9 Reasons Your Car Won’t Start and How to Fix Them

Whether you’re late for work or just finishing up the perfect evening out, a car that won’t start can be extremely frustrating. Thankfully, there are a number of reasons that your car won’t start, and diagnosing them may be easier than you imagine. Save yourself time and money by checking out these nine reasons your car isn’t working properly. Some of them you can fix yourself and others might require help from the professionals.

Dead Battery

The very first thing you should check is your battery. A dead battery is one of the most likely reasons your car isn’t starting, and it’s an easy fix. Usually, your car battery dies when you leave the lights on for an extended period of time. Running the battery completely empty doesn’t allow the engine to rollover and allow the alternator to start charging it.

Check if your lights or radio work. If not, look for a nearby car to jump start your vehicle. If jump starting the battery doesn’t work, you may need to have your battery replaced or you have a bad alternator.

A battery can die for a number of reasons, so consider checking these out before completely replacing your battery. Be extremely cautious when working around your car battery and, when in doubt, ask a mechanic to check it out for you. Check for one of these common battery issues:

  • Loose wires
  • Corrosion on the battery terminals
  • Expired battery

Empty Gas Tank

Another frustrating, yet simple, fix is an empty gas tank. As you go about your day it’s easy to forget to top up your tank. Your gas meter may even be broken, which leaves you driving on low fuel without knowing it. If your car sputters before dying or if the electronics still work, your gas tank light should be your first signal.

This is another easy fix. Simply fuel up and check it out again. Grab a gas can and try to top off your tank. If your car starts with a full tank of gas, you can be glad that it was one of the cheapest repairs needed. Unfortunately, if your car still won’t start, the issue may be more severe. From fuel filters and starters to ignition switches and fuel pumps, there are a number of repairs that require extensive mechanical experience.

Bad Starter

Perhaps the most common sense issue is a bad starter. A starter, as its name implies, helps start your car. As long as your battery is working properly, the starter receives the power needed to start your engine. A common sign of a damaged starter is a clicking sound as you turn your keys in the ignition.

A quick fix is to ask for a jump. Jumping your car typically gets it started again, but it won’t be a long-term solution. Bring your car into Highline Car Care and we’ll replace your starter and get you back on the road.

Damaged Ignition Switch

Just like your starter, your ignition switch is essential to properly starting your car. First, rule out the battery by attempting to turn on your headlights. If your lights still work but turning the key in your car’s ignition doesn’t produce any results, you may have a damaged ignition switch.

A damaged switch will prevent your engine to run, even if you have the power and fuel necessary. If your ignition switch isn’t functioning, it’s time to take your car into the shop. A bad switch is time-consuming to replace on your own, but a mechanic can make quick work of the job.

Failed Fuel Pump

Another more serious possibility is a failed fuel pump. Your fuel pump is necessary to keep fuel moving to your engine, so a pump that isn’t operating will prevent your car from starting or cause it to stop soon after you’ve started it.

A failed fuel pump will typically sputter and attempt to start before dying. Even if your vehicle doesn’t sputter to life briefly, you should still hear the pump running in the tank for a few seconds if you listen closely. A pump is another difficult repair that’s best left to the professionals.

Damaged Spark Plug

The lowly spark plug could be the culprit for your car that won’t start. A spark plug allows a controlled spark to ignite the fuel in your engine. Without it, your car won’t be able to operate. If your lights and radio will turn on but your car is sputtering or won’t start at all, you may have a defective spark plug.

Replacing a spark plug is relatively easy, but finding the culprit can be difficult. Unless you know the exact location of the damaged plug, consider saving yourself the time and frustration by taking it into your local mechanic.

Faulty Ignition Coil

Similar to a damaged spark plug, a faulty ignition coil will keep sparks from reaching the cylinders, keeping your engine from starting. An ignition coil is a sort-of amplifier that is responsible for converting the 12v supplied by the battery into several thousand volts required to sustain an internal combustion engine.

On older cars, there is usually a single coil which is connected to the distributor by a single spark plug wire. Replacing the coil is very straightforward, since there is only one. On newer cars, however, you are likely to encounter individual coil packs on each cylinder, which can make identifying the faulty coil a bit more tedious.

Activated Security System

If you have a newer vehicle, it may be too smart for its own good. Many vehicles come with safety features to prevent theft or dangerous operation. Whether a sensor is damaged or your car was broken into, your security system may be preventing you from starting your vehicle.

Check out any safety features in your owner’s manual and determine whether you can easily turn it off. You may not have the remote starting device in the vehicle, you may have the incorrect device, or you may need to enter a security code. In any case, a certified mechanic should have the tools and knowledge necessary to reset your vehicle and get you back on the road.

Locked Wheel

A more straightforward security feature is a wheel lock. If your wheel is turned slightly, it could be pushed against the locking pawl and preventing you from turning your key. If your lights still work but you can’t even turn the keys in the ignition, try turning the wheel from side to side. Straightening the wheel out can allow you to unlock this safety feature and start your car.

Stop by Highline Car Care for Emergency Servicing Today

From complex maintenance to quick fixes, Highline Car Care is your premier repair shop in Phoenix. Located conveniently in Gilbert, our trained mechanics can help you quickly troubleshoot any issue and determine the exact reason your car won’t start. Whether you’re stranded on the side of the road or stuck at home, contact us today to schedule an appointment or narrow down the reason your car isn’t starting properly.

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