You go out to your car first thing in the morning, ready to head off to work. Instead of starting right up, you hear an odd noise, maybe feel the transmission shudder a bit, and then nothing. Before you panic, consider these five common reasons you might be having trouble getting your car to start.
Failed Fuel Pump
A car that cannot get fuel will not start, no matter how many times you turn the key in the ignition. A failed fuel pump can be why gas isn’t getting to the engine. Turn your key to the “on” position if you want to check for this problem. You should hear a slight sound of the pump trying to bring gas from the tank to the injectors.
The Starter Is Damaged
As its name implies, a car starter turns the engine over to get it started. However, if the motor fails, it will not function properly. If this is the case, you will be able to use all of your car’s electronics when the ignition is turned on, but you will not be able to crank the engine. You’ll also probably hear a clicking sound when you try to get it started. Sometimes this sound shows up when the motor is first showing signs of trouble, so it may help to listen for it.
A low or dead battery will keep your car from starting, too. When a battery starts to fail, the vehicle may take longer than usual to turn over. This is often accompanied by a lack of power to the car’s other electronics, like the headlights or radio. Eventually, it will go out entirely, and you will be unable to get started.
Batteries can lose power for two main reasons. First, if you leave the lights on without the car running, it can drain the battery. This is usually remedied by jumping the car and letting it recharge. However, if the battery consistently drains, it may be unable to hold a charge any longer. This is a sign you need a new battery as soon as possible.
The alternator recharges your battery while the engine is running. When it fails, the battery does not recharge and will quickly die. If this is the case, you will need to replace the alternator. If your vehicle has a gauge on the instrument panel to show the charging level, it should register about 13 while the car is running.
The Ignition Switch Is Bad
An ignition switch operates like any other electrical switch by telling the car where to send power. However, it can be subject to wear because it is used frequently. A few signs this may be a problem include the car refusing to start, trouble turning the key, and flickering or dim dashboard lights.
With a bit of know-how, you can fix many minor issues that can cause a vehicle to have trouble starting. Shop online to find the parts you need to get your car up and running again, whether a new 2003 Nissan Altima alternator or a fuel pump for a late-model Ford.