Your car won’t start then starts later? There could be several reasons that can cause your car to not start. However, most of the time the reasons behind your car not starting will end up being something like the battery of your car dying out, some sort of problem with the starter, a bad alternator, or even the connection cables being loose or corroded.
You might find it quite hard to pinpoint what exactly is causing this problem if it is caused due to an issue with the alternator or the battery. If you want to find out what is causing this problem in your car, then we suggest that you keep on reading!
- Common Reasons Why It Won’t Start
- Typical Problems & Possible Fixes
- Faulty Starter Issues
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why Won’t My Car Start
Here are some of the most common reasons which might be why your car won’t start then starts later.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #1: Problem With The Battery
The easiest way that you can tell that the problem is with the battery of your car is when you are turning on the ignition to start your car and you experience rapid fire from your car. While this is also sometimes caused because your alternator is faulty, the most common reason that causes this is a low charge on your battery.
You can easily just make use of an easy tool such as a voltmeter and check the output voltage of your battery. After doing this if you see a voltage reading that says anything lower than 12.45 or 12 voltage, then it is time for you to take your car battery to a technician and get it checked.
Another reason that could be causing your battery to not transmit power efficiently is the electrolyte levels. If that is the problem that you are facing you can get this solved a lot more easily. All you need to do is just get your electrolytes recharged.
You can bet on it being a problem with the battery of your car if your car decides to start when you jump start it, and also if your engine is lacking in energy, making it harder to start during colder mornings.
You will also need to decide whether or not you want to get your battery repaired or get it replaced with a new one. This decision is also actually dependent on the type of car you have and the situation of your battery. Your car won’t start and then start later when the battery of your car is not working the way it is supposed to be or malfunctioning.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #2: A Faulty Alternator
Have you ever wondered what it means to turn your ignition key and still be able to hear the clicking? Well, the sad news is if it happens to you then you can likely be sure that the alternator of your car is damaged. You need to keep in mind that without the alternator providing the sufficient amount of output voltage that is needed by your car, your car won’t be able to get started.
If you’re facing this problem then the only fix for you would be to either repair your alternator or replace it with a new one. Your car won’t start and then start later if there is a problem going on with your alternator.
There are a few symptoms that can help you identify the problem if it is with your alternator.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later: Signs Of A Faulty Alternator
- One of the most noticeable and common signs is when your car won’t click or the dashboard light which is shaped like a battery won’t light up. You will generally see this warning light is lit up when the ignition is turned on and the light turns off when the engine starts up and you start driving.
- If you experienced an issue with your car not starting and then starting again later then you might find that the light on your dashboard remains lit up. This shows that there is a problem with your alternator. Apart from your battery indicator light, it could also be your check engine light that is illuminated.
- Another reason that can cause your car to not start could be because of a voltage leak in the alternator. One of the most vital roles of the alternator is to convert the currents from the alternator into direct current.
- This causes the electricity within the alternator to run out over time, which in turn causes the dimming of the lights. To check if there is a voltage leak in the alternator, our recommendation would be for you to use a voltmeter. That will allow you to make sure you have no voltage leaks in your car and your car will be able to consistently start.
- The last way that we will mention for you to troubleshoot a problem with your alternator would be if you are hearing loud noises when you have your alternator running. When something like this happens, usually the common suspect tends to be the pulley or the belt. The reason could be that the belt is not properly aligned with the pulley and it ends up causing excess friction as well as grinding which then causes a lot of overheating.
Replacement Costs For The Alternator
If you find that your car will not start, however, the headlights seem to be still functioning perfectly fine then the problem is most likely with the starter of your car or it could be some other part of the engine of your car.
Generally, most professional car mechanics and repair shops charge somewhere around $400 to replace your alternator with another remanufactured part. Including the labor time and the parts that are required to install a remanufactured alternator in your average domestic cat, the price range could be anywhere from $300 to $500.
If you are looking for a new alternator altogether then you are going to have to spend quite a bit more since those tend to be a lot more pricey. With the labor included, you would have to spend somewhere around $500 to $1000.
