Nothing is more annoying than a car that won’t start when you turn the key. Perhaps you’re running late, and to make matters worse, your car won’t even start with jump. Why? What might be the possible solution? Let’s find out.
When your car won’t start by jump-starting, there could be a lot of culprits behind that. A dead battery is the most common reason your car won’t start by jump-starting. It could be damaged for various reasons; the dome light was left on overnight, water inside a component evaporated, resulting in poor conductivity, you have some corroded or loose battery connections that avert the charging system from topping off your battery when the car is functioning, a loose wire or the battery is just old.
Make sure to follow all the safety and handling instructions on the battery before you try and fix the problem yourself. Otherwise, take your car to a trusted and certified mechanic for proper diagnosis and treatment.
In this article, we will delve into the possible reasons why your car won’t start with jump and offer various ways to troubleshoot the issue to ensure your car stays in good condition.
- What Is It?
- Reasons For Failure
- Non-Battery Issues
- Battery Care
Jump Start Car
By connecting your vehicle’s battery to another vehicle’s battery using jumper cables, the other vehicle’s battery can transmit the electrical charge to your car’s battery powering your vehicle. Once power is transferred via the cables to your vehicle, the alternator will turn on, and as you run the engine, your alternator continues to recharge your battery.
If you run the engine long enough, either by letting it sit idle or by driving, you might recharge your battery and prevent any issues from building up. This can be all you need to do to fix the issue with a low battery resulting from an accidental drain. If, for example, you accidentally left your radio or lights on overnight and drained your battery, jump-starting your car could get your vehicle moving again.
Should your car battery has a physical problem, as in it’s damaged in some way, then jump starting may not necessarily repair the battery. If it’s damaged, you don’t want to even jump-start, as that can result in a battery explosion.
Why Won’t My Car Start
There are many reasons why your car fails to start by jump-starting. Below are some of the reasons. However, some are more common than others.
Car Won’t Start With Jump, Common Reasons #1: Dead Battery
A malfunctioning battery is the most common root cause of your car not being able to jump-start. The battery is the center of your car and delivers power to every part of your car to ensure it operates seamlessly.
Car batteries don’t last forever. Depending on the driving conditions and climate, expect to replace your car battery approximately every three years. A defective cell or an internal short circuit will prevent the battery from jump-starting. In that case, the ideal fix is a new battery.
If you have doubts about the condition of your battery, have it tested. With hand-held testers nowadays, the job only takes a few minutes. Many repair shops and auto part stores offer free testing. Not only will they examine your battery’s condition, but they will also test the starting and charging systems all at once.
Car Won’t Start With Jump, Common Reasons #2: A Faulty Alternator
A car battery can hardly meet all the needs of a vehicle’s electrical system. The alternator functions to restore electrical power to the battery lost when starting your vehicle. An alternator also powers electrical current to the vehicle’s electrical fixtures when the engine is running.
A faulty alternator will result in a completely discharged or undercharged battery with lower capacity and starting power. If your battery is constantly undercharged due to a weak or faulty alternator, it will more likely become excessively discharged, causing sulfation.
Some signs that you have a faulty alternator include:
- Your car’s gauges start to act strange.
- You notice the smell of burning rubber or hot wire that happens when the alternator is overheating.
- You notice a growling sound immediately before the alternator goes off.
- Your headlights or dashboard lights go dim or flicker.
Car Won’t Start With Jump, Common Reasons #3: Clogged Fuel Filter
Regardless of the engine type, all cars have fuel filters that clean the fuel before going to the engine. This step makes filters susceptible to debris build-up, resulting in a clogged fuel filter. And as a result, gasoline won’t be able to reach the engine leading to engine failure.
Make sure to replace your fuel filter accordingly to ensure your fuel filter remains clean and functional. Although the vehicle’s manufacturer manual offers precise details, most manufacturers recommend changing the fuel filter every 50,000 miles or five years. However, most mechanics see this estimate as too extreme and recommend replacing or cleaning it out every 10,000 miles.
Some signs of a clogged fuel filter include:
- Frequent idling or sputtering. Your vehicle’s engine will often start without any problem but will shut down when you try to stop. This implies that sufficient fuel goes through the filter while driving but deteriorates when the vehicle is idle.
