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What Does It Mean When My Truck Turns Over But Won’t Start?

What Does It Mean When My Truck Turns Over But Won’t Start?

There are many potential engine issues when your truck turns over but won’t start indicating that your engine is not getting enough fuel, doesn’t have the appropriate compression or is not receiving fuel.


Sources for this problem vary, starting with the ignition system's issues to problems with the fuel supply system. 

Usually, when your truck turns over, the problem is not related to the starting system. That been said, automotive experts recommend not to turn over the truck repeatedly to avoid causing significant issues to your vehicle.

This article provides you with six quick components you need to diagnose to determine the problem. We also walk you through quick troubleshooting for the spark, compression, and the fuel system to pinpoint the culprit. Finally, we list other potential causes when your truck turns over but won’t start. 

Your truck turns over but won’t start?  Check these six main things:

 

Starting problems are usually resolved by diagnosing one of these six components: the fuel, the computer sensors, the battery, the starting system components, the security system, and the fuse. 

 

  • Check your fuel tank

 

 

When your truck turns over but won’t start, the first thing you need to check before any troubleshooting is your fuel tank. 

While this might be obvious, your engine won't start without fuel in your tank, and many people start panicking and searching for potential culprits when their fuel tank is empty.

Even if your fuel gauge is showing some fuel in the fuel tank, this gauge might malfunction for various reasons. Therefore, it might be worth adding some more fuel to your fuel tank and eliminating the fuel gauge issues.

 

  • Check your battery

 

 

After checking the fuel and refilling if needed, now it's time to check the battery.

The battery is responsible for providing the initial electrical current to get the engine started. With a bad battery, your engine will never start. As we said before, if your truck turns over, the problem doesn't have to do with starting issues.

However, sometimes bad batteries might not maintain the electrical charge and lose it over time due to corroded or loose battery connections.

Thus, you cannot eliminate the battery unless you perform a quick jump start and ensure that the battery did not work.

 

  • Check for other issues with the starting system

 

The starting system doesn’t only include the battery. It also includes other components that must work together to get your engine going successfully.

If one of the starting system components has a problem, the engine will either not start, or your truck will turn over but won’t start. 

 

  • Check your  security system (modern vehicles only)

 

Automakers work hard to prevent and add the best options to your vehicles, including different security systems.

One of these systems is meant to protect against theft by disabling your engine. If anything went wrong with the digital key or the system overall,  your vehicle wouldn’t let you start the engine or move the vehicle. 

Therefore, before looking for car repairs, make sure that all your security systems are working properly. 

 

  • Check for a bad fuse

 

Once you checked the previous items, it’s time to check out the fuse box. Any small issue with one of the fuses can also result in your truck turns over but won’t start.

Therefore, locate your fuse box by referring to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for detailed guidance. If you don’t have your manual, you can search for the fuse box's location by vehicle’s make, model, and year on the web, download a copy of the manual from the web, or request a hard copy your local mechanic. 

Once you locate the fuse box, look for any signs of a blown a fuse or loose connections that could cause your truck to turn over but won’t start.

While there is a high potential that your problem is related to these six items, if none of them was the culprit, you need to move on and read the other potential components in the following sections. 

How to troubleshoot the spark, fuel, and compression in your engine?

 

As we mentioned earlier, when the truck turns over but won’t start, the problem is more towards the engine itself, not the starting system. 

For your engine to work well, it requires a spark at the right time, a specific quantity of fuel, and a certain level of compression in the cylinder.

This section serves as a guidance to troubleshoot the necessary items for a perfectly running engine:

 

  • Does your engine have a spark?

 

 

To check if your cylinder has a spark, you will need to use something called a “spark tester.”

Different types of spark testers and its best to get an “adjustable spark tester” could test for a 40KV, 30KV, and 10KV sparks.

