What to Do When Your Car Wont Start

There are few things more frustrating than getting ready to leave for work or school, turning the key in your car’s ignition, and hearing nothing but silence. If your car won’t start, there could be several potential causes. Here, we’ll discuss some common issues and what you can do to troubleshoot them.

Check the Battery

The battery is the most common culprit when it comes to a car that won’t start. A dead or dying battery can cause a variety of issues, including a slow or incomplete engine crank, no crank at all, or even dimming headlights. To test your battery, turn your key to the “on” position and see if your dashboard lights turn on. If they do, your battery likely has enough charge to start the engine. If not, your battery may be dead or dying.

If your battery is the issue, jump-starting your car may be enough to get it going again. To jump-start your car, you’ll need a set of jumper cables and another vehicle with a charged battery. Connect the cables to both vehicles’ batteries, starting with the positive terminal on the dead battery, then the positive terminal on the charged battery, the negative terminal on the charged battery, and finally the negative terminal on the dead battery. Let the charged battery charge the dead battery for a few minutes before trying to start your car.

If jump-starting doesn’t work, you may need to replace your battery altogether. A typical car battery lasts about 3-5 years, so if your battery is older than that, it’s probably time for a new one.

Check the Starter

If your battery is fully charged but your car still won’t start, the problem could be with your starter. Your starter is responsible for turning your engine over when you turn the key. If your starter isn’t working properly, you may hear a clicking noise or no noise at all when you turn the key.

To test your starter, turn on your headlights and try to start the car. If the headlights dim significantly or go out completely, it’s likely your starter is the issue. You can also try tapping the starter with a hammer or other heavy object to see if that frees it up and allows your car to start.

If your starter is the issue, it’s best to have it replaced by a professional mechanic. Starter replacement can be a complicated process, and you don’t want to risk damaging other components in your car.

Check the Fuel System

If your battery and starter both check out, the problem could be with your fuel system. A clogged fuel filter, bad fuel pump, or empty gas tank could all prevent your car from starting.

To check your fuel system, listen for a whining noise when you turn the key. This noise indicates that your fuel pump is working properly. If you don’t hear a noise, it’s possible that your fuel pump is failing.

If your fuel pump is working, the problem could be with your fuel filter. A clogged fuel filter can prevent fuel from reaching your engine, making it impossible to start your car.

Finally, check your gas tank. If it’s empty, simply filling it up could solve the problem. If it’s not empty but you suspect bad gas, try adding a fuel additive to your tank to see if that helps.

Check the Ignition System

If none of the above issues seem to be causing your car’s starting problems, the issue could be with your ignition system. Faulty spark plugs or a bad ignition coil can prevent your engine from starting, even if everything else appears to be working properly.

To test your ignition system, remove one of your spark plugs and check it for signs of wear or damage. If it looks worn, replace all of your spark plugs. If your spark plugs look fine, the problem could be with your ignition coil. An ignition coil is responsible for generating the high voltage needed to ignite your fuel and air mixture. If it fails, your engine won’t start.

If you suspect your ignition coil is the issue, it’s best to have it replaced by a professional mechanic. Ignition coil replacement can be a difficult process and may require specialized tools.


If your car won’t start, don’t panic. There are several potential causes, but most of them can be easily resolved with a little troubleshooting. Start by checking your battery, then move on to your starter, fuel system, and ignition system as needed. If you’re not comfortable diagnosing and repairing your car’s starting issues on your own, don’t hesitate to bring it to a professional mechanic. 

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