- Trouble with accelerating. If upon trying to accelerate but your vehicle’s speed doesn’t necessarily change means that you probably have to change your fuel filter.
- Engine misfires or low performance.
- Strong odors from the vehicle’s exhaust.
Car Won’t Start With Jump, Common Reasons #4: Faulty Ignition Switch
The ignition switch is among the most significant electronic components that are common in many trucks and cars. It’s usually cited on the steering column behind the ignition lock cylinder. These two parts work together to power and start your car.
If your battery is in good condition but your car won’t turn on for a few tries, you may have a problem with your ignition switch. To narrow down the root of the problem, you can try turning on the headlights. Since the battery controls the dashboard and headlights, if they are turned on but the engine won’t start, the main problem could be a faulty ignition switch.
But what if there isn’t any noise from the starter? If you turn the key and don’t hear any noise, that’s a sign that something isn’t right. And this could be a result of a damaged electrical pathway. It can also be due to a dead battery.
How about if the car fails to start? If you turn the key and the vehicle fails to start, it could be due to a broken ignition switch.
Well, what if you notice your key doesn’t turn? If you insert your key in the keyhole and it gets stuck and fails to turn to the ‘start’ position, you may likely have an issue with your vehicle’s ignition switch.
Yeah, but what if the dashboard lights start to flicker when the car is in motion? This is the least common sign of a faulty ignition switch, but it happens. If your dashboard lights flicker while your car is moving, this might indicate an issue with your car’s ignition switch.
Car Won’t Start With Jump, Common Reasons #5: Gas Tank Is Empty
Running your car on an empty gas tank isn’t recommended because that means that there is no way to lubricate the gas pump, which utilizes fuel. Also, the engine may draw in air coupled with the last fuel residues into the gas pump. This air may prevent the engine from starting again since it throws the air-fuel mixture vital for combustion way off-kilter.
According to experts, it’s advisable to keep your gas tank at least a quarter full all the time. Apparently, doing this will help keep you out of dangerous situations when you’re low on gas and far from a gas station. However, there are other less apparent reasons to keep a slight amount of gas in your tank.
Now that you’re aware of the possible reasons why your vehicle won’t start with jump, let’s discuss how to troubleshoot the vehicle.
How To Troubleshoot A Car That Won’t Start With Jump
Even after attempting a jump, the steps to troubleshoot your car’s inability to start are the same irrespective of your car’s model, make, or model year. While your car will often start without any issues while jump-starting, there are other instances where it will not (such as the ones mentioned above), prompting further investigation into the problem.
The following simple steps should be able to get your car started in no time and prevent it from being towed to a mechanic. However, in some instances, further repairs will be required to revert the vehicle to a good condition.
Car Won’t Start With Jump Fixes, Step 1
Let the dead battery stay in the vehicle for a few minutes while connected to jumper cables. If the battery is fragile, starting the vehicle immediately after connecting the cables may not provide the sufficient energy needed to start the car engine. In that case, you must allow the dead battery to charge up for a while in order to increase the chances of your vehicle starting.
Car Won’t Start With Jump Fixes, Step 2
Check if the protective rubber coating on the jumper cables is warm. If so, this implies an increase in resistance in the cables and minimal current flows to the battery. Try jump-starting the vehicle using a different set of cables.
Car Won’t Start With Jump Fixes, Step 3
Examine the output terminal on the battery. If you notice a green or chalky white substance on the battery, it means there’s corrosion which is curbing current flow. Detach the jumper cables and scrape off any corrosion. Connect the cables and try to start your vehicle again.
What Of Non-Battery-Related Issues
Verify that there’s sufficient fuel in your car. Even if the gauge shows there’s fuel, it could have an electrical malfunction, and the fuel tank may be empty. Add approximately a gallon of fuel into the tank and attempt to restart the vehicle.
Examine the fuel filter to see if it’s clogged and restricting the flow of fuel. Remove the fuel filter and see if it allows air through it. If air passes through, the fuel filter isn’t clogged. Therefore, consult your owner’s manual for removal instructions.
Check the spark plugs to see if they are worn out, which prevents your vehicle from running smoothly, or on some occasions, does not allow it to start at all. Remove the spark plugs and examine the tips. If fuel is present or there’s a presence of black carbon build-up, it means they are worn and need replacement.
