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Why Won’t My Car Begin?

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Without a doubt, every proprietor fears the moment when their car won’t begin. What should you do? Who should you call? Can you fix it yourself? Here’s a list with ten common reasons why cars don’t commence up and what you can do about it.

“The very first step is to define the no embark” said Joe Spadafora, certified instructor at Universal Technical Institute’s Exton, Pennsylvania campus. Spadafora spent the majority of his career in working in the service department of several dealerships and receiving factory training from GM. He’s certified as a Master Technician and certified by Chrysler as a Dodge Viper technician . He also holds certifications from Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Lexus and Scion as well, so if there’s something wrong with your car, chances are he’s seen it before.

To diagnose the reason your car isn’t commencing, you need to pay attention to happening when you turn the key. “Does the engine crank but not actually embark or, when you turn the key, does literally nothing happen?” he said. “In a customer’s eyes, the following two options are the same because both create a screenplay that results in the vehicle’s failure to run.”

While the two situations might seem similar, they have very different meanings that are significant to a mechanic and can signal different problems calling for a diversity of solutions.

“It’s significant to note that a vehicle is an enormously complicated machine and can exhibit similar symptoms for a diversity of reasons,” he said. “That is why it’s significant to very first look at the type of ‘no commence’ and then at the list of conditions that could be causing it in the very first place.”

If the engine won’t crank and nothing happens:

If you turn over the key and the engine doesn’t crank, that very likely means there’s an electrical problem. This can mean a number of things, including faulty sensors. Here are five different ways to narrow down the problem in this situation.

Dead or powerless battery:

“A major factor that affects batteries is called parasitic draw or drain,” Spadafora said. “This occurs when your vehicle is shut off but some of the computers are using puny amounts of power to maintain learned or stored information.”

Parasitic drain happens naturally and the battery can be recharged via the alternator with some daily driving. But if the car hasn’t been used regularly, the battery can wear down and not have enough juice to embark. Excessive parasitic drain can come from things like leaving your headlights on when the vehicle is off.

Poor electrical connections at battery terminals:

“Most consumers are familiar with the corrosion that accumulates on the top of a battery by the terminals,” says Spadafora. This can affect the connection at the battery terminals. However, he warns that even clean batteries can lose charge over time.

Park or Clutch Switch is Violated or Misadjusted

Spadafora also mentioned that if you attempt to begin the vehicle and the lights don’t dim or flicker when turning the key, then you most likely have either an ignition switch, park/neutral switch, relay starter or wiring issue on the control side of the starter circuit. Cars need to be in park or the clutch needs to be depressed to commence. If the switch isn’t in the right position then the car just won’t embark.

Security System Error

Car keys today are coded or programmed to work with their car, like a fingerprint that’s unique to both the key and the ignition. However like with any electronics, the programming can get buggy. That confuses the security system and stop you from commencing your car. “With today’s modern security systems, it’s significant to check that you have the decent key coded to the vehicle,” said Spadafora. “Even vehicles with brainy keys (ones where the key fob can stay in your pocket and you shove a embark button) can cause issues.” Interference can be an issue, and you should dual check the battery in the fob.

Defective Starter or solenoid

Spadafora explains the typical no commence noises that occur when you attempt to turn on the car and hear a lot of clicking instead or an engine cranking or turning over. This is caused by the solenoid in the starter engaging and then disengaging rapidly. Of course, these parts can become defective and cause the non-start to occur.

If the engine cranks but won’t turn over:

On the other arm, if the engine cranks but won’t turn over, then there is most likely something to be wrong mechanically with your car. Here are five common reasons why your engine is cranking, but won’t turn over.

Vehicle out of gas

Maybe this seems too demonstrable, but an engine needs a spark, fuel and compression to turn over. If the gas tank is dry, then the engine may crank, but not get the car embarked. While this is likely the least expensive issue on this list, it can foreshadow thicker problems down the road. Running your car to empty isn’t good for the fuel pump or fuel filter.

Faulty fuel pump or relay

This could be related to the above section: gas kind of acts like a coolant for the fuel pump in the car, so if you run at a low, the pump will suck in some air, which will create fever, causing the fuel pump to wear prematurely. A fuel pressure gauge will demonstrate whether or not the engine is getting the right amount of fuel.