If you replace the alternator of your car and then keep all of the other internal parts of your car in a good working condition then you will most likely fix the problem of your car being unable to start and then starting again at a later time.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #3: A Slower Power Drain
If you are sure that the battery of your car is perfectly fine and there is nothing wrong with it, however, your car still will not stop clicking then the problem is most likely with the parasitic drain. If you are not familiar with a parasitic drain (and learn what drains a car battery) then it is the discharge of your power at an abnormal rate after you shut off the engine.
This is something that usually happens due to an electrical device malfunctioning that is supposed to be turned off but remains on, or even a short circuit.
You could try and jumpstart your car so that you can bring it to a garage, and have it diagnosed by a technician. A professional technician will be able to diagnose the problem with your car and find out what the clicking sound is caused by. While the technician is trying to find out what exactly is causing this and any problems with your power supply, they will also find out what it is that is causing your car to not start and then start again later.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #4: Terminal Corrosion
If your car won’t start then starts later, and you checked the battery of your car as well and it is perfectly fine, then the pain issue could be with the corrosion of your terminals. Just for a quick check, you can easily pop open the hood of the car (if you know how to open Mini Cooper hood) and check the battery. You need to make sure that there is no green or blue deposit that is building upon the terminals.
You should also look out for any buildup of debris or rust that might happen on the battery terminals. Once that’s done, you’ll need to clean the terminals if you find any such build-ups or any sort of contaminants to be able to restore your power supply, stop the clicking noises from your car, and of course, bring back your engine to its working state. To further prevent your car from not being able to start, you can also buy some rust or corrosion inhibitors.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #5: Battery Cables Being Too Loose
The clicking sound that you might hear in your car can be caused due to several things, some of which we have already mentioned above. Loose battery cable ends or frayed wires can also contribute to the clicking sounds in your car. Your car will not be able to start due to the battery cables being loose and interfering with the connection.
If the loose battery terminals or even the corrosion are holding your car back from being able to start, making more of a rapid clicking, or if it is creating a slow cranking, then you need to get this problem fixed if you want your car to be able to start properly and not just shut off and start the next day.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #6: Issues With The Starter
There is a range of problems with the starter within a car that could lead to higher resistance. What this means is that your car will not be able to make a clicking noise or even start. Every car owner knows that if there is a grinding noise when you start your car, something is not working properly.
If this happens, the very first thing that you would want to look out for is a dead motor. This is generally caused by your triggering mechanism being damaged. If you are facing problems with your car not starting and then starting again later, then you should also look into problems with the starter.
The engine management system of the car is what makes up the triggering mechanism. You will see most of the ignition triggers functioning as magnetic sensors. A signal is sent to the ignition module when this mechanism is triggered so that the ignition can be timed properly. The entire engine will be thrown off if the computer receives an incorrect trigger signal.
This triggering mechanism can also be responsible for your car not being able to start. Since some engine systems start the whole engine system using the ignition trigger if the computer does not have a base signal the entire thing is disabled.
The triggering mechanism of the car will not be able to trigger the starter motor if it is faulty. When it comes to replacing the starter of your car, you are generally looking at an average cost of anywhere between $430 to up to $750.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #7: Issues With The Starter Solenoid
If you are not familiar with a starter solenoid then you don’t have to worry. It is only an electromagnet and its main purpose is to engage the starter motor of an internal combustion engine. It works by actuating the contactor. For the large electric current, it is relay-designed.
To move the starter pinion and bring it into a position where it engages with the ring gear of the engine, most modern cars now use a starter solenoid. Your car will have trouble starting if the starter solenoid is facing problems and is not working the way it is supposed to be.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #8: A Damaged Engine
Another reason that can cause your car to not be able to start is a damaged or locked-up engine. If the internal parts of your car get locked up and the bearings cannot be turned with the crankshaft, then it can cause the engine to seize.
The bearings will not be able to be turned by the crankshaft if the piston rings, rod bearings, or the pistons themselves overheat and fuse. One of the most common causes for the engine of your car seizing is the lack of a sufficient amount of oil.
If your car won’t start then starts later, you should also look into your engine is locked up and also check if it has the sufficient amount of oil required for it to lubricate its internal components.
