You start the engine, but it cranks for a while before finally starting up. It can get quite troublesome if you rush to go somewhere. Car engines can pose various unforeseen problems and are a hassle to deal with. The situation can be embarrassing if you stop in a busy place or travel with someone. Before taking the car to a mechanic or spending lots of money, you can first figure out the problem. Let us look at the possible issues of why your car struggles to start but runs fine.
- Figuring Out the Possibility
- Charging System
- Oil And Gas Tank
- Starter Motor Fuel Pressure
- Distributor Cap and Rotor
- Timing Belt
- Technical Malfunction
Figuring Out The Possibility
Instead of panicking, thinking about the possibility can help find a possible solution. The first and foremost issue can be the battery. It could be just old and worn out after prolonged usage. It may not be the battery, but the alternator has worn out and cannot charge the battery enough.
If you had some work done in the car, you might want to think about what you could have missed, perhaps left a wire or any connector unconnected.
Another reason the car struggles to start but runs fine is the vehicle hasn’t been used for a long time. It will need some tries before finally starting, so if that happens, consider it normal. Unless the car still struggles to start, you should check the other components of the vehicle.
Car Struggles To Start: Charging System
As the name suggests, the system helps charge the battery to its full potential when starting or in a moving state. The charging system contains components like a battery, alternator, and different wiring and relays. If it takes time to start, this is where you look first.
If the charging system fails, the battery is the first component to be affected. It loses power to supply enough charge to the battery and requires a few tries to start the car.
Besides that, the main reason your car struggles to start but runs fine is any damage to the battery. The electrical system in the car wholly depends on the battery’s power and voltage. If the battery continues to wear out, electrical systems, like the starter motor and fuel pump, will not get sufficient power to run.
If the problem continues to persist, you should consider changing the battery because overstraining will deteriorate other parts as well.
The battery is also responsible for providing power for combustion to start the engine. If the battery has worn out, the chemical reaction takes time to produce electrical energy, resulting in a slower start.
You should also inspect the battery for any loose wire connections. If there are any, make sure to tighten them. Also, examine the battery terminals because corrosion usually takes place here. In case of any corrosions, disconnect the battery cables and clean the end of the dirty terminals with a brush. Make sure to tighten the cables and wires before starting the ignition.
It is a device responsible for charging the battery and generating sparks in the engine. Your car is struggling to start but runs fine because the alternator fails to charge the battery sufficiently. This requires jumpstarting the car to allow the alternator to supply enough charge to allow the engine to run. If the alternator is in good working order, you may move on to examine other components of the charging system.
You might be too focused on the battery and alternator; you can forget about the drive belts. Perhaps your car struggles to start but runs fine because a simple loose drive belt produces a charging system delay. The battery doesn’t receive enough power to charge up the car.
There can also be a possible tear so keep an eye out for that.
The wiring system is responsible for transmitting power from one component to another. This issue isn’t uncommon, so make sure to make a thorough check. Probably the wires are connecting the battery and alternator, or the charging system is coming loose.
If your car fails to start, check the wiring and cables for leaks. Any leakage and corrosion in them might prevent the cars from starting. This is usually one of the reasons your car takes time or might not even start. So, you need to make sure there aren’t any leaks in the wirings and connections.
The car’s starter has two wires, and they both must be thoroughly examined and ensured of no leaks. They must be free from any corrosion and are fitted properly to avoid suspicion.
Next, the wire belonging to the battery needs to be checked. Along with the wire, check the battery to see if any external damage is present. A faulty battery will gradually worsen and produce less power to start up your car.
Car Struggles To Start: Oil And Gas Tank
Yes, it is a silly reason, but many new or busy drivers forget to look at the fuel meter and start stressing out. Before calling it a day, check your fuel meter to see if you have enough fuel for the next day. If this is not the issue, then you should check properly examine the gas tank.
Cold weather also tends to use up more fuel than usual. You should check and ensure that the gas tank is full. Also, some fuels are weather-specific. So if your current fuel is giving you too much trouble, you might want to consider changing it.
Interference From The Remains Of Previous Oil
If you don’t change your oil too often, the oil residue might thicken over time, obstructing the flow to the engine. The car requires several starts to get the engine fired up. To ensure this doesn’t happen again, you need to change the oil filter regularly for the car to start smoothly.
Fuel can get contaminated through the air, for instance, microorganisms pollutant particles. They can easily get contaminated with water as water consists of sediments and rust. You can have a weekly or monthly check to check the content of your fuel. It won’t cost you much but save you time in case you’re in a rush and the car does not start.
You must ensure to buy good quality fuel because sometimes fuel can have too much water or alcohol. This again means low fuel content, which disrupts chemical combustion. The engine will need a few warm-ups before it can run.