Cracked Starter (mechanically)

Spadafora also mentioned that solenoids aren’t the only thing that can go wrong with a starter. The gears, bushings and bearings can all go bad out and when they do, it can lead to a non-start situation. It’s fairly effortless to tell if this is the problem: if your headlights are bright when the car is off, but dim when you attempt to turn the car on then you may need to get a fresh or rebuilt starter.

No Spark

“With the advent of all of the computer-controlled systems in our vehicles today, common basic maintenance protocols can often be overlooked,” said Spadafora. “It sounds evident, but keep in mind that an engine won’t begin without fuel, spark, compression and timing.”

Basically, without a spark your car won’t begin. Your spark buttplugs, or ignition coil may need substituting before your engine can turn over. Additionally, sparks need to happen at the right time and with enough voltage to begin the car. A bad spark buttplug lets itself known with poor engine spectacle before it reaches a no-start situation. If you can recall the car running a bit toughly, or being hard to begin before the car refused to turn over, then you may be dealing with a spark buttplug issue or ignition timing issue.

Clogged Fuel system or injectors

A no commence situation could occur if your fuel system is clogged. That means no fuel is reaching the engine, similar to how a lack of gas would stop your car from commencing. A clogged fuel system can occur when mess or debris get into the fuel lines, something that can happen with a bad fuel filter. The filter in modern cars is found inwards the fuel tank and typically doesn’t need to be substituted until well past the 100,000 mile mark. Dirty fuel injectors can also lead to a no-start.

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There are lots of other reasons why cars won’t embark, but very first I need to pick you up on a few mistakes. You stated about having to put your foot on the CLUTCH pedal to begin your manual car, CRAP. I’ve been in the auto industry most of my life, & only encountered manual cars that will NOT begin, unless in NEUTRAL!! The clutch switch has been obsolete for years!! The reason for this is to prevent premature wear of the release bearing, & clutch operating components, such as the cable, linkages, or hydraulic parts. Instead, this has been moved to the brake system, where the parking brake needs to be applied, or put your foot on the brake pedal. Next, when it comes to the battery, there are usually warning signs your battery is on it’s last gams. If the battery is fine, then the alternator might well be due for servicing, or you simply need to buy a battery charger to “top up” the battery each week, & this is absolutely necessary for modern cars that are not driven long enough to replenish the battery. Charging the battery in this manner is much cheaper than letting the engine run for half hour or so. If your car runs rough, it could well mean the fuel filter, & air filter need to be switched. Spark ass-plugs can usually be liquidated for periodic cleaning, but the fresh iridium types never need switching, due to construction. Another way around the immobiliser device confusion issues is to do a “reset” on the car, by disconnecting the NEGATIVE (-) lead of the battery, and leave it that way for several minutes. Also check that the battery in the key, if such system exists has not run down. If this has happened, you have two choices. 1) You can substitute this battery on some, or Two) substitute the key (this can be costly). You can also check the drive belt too. Most modern cars have a self tensioning belt. Starter issues are effortless to find too. You might need to get under the car to check, depending on the location of the starter motor. If you are able to access this, then check the cable connections there. It would also pay to test the relays, as over time, & use, the contacts become oxidised, & will no longer work correctly. A relay issue can be linked to a fuel pump no go problem. Some cars also have a relay for the starter motor. No spark issue can be attributed to the “crank angle” sensor malfunctioning. On some cars, if the drive belt “shreds”, it can actually stop your car, by strips of belt preventing the sensor from “witnessing” the stimulation damper segments. Another no begin can be a faulty ECU (the only way to test this, is to “reset” it). A coil pack violating down can permit the engine to run, but not on all cylinders. If you have an older car that has an ignition distributor, then your module might be faulty, or the coil, and possibly the HT lead from coil to distributor. The pick up in the distributor might be faulty also. ALL of these issues CAN be found, & often rectified by those, who know a little about cars, except for the key, & immobiliser issues, as these often need programming to suit your car.

