Top 5 Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start – Causes & Solutions

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5 reasons why your car won’t start

What is worse than your car not getting started? Not knowing the reasons why your car won’t start. Have you been in a situation where you urgently wanted to be someplace but got stuck because your car won’t start? If yes, you must learn why your vehicle is putting you through such misery.

Vehicles are heavy pieces of machinery that, due to several internal and external factors, can stop working.  Sometimes, the issues are apparent and can be taken care of immediately. However, sometimes they become a real pain for the car owner, making them panicky and concerned.

If you have ever been in such a situation where your car decided to die on you and wished you could have handled the situation better or want to be prepared if ever such distress chooses to follow you, I have this guide.

In this article, we will explore the top five reasons why your car won’t start and guide you on handling each of them quickly.

1. Empty Fuel Tank

Empty Fuel Tank

One of the most common reasons why your car won’t start but lights come on, is the empty fuel tank.  Today, we live in a fast-moving world. With so much to accomplish in such a limited time, it is common for car owners like you to forget about checking fuel levels in your ride.

So, if you are running on low fuel levels, your ride will eventually come to a halt. But this issue can be fixed by arranging for more gas.

If you get stranded on the road or in your garage with no fuel, you can have roadside assistance help you get extra fuel, and you can rev up your ride to drive without any problems.

2. Dead Battery

Dead Battery

Another common reason you will ask yourself why my car won’t crank but lights come on is a dead battery. Battery is a car’s powerhouse, providing ignition and power to run all the comfort features. But if the battery is completely drained, you cannot start your ride.

There can be several reasons why your car battery is dead like you accidentally left your car on, your car battery is too old, there is a loose or broken connection, or the battery has become a victim of corrosion.

The severity of the reason causing the issue plays a significant role in resolving it. You can simply do a quick fix by jump-starting your car with the help of portable car battery jump starters and another vehicle.

However, if your car won’t jump start but the lights come on, open the hood and examine the battery. If you see the presence of corrosion or liquid spilled around it, your car battery must be replaced.

As per top car battery manufacturers, changing your car battery every four to five years is recommended. So, if you could jump-start your ride this time, you might not get lucky the next time.

In addition, if you are constantly encountering such issues with your battery, it would be wise to replace it as soon as possible.

3. Broken Or Bad Starter Motor

Broken Or Bad Starter Motor

Your car’s starter is a motor connected to the battery under the hood. When you turn on the ignition, the starter works on getting the engine cranking. As soon as the engine is turned on and everything is in motion, the starter’s work is finished until you kill the engine and start it again.

So, if you find yourself wondering why is my car not starting but the battery isn’t dead and there is a clicking sound, then a broken or faulty starter is to be responsible.

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A bad starter motor is not something you can jumpstart simply because it is connected to your car battery.

This is an issue that will require a professional’s assistance. So, if you encounter any problems like corrosion, oil leaks, bad fuse, or loose/dirty/corroded wiring to and from the starter, take your ride to a mechanic and have the starter motor replaced.

4. Faulty Ignition Switch

Faulty Ignition Switch

A faulty ignition switch might be the issue when your car won’t start but all the lights come on. Suppose the ignition switch has gone bad or faulty. In that case, it will be unable to impart power to the starter motor, ignition system, and other engine controls, hindering your can engine from starting.

Wiring and fuse issues are among the most common reasons for a faulty ignition. Thus, you must have a technician examine your ride, as they are the only ones who can adequately handle such mechanical issues.

5. Bad Fuel Pump

Bad Fuel Pump

If your gas tank has enough fuel, the battery is as good as new, and there is no clicking sound lingering as soon as you put your keys in the ignition, you might be dealing with a faulty fuel pump.

The fuel pump is a crucial system of your engine that transports the fuel from the gas tank to the combustion chamber. If the fuel pump is facing problems, it may not be able to get the fuel from your fuel tank to the combustion chamber, making you unable to start your car.

If your car won’t start and no noise is there to be heard, then have a professional mechanic look at your vehicle and address the issue properly.