The most common and the easiest way to tell if the engine of your car is locked is when not only does your car not start, but your engine does not turn either. You should still consider the fact that not every car will share the same symptoms. Moreover, if your engine is locked, you are definitely in for some pricey repairs.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #9: An Insufficient Amount Of Oil
Of course, your engine will have an insufficient amount of oil if you were to run out of the oil in your engine, but it could also happen if there is something that is preventing the oil from being able to circulate properly.
As we already discussed earlier, if your engine does not have a sufficient amount of oil then the parts of your engine will rub and this will cause friction. The friction from this can easily create a lot of heat, and in some extreme cases, the internal parts of the engine can end up welded together in some very unsuitable places due to the heat.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #10: Ignition Switch Being Stuck
A failing ignition switch can also be the reason for your car not being able to start. This tends to happen when the ignition switch of your car is always turned on. What this does is that it provides the ignition system and fuel pump with continuous power. This then ends up overloading the sensor and the car is unable to start properly.
The ignition switch being stuck can also contribute to this problem. You will start to notice that the ignition switch is not working the way it should if the ignition cylinder starts to break down over time. Your car will not start even when you turn the ignition key if the ignition cylinder were to break.
If you have issues with both the ignition switch as well as the ignition cylinder then you are looking at a replacement cost that is going to be quite high. Just replacing your ignition switch with the labor included is going to cost you somewhere around $150 to $500.
How To Know If Your Ignition Switch Is Malfunctioning
The easiest ways to find out that you have a malfunctioning ignition switch is when:
- Most of your electrical accessories start to malfunction as well.
- Lights flickering, especially in the older cars that use an ignition switch.
- Bad wiring issues can cause your ignition switch to heat up and should be dealt with immediately since it can cause a fire in your car.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #11: Fuel Delivery Issues
Imagine trying to drink through a straw that’s pinched shut. That’s what happens when your car’s fuel system is blocked or malfunctioning. Your engine needs a steady supply of fuel. However, if there’s a problem with the fuel pump, injectors, or filters, it can prevent the engine from starting. The symptoms might be intermittent, causing confusion as sometimes the car starts fine, but later it refuses.
Pay attention to odd sounds. A dying fuel pump often sounds like a high-pitched whine. It’s also wise to routinely replace fuel filters to ensure clear fuel pathways.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #12: Faulty Ignition Coil
Ignition coils play a vital role, turning the car’s low voltage into thousands of volts needed to spark the spark plugs. A faulty coil can lead to problems in this ignition process. You might experience stalling, reduced fuel economy, and yes, starting issues. Often, problems arise when the ignition coil heats up, causing it to fail intermittently.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #13: Bad Engine Sensors
Modern cars rely heavily on sensors to function correctly. Critical sensors, like the crankshaft or camshaft position sensors, inform the engine’s computer about timing. A malfunctioning sensor can confuse the system, leading to hard starts, stalling, or even no-start situations. Thankfully, sensors are typically straightforward to diagnose with the right tools.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #14: Failing Security System
Factory-installed anti-theft systems are fantastic for keeping thieves at bay. However, they can sometimes malfunction, thinking the rightful owner is an intruder. When this occurs, the system might disable the ignition or fuel delivery, preventing the car from starting. If your security light flashes on the dashboard, it’s a clear sign of this issue.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #15: Clogged Fuel Filter
Think of your fuel filter as the security gate for your engine. It keeps contaminants out, ensuring only clean fuel reaches the engine. Over time, this filter can become clogged, restricting fuel flow. Intermittent starting issues can arise, especially when more fuel is required, like during cold mornings.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #16: Transmission Sensor Issues
Cars with automatic transmissions have a safety feature: they won’t start unless they’re in “Park” or “Neutral”. A faulty neutral safety switch might mistakenly think the car is in “Drive” or “Reverse”, preventing the car from firing up. Typically, trying to start the car in “Neutral” can be a workaround until you fix the issue.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later, Reasons #17: Water or Contaminants in the Fuel
Water in your fuel tank can be a silent culprit. Condensation can accumulate in your fuel tank over time, especially if it’s often left low on fuel. This water can lead to starting issues, especially since water doesn’t combust like gasoline. Adding fuel treatments or water removers can often help resolve this problem.
