Three Reasons Your Car Isn’t Starting

Is your car not starting? Before you take it into the mechanic, take some time to research the issue. Knowing what symptoms are relevant to your mechanic may help speed up the time it takes to troubleshoot.


Your car's battery provides the electricity needed to start your car and powers the radio, thermostat, and other auxiliaries when the car is off. The battery charges while the vehicle is on, but over time, batteries lose the ability to hold a charge. If the battery doesn't have enough power to start the car, it won't start.

If your car cranks but fails to turn over, or is completely unresponsive with the ignition turned on, the battery may be dead. You may also want to check the connections on the battery cables-- heavy corrosion can cause symptoms similar to a dead battery. In those instances, cleaning the connections with baking soda and a toothbrush should fix the problem. Otherwise, consider taking your battery to an auto parts store to be tested. Your car's manual should have instructions on how to remove the battery.


Your car's alternator powers auxiliaries and charges the battery when the engine is running. If the alternator starts to fail, you may have started noticing symptoms long before your car wouldn't start. Do your car's lights dim when you turn it on? Do you hear a high-pitched whining noise coming from the engine compartment when you drive? These are all early warning signs of a dying alternator.

A dead alternator can also cause your car's engine not to turn over. This is because the alternator charges the battery, and when it's not able to do so, the battery will eventually die. If your car was exhibiting signs of a dying alternator prior to your no-start situation, you may want to talk to your mechanic about replacing the alternator.


The ignition is another potential problem area when your car won't start. When the key is turned in the ignition, it begins the process of turning the vehicle on. If the ignition doesn't send that message, the car won't start. If you're able to turn your headlights on but the engine won't turn over, that could be indicative of a faulty ignition lock cylinder.

Having a heavy set of keys can cause ignition problems. Early symptoms include the key getting stuck in the ignition when the vehicle is off, or the car turning off while driving. If you experienced any of those symptoms prior to your car not starting, talk to your mechanic about replacing the ignition lock cylinder.

It can be frustrating when your car won't start, and repairs can be expensive. Knowing where to start looking for the problem can speed up the time it takes to troubleshoot and get you back on the road faster. Contact a company like Jensen Tire & Auto for more information.