Car Struggles To Start: Weather Conditions
The weather condition might be another possibility. Either it is too cold or too hot for the engines to start. Hot weather may cause the liquid electrolyte inside to evaporate. This leads to inefficient power and requires some time to start.
Cold weather can cause the car battery to produce less voltage due to slow chemical reactions. Car batteries fail to produce the right electric current, leading to starting issues.
The weather also affects the intensity of the current from the battery. The car struggles to start but runs fine after a few cranks to supply enough fuel for combustion.
Due to the low temperature, the engine oil thickens, preventing a smooth flow and putting strain on the battery.
Sometimes there is moisture present in the fuel lines, and low temperature can freeze them. This is more common in the thin fuel lines, causing a blockage in the fuel flow. Firing up the engine a couple of times will clear the ice in the lines, and you are good to go.
Car Struggles To Start: Fuel Pressure
One of the reasons why your car struggles to start but runs fine is due to low pressure. Low fuel pressure may be responsible for that rough and jerky start. One of the reasons for low pressure is insufficient fuel in the gas tank. If there isn’t enough gasoline, the pump will stop delivering gas to the engine, causing the ignition to slow down.
For supplying fuel, the fuel pump has to work right, so make sure you check on that as well. The cold weather can cause the pump to weaken, reducing the supply to the engine. Because of that, your car might need to be restarted a couple of times to get the pump heated up.
To supply the right amount of fuel to the engine, fuel pumps require a good voltage for a start. The pump will refuse to work normally if the supplied voltage is low because of low battery power. This is another reason why your car struggles to start but runs fine.
Fuel filters collect any dirt or residue in the fuel that might interrupt the chemical reaction or damage the engine. Another low-pressure source is if the fuel filter becomes blocked with dirt. If too much has accumulated over a period, it is time for a change or requires a proper cleanup.
To ensure what causes it, check the fuel quality, and if this is the reason, you should change your gas. If your car is old, fuel filters might be amassed with rust. The rust might start coming off in chunks and clog the filters.
Fuel lines transport fuel from the tanks to the engines. Your car struggles to start but runs fine because of any blockage or leakage in the fuel lines. Since the fuel lines rub against the metal, they tend to wear away with time. This is responsible for the low pressure and cuts the right flow of fuel supply in one go.
A fuel injector is an electronically controlled valve that receives pressurized gasoline from a fuel pump. Fuel is atomized into a fine mist when enough energy flows through it, making it easier to burn in the engine.
Fuel injector’s failure restricts the high spray of fine mist, which reduces the engine’s ability to easily burn the fuel. This can happen if there is carbon contamination and the valve cannot close. This results in oil leakage, so not enough fuel reaches the engine for ignition when you start your car right away.
Car Struggles To Start: Starter Motor
One more reason why your car struggles to start but runs fine is that the starter motor is not connecting with the flywheel. Due to the issue with the starter, the motor cannot spin. This will require you to start your car at least three or four times for the engines to fire up.
The motor, powered by the battery, is responsible for starting the engine. Connecting the two is a motor relay. If there are issues with either or both, the car struggles to start but runs fine. Possible causes for bad motor starters include:
- Loose wirings between the motor and battery
- Leakage in the wires
- Damaged relay
- Damaged components in the starter system
- Low voltage caused the motors to burnout
- Leakage of oil
If your starter motor is fine, that is great. Now let us check the solenoid. Look for a coiled cylindrical shape that connects the power from the battery to the starter motor. Your car may struggle to start due to failed or worn-out solenoid. If there is no noise when you start the car, then most probably, the solenoid has some issues.
You have checked your battery, and it looks perfectly alright, but why does the car struggle to start? A bad ignition switch can be a possible reason because it fails to supply power to the starter motor and other engine parts. This prevents the switch from allowing the engine to start and will need a couple of tries to get the car to work.
Try to figure out what caused the ignition switch to wear out. One of the probable causes is the prolonged attachment of the heavy keys in the ignition.
This instrument transforms battery voltage into electrical energy and provides spark plugs to ignite the fuel. When the ignition coil wears out, there isn’t enough transformation. As a result, not enough sparks are produced for fuel and air mixture combustion.
When there is an ignition coil failure, the transportation of energy delays. As a result, the spark plugs do not receive enough power, and irregular sparks are firing the fuel mixture. So, here is another reason why your car struggles to start but runs fine as soon it gets working.
Tears In The Coil
Look out for any tears in the coil because any problem will not transform and transport the necessary energy.
Another reason why your car takes time to start is that there aren’t enough sparks to ignite the fuel and air mixture. Along with the ignition coil, make sure to check the spark plugs. If the spark plugs have worn off, the gap between the plugs widens.
The ignition coil will have to output a large amount of energy to compensate for the damage. This overheats the coil, results in failure, and will require several startups to generate enough energy to bridge the gap.
