There is nothing more frustrating than dealing with your car has power but won’t start! When your car has power, it doesn’t mean that you solved the issue. Some systems in your car require a little power like the lights or the radio, while others require a lot of power like the engine.
Your car’s starting issues are usually related to the starting motor system, including the battery, battery cables, ignition switch, and the starter.
Furthermore, if you confirmed the starting motor system is in good shape, you need to troubleshoot the fuel delivery system, including the fuel filter and the fuel tank.
In this article, we will go over why your car has power but won’t start. But before we go through the reasons, it's important to understand which car components are involved in starting your car.
Components involved in starting your car
When you insert the key in your car’s ignition switch, several car components are involved in the process of starting your vehicle.
For instance, the battery’s job is to send the first electrical power to get the electrical system started only. That been said, the battery is not designed to supply electrical current while your car is moving; it’s the alternator’s job.
By inserting the key in the ignition switch, you allow the battery's electrical power to reach the different electrical components, including the engine.
In its way to the engine, the electrical current is enlarged by the starter relay to become big enough to start the engine.
The car’s starter then uses the enlarged electrical current to start the motor and get your vehicle going.
Any problem with the battery, the battery cables, the ignition switch, and the starter can prevent your vehicle from starting.
Furthermore, the starting system will not work if you have problems with the fuel system, and the fuel is not reaching the engine.
Therefore, your car's reasons have power but won’t start has to do with either the starting system or the fuel system.
What does it mean when my car has power but won’t start?
As we mentioned earlier, there are specific components you need to check to pinpoint the root problem behind your car has power but won’t start including:
Reason 1: a faulty battery
The first thing you must look at is your car’s battery. While many people might think if the car has power, the battery is not the culprit; this is not the case.
If your car’s battery is old, bad, or passed its life span, it can not hold the charge and will drain it in no time. That’s why you notice that your car has power, the lights come on, the radio works, etc.
Think about how powerful the engine is compared to these other electrical components like the radio or the headlights. The engine requires about 300 amps to start, while the other components require 20 to 30 amps.
These components do not need a lot of power to start, and thus, they will consume the stored battery charge immediately, leaving you with a dead battery right after you try to start your car.
To assure it's battery causing the problem, you can use a hydrometer, a tool to test the battery charge and see if your battery has any charge. If that’s the case, you are very close to the solution.
Use a jump start to start your engine; if the engine starts; You Did It! you caught the problem! It’s your battery.
Replacing the car’s battery requires between $50 and $120 on parts only. Labor costs could be very high if you decided to get the job done at a dealership versus doing it yourself.
Reason 2: a bad ignition switch, fusible link, or fuse
If you confirmed your battery doesn’t have any problem, you need to move on to our list and check the fuses, fusible links, and the ignition switch.
Using your vehicle’s owner’s manual, locate the fuse box and look for burnt, damaged, broken fuse wires. If you found any of these signs, then a blown a fuse is the culprit behind your car with power but won’t start.
The next thing you need to check is the ignition switch. While the ignition switch is usually durable and holds up to 100,000 miles, it can also go bad, preventing your car from starting.
Luckily, specific symptoms are indicating a bad ignition switch, including:
- Your car has power but won’t start
- The engine might stall
- The engine will not make any noise indicating it did not start
- The dashboard lights flicker
If you detected any of the mentioned signs, the ignition switch is most likely causing your car not to start. However, it is a little tricky for you to check and confirm it’s the ignition switch, unfortunately.
Therefore, you must have your vehicle inspected and repaired by a professional mechanic. I was replacing the ignition switch costs between $125 and $275 on parts only.
Reason 3: a faulty starter
If you confirmed that both the battery and the ignition switch are in a good position, you can move on and check the starter.
Your car’s starter is responsible for receiving the battery's electrical power and sending it to the engine to get it started. It consists of several components, including the solenoid, the motor, and the flywheel.
This critical component in the starting system can prevent your vehicle from starting.
Luckily, your car’s starter would tell you when it's getting worse before it even does. Thus, look for the following symptoms of a bad starter:
- Your car has power but won’t start
- You hear a clicking noise
- The engine doesn’t crank
- Your car smokes
Once identifying the starter is the problem, you need to replace it for about $344 to $562 on parts only.