Now that you know the five reasons why your car won’t start, you must also learn that these are not the only issues that will cause you trouble starting your vehicle. That’s right. There are several other reasons in addition to all the reasons mentioned above. 

They sure might not be the most common ones, but they can occur, and if you do not keep yourself informed, you might not be able to diagnose the issues like why is my car cranking but not starting, and more. To give you a better idea, I have explained some other not-so-common reasons your car won’t start.

6. Bad Timing Belt

Bad Timing Belt

The timing belt is an essential part of your car’s engine. It helps rotate the engine’s camshaft & crankshaft, or valves, in unison, assisting the cylinders in firing at appropriate times.

The overall task of the timing belt is to offer smooth engine operation. So, if your engine is not running smoothly and you are having trouble starting along with plenty of noise in sight, you need to examine the timing belt.

The timing belt is an extensive mechanical part of the engine that most car owners tend to overlook. So, it does not matter how well you maintain your car; you will face engine issues.

And the longer you let that lousy timing belt sit with your engine, the more chances you may end up with a busted engine and have to replace it.

So, examine your engine’s timing belt for any wear or tear. And as soon as you find any, have the belt replaced immediately.

7. Locked Steering Wheel

Locked Steering Wheel

This one might sound silly, but most car owners have done this. A locked steering wheel can be a reason you cannot bring your car engine to life, especially if your car is new or shows no other signs of problems.

Today, most cars come with an anti-theft system that locks your car’s steering wheel as soon as you park your car for the day. If you put your key in and cannot turn it, you mistakenly put your steering wheel to lock the previous night.

You must move your steering wheel a little left or right as you turn your car key to handle this. Usually, turning the wheel slightly will release the lock, allowing you to turn the key and start your car.

8. Bad Alternator

Bad Alternator

If you are wondering why won’t my car start but the radio and lights work then you might be suffering from a bad alternator. An alternator recharges your car battery and keeps all the electrical systems running after your car engine has come to life.

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So, suppose you are having trouble starting your car, but all the crucial parts, including the battery, are in great shape. In that case, you have a terrible alternator that should be replaced immediately.

9. Worn Out Spark Plugs

Worn Out Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are another crucial assembly part that helps bring your car engine to life. If they are worn out, you may have difficulty starting your car to the point where you cannot do so anymore.

You can pinpoint spark plugs that need to be replaced if you suddenly see a drop in your gas mileage and acceleration, along with the troubles to start your engine.

10. Broken Distributor Cap

Broken Distributor Cap

The distributor cap routes the power from the ignition coil to the spark plugs. But if it is malfunctioning or broken, it can cause your engine to misfire, cause strange noises, activate the check engine light, and even prevent your car from starting.

So, check that the area under and around the distribution cap is moisture-free. If you find any moisture or the lid is broken, replace it immediately.

11. Clogged Fuel Filter

Clogged Fuel Filter

If you have all the crucial parts of your engine in good shape and working correctly but still the car won’t start it just clicks or does not make any sound at all, a clogged fuel filter might be the culprit.

A clogged fuel filter keeps the gas from reaching your engine. And with no fuel to burn, your engine will have difficulty starting. Of all the reasons why your car won’t start, this one is the sneakiest and hard to realize.

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However, if you suddenly begin to encounter fuel-related trouble, a sudden drop in the gas mileage, and the apparent difficulty in starting your car, your ride suffers from a blocked fuel filter.

As per car manufacturers, fuel filters should be replaced every 30,000 miles. So, if you have reached this milestone around the time your car started to act up, it is worth checking and replacing it.

Why My Subaru Won’t Start But The Lights Turn On?

In recent years, American car buyers have become exceptionally fond of Subaru, a famous Japanese car brand. The brand is known for its safe, sensible, reliable, and affordable cars.

So, if you struggle with questions like why my car won’t start wait 10 minutes and it starts, or why your car won’t start sometimes, you might be sitting on car issues you neglected for quite some time.

A vehicle only acts out at the time of starting if there is something wrong with one of the many of its engine’s components. If you know about vehicles and can perform the inspection, check the battery, spark plugs, timing belt, alternator, fuel pump, starter motor, and fuel tank.