The spark plugs have electrodes that wear away from years of use. When this happens, the gap increases, requiring a large voltage of current for the reaction to occur. So, again you will have to start your car a few times to allow enough current for ignition.
Ignition timing refers to when the fuel is ignited when the car is started. If this is incorrect, the sparks will fire too soon or too late. The fuel and air mixture will not burn properly, making it difficult for the engine to start.
This can pose a problem during summer cause an overheating. Due to this, the ignition timing takes place early, causing the fire and air mixture to ignite early as well. A large amount is produced, which overheats the engine, and the car struggles to start but runs fine.
In winter, the ignition timing can be far too delayed. The spark plug will ignite the fire and air mixture too late in the combustion. This leads to insufficient burning, and the ignition takes place after the piston starts moving down the cylinder. Of course, this means that the engine did not receive enough power and took time to heat up.
Car Struggles To Start: Distributor Cap And Rotor
The distributor cap is responsible for transporting electrical energy from the ignition coil to the engine cylinders for ignition.
If the cap stores moisture, dirt, and other pollutants, the clogged distributor’s cap does not transport enough energy to the cylinders. This causes the engine to squeak and take a few tries to finally start the car.
Wear And Tear
Because of the critical position, the distributor cap has a higher chance of wearing and tearing. The distributor rotor on the cap sends a series of high voltages to the right spark plugs and cylinder. Maintaining the precision of voltage and timing is crucial, which can wear out your distributor cap and rotor.
Car Struggles To Start: Timing Belt
It is one of the most important components of the engine. The belt assists in the opening and shutting of the car valves and keeping the internal combustion engine going.
Misalignment of the belt is one of the causes of failing to run properly in the long run.
When that happens, the valves remain open. The piston constantly moves up and down faster than usual without any resistance.
Any damage to the belt’s pulley may produce a rip in the belt, which will cause it to function slower than usual. So, if your car requires a new belt, make sure to align it well and free from any folds or crimps.
It is always better to replace a ripped and damaged timing belt because, in the long run. You might face problems while driving and further strain and damage your engine.
Car Struggles To Start: Too Much Oil
Sometimes no matter how much you start your car, the engine does not fire. In that case, you should look at the amount of oil. It might have drenched the spark plugs, and they cannot spark.
In that case, start the engine and hold the pedal down. This should clean the engine and allow sparks and combustion firing.
Car Struggles To Start: Technical Malfunction
Perhaps it’s not your car that is acting up. With the invention of the key fob, it has become easy to start the engine from anywhere outside the car. The fob, on the other hand, is powered by a battery. So, if your car has difficulties starting, the battery may have died. To rule out this possibility, start your car manually and look for the problem.
The sensor is responsible for optimizing the temperature in your car. It also controls the temperature during the fuel and air mixture and prevents any damage from heat. If the car struggles to start but runs fine, you should consider the coolant sensor for any faults.
If the coolant sensor is faulty, then the fuel and air mixture will not work properly. When that happens, the engine will fail to start at the first few tries because the chemical reaction takes time to complete.
Car Struggles To Start: Air Filter
Air filter supplies the car with oxygen for the combustion process. It also stops debris, dirt, and pollutants from reaching the engine.
Another reason why your car struggles to start is that the air filter has collected a good amount of dirt and debris. This reduces the proper amount of oxygen to reach the engine, causing combustion to occur slowly.
At times, incomplete combustion occurs, and soot gets accumulated in the spark plugs. The spark plugs fail to generate and supply enough sparks to the engine and require a few startups to get the engine to work.
Cars come with various and numerous components, so the problems are unpredictable and at times unidentifiable. For a car to start smoothly, the reasons above need attention, or it might cause further damage. Instead of towing your car or spending a lot of money, you figure out why your car struggles to start but runs fine.
If the car still struggles to startup after multiple tries, then it is time you take the car to a mechanic to get a proper check. It is necessary to get your car checked at regular intervals because any problem that looks small doesn’t take time to become serious.
Car Struggles To Start But Runs Fine Essential Knowledge
- Dying Battery – A battery that is not fully charged or unable to be charged can cause the vehicle to not start. It is recommended to have the battery tested to ensure it still has life left and that the connection terminals are securely connected.
- Bad Starter – If the battery is fully charged but turning the key does not make anything happen, the starter may be the problem. The starter takes power from the battery and turns the engine over for the first time.
- Bad Fuel Pump – If the battery and starter work fine, but the engine does not ignite any fuel, the engine may have lost fuel pressure, and the first thing to check when this happens is the fuel pump.
- Dirty Fuel Filter – If the fuel filter is clogged or dirty, it can disrupt the fuel pressure and affect its ability to run smoothly or start.
- Clogged Fuel Injectors – If the fuel injectors are clogged with debris, it can disrupt the air/fuel mixture and prevent it from igniting.
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This is happening to a lot of people. I had this problem and I found out that it was because my battery was low.