There are some components that are responsible every time the car won’t start. However, people assume all sorts of things in such situations.
The car battery is usually, the main suspect. Therefore, we’re going to compare situations where it’s responsible with situations where the starter is responsible.
Further, we are going to look at how faulty ignition system components and fuel system components can be responsible for a dead car. All the insights of how to troubleshoot this issue will be looked at here.
a]. Dead battery.
There are many reasons why your car battery becomes drained. For example, human error, faulty wiring and corroded battery terminals among others.
A dead battery is one of the common reasons why your car won’t start. You can check if the battery is the problem by assessing some of the vehicle’s electrical appliances like the alarm or the watch.
If these accessories are not working, then the battery could be dead. Try jump starting the vehicle and if this works, you know that the battery was responsible for the car not starting.
b]. Faulty ignition coil.
When there is a problem with the ignition coil, the engine will just be silent as you try to start the vehicle. In fact, all you will hear is a grinding sound.
If you observe that the electrical appliances of the vehicle are working then the ignition switch could be the challenge. A faulty ignition coil will be unable to transfer battery voltage to the spark plug.
Once the spark plug gets the electric current, it generates a spark within the combustion chamber. Afterwards, this spark will ignite the fuel in order to start the engine.
c]. Clogged Fuel Filter.
As your vehicle’s mileage increases, there is a possibility that the fuel filter may become clogged. The engine cannot start while there is insufficient fuel.
The fuel filter is responsible for ensuring clean fuel flows into the combustion chamber. Hence protecting the engine from damage that can result from exposure to those impurities.
So, a clogged fuel filter usually prevents the engine from receiving sufficient fuel. This forms one of the reasons why the car won’t start. A replacement is the best solution.
d]. Battery terminals corrosion.
You can determine if this is the reason why the car won’t start by simply observing the battery’s terminals. Just look out for some whitish deposits around the battery connections.
If you find some deposits, disconnect the battery terminals while observing the recommended car battery disconnection procedure. Afterwards, just clean the terminals carefully to get rid of the corrosions and reconnect it again.
e]. Faulty starter.
The starter motor usually cranks the engine after receiving electric voltage from the car battery during ignition. It sets the engine’s pistons and crankshaft in motion so that the engine starts roaring.
If the starter is faulty, the engine falls silent when you try to start it. A clicking sound without engine turn over during ignition is one of the ways for you to conclude that a faulty starter is responsible.
f]. Faulty fuse.
The location of the fuse box differs from one car to the next. Check the owners manual to find out the location of the fuse box.
Fuses are prone to electrical short circuit when there is an issue with the electric current flow. Once a fuse blows, it cuts electric current flow to the desired destination.
Replace the damaged fuse with another one that has similar specifications. Additionally, ensure that the wiring is in a good condition.
g]. Worn out spark plug.
The spark plug is a common reason why the car won’t start. The spark plug gets soot on it’s surface over its lifespan which reduces its efficiency.
When this happens, the car engine will not respond during ignition. Furthermore, a faulty spark plug will cause engine misfires. In fact, it’s one of the things that have an effect on the car’s fuel economy.
h]. Faulty timing belt.
The engine’s timing belt is responsible for facilitating the timely combustion of air and fuel when the engine is running. This is possible because the timing belt opens and closes the inlet and exhaust valves at the right time.
Hence facilitating the proper air-to-fuel mixture ratio within the combustion chamber. Furthermore, the timing belt synchronizes the movement of the camshaft and the crankshaft.
Additionally, the timing belt ensures the proper movement of the car engine pistons. Therefore, the car will not start if the timing belt is faulty.
Why is my car not starting but I have power?
This is something that rarely happens. However, you will notice that when you switch the ignition to ”On Mode” the dashboard will light up.
In fact, the headlights can come on even though the engine refuses to turn over. Additionally, the engine will only make a clicking sound without even cranking.
This is an indication that the battery voltage is okay. However, the issue could be originating from the car ignition system.
A metallic key ignition system may have a key stuck in it for various reasons. This will prevent you from starting the car.
However, below we’re not going to get into that. Instead, we are going to look at ignition components that might be faulty. Hence, preventing you from starting the car.
Apart from the faulty ignition system components, the problem could also arise from the fuel system. We’ll explore all of these possibilities.
Faulty ignition system components.
The responsibility of the ignition system in a combustion engine is to ignite the air-to-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber. There are a number of ignition system components that make this possible.
a]. Faulty ignition switch.
The responsibility of the ignition switch is to control the flow of electrical power from the battery. Meaning that the ignition switch, completes the circuit to allow the engine to start.
Causes of a faulty ignition switch.
- A worn-out or damaged ignition key.
- Worn out contacts or loose wiring connections.
- Faulty ignition lock cylinder.
b]. Malfunctioning starter motor.
When you turn the key in the ignition, the starter motor engages with the engine’s flywheel, enabling it to rotate and start running
The starter motor usually initiates the rotation of the internal combustion engine in other words, its role is to crank the engine and initiate the combustion process.
Causes of a malfunctioning starter motor.
- Faulty starter solenoid.
- Worn-out brushes or a worn armature within the starter motor.
- Corrosion or loose connections in the wiring that connects the starter motor.
- Weak or dead car battery.
- Damaged flywheel.
- Faulty ignition switch.
c]. Faulty spark plugs.
The spark plug is an essential part of the combustion engine’s ignition process. Its main function is to ignite the air-fuel mixture within the engine’s cylinders, creating the combustion necessary for the engine to run.
Causes of faulty spark plugs.
- Fouling which is carbon buildup on the electrodes.