One of these parts will have some issues with them, leading to your struggle with your car. However, if nothing is wrong with these parts, it must be a clogged fuel filter.

But still, if you cannot find answers as to why your car won’t start but battery is good and the lights are working. Take your ride to a professional mechanic, have them handle the issue, and give you your ride back as good as a new one.

Top FAQs About Car Won’t Crank But Lights Come On

How can I diagnose the starting problems related to why my car won’t start?

When you cannot start your car or have difficulty bringing it back to life, do not think it has happened all too suddenly.

Your car being unable to start is the final step of the issue that your vehicle might have been suffering from for a long time and that you were unaware of.

Sometimes, you can get a clue regarding what is wrong with your vehicle if you pay attention to it closely. 

Here is a list of some things that you should look out for:

  • No noise when starting the car;
  • Rapid clicking noise when you start the ignition;
  • Single click when you begin the ignition;
  • The engine cracks, but the car won’t start.
  • The engine starts but cuts out.

If you diagnose any of these things happening to your ride, you must have a mechanic thoroughly inspect your ride.

What do I do if my car won’t start?

Getting stuck with a car that won’t start, no matter how hard you try, is a huge inconvenience. It makes you late for your endeavors and sometimes can leave you stranded in an unknown location.

If your car defies you in your garage, then you are still lucky. However, if you are on a roadside with a busted ride, call your car insurance provider or roadside assistance and have them tow you to a nearby professional shop.

However, it would be best to never be caught in such a miserable situation. 

To ensure that, you should maintain your car well, inspect your ride properly as soon as you see some unusual signs in its workings, and, most importantly, have a professional closely examine your ride at least once every three to four months.

What is the most common reason a car will not start?

The most common reason you will find yourself struggling with starting your automobile will be due to a dead battery.

A car battery is something that most car owners cannot pay heed to as much as needed. Not keeping a check on the battery charge and its health leads to its degradation and eventually death, leading to engine problems.

Sure, vehicles run on gasoline and electricity. Still, they need the power to get started, which a battery provides.

Thus, the first thing you should look for if you encounter a problem with starting your car engine is its battery. 

How do I jump-start my car?

You can only revive your car’s engine by jump-starting it if it is caused due to a dead battery.

For this, you need car battery jumpstarters comprising two cables with positive and negative ends. You need to connect the positive end of the cable to the negative end of your car battery and the negative end to the positive.

Then, you must attach the remaining cables’ remaining ends to another car that will help you with jump-starting.

Once the connections are secure, you should start the working car and let its power revive the juices in your car battery and allow you to start your engine.

But remember, just because you could jump-start your car this time does not mean your troubles are over. If you do not inspect the car battery properly, the situation can worsen next time.

What are the signs of a bad ignition switch?

There is more than one sign of a bad ignition switch. Your car will not start, but all the lights will turn on, your engine will stall, there will be electrical issues, you will not be able to unlock your steering wheel, or absolutely nothing will happen when you try to start your car.

How can I maintain my car well?

If you wish to keep your ride for a long time, you must work hard to maintain it. A vehicle is nothing but a piece of machinery with several small & huge parts. Thus, you need to ensure they are working well in unison.

As an owner, you should keep your ride clean inside out, change engine oil frequently, ensure the ride does not run out of fuel, and look closely at engine components like timing belts, oil filters, spark plugs, and more.

But above all this, you must take your car to a professional mechanic at least once every three to four months and have them inspect your ride thoroughly.

By doing these things, you will always be ahead of issues, find them before they can turn severe, keep your ride healthy, and drive it for a long time.


This article covers the top 5 reasons why your car won’t start and gives you one hell of a problem to tackle. You can never predict the working of machinery.

But what you can do is take care of it and take necessary measures as soon as you find an issue, no matter how insignificant it may seem. We hope you are now completely aware of what you must do if your car refuses to wake from its sleeping state.

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Ritambra is an absolute car fanatic who loves to drive and write about cars. Explore new car launches, automobile technologies, best car deals and more with entertaining, informative and delightful reading that will surely quench your thirst for automobiles.

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