Reason 4: worn battery cables
Having some power in your car doesn’t mean your battery and battery cables are in good shape. If some of the battery cables are worn or broken, the electrical circuit might disconnect, and no power gets to the engine. Consequently, your car won’t start.
Troubleshoot your battery cables and look for signs of corrosion or damage. If that’s the case, you need to replace the worn cables for about $260 to $296, depending on the amount of damage.
Damage is not the only issue with battery cables; some cables might not be connected properly to the battery “loose.” Make sure to tighten all battery wires and connections to ensure a complete electrical circuit and ensure the engine receives the required amount of current.
Reason 5: a bad fuel filter
Once you confirmed all starting system components are in good shape, the second thing to check is the fuel filter.
The fuel filter keeps any contamination from getting to the engine to maintain the required air-fuel-ratio for the best performance. This filter might be completely clogged, preventing the fuel from reaching the engine. Thus, your car won’t start.
Check for the following signs for a bad fuel filter to confirm it’s the culprit:
- Your car has power but won’t start
- Your car’s power will not be constant in response to loads
- Your engine stalls
- Your engine misfires
- The problem might trigger the check engine light
If you confirmed its fuel filter causing the problem, your car replaces it for $14 to $60 on parts only.
Reason 5: an empty fuel tank
Even if it sounds silly, many people forget about checking their fuel tank and look for all the other symptoms. Sometimes the fuel gauge is not calibrated properly and is taking the wrong reading.
Therefore, you also need to ensure there is enough fuel in your fuel tank.
Reason 7: no spark
The spark is the initial ignition needed to start the explosion in the engine cylinders. Even with the right amount of fuel, without a spark, the engine won’t turn over.
Diagnosing the spark is a little complicated problem and requires a certain level of mechanical skill set.
If you feel comfortable with the checking the engine’s spark, follow the following steps:
- Prepare the required tool. In this case, you will need an adjustable spark tester. This tester is flexible enough to check for 10KV, 30KV, and 40KV
- Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to locate your spark
- Once you locate your spark, unplug the coils and the wires
- Set the spark tester first to 40KV and hook it to both the spark and the engine ground
- As you monitor the spark tester, let one of your friends crank the engine and watch for the spark response
- As your friend cranks the engine, if the spark in good condition, you will see a spark in the spark tester
- However, if you did not see a spark, try using both the 10KV and the 30KV
If the spark tester results showed a bad spark, it is now beyond your ability to resolve the problem. You must have your vehicle inspected and repaired by a professional mechanic.
Your car has power but won’t start, is it worth repairing it?
Before spending a penny fixing your vehicle's starting problem, you need to evaluate your car’s condition fully.
If your car has other significant problems related to the engine, the transmission, or other major components, it might not be worth repairing it.
Similarly, if the repair costs are approaching your car's value, you don’t need to spend additional money on repairing it.
Luckily, Cash Cars Buyer buys your car design its condition, including the starting problem. We buy cars form all makes, models, or years. We don’t only provide the top dollars; we also provide free towing for all customers despite their living location.
To get more information, give us a call and provide basic information about your vehicle’s make, model, year, and condition. Then, please review and accept our instant offer given to you for free. After that, schedule a pickup appointment from our very flexible schedule. Finally, get your car removed within one to three days and receive your cash payment right on the spot.
What does it mean when my car won’t start clicking noise?
Hearing a clicking noise is a very important piece of information when it comes to solving starting problems. What’s even more important is the pattern of this clicking noise.
For instance, if the clicking noise goes very fast every time you try starting your car, the problem is most likely related to the battery. The battery might either be dead or has rusted or loose connections.
However, suppose you hear one single click right after trying to start the car. In that case, the problem is most likely related to the high current associated with a bad solenoid interfering with the ignition circuit.
On the other hand, if the car won’t start and only clicks, the problem is most likely related to a damaged engine, unfortunately.
It is not very rare to be in a situation where your car has power but won’t start. Understanding how the starting process works in your vehicle is very crucial before identifying the culprit.
Your problem is usually related to either the starting or the fuel delivery system. To resolve the issue, you need to check the battery, battery cables, ignition switch, starter, fuel filter, and fuel tank.
Whatever was the reason for your car not starting, the problem must be resolved as soon as possible. While many of the problems don’t need a professional mechanic, other problems related to starting an issue can be a little more tricky.