- Wear and tear over the period of its lifespan.
- Oil or fuel contamination.
- Bad spark plug wires.
d]. Bad electrical connections.
The car’s electric system is made up of different components which facilitate functionality by providing electrical power to various parts of the vehicle. The electrical connections are the various wiring and connectors that enable the flow of electricity.
Causes of bad electrical connections.
- Corrosion due to repetitive contact with moisture.
- Loose connections.
- Damaged or frayed wiring.
- Faulty relays.
- Blown fuses.
- Issues with the car’s electrical grounding system.
Faulty fuel system components.
A car’s fuel system is responsible for delivering fuel from the fuel tank to the combustion chamber within a combustion engine. Some of its components are the fuel pump, fuel filter, fuel injectors and fuel lines.
Problems within some of the fuel system components will cause the car not to start even when your car has power.
a]. Faulty fuel pump.
The function of a fuel pump is to deliver fuel from the tank while regulating the fuel’s pressure. You will find the fuel pump inside or near the fuel tank.
Causes of a faulty fuel pump.
- The fuel pump motor doesn’t generate enough fuel pressure.
- Faulty fuel pump relay or fuse which sends electrical signals to the fuel pump.
- A clogged fuel filter.
b]. Empty fuel tank.
When there is an insufficient amount of fuel in the fuel tank, the car won’t start even though there is sufficient power. Because the engine needs a burning mixture of air and fuel in order to start.
c]. Broken fuel line.
The fuel line is responsible for carrying fuel from the fuel tank to the engine. Fuel lines are made up of different materials which determine the length of their lifespan. The fuel line acts as a connection between the fuel tank, pump, fuel filter, and injectors.
Reasons for a broken fuel line.
- Corrosion weakens the fuel line and it brakes over time.
- Wear and tear over its lifespan due to exposure to heat and other elements.
d]. Fuel injector.
The role of a fuel injector is delivering fuel into the engine’s combustion chamber. It controls the fuel delivery timing in relation to the available volume of air and the engine’s demands for power.
Additionally, the fuel injector atomizes the fuel into a fine mist for efficient combustion when the engine is running. A functional fuel injector reduces fuel consumption by optimizing the air-to-fuel mixture ratio.
Causes of a faulty fuel injector.
- Fuel injector clogging leading to blockage due to accumulation of impurities.
- Problematic injector seal which causes fuel leakage.
- Electrical issues. For example; faulty wiring connectors or malfunctioning injector driver circuits.
- Improper fuel system maintenance practices.
- Fuel contamination or low-quality fuel which has a lot of impurities.
e]. Malfunctioning fuel filter.
Manufacturers include a fuel filter for the purpose of protecting the engine. This function is possible when the it filters out impurities and contaminants from the fuel before it reaches the engine.
Reasons for a malfunctioning fuel filter.
- Clogging over its lifetime due to accumulation of dirt, debris, and contaminants from the fuel.
- Using low-quality fuel full of contamination.
What are the signs of a failing starter?
There are several things that can point you to failing starter. Some of these signs may appear before the starter fails completely.
It is essential for you to take corrective action when any of these symptoms of a failing starter show up. Consult a professional who will recommend the best corrective action.
a]. Clicking noise.
A failing starter will produce different types of noises. For example, when you turn the key or you press start, you will hear a clicking noise. However, in other occasions the starter will produce a whirring and grinding noise.
b]. There is light but the engine doesn’t turning over.
You may notice that when you start the car engine, the dashboard lights come on but the engine won’t turn over. This shows that your battery has enough power for lighting up the car’s lights. But that battery voltage is not reaching the ignition chamber.
c]. Engine won’t crank.
Most times people suspect a dead car battery when the engine doesn’t start. Jumpstarting the car battery is usually the next move.
However, when the car won’t start after jumpstarting it, the problem could be the starter.
d]. Smoke under the hood.
The starter is prone to common electrical problems affecting the car’s electrical system. For example, short-circuit and blown fuses.
When you try starting the engine multiple times the starter heats up. Afterwards, this may result in electrical problems that are accompanied by smoke.
e]. Oil soaked starter.
It is unusual for oil to reach the starter despite its location. When you’re investigating a faulty starter and you find that it’s soaked in oil, there is another problem.
This is a problem that is the cause of the oil leakage. The oil soaked starter does not work and your car will not start. Further investigations will lead you to discover another underlying problem.
How do you tell if it’s your starter or battery?
The reason for such a question is an attempt to find the differences between signs that point to a faulty starter and the signs of a dead battery.
Both have different symptoms that will tell you which one of them is causing the car not to start.
Signs that it’s the starter which is causing your car not to start.
- Clicking, whirring and grinding noises.
- Headlights and other car lights are powered but the car won’t start.
- Engine won’t crank even after jumpstarting the car.
- Smoke coming from the car’s hood after repeated attempts to start the car.
- Oil stains on the starter.
Signs that it’s the battery which is causing your car not to start.
- Dim lights and other electrical appliances are not working.
- No sound or pure silence when you try to start the car.
- The car engine starts up after you jumpstart it.
Does a bad starter drain the battery?
Yes, it’s possible for a bad starter to drain your car’s battery. This happens when the starter motor is faulty. The faulty motor tends to draw excessive electric current from the battery.
Hence, causing the car battery to drain at a higher than normal rate. When the starter motor wears out or develops internal faults, it results in an increase in electrical resistance.
Further, it may result into a constant engagement of the motor even after starting the engine and it’s running.
A drained car battery causes difficulty when starting the engine, frequent jumpstarting or a dead car battery.