Top Reasons Your Car Isn't Starting

  • Jan 2,2017
Woman standing next to broken car and talking on the phone Woman standing next to broken car and talking on the phone

You jump in the car to meet your friend for coffee, desperate for your morning caffeine boost. You turn the key, only to discover that your trusty ride won’t turn over. You try a few more times, but nothing happens. What’s going on? There are hundreds of reasons why your car might not be starting, but a handful of usual offenders. Read on to see if your car might be suffering from one of these problems, and how you may be able to get it solved in time to still grab coffee!

Low/Empty Gas Tank

Don’t be embarrassed. You’re not the first driver to accidentally let your gas level get too low. If you’re someone who likes to drive until your gas gauge is firmly on E, that might be the reason your car won’t start. While it’s inconvenient, it’s a very fixable problem. Catch a ride to your nearest gas station and pick up a can of gas. Next time, try not to let it get quite so low, especially during the winter. When your car sits outdoors in the cold winter weather, the air in your gas tank could actually moisten and freeze.

"The more gas in the tank, the less air—and less chance of ice forming inside where it could get into fuel lines and cause trouble," says AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair on CNN Money.

Clogged Fuel Filter

The fuel filter in your vehicle helps to keep your fuel lines clear, blocking dirt and other debris from getting into it. When the filter becomes clogged, it can cause a variety of problems, including a car that won’t start. To fix this, you’ll need to change the fuel filter, a process that varies across vehicles. Check your owner’s manual to determine where your filter is located and how to go about replacing it. Make sure to replace your fuel filter about every 12 months or 12,000 miles. One way to avoid this issue in the future is to stay on top of your regularly scheduled oil changes. At Firestone Complete Auto Care, we inspect all of your vehicle's important filters during a full-service oil change. If your fuel filter is on the verge of clogging up, we'll let you know.

Broken Starter

When you’re car won’t start, it only makes sense that there could be a problem with the starter. The starter is a small motor, powered by the battery, that gets the engine running. One of the symptoms of a broken starter is a clicking noise when you turn your key. Jumping the car can sometimes get your car moving, but it’s not a certainty. To completely fix the problem, you’ll need to have your starter repaired or replaced.

Dead Battery

This is the most common reason that a car won’t start, and it’s particularly common after a long, hot summer. Higher temperatures put increased strain on your battery, and a worn out battery can give out soon after the season ends. If you turn the key and absolutely nothing happens—no lights or "dings" or anything—then you have a dead battery. To get your car moving and headed in the direction of your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care, you’ll need to jump it.

Bad Ignition Switch

You might not have to look very far to find the source of this problem. Sometimes the ignition switch (where you insert your key) can actually malfunction. When you turn your key, the ignition switch sends a signal to start the engine. If you have a bad ignition switch, the engine won’t get the message. While you can replace your ignition switch on your own, it is typically a difficult procedure—purposely made that way to prevent theft. Check your owner’s manual to learn more about how your ignition switch is removed and replaced.

If your car won’t start, chances are it’s thanks to one of these five problems. While a quick fix might get you back on the road, let the experts at Firestone Complete Auto Care handle the repairs that will be your long-term solution. Whether a dead battery or a broken starter is to blame, you can trust the knowledgeable technicians at Firestone Complete Auto Care to fix the problem and to fix it right the first time. Head to your nearest location today for a replacement car battery or repair (and feel free to bring your latte)!

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