Extending Your Car Battery Life
As we mentioned earlier, one of the main problems behind your vehicle not starting is a dead or damaged battery. Typically, a car battery can last up to five years. These tips will help to extend your battery life and keep it in tip-top condition.
1. Limit Short Rides
Short rides to and from the block will cause an undercharge of your car battery. Uphold your battery’s life by frequently driving it and for more extended periods. However, if you hardly use your car that often, you can invest in a portable car battery jumper. A portable car charger can quickly jump-start your car battery without another car in case you are stranded.
2. Turn Off Your Car Lights When You Exit the Car
Accidentally leaving your car lights on can put a heavy toll on your car battery. To desist from forgetting more often, you can attach a note on your dashboard, park your car where you must pass through the headlights to reach your destination, or attach a tag on your car remote.
3. Ensure The Battery Is Tightly Fastened
A loose car battery could easily vibrate, resulting in short circuits or other internal damages. Have your battery terminal regularly checked by professionals – particularly if you often drive on bumpy roads – to ensure it’s appropriately and tightly mounted in the mounting bracket.
4. Avoid Using Electronics While Idling
Switch off functions like air conditioner, heat, or radio when your engine isn’t running to put less stress on your battery. Extending idling periods can also shorten your car’s battery life.
5. Control Corrosion
Although battery terminals often corrode over time, keeping them clean will help extend the life of your car battery. Clean the terminals using a toothbrush dipped in water and a baking soda mixture. Afterward, rinse the mixture off with cold water and followed with thorough drying using a clean cloth.
6. Conduct A Regular Battery Test
Paying attention to your battery’s condition matters if you’re looking to extend your car’s battery life. Carry out a regular battery test using a car battery tester to ascertain its output voltage level to know how well you preserve it and if you are due for a new battery.
7. Care For Your Entire Vehicle
Your vehicle consists of numerous parts working together. Ensure you’re taking care of your car by conducting routine tune-ups and properly storing your car for an extended battery lifespan. The battery, however, is just a single component of your car, so ensure you properly maintain every part of your car for an extended lifespan and to guarantee your car is operating at its best.
How To Fix A Car That Won’t Start
Fixing your car by yourself will entirely depend on the type of issue beforehand. If it’s a simple issue of replacing your battery, tightening the cables, or cleaning your battery terminal, you can do all these with basic mechanical skills and knowledge.
Make sure you’re aware of the precise cause of your vehicle not starting even after jump-starting so that the problem doesn’t recur and that you are not stranded. Besides, it will save you a lot of time and money on the road. It is always essential to hire a certified mechanic to examine and fix the problem.
Choosing The Right Mechanic
A good and reliable mechanic can help keep your car running for a more extended period and save you money on repairs. These hacks will help you find a reliable and professional mechanic to examine and fix your car.
1. Ask For Certifications
One of the fairly reliable certifications is the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). For a mechanic to acquire an ASE certification, they ought to go through extensive knowledge and skill testing as well as have a minimum of two years of relevant experience.
ASE, however, isn’t the only important certification. Other mechanics get certified by manufacturers to work on various car models. If a mechanic holds a manufacturer certification, this implies they have passed all the necessary tests and are thus experts in repairing various vehicles within their brand.
Keep in mind that individual mechanics are certified by manufacturers and ASE rather than auto shops. More often, you’ll be eager to know who’s working on your vehicle, and if possible, meet the mechanic.
2. Examine The Company’s Reputation
Today’s online platforms make it difficult for crooked businesses to get along for long. Various review websites offer insights into a company’s services to determine its reputation. One such website is Angi, a members-only site that offers auto service reviews from engine repair to car washes and body repair. It also has reviews on home maintenance-type services.
Since companies can’t pay to be listed on Angi, and the website probes for phony reviews, you can be sure to get a candid opinion about the services offered by certain companies listed on that site.
Ask a family member, friend, or co-worker if they can recommend a suitable workshop or if there’s one they had a bad experience with. Check online for the workshop’s reviews. If you find that several people had a good experience with a similar shop, chances are you’ll also experience the same experience.
4. Visit The Workshop
If you happen to find a workshop that seems to be a good fit for car repair needs, visit them and ask some questions regarding their services. Will they show and explain to you what needs to be done?