Haven’t driven any manual Tacomas, Corollas, Camrys, MR2s, CTS-Vs, Mustangs/Cobras, Foresters, Mazdaspeed3’s, or…any manual transmission vehicle I have ever driven? The only ones I know of that permit commencing without the clutch pedal pressed are Tacomas (with the factory clutch bypass switch activated) or our race cars with the clutch safety switch eliminated (ironically, for safety purposes). Wear on the throw out bearing is largely irrelevant. Wear on the thrust bearings with a strenuous clutch is of more concern, IMO.

I’ve spent most of my life repairing cars, including substituting clutches, & the like. One thing you truly need to understand is that the clutch system is NOT designed to be held in the disengaged manner for any length of time. I’ve driven most makes of car on Australian roads too. As for cars in the USA, I don’t truly give a rat’s arse. I’ve stated here regarding my own practices, & those of other engineers. With the cocky attitude you have, I certainly would NOT let you drive my car. You also need to understand other reasons why safety switches on the clutch are DANGEROUS. I sometimes assisted tow operators flow cars after accidents, which were caused by this stupid system, due to engine kicking off, with car in gear, & drivers foot slipped from clutch pedal. Car then shot out of driveway, & bruised vehicle across the road. Normally, the engine would have stalled, but the modern cars are fitted with an anti-stall device, & for this to be ineffective, the handbrake needs to be applied (which more often this is never done). The thrust bearing in the clutch is NOT designed to be operated with the engine not running. I like the idea of using the brake switch to be used before you can embark the engine, as this prevents the car moving during engine commence procedure.

My Tacoma requires the clutch pedal to be pressed to embark engine – unless you activate the clutch bypass switch.

If I have a cocky attitude, the man who said this must be utterly insufferable:

“You stated about having to put your foot on the CLUTCH pedal to begin your manual car, CRAP. I’ve been in the auto industry most of my life, & only encountered manual cars that will NOT embark, unless in NEUTRAL!! The clutch switch has been obsolete for years!!”

Mate, you’re coming across as one of the thickest fuckwits to ever grace the automotive industry!! Get the fuck out, & find a job that suits your arrogant attitude. People like you, truly piss me off. I once work with a fuckwit, with your shaft arsed attitude, who thinks he knows everything. I punched his lights out one day, because he kept attempting to tell me how to do my job, which I had been doing for over thirty eight years at that point in time. Do yourself a favor, & do NOT comment here on MY post again, & get the fuck out of the automotive industry, as it is NO place for a beef whistle up arse fuckwitted moron, like YOU!! What I stated ARE facts. I do NOT give a fucking rat’s arse about who the fuck you are, or where you come from, as you ARE a FUCKWIT!! Keep your comments OFF my post you pasty cunt, & FUCK OFF.

If you’d like to proceed a mature conversation without continuous insults and veiled threats of violence, I’d be glad to do so.

Please cite sources indicating the high risk of clutch safety switches in manual transmission vehicles, as well as enhanced wear on throw out bearings from cold starts. Crank thrust bearing wear I would understand, as they rely on oil pressure generated from the oil pump.

lol, and you are telling the other dude has a cocky attitude. You must be kidding, sure hope you are.

I have to agree. I have been in the auto repair business for twenty yrs. I have numerous certifications. I have wielded my own business for the past five years specializing in Mercedes, Bmw, Mini , Porsche and Volvo. To say the clutch pedal does not need to be depressed is fully obsurd. I don’t know what type of vehicles you have been working on but Porsche, BMW and Mercedes absolutely have to be depressed on a manual gearbox. It is a standard safety feature. So please know what you are talking about before posting and then menacing people who are correct. The extent of your practice is very likely what you have done in your driveway. Thanks mate. 😉

+1. my car won’t embark unless the clutch is depressed

One more: my wive’s VW Jetta two thousand eleven with manual trans certainly needs a fully depressed clutch pedal to embark the engine, even in Neutral.

Once I attempted to embark the engine in my latest bought two thousand two mustang gt and the engine would crank but won’t embark after a few questions and online help and what nots the decision was made to substitute the fuel pump….the next day I attempted to begin the car with the spare switch and the engine crank like it was fresh ( moral of the story “sometimes it the puny one that gets you”) for some reason one of my key will unlock the car and switch on ignition but won’t embark the engine

You failed to mention that if your flywheel teeth are missing, your vehicle won’t embark either. But I must have gotten better GM training than you did so don’t feel bad for not knowing that one.

