Quick Troubleshooting Guide for when your car won't start.

frustrated car won't start
I know it sucks when you jump in your car and try to start it and you only hear  a clicking noise or no noise at all. You sit there thinking what should I do ? What could it be ? How much is this going to cost ?


Three types of scenarios that you typically encounter when your car won’t start.

This post will focus on scenario A & B and lightly cover scenario C.


Scenario A

dead dashboard
You try to start your car but nothing happens no crank no noise dead dashboard.

Scenario B

dashboard lights up car wont start
You try to start your car but all you hear is a loud clicking noise no crank

Scenario C

You try to start your car and it cranks but the car won’t turn on



Scenario A

You jump into your car and turn the key and nothing happens the car won’t crank no noise and no clicking. No lights on your dashboard.  The likely culprit is your battery is dead and requires a few hours of charging. Typically when a starter starts to die it gives you symptoms. It makes grinding noises or it clicks sometimes.   If your dashboard works sometimes you get can hit the starter with something heavy like a hammer or a piece of wood and they start working again. But that means it will be a matter of time before the starter dies. Sometimes they just die and make no noise.   You can try to short the starter to get it going but that’s advanced troubleshooting.  The safest thing for the inexperienced if possible is to remove the starter and take it to your auto parts store where they can check it for free.  




Scenario B

You try to start your car but all you hear is clicking.   This usually means you let your battery run down left your lights on or something.  Most of the time getting a boost will fix your problem. Worst case scenario your engine seized. To find out if it seized you would have to manually move the engine which is an advanced troubleshooting technique. To manually test the engine you have to move the crankshaft pulley.  If you get a boost and you still click or you get a fully charged battery and you hear clicking then your starter might be shot or dying.  You can try hitting the starter with something heavy sometimes to make it work but that starter is circling the drain.  



Scenario C

Your car cranks but it won’t start. Can be caused by lack of fuel.  No spark or no combustion.  Dirty fuel filter or your fuel pump failed.  Spark plugs could have worn out.  Or you have engine damage.


Symptoms of a bad starter

  • If your lights work and your dashboard turns on like normal
  • If you radio works and all the electrical things work
  • If you have driven all day and turn your car off for a few minutes but it clicks when you try to turn it back on


Symptoms of a bad battery

  • Headlights won’t turn on or are dim.
  • None of your dashboard lights come on or turn off when you try to start your car.
  • When it gets near freezing or below freezing your car won’t start.


Symptoms of a seized engine

  • Check your oil if you have no oil in you engine then it’s probably f’ed up to say the least.
  • When attempting to manually turn the crankshaft pulley it won’t move.
  • You can see inside the engine
  • If you try to start your car and the wires from the starter catch on fire they probably overheated because the poor starter is trying to turn an engine that won’t turn.