In conclusion, while the reasons for a car refusing to start can vary widely, with proper diagnosis and timely intervention, many of these issues can be resolved. Always remember to consult a professional if you’re unsure, ensuring your car remains reliable and road-ready.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What Causes An Engine To Lock Up?
If you are worried that the engine of your car is locked up then there are could be a bunch of reasons that caused it, such as:
- Starvation of Oil
- The engine being Hydrolocked (caused by water being locked in the engine)
- Vapor Lock (caused by vapor being locked in the engine)
- Lack of use
2. How To Tell That Your Starter Is Faulty?
There are quite a few signs of a faulty starter, these will help you to diagnose the problem with your car a lot better.
- You will see smoke come out of your car after going through multiple failed attempts to get it started.
- The engine of your car is not turning over.
- The cabin lights of your car seem to be on and working fine, but trying to start your car still does nothing.
- The most common and the most hated sign is the clicking noise.
3. Is Replacing Your Starter Worth It?
Before everything, you need to start by determining the value that your car has to offer. Websites such as Edmunds do a great job at this. After knowing your car’s value and if it has any other problems with it, you can figure out whether or not spending so much money to replace the starter is worth it for you.
4. Which Jumper Cables Should You Buy?
You need a good jumper cable to go with your car for the jump starters. It needs to be efficient and heavy-duty. Selecting a jumper cable based on the energy requirements of your vehicle is important. We would suggest you go with jumper cables from the brand Energizer. They have some great products, based on what gauge you need, and its respective length:
These are some examples of the jumper cables that are sold by Energizer and some of the ones that we recommend for you to get.
5. What Are The Causes Of Your Alternator Failing?
Several reasons might cause some parts of your alternator to be failing most of the time. Your whole unit is most likely going to need replacing if these are the reasons for your alternator failing.
- Ball-bearing in the rotor wearing out and “snagging”. They might also end up developing some flat spots.
- A dying battery tends to put a lot of stress on the alternator.
- The three rotating plates are starting to weaken.
- Slipping caused due to worn out or damaged drive belt.
- The negative ground wire is disconnected or just loose altogether.
Facts On Why A Car Won’t Start:
- A dead battery is a common reason for a car not starting, which can be identified by signs such as no engine sound during an engine crank or non-functioning headlights.
- Loose or corroded battery cable connections can also prevent a car from starting, and it’s recommended to have a professional handle the situation for safety.
- A bad alternator, which recharges the battery and distributes electricity to the car, can cause a car not to start and may also damage the battery.
- The car must be in park or neutral to start, and a bad neutral safety switch can be dangerous and require immediate professional help.
- A blown fuse can prevent power from reaching the starter relay, which is needed to start the car, and should be checked and repaired by a mechanic.
- A faulty fuel pump relay can cause the engine to stall or not start and can be confirmed by swapping the relays, but if all are faulty, professional help is needed.
- Issues with the ignition switch can prevent power from reaching the starter motor, and a bad switch can be identified by signs such as the car key not turning, the dashboard flickering, or the engine not starting.
- A dead key fob battery can cause the engine crank to fail, and the battery can be replaced using a coin or a small screwdriver.
- A bad starter motor or starter solenoid can prevent the engine from starting and may be identified by signs such as a slow engine crank or a grinding noise during startup.
- A bad spark plug or broken distributor cap/rotor can prevent fuel ignition and should be inspected by a professional mechanic.
- A broken timing belt, which rotates the cam and crankshaft in the engine, can cause the engine to fail and should be replaced by a mechanic.
- A lack of fuel in the gas tank can prevent the engine from starting, and a completely clogged fuel filter or fuel injector nozzle can also be a cause.
- The ground cable wiring, which connects the battery to the car’s body, is critical for the car’s electrical system and can prevent the engine from starting if damaged. Signs of a problem include a dead battery or sporadic sensor failure.
Final Words & Conclusion
If your car won’t start then starts later, you need to keep in mind that there might be several reasons behind this. The most responsible option for you would be to take your car to a professional mechanic and get it checked.
Remember that if you do not have any previous experience on a good level, then it is better to let the professional technicians handle the situation and not make anything worse by messing around by yourself. We hope that this was useful for you and you were able to find the proper solutions to all your problems!