7 Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start

car win'r start
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Your car won’t start? It is not uncommon for cars to experience trouble every now and then.

Despite the fact that cars have become more reliable, they can still be temperamental and, one day, they might even refuse to work.

If your car won’t start, there are quite a few possible reasons as to why that might be happening. Consider the most common explanations why your car won’t start and how to address each problem, next.

Most Common Reasons A Car Won’t Start

1. Lack Of Fuel

Despite the fact that cars have a indicator light that warns drivers the moment fuel starts running low, there is a slight chance that you run out of gas while driving and your car won’t start.

What’s more, the lack of fuel can actually damage your car. Fuel keeps rotating parts lubricated, lessening the part’s premature wear.

Additionally, when there is no fuel to help cool the copper windings inside the electric pump, air cools them, and, because air isn’t as effective as fuel when it comes to cooling, your electric pump might overheat, causing the windings to melt. This, consequently, damages your car.

How To Fix It

Yes! This problem is easy to solve. You simply walk to a gas station and get enough gas to start your car again.

2. Dead Battery

This is one of the most common reasons why a car won’t start, especially during the summer, when high temperatures tend to put even more strain on the battery, wearing it out even faster.

There may be several explanations to a battery dying, such as:

  • A loose wire
  • Poor conductivity, generally due to the evaporation of the water inside the battery
  • The battery lifespan expiring
  • The headlights, dome light or radio were left on overnight

The best ways to know if the car battery is dead are to check whether any of the car electronics work (lights, radio…) or if the battery light is on.

How To Fix It

The only way to get your car moving again is to jump it. If the car starts once you jump-start it, then the problem is probably a dying battery or an alternator (hinders the process of recharging the battery).

You can jump start your car yourself, but it can be dangerous, not only for you but also for your car and the car you are using for the jump start. If are unsure on how to do it, call a professional.

3. Failing Ignition Switch

If you are certain your battery is working properly but the car won’t start, then the ignition switch might be the problem.

The electrical part of the switch is the one that controls certain systems and components of the car, such as the air conditioning and the starting and charging systems. So if these two fail, you probably need to have the switch checked.

How To Fix It

To fix this problem, you will probably need to change the switch. Switches normally need to be changed by a mechanic. They cost approximately between $127 and $260.

Note: Switches tend to fail in cars with a very high mileage.

4. Defective Starter

The starter is an electrical motor connected to the battery in charge of setting the engine in motion when you turn the ignition switch on. There a few possible symptoms for you to know that your car won’t start because of a faulty starter:

  • Turning your ignition key is having no effect whatsoever on the car
  • When you turn the key you hear a loud clicking sound, yet the car won’t start

How To Fix It

The starter will need to be replaced. Although you can do it yourself, it is always best to ask a mechanic to do it.

The cost of the part can vary depending on the brand and the store you purchase it from, but normally it costs between $50 and $350, labor costs are approximately $100, and replacing it takes between 1 and 1.5 hours.

5. Clogged Fuel Filter

The fuel filter helps keep the fuel flowing to the engine, so when clogged, it prevents enough fuel from reaching the engine, causing a wide array of problems, including the car not starting.

You might have a clogged fuel filter if your car stalls, hesitates, misfires or simply feels sluggish while accelerating.

A few manufacturers have also added a check valve to the filters so that it can begin to open and fuel continues to reach the engine, although it can eventually be catastrophic if you don’t have your car checked regularly. Remember that you can find tips on saving money on your car service.

How To Fix It

To fix this problem, you’ll need to change the filter. This process varies depending on your vehicle’s brand and model. Check the owner’s manual and find where the filter is located and how to replace it.

You can do it yourself by following a few simple steps or you can have a mechanic do it. Costs vary depending on the car, but it normally amounts to $110-$250.

Note: Fuel filters should be changed every 9,000 to 12,000 miles. To prevent the filter from clogging, we recommend following your oil change schedule.

6. Failing Fuel Pump

The fuel pump has to create pressure in the fuel system to ensure fuel reaches the engine. When a fuel pump is weak or failing, you can tell by listening. Normally when you turn the key in the ignition, before cranking the starter, for a few seconds you’ll be able to hear the in-tank pump running.

How To Fix It

Unfortunately, this is one of the most expensive parts to repair. The parts cost between $450 and $600, not including labor costs (if so, the cost amount to approximately $800).

Note: To prevent fuel pump failure change the fuel filter regularly, since when clogged, the filter makes the pump work even harder to get fuel through, and always purchase high-quality fuel.

7. Timing Belt Failure

The timing belt is located along the side of the engine to keep the top and the bottom halves of the engine working in sync (crank and camshafts).

Timing belts are normally found in cars from the 1990’s or below, although they can also be found in some brands, such as Audi. Nowadays, there are no belts, instead manufacturers switched to metal chains.

If the timing belt fails, crank and camshaft will not be connected, and the car won’t start. This failure can also cause further damage in other engine compartments such as the valves, crank bearing or oil pump. If you are unsure as to whether your car has timing belts, check the owner’s manual.

How To Fix It

This is another quite expensive repair. Replacing the timing belts cost approximately $450, although you can purchase the parts for around $250 and change the belt yourself.

Note: To prevent timing belt failure (and any further engine damage) comply with the maintenance schedule indicated in the owner’s manual. Normally, timing belts need to be replaced every 60,000 miles or every five years, whichever comes first.