Why Won’t My Car Start? (Common & Not Common Reasons)

Many car owners ask themselves: ‘Why won’t my car start?’ at least once in their life. If you have such experience, you know how problematic that can be.

There are dozens of reasons why you can’t start the engine, but you will probably face just a few most common ones. Once you understand what is going on, you will solve the problem quicker. Let’s see.

1. Dead Battery

The most common reason why you can’t start your car is probably the one you can solve as soon as you find the first car part shop.

The situation is clear. The battery provides electrical power for the vehicle. If it is new and works correctly, the alternator charges it while you drive your car, and allows regular work of all electrical components, such as lights or radio.

Once these units start depleting battery without the possibility of replenishing, you won’t be able to use your car. There is a list of reasons why the car battery drains, including:

  • You left headlights on for too long or even overnight
  • The expired lifespan of the battery
  • The wire is loose
  • The conductivity is reduced due to evaporating the water inside the component

You will know whether the battery is the cause of the issue or not when you try to turn on headlights. If they don’t work, you should suspect the battery since it controls these lights.

If the battery starts working after using the jump start, either an alternator or the battery is weak. You can solve the problem by replacing a worn-out piece.

To be sure, you can use jumper cables to confirm if the battery is the reason why your car doesn’t start.

Jump-starting a car

Since the weak car battery is the most common problem with starting the car, you should learn the trick with a jump start. It is the way to start your vehicle by using power from another car’s full battery.

The only things you need to have are a kind neighbor and jumper cables. If you find both, the procedure is quite quick and uncomplicated.

However, you should check the manual to determine the location of the connection points and how to connect the jumper cables correctly to finish the job in the right way.


If you mix the positive and negative cables accidentally while trying to start the car this way, you will cause significant damage to the electrical system!

2. Weak or Broken Starter

Weak Or Broken Starter

When a starter is broken, you won’t be able to start your car. It is a piece responsible for turning on the engine, and it will seem dead when there is a problem with this piece.

You will know what is going one when you notice the following:

  • The car doesn’t start when you turn the ignition key
  • The only sound you can hear after turning the ignition key is a loud click, but nothing else happens

3. Defective Ignition Switch

After checking the car battery and concluding that it is not a problem you look for, the next thing you should examine is the ignition switch. The sign that this piece causes the problem is the absence of starting after a few tries. The second possibility is that your car starts regularly, but suddenly stops running.

Try to turn the ignition key to the position for a start, and then let it come back to the ‘on’ position. If the warning lights start blinking, but they put out as soon as the switch goes back in, you need to fix the ignition switch.

4. Empty Gas Tank

Empty Gas Tank

Yes, it is an evident and logical cause of why the car doesn’t start, but most of us don’t think about it very often, right? In such a situation, you should check the light warning you about the level of fuel in the gas tank. Solve the problem quickly by heading to the nearest gas station and purchase gas.

5. Compromised Security System

Nowadays, most modern cars come with a security system allowing the vehicle to start after you insert the right key. It is an excellent option that offers additional security and prevents possible thefts.

There is a chip that is identical for both your car key and an ignition key. If these two keys don’t match, your car won’t start, no matter how many times you try to do that.

When keys match perfectly, the security light turns on for a few seconds and turns off automatically. In such a situation, you will know that everything is OK with the vehicle.

On the other hand, when security light continues to flash or doesn’t turn off within several minutes, you will know that the system refuses to start working for security reasons.

The most common cause is switching the keys. So, when something like this happens, you should check if you have the key belonging to that particular car in your hand.

If you insert the wrong key by mistake, you need to reprogram the system. If you don’t know how to do that, you can look for this piece of information in the manual or online. Keep in mind that the programming method varies depending on the car model.

6. Fuel Filter

Fuel Filter

Keep your fuel filter clean if you want to avoid the problem with reaching gasoline to the engine. In general, the ideal period for changing them is after 10,000 to 15,000 miles (16,000 – 24,100). That way, you will prevent clogging.

Once the filter gets clogged, fuel can’t reach the engine, and it will be impossible for you to start the car. To be sure that the reason for this inconvenience is a clogged fuel filter, you need to open and inspect it.

Not So Common, but Possible Reasons

Some other, not so common, reasons for this inconvenience include:

The engine cranks, but the vehicle refuses to start

  • Bad fuel pump
  • Bad spark plugs
  • The issue with timing belt
  • Faulty cam or crank sensor

Absolutely nothing happens after turning the key

  • Bad terminals
  • Faulty contacts in the wiring or ignition switch

The car won’t start when raining

  • The dampness in the distributor cap

The car won’t start on winter mornings

  • Closed choke in the car having carburetors