Will they show you how the condition has been rectified or what has been replaced? How much do they charge for their services? If something wrong happens, what warranty do they offer? Do they have insurance cover for your car under their case or in case something goes south?
5. Look For Their Shop’s Affiliation
Does the shop exhibit a AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) Sign? The AAA screens shops for quality service. Auto-repair shops with AAR affiliation must sign an agreement to provide high-quality and reliable service performed solely by a certified mechanic. Besides, repair shops with AAR affiliation are guaranteed to be monitored for customer satisfaction and performance.
6. Trust Your Gut
If something about the mechanic puts you off, don’t leave them in your care and later on blame yourself when something goes wrong. Trust your gut at all times; it can save you lots of grief. If you narrow it down to two or three mechanics who seem alike, the best move you can make is to go with the one that gives you the ultimate feeling.
The truth is that you can’t choose the best mechanic until you give them a try, but taking time to compare such things as qualifications, reputation, and price of the mechanic will offer you the best chance to find a reliable and professional mechanic.
Car Won’t Start With Jump: In Conclusion…
With that said, as we’ve seen, there is a myriad of reasons why your car won’t start with jump. From a dead or faulty battery to a faulty ignition switch, empty gas, or clogged fuel filter, it can be an uphill task to determine the exact cause of the issue.
That’s why it is important to get your car to a repair shop and have a certified mechanic examine and eventually fix the problem.
FAQs On Car Won’t Start With Jump
If you’re still curious to learn more about why a car won’t start with jump, our FAQs here might help…
How To Jump A Car
Jump-starting a car is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. First, find a working car, and have it parked whereby its battery is within easy reach of your car. Now, keep the ignition of both cars off, and with the parking brakes on (for safety). To jump a car, connect the red lead of the jumper cable to the positive terminal of both the dead and working battery on either car. Then, connect the black lead of the jumper cable to the negative terminal of the working battery. Meanwhile, attach its other black lead to an unpainted metal surface (away from the battery) as a grounding point. Finally, start the working car, and then start your car afterward to begin charging the battery.
Is Red Positive Or Negative
When you’re jump-starting a car, it’s crucial that you understand the red and black leads, and where they each go. The red lead on a set of jumper cables marks the positive (+) end, while the black lead marks the negative (-) end. When you’re connecting these leads to the battery terminals, make sure they match up. In other words, the red lead should be attached to the positive end (+ve) of the terminal, not the negative end (-ve). Ensure that you’ve identified the right lead and matching terminal, as incorrectly attaching them could lead to sparking or even an explosion.
How To Hook Up Jumper Cables
One of the most important aspects to consider when you’re jump-starting a car is hooking up the jumper cables properly. To put it simply, the red lead of the jumper cable must be connected to the positive end of both cars’ batteries (the working battery and the dead battery on the other car). Meanwhile, the black lead of the jumper cables needs to be connected in two ways. Firstly, on the car with the charged-up and working battery, the black lead has to be connected to the negative terminal. Meanwhile, on the car with the dead battery, the black lead needs to be attached to a metal ground – usually, an unpainted metal surface like the engine block, to complete the circuit.
Why Is My Car Not Starting
When your car isn’t starting up, there could be two key reasons why. Firstly, it’s possible that there’s an electrical fault in your car. For example, it may be a dead battery or a faulty alternator. Alternatively, a bad ignition switch and malfunctioning starter will also cause the car to not start. Or, it might also be attributed to worn-out spark plugs. Beyond that, a car’s failure to start might be caused by something more mechanical, instead. For instance, a clogged fuel filter, bad fuel pump, or dirty fuel injectors might make it so that no fuel is going to the engine. Thus, no combustion and your car would fail to start.
Can You Jumpstart A Car With A Bad Alternator
Even if your alternator isn’t working right, it’s still possible to jump-start a car battery this way. However, with the faulty alternator not being able to produce a sufficient voltage that your car needs, it would need to run off the 12V battery entirely. Therefore, even if you could jump-start the battery and keep your car going, it wouldn’t go for too long, as the battery would eventually die due to a lack of charging from the malfunctioning alternator. On top of that, it’s never guaranteed that jump-starting with a bad alternator will work. For example, if the battery isn’t in good condition and can’t hold a sufficient charge, your car won’t start, regardless.
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