Many people don’t realize how important the thing until they lose it, especially for their cars.
Starting your day with your car, not starting, can be very frustrating. The question always remains: “Why won’t my car start?”
There are several reasons for cars not starting, including the alternator, the battery, the connection cables, and the vehicle’s starter.
Despite the reason, you must perform a jump start for your vehicle to get it going. Understanding the main culprit for the car not starting is very important to identify the different repair options and expected repair costs.
This article provides you with all possible reasons for your vehicle not starting along with signs to look for to identify the root problem.
How does your car start?
Before we get into the details about why won’t your car start, it is important to understand how does your car starts and which components play a role in starting your vehicle. Once you understand that, you can easily pinpoint the problem or expect where to start.
In most vehicles, there is a starting motor responsible for starting your vehicle. This motor consists of the battery, the ignition switch, the battery cables, the starter relay, and the starter motor. Any problem with one or more of these components, you will not be able to start your vehicle.
The starting process begins with the battery sending the initial electrical current to all electrical components. This current will not flow until you insert your key in the ignition system.
The ignition switch is responsible for allowing the battery's electrical current to flow to all the electrical components and get the vehicle going.
Once the ignition switch is turned on, the starter relay converts the electrical current into a larger current to make it strong enough to start the motor. The reason for having a starter relay is to prevent using larger electrical wires to withstand the large electrical current.
The battery cables work as tubes to transport the electrical current from the battery to all electrical components.
Lastly, the starter motor receives the larger electrical current from the starter relay and transports it to the engine to get it going.
Why won’t my car start?
In this section, we provide you with a list of reasons why your car won’t start.
Issues with a dead battery
The first and most obvious reason for your vehicle won’t start a dead battery. In your vehicle, the battery’s job is to provide the initial electrical current to start the vehicle and get the different electrical components going. Once the battery does its job, the alternator takes over and keeps a continuous electrical current supply for the entire electrical system.
Thus, it is not surprising to first look at the battery right when you can not get your vehicle going.
Different reasons result in a dead battery, including leaving any of the electrical components on while the engine is not running, the battery is connected with very loose wires, and the battery passed its lifespan.
To confirm it's your battery causing the problem, there are lots of symptoms to look for, including:
- The engine takes a long time before it cranks
- Your vehicle makes a clicking noise
- The headlights are not as bright as before
- Your vehicle’s electrical system is not functioning as usual
- Check warning lights illuminating
- The battery’s case swells due to exposure to high temperatures
- The battery is rusted over time of use
The best way to ensure your vehicle’s battery is causing your car not to start is by performing a quick jump start. After the jump-start, if your vehicle started, then definitely it's your battery. If the car did not start, this still doesn’t mean it’s the battery; it could be a combination of the battery and other components.
Once confirming it’s the vehicle’s battery, you must get your vehicle inspected and repaired by a professional mechanic. To replace your vehicle’s battery, expect to pay somewhere between $50 and $120 on parts only. Repair costs increase as you add up the labor cost and depending on the location where you get the job done.
Issues with the faulty ignition switch
In the automotive world, the ignition switch is responsible for turning on your vehicle's entire electrical system.
If you confirm that your battery is working just fine, it might be the ignition switch causing the car not to start. To confirm its the ignition switch, try turning on the headlights. The car’s battery provides electrical current to the headlights to start. If the headlights worked fine, then the problem is the ignition switch for sure.
There are different signs indicating issues with the ignition switch, including:
- You won’t be able to start your car
- You won’t be able to turn the key
- You might experience engine stalling
- The dashboard lights might flicker
- You will not hear any noise coming from the starter motor
If you confirmed that the problem is due to the ignition switch, you must immediately replace it. The average ignition switch replacement cost ranges from $125 to $275 on parts only. The price also gets much higher when adding the labor costs and the addition differs depending on the place where you get the work done.
Problems with your vehicle’s starter
Once you confirm that the car’s battery and ignition switch are good, its time to look into the vehicle’s starter.
The starter is a small electrical motor responsible for cranking the engine and getting the vehicle running. Different signs are indicating a bad starter, including:
- Hearing strange clicking noises
- You can turn on the headlights but can not start the engine
- The engine can not crank
- Your vehicle start smoking
- The starter is soaked with oil
If you noticed any of the mentioned symptoms, you must replace your vehicle’s starter as soon as possible. Replacing a starter costs between $344 and $562 on both parts and labor.
