There’s nothing quite as disheartening as when you jump in your car to set off for the day, only to find that your car just won’t start. Whether there’s no response at all to the key turn, or you’re hearing odd noises as the ignition fights to start, there are a number of reasons that things might not be working as they should, with some easier to fix than others. If you aren’t sure whether you need to call for help or want a better idea of what could be going wrong before you book in your vehicle, here are some of the top reasons your car won’t start and what you should do.
A flat battery is one of the biggest causes for a non-starting vehicle, but also one of the easiest to fix. Your vehicle’s battery is self charging as you drive but in the case that you accidentally left the radio, headlights or other electrics on in the car, it can run down overnight and leave you with no power by the time you jump into the car next. There are other reasons that a battery might have gone flat or may not be working, including:
- Loose Wiring
- Poor conductivity due to evaporated water from the component
- The battery has been worn down or expired
If the battery light is showing on your dashboard, this is a clear sign that it needs to be charged or that something is wrong – but what should you do?
What To Do
If it’s a simple case of a flat battery, you should have someone jump start your car and then drive for at least half an hour, ideally in traffic-less conditions. If you can’t avoid traffic, drive for longer in order to charge your battery up enough to ensure it will start up the next time you drive. If your car doesn’t start after a jump start, there could be a bigger issue at hand and you may need to replace the battery or alternator, or the connections to the battery. A mechanic or technician can help you with these if you don’t know where to start.
You Could Have A Flooded Engine
If you have an older car, your engine could be at risk of being flooded by fuel. Modern cars don’t tend to have this issue as they’re run on fuel injectors, but it may be worth checking anyway. Flooding can happen when a car is moved without being on – for example, if you’ve moved it out of a garage, onto a driveway or anywhere it may have travelled a few metres. This is another easy-to-fix issue, however, providing there isn’t a deeper issue that needs to be repaired.
What To Do
To fix a flooded engine, you should press down on the accelerator repeatedly for no more than a few seconds each time while you’re trying to start the car. Once it’s running, you should leave it idling for a few minutes to give the fuel a chance to circulate and even out again.
There May Be A Key Problem
Keyless car systems are becoming more and more common in modern vehicles, but they also come with their issues. If the ignition system doesn’t recognise it’s own key, the car is unlikely to start and this could be due to something as simple as having a flat battery in the key fob. If your central locking system isn’t responding or is responding irregularly to the key fob, this is one way to tell whether this is the issue. This is only really an issue in vehicles that have a no-key start system that only requires a button.
What To Do
If it appears your key is low on battery or the vehicle isn’t responding to the fob for any reason, you should try your spare key to see if this resolves the issue. If it does, you can replace the battery in your existing key and this should resolve the issue with the key. If there are still issues, or your spare key doesn’t work, you can book your vehicle in for a service or inspection to see if there are other issues at play.
You’re Out Of Fuel
It takes fuel to start up a car and if you’ve been running on fumes, it could be that you just don’t have enough to get the car started up. If there’s a chance that your fuel gauge has broken or is reading inaccurately, it can be impossible to check just how close to empty you really are which could be the reason you’ve gone without fuel. Similarly, an unexpected lack of fuel could be caused by leaks.
What To Do
It’s important to first check for any signs of a leak – check under your vehicle for puddles to ensure there are no external leaks. If there are no signs of a leak or you know you were close to empty, the fix is as simple as getting a petrol can and filling up your car from that, at least enough to make it to the nearest petrol station.
Your Steering Lock Is On
Your steering wheel can lock for a number of reasons and when it does, you won’t be able to turn the key in the ignition. If you turn the wheel as you take the key out of the ignition, this can trigger the lock, as can parking with your wheel against the kerb.
What To Do
If your steering wheel has locked, there are two ways you can fix this – the first is to turn the wheel gently from side to side as you turn the key in the ignition until the lock releases. If this doesn’t work, you could release the handbrake and let your car roll forward a little in order to release the lock, providing that is safe to do so. Don’t do this is there are any obstacles immediately in front of you, or you are on a steep incline.
Broken Starter Motors
The starter motor of your vehicle is the very mechanism that makes it possible for your vehicle to even start. It is connected directly to the car battery and will set the engine into motion once you start the ignition and if it is faulty or broken, this process may not be able to take place, meaning your car just won’t start. If you know that your battery is charged (or example, if your headlights and radio are working), but you hear a clicking noise when you turn the ignition, this may be a sign of a broken or faulty starter motor.
What To Do
If you’re hearing clicking when you start your engine, the first port of call should always be to call a professional. They can diagnose the issue and provide you with the right repairs so you can drive away safely in a fully working vehicle.