Common Reasons Your Car May Not Be Starting


If your car won’t start, this could be a result of a variety of things, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common reasons and tips for troubleshooting the cause. Usually, there are subtle distinctions between the causes, as listed below, and it can save you some time at a repair shop if you know what the issue is upfront. Here are the most common reasons your car may not start.

Dead Battery

The most common reasons a car won’t start is a dead battery. A variety of reasons can cause your car battery to die; you left the dome light on over night, a wire is loose, water inside the component evaporated leading to poor conductivity, or it’s simply a really old battery. The battery can be tested by jump-starting your car, and if this works, you’re most likely dealing with a dying battery. Consider replacing the battery, clearing the connections, or hire a technician to do the service for you.

Bad Alternator

While the car engine is running, the alternator is responsible for charging your battery. A few signs can determine if you have a bad alternator, including dimmed headlights, illuminated dash lights, or a growling sound. If this issue is not fixed, you may find yourself with a car that won’t start because the battery has not been charging properly.

Fuel Pump Failure

If your vehicle can’t pump the gas to fuel the engine, it won’t start. The underlying issue is often the lack of pressure in the fuel lines due to wear and tear, blockage or part failure. Allowing your fuel tank to run dry can age your fuel extremely quickly. Lack of regular maintenance, such as fuel filter changes, can also contribute to premature fuel pump failure. Typically, there is warning signs before a fuel pump fails, such as the engine jerking at high speeds, sudden loss of power and reduced fuel economy.

Bad Ignition Switch

If you know for sure that your battery is working correctly, but your car doesn’t turn over on the first few tries, you may have a problem with the ignition switch. The cause of your issue can be narrowed down by trying to turn on your headlights. Because the battery controls your headlights and dashboard, if they turn on, but your engine won’t start, a big ignition switch is likely to blame.

Faulty Starter

If the battery seems fine, the problem might be in your starter. A starter is a small motor that draws electrical current from the battery to start the engine. You may hear a clicking noise when turning the key in the ignition if a starter fails or malfunctions. The problem is sometimes in loose connections, while in other cases starter replacement may be necessary. Jump-starting your car may work for starter problems, but there is no guarantee.

Spark Plug Failure

If there are no issues with your battery, the starter works and the fuel gets to the engine, but still nothing happens, there may be an issue with the spark plugs. The compressed fuel mixture has to be ignited by the spark plug to get the engine going. Sometimes, spark plugs may overheat, get dirty or suffer mechanical damage, which can result in a failure to start the engine. Thankfully, if spark plugs are the cause of your issue, they can be very simple and inexpensive to replace.


If you are having issues with your car starting, one of our technicians here at Autoworks will be able to fully diagnose the cause and provide the best solutions to get your vehicle up-and-running again. Contact us today with the link below for more information!

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2 Responses to Common Reasons Your Car May Not Be Starting

  1. It’s interesting that you pointed out that dim headlights can be a sign of a bad alternator. My car has recently had some issues with starting, and I’ve noticed that my headlights are also dimmer than they usually are. Perhaps it would be a good idea to take my car in to see if the alternator needs to be repaired or replaced.

  2. This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that dimmed headlights can be a sign of a bad alternator. I don’t drive very much at night, but I had to run to pick up some extra groceries last night, and I noticed that my headlights seemed a lot dimmer than they usually are. I’ll definitely take my car in to see if the alternator needs to be repaired or replaced to fix that issue. Thanks for the great post!

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