Clogging in the fuel filter
Another reason for your car not starting is the engine is not receiving any fuel due to a clogged filter. The fuel filter is responsible for keeping any specks of dirt or contamination away from the engine to maintain the required air-fuel ratio mixture for best engine performance.
Over time of use, the fuel filter can get clogged, resulting in insufficient fuel supply. While a partially clogged filter does not cause a vehicle not to start, a completely clogged filter does.
There are different signs of a bad fuel filter to look for and confirm it’s the culprit, including:
- Vehicle’s power flocculation in response to loads
- Your vehicle check engine light might illuminate
- You might experience engine misfire
- Your engine might stall
- You will not be able to start your vehicle
- Your vehicle’s fuel pump might get damaged
- Weird smells might come out of the exhaust system
- Your vehicle’s fuel economy might drop significantly
While other issues can cause most indicated symptoms, a bad fuel filter can be the culprit.
If you confirmed the fuel filter, you must get it replaced as soon as possible to avoid getting into complicated problems like a complete engine failure. Replacing the vehicle’s fuel filter is expected to cost between $14 and $60 on parts only. When adding the labor costs, expect to pay somewhere between $100 and $150, unless you are planning to replace it by yourself.
You don’t have any fuel in the gas tank
While this might sound a little weird, it is not surprising to try starting your vehicle while forgetting to fill up the gas tank. Without any fuel, your engine will not fire, and thus, the car won't start.
What causes a car won’t start after not being used?
There are different reasons behind your car not starting after sitting for a long time, including:
- The fuel pump is no longer functioning
- The battery passed its lifespan
- The engine starter has a problem
- The engine’s filter got clogged from fuel not flowing for a long time
- Your vehicle has a faulty head gasket
- The vehicle does not have any gas
The car won’t start after the new battery installed
If you know that your car’s battery is working just fine as its brand new, then the problem is related to other components like the ignition switch, the starter, the fuel filter, etc.
However, suppose none of these items have any problem. In that case, it could be your bad vehicle’s alternator is continuously consuming the electrical charge from the battery resulting in a dead battery after a short period.
The engine cranks, but the car won’t start
If your vehicle’s engine cranks but your car can not run or start, then the problem might be related to the engine itself. The engine might not be receiving fuel, making compressions, or creating a spark.
Car not starting clicking noise
Several people complain their vehicles do not start while hearing a clicking noise. This problem can happen due to many reasons.
Usually, the first thing causing the clicking noise is corroded terminals. As the terminals get corroded, the ignition will not receive the required initial electrical current from the battery to get the vehicle going.
Another reason for the car not starting while hearing clicking noise is loose battery cables. Like the corroded wires, if the battery cables are not connected properly, the electrical circuit is not connected, and thus, no electrical current leaves the battery. Consequently, the ignition switch will not be able to get the vehicle going.
It is important to note that the clicking noise pattern indicates different things. For instance:
- If the clicking noise is fast and happens only when you try to start the car, then the problem has to do with the vehicle’s battery
- If you hear one click every time you try to start your vehicle, then the problem is related to a faulty solenoid affecting the vehicle’s starter.
- If the car doesn’t start and just clicks, then the problem can be related to a damaged engine.
Is it worth repairing starting problems with my vehicle?
Answering this question depends on several factors included in the following questions:
- Are your car at high mileage, and you expect significant repairs coming soon?
- Are there other significant problems with your vehicle?
- Is the repair cost getting close to the value of your vehicle?
If one of your answers is a yes, it might not be worth repairing your vehicle, starting a problem. What you can do instead, you can sell your car as junk to a Cash Cars Buyer.
At Cash Cars Buyer, we buy all cars despite their make, model, year, or condition. We pay the top dollars and provide free towing for all customers despite their living locations.
As one of the top junk car removal companies in the industry, we provide the fastest, easiest, and simplest junk car removal service.
There is nothing more frustrating than starting your morning with a car not starting. Your vehicle requires a perfectly running battery, ignition switch, starter relay, battery cables, and starter motor to get your vehicle started. Any problem with the mentioned components can result in your car not starting.
There are different reasons for a car not starting, including problems with the battery, the ignition switch, the starter, the fuel filter, and an empty fuel tank.
Identifying the culprit for a car not starting goes in a specific order; first, you confirm that the battery doesn’t have any problem, then you ensure the ignition switch works just fine; after that, you check the starter. Finally, you confirm nothing wrong with the fuel filter, and you have some fuel in your vehicle’s fuel tank.
Once you pinpoint the problem, you must repair the faulty part as soon as possible to avoid throwing a wrench in your day every morning.