Once you prepare the adjustable spark, follow these steps:

  • Within your engine, select a spark plug that is easy to reach for better testing
  • Using the spark tester, connect it to test for a 40K spark plug to the spark wire end and the other end to the ground tester. 
  • Have one of your assistants crank the engine while you watch the spark tester. Once he cranks the engine, you must see a spark occurring at the same time. If you don’t see the spark, you might need to repeat the test using the 30KV and the 10KV.
  • If none of the tests showed a spark, there is a clear problem with your spark plug, and it must be replaced to get your vehicle going. 

While it might be the spark plug itself, causing the problem, other potential reasons for not seeing a spark include issues with the ignition module, igniter, distributor, and ignition coil.

Therefore, the best thing you can do is to consult a professional mechanic who uses advanced tools to pinpoint the actual culprit. 

 

  • Make sure there is fuel getting to the cylinders

 

 

Once confirming that there are no issues with the spark, you need to make sure your engine gets the right amount of fuel by checking the carburetor and the multiport fuel ignition system.

  • Check the carburetor following these steps:
    • Locate your air filter box by referring to your vehicle’s owner’s manual
    • When you open the filter’s box lid and open the carburetor, you should see fuel injecting into the different cylinders
    • If you cannot see fuel flowing to the cylinders, the problem has to do with the fuel supply system.
    • Ensure you have the required amount of fuel in your fuel tank
    • Inspect the fuel pump and make sure it is pumping fuel to the engine at the right time with the right amount
    • Check for signs of a bad fuel filter as it could be completely clogged, preventing the fuel from getting to the engine
    • Make sure you have the right operating fuel pressure
    • And finally, confirm that the fuel injectors are opened and not clogged by any contaminants or dirt.

 

  • Check the fuel injector system
    • Confirm that you have a working fuel pump before starting the diagnosis 
    • It is recommended to take out the fuel filter cap as well.
    • Have our assistant turn on the ignition switch but not the engine while you listen for a whirring sound, indicating a working fuel pump motor.
    • If you don’t hear the whirring sound, the problem is related to your fuel pump, and it must be replaced immediately. However, if you confirmed that the fuel pump is working, you can move on to the next steps.
    • Please take out the air cleaner and disconnect it from the throttle body
    • Add a couple of sprays of starter fluid in the throttle and have your assistant crank the engine
    • If your engine cranked, the problem is not related to the fuel system. On the other hand, if the engine wasn’t able to crank, the problem is somewhere related to the fuel system and most likely related to a clogged fuel filter

What are other potential causes for truck turns over but won’t start?

 

In most scenarios, by now, you should detect the problem causing your truck to turn over but won’t start.

However, if you still cannot identify the problem, then here are additional potential causes:

  • The exhaust gas recirculation valve (EGR)
  • The cold injector
  • The Manifold absolute pressure (MAP)
  • The mass airflow sensor (MAS)
  • The engine coolant temperature sensor (ECT)
  • The canister vent valve
  • The throttle position sensor (TPS)
  • The vacuum leak
  • The carburetor

Is it worth repairing the problem of truck turns over but won’t start?

 

As you noticed from the information we provided before, when your truck turns over but won’t start, the problem can be related to a long list of potential causes. 

That been said, deciding whether it's worth repairing your vehicle or not depends on a lot of factors. 

For instance, if the problem requires an easy and cheap fix, you definitely can go ahead and repair the issue. However, if repair costs are getting very high, you might need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your vehicle have other issues related to major components like the engine or the transmission?
  • Does your vehicle have high mileage already, and additional problems are expected soon?
  • Does the repair cost approach the overall value of your vehicle?

If you answered any of the previous questions with a “yes,” it might not be worth repairing your vehicle, and you might need to junk it.

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Conclusion

 

There is nothing more frustrating than starting your day with your truck turns over but won’t start.

When this happens, it indicates that your engine doesn’t have a spark, is not receiving fuel, or doesn’t have the right compression.

While when your truck turns over, the problem is usually not related to the starting system; it might be worth checking the battery, the starter, the fuse box, the security system, and the battery connections.

Despite the cause of the problem, when your truck turns over but won’t start, you must get the problem resolved as soon as possible to avoid getting stuck without a truck for a long time.