Reasons why car not starting

Reasons Why Your Car May Not Be Starting

The automotive world today has the fortune of benefitting from technology to the fullest. As a result, many issues that demanded time and close attention are now just minor glitches at most. However, a few common reasons your car may not start still ask for manual checks and assessments.

With a basic knowledge of your car and its systems, you’ll be able to recognize the problem with comparative ease. 

10 Factors Preventing a Smooth Start

Check out the typical issues that may be interfering with your car’s ability to start below. So, get your diagnostic abilities ready! 

1. Dead or Weak Battery

Dead batteries are perhaps the most common reason why cars don’t start. However, there are different reasons why a battery might die. 

Loose wires, old age, poor conductivity, and many more reasons can lead to a dead battery. It can also get drained if you forget to turn off the dome light for a considerable time, like overnight. 

Weak batteries can also be the culprits in such cases. For example, if your vehicle’s battery is weak but not dead, it may cause the starter to turn slowly. Similarly, the flow of power may face obstructions if corrosion is affecting the cables. 

It’s not the best testing method, but you can jumpstart your car to check if your battery is the issue. If the jumpstart is successful, then your battery is most likely the root of your problem. Therefore, it would be best to replace it or try cleaning all the connections. 

Keep in mind that jumpstarts are not advisable by the AAA due to their risky nature.

2. Faulty Alternator 

A faulty alternator will fail to charge your battery properly. You can start by checking for a slipping or worn accessory drive belt. The warning light probably goes off if the belt breaks or the alternator is failing. However, you may not get the warning light if the charging system output is simply poor. 

If your car’s instrument panel consists of a gauge, check for an indication of 14 volts. Unfortunately, modern cars often do not involve alternator gauges, so you may a technician’s help. 

Additionally, dimming headlights or a slow cranking starter are signs of a battery that does not receive a proper charge. 

3. Problems with the Starter 

The manual starter virtually used to be the car’s dictator! However, today, electric starters have made things more reliable and simpler. Despite that, starters are still vulnerable to malfunctions and failures. 

If the starter is broken, there is no chance of your car starting. A clicking noise indicates a broken starter. 

Other problems can also affect the starter, like the loss of teeth on its drive gear or the flywheel of the engine. 

4. Obstructed Air Filter

The air filter prevents dust, grease, and dirt from entering your car along with the flow of air. Unfortunately, after miles upon miles of such accumulation, the air filter can start to ‘choke.’ It reduces the proper flow of air into the intake of your car.

It’s a good idea to install a reliable air filter; similarly, consider some of the leading brands of air intake systems, such as Spectre or K&N.

If there is insufficient airflow, the gas will be unable to ignite. That will make a complete, proper internal combustion almost impossible. As a consequence, your car will not start. 

Most automotive stores provide cleaners or air filter replacements. 

5. Fuel Filter Issues

Your vehicle needs clean fuel to avoid any clogs or unwanted elements in the combustion chambers. The fuel filter ensures this. 

However, the filtered materials can block the fuel filter, restricting fuel flow into the car’s engine. They are part of the common reasons why your car may not be starting. 

It is fitting to change your fuel filter after 20,000 to 40,000 miles. 

6. Weak Fuel Pump

Well-functioning fuel filters make everything smooth and easy. However, their job may become virtually obsolete if your fuel pump is weak! 

A failing or weak fuel pump is a common culprit behind a car that fails to start. In older cars, the tanks were above the carburetor, so fuel feeding relied upon gravity. Unlike them, modern vehicles are dependent on fuel pumps. 

Listen closely and find the sound of the in-tank fuel pump running for a couple of seconds after turning the car’s key. You may not hear it, so it is better to approach a professional for assistance. 

If the fuel pump is not functioning properly, your car will have nothing to run on. Hence, it will fail to start. 

7. Spark Plugs Needing Replacement

Old spark plugs are also common reasons why your car may not be starting. However, these components last long, so it’s natural to forget about replacing them from time to time. 

Spark plugs that are not optimally functioning can cause secondary ignition problems. 

8. Damaged Ignition Switch

The ignition switch’s role is to carry power from the battery to the car’s other components. You will get stuck if there is no power to the ignition system or starter motor. 

If all the lights seem to be working, the battery may be fine- and the issue is likely with the ignition switch. In such a case, take your car to a mechanic. 

You can adopt some measures to prevent this from happening in the first place. The ignition switch sits behind the ignition lock cylinder, where you put in your key. A heavy keychain can exert too much stress on the ignition switch and damage it, so keep your car keys light!

9. Locked Steering Wheel

Your car may not start if the steering wheel is in a locked position. Often, this is part of anti-theft or safety measures. Instead, you can try gently nudging the wheel in different directions while turning the key. 

10. No Fuel

Sometimes, the answer to a tricky problem is right under your nose. Have you checked your fuel tank before wondering why your car is not starting? 


The luxury of technology sometimes brings bad news with it. In addition to the reasons above, electronic problems are also common reasons why your car may not be starting. These are complex and intricate, so only a professional can manage them. 

If you still cannot pinpoint why your car may not be starting, seek out a mechanic! 


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