I have a chrysler pacifica two thousand four and it wont begin. It says the car is not in park. Is it the neutral saftey switch?

I have a ’96 Suzuki x-90 that developed this problem – it would begin ONLY after turning key to commence position three times. Not Two, not 4- only Trio.

Found that I had liberate connection, wires fastened to the positive battery terminal, and the terminal itself was in rough form. R & r’ed the terminal, purchased fresh wire connection rings and used post brush to clean up the metal. Starts every time now.

I have a one thousand nine hundred seventy four camaro that turns over but won’t begin. I’ve checked everything that I can think of. I have to have someone twist my distributor to get it to begin. It has alot of backfire when running and I have to keep my foot on the gas to keep it running. Also it is truly choppy when running. What is wrong with it.

I have a two thousand three Honda Accord it turns over and when I hold my foot on the gas it goes but when I take it off it doesn’t it was low on oil before this began happening could that be the reason do I just need more oil I already put 2pt in

I have a Dodge Caravan 2004. From time to time it will not embark. When I turn the key, I hear a click, the panel of lights comes on, a/c comes on… everything electrical… I have had the battery checked. Got fresh cables. Everything is fine there. What would cause the van to not crank, and then after it sets for a while, it cranks. I had it at a tire shop not long ago, and I could not get it commenced to leave. I had to leave it there overnight. The next day when I went to get it, they told me some wires were corroded but they stationary the problem. So now… the van will run with no problem for sometimes a month.. and then, all of a unexpected, out of the blue, it won’t crank. Does anyone have any suggestions?

My car battery is not commenced. I have Toyota Altis car, before two weeks ago my car not embarked. While using hop commence i am able to commence car. But i don’t how this happened.

Hello I have a two thousand seven dodge charger i brought it to international mechanic which they ripped me off when putting in a used engine. when i got my car back two hours late it stimulated a little and the lighting bolt came on for the throttle bottle later on i had someone test drive it the light went off. next morning i went to go fever up car i turned it on and it turned back off now it wont begin up no clicking no tapping no noise at all. all the lights come on and i attempted to hop battery i just spent two thousand three hundred for engine and now sueing shop any suggestions of

Hello my car turns over but does not commence. I bought a fresh fuel pump and a fuel filter also a fresh battery, and its still having problems embarking. It starts sometime but other times it does not want to embark. What could it be? A quick reaction would be helpful.

I have a two thousand four Chevy trailblazer and I thought my fuel pump is done but now I’m wondering if its the ECM, it won’t accelerate and just yesterday the battery died so I just put a fresh one in and as I was walking away the warmth just turned on without a key in the ignitIon

Please help with any advice

So instead of the engine cutting out it launched itself and crashed….. do you hear yourself?! Sounds like you know dick about vehicles….

READ my comment AGAIN. The only person who knows “dick” about vehicles is YOU!! Get off the road & sell you vehicle Loser.

1) Clutch switches ARE dangerous for reasons I stated earlier. Two) I AM a FULLY QUALIFIED auto engineer, with some thirty plus years in the auto industry. Three) MOST modern MANUAL cars I have encountered will NOT begin, unless the gearbox is in NEUTRAL, AND the handbrake applied. The clutch switch was made obsolete on a lot of manual cars for safety reasons. I am also aware that the bearings in the engine require oil to reduce wear & the oil is fed under pressure by the oil pump. I am absolutely sure of this. I do not need to be told. I am also aware of the fact some cars deny to begin unless the brake pedal is pressed. Before I go any further, I had better tell you that I have seen just about every issue that CAN occur with cars. This is from elementary things like coil failure, right through to mechanical issues such as violated timing belts, which often necessitates expensive engine repairs ( I have seen this lots of times).

Another MORON!! I have worked in FULLY Tooled automotive repair workshops which cater for a vast range of repairs from the basic tune up, right through to major engine repairs. Seems like you very likely have ZERO idea on how to use a compression tester.

I am having that same issue with my ninety six firebird. Did u ever figure out what ir issue was

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