad battery.
Now, you might be wondering, “I know for sure that my battery is good!”
Well, how did you confirm that your battery is not the culprit? If you see the lights working and the radio functioning and thought that battery is good, this is not the right conclusion.
This is because sometimes you might have a bad battery that doesn’t maintain the charge, and right after you try starting the vehicle, this low charge goes right away to the lights or the radio, which requires a very small electrical current around 30 amps.
On the other hand, your engine requires at least 300 amps where your battery cannot supply it. As a result, you will see working lights or radio, but the vehicle is not starting.
You can do one of two tests to confirm that your battery maintains the charge: the hydrometer or battery load tests. If your battery did not pass any of these tests, you might need to replace your vehicle’s battery.
One of the fastest ways to confirm it’s not your battery causing the issue is using a jump start. If your battery shows a charge after a jump start, then the problem is not related to the battery, and you need to move on and keep reading to detect the culprit.
Did you check the fuses and the fusible links?
Once confirming that the battery is in good shape, you can now inspect the fuses and the fusible links.
Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to locate the fuse box. If you don’t have a copy of your manual, you can download one from the web or request a hard copy from your local mechanic.
In your fuse box, look for signs or smells of burnt wires resulting in your car not starting even if you have a good battery. Loose connections can also prevent the electrical current from circulating and getting to your electrical system's different components, including the starter.
How about the ignition switch?
If you confirmed that the fuses are in decent shape, then the most common issue could be the ignition switch.
It is important to clarify that the ignition switch is not the housing where you insert the key inside. It is an internal component within your starting system that your key touches to get the vehicle started.
Like many other vehicle components, the ignition switch can go bad at some point in time, although it's not very common.
Luckily, when your ignition switch goes bad, your vehicle would tell you even before it gets bad. Here are some of the most common signs of a bad ignition switch:
- Your vehicle cannot start
- When inserting the key inside the key housing, it doesn’t turn
- Your vehicle might stall
- You will not hear any noise coming from the starter motor, indicating it is working
- Your vehicle’s dashboard will flicker
Suppose you confirmed it's your ignition switch causing the problem. In that case, you need to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic and get the problem resolved as soon as possible to avoid more complications requiring high repair costs.
Check if your starter is working properly
If you confirmed that the battery, the fuses, and the ignition switch are working well, move on and look at the starter.
Another common reason for your car won’t start, but the battery is good is a bad starter.
Your vehicle’s starter is responsible for transferring the electrical current received by the battery to the starter solenoid to crank the engine and get it going.
Look for any of these signs of a bad starter:
- Your engine will not start
- Your engine might crank very slowly
- You might hear a grinding noise as you start the engine
- You might hear a whirring noise as you start the engine
- Your engine might fail intermittently
If you noticed any of these mentioned signs of a bad starter, you need to get the part replaced as soon as possible; otherwise, you will be stuck with just hearing clicking noise and the vehicle not moving.
Alright… everything looks good, but my car won’t start, and the battery is good
If you don’t have any problem with the battery, the fuses, the ignition switch, or the starter, then the problem might be related to the part of the fuel supply system, including the fuel itself, the gas tank, or the fuel filter.
Check for frozen fuel lines
Do you drive in sub-freezing temperatures? Sometimes when driving in very low temperatures, the fuel freezes in the fuel supply lines and doesn’t make it to the engine; thus, your car won’t start, but the battery is good.
Check if you have enough gas in your gas tank
While this might be obvious, many people start panicking about their vehicle won’t start, but the battery is good without checking their fuel tank.
If you don’t have gas in your gas tank, the engine will not start. Thus, before moving any further, and the first thing to do is check, you have enough gas in your tank.
Sometimes there might be issues with the fuel reading gauge where it provides the wrong reading. Therefore, you might need to add a little more fuel to your tank and try starting the engine.
A clogged fuel filter
There is always a fuel filter within your fuel supply system preventing contaminants and other dirt from making its way to the engine. Over time of use, this filter can get clogged partially or completely.
While a partially clogged filter might not prevent your vehicle from starting, a completely clogged filter doesn’t allow any fuel from getting to the engine, and thus, your vehicle won’t start even if you have a good battery.
You don’t have spark
For your engine to get started, it needs the initial electrical current, the required amount of fuel, and the spark to start the combustion system explosion.
One of the forgotten issues that could result in our car not starting is a bad spark plug.
If your engine doesn’t receive the spark, it will not ignite the fuel in the cylinder.
While there are signs of a bad spark plug, most of these signs are hard to detect or take a long time before noticing them. Here are some of the signs of a bad spark plug:
- Significant reduction in fuel economy
- Issues with acceleration
- Your vehicle won't start
- You might deal with an engine misfire
- Your vehicle might experience rough ideling
As you noticed, most of these symptoms can be related to issues with other car components. The best way to confirm its spark plug is to have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic.
Is car battery dead if lights still working?
Well, as we mentioned before, working lights do not usually indicate a good battery. Some bad batteries can still maintain a small charge that is enough to start the lights but not strong enough to get the engine going.
Therefore, you can always give your battery a jump start and see if it can start the engine or not. If your battery fails to start the engine, you need to replace your car’s battery assuming all connections are in good shape.
How much does it cost to solve the car's problem won’t start, but the battery is working?
When your car won’t start, but the battery is good, many different problems could be causing the issues, as you noticed in the previous sections.
Therefore, when looking at the price to resolve this issue, the price varies by the problem source, and below are some rough estimates about how much to expect to resolve each problem:
- If the problem is related to the battery and you need to replace the entire part, expect to pay between $45 to $250, according to Kelly Blue Book.
- However, if the problem has to do with burnt fuses, you might need to pay between $110 and $140.
- To replace your vehicle’s starter, you need to pay between $344 to $562
- Replacing the ignition switch requires about $125 and $275
Remember, all these price ranges are just rough estimates, and the actual price depends heavily on your vehicle’s make, model, and year. Furthermore, the labor cost can increase the total bill significantly. That’s why you might see a big difference in some repairs when going to a dealership versus doing it yourself or having a small repair shop take care of the problem.
Is it worth repairing my car won’t start, but the battery is good?
Well, answering this question depends on so many factors, including the source of the problem itself.
When your car won’t start, but the battery is good, if the problem is an easy fix and requires small repair costs, you can move ahead and get it fixed.
However, suppose the problem is more complicated and requires a lot of repair costs approaching your vehicle's actual value. In that case, you might need to step back and evaluate the situation. Some of the common questions that you can ask yourself to make an informed decision include:
- Does your car have any other significant problems?
- Are repair costs approaching your vehicle’s value, if not more?
- Does your car have high mileage?
If your answer to any of these questions is a “yes,” it might not be worth repairing your vehicle.
The question remains, what do I do then?!
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It is very frustrating to start your morning with your car won’t start, but the battery is good. While you might think the battery is not the culprit, some batteries store a small charge enough to start some of the electrical components but not the engine.
There are many reasons your car won’t start. Still, the battery is good, including issues with the battery itself, problems with the starter, issues with the ignition switch and the fuses, and finally, problems with the fuel system.
Despite the source of the starting problem, you need to get it repaired as soon as possible to avoid getting stuck without a car.