Your car battery needs to be replaced every couple of years or so. Otherwise, your car won’t be able to start. With a new battery in place, you’d expect that your car will work fine just like new. But what if your car won’t start with new battery?
What’s causing it? Well, the truth is your car is a piece of very complex machinery, and several things can go wrong and prevent it from starting. But don’t worry, we’ll guide you on how to diagnose your car. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to find the problem and how to fix it.
So, in this guide, we’ll take a look at why your car won’t start with a new battery, as well as how to thoroughly diagnose and troubleshoot this issue. Moreover, we’ll look at how to fix this problem for good and what to check first. We’ll even go through and explain some other situations where your car won’t start, too.
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- What To Check First If Your Car Isn’t Starting?
- Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start With A New Battery?
- How To Fix A Car That Won’t Start With A New Battery?
- Is It A Bad Battery Or A Bad Alternator?
- Symptoms Of A Bad Alternator
- Troubleshooting – If Your Car Doesn’t Crank
- Troubleshooting – If Your Car Cranks
- Other Car Non-Start Problems & Scenarios
- Final Conclusion
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What To Do When Your Car Won’t Start
Most car owners know that a car’s battery is critical for starting the car and powering its electronics. But what many people don’t realize is that the battery isn’t the main power source while the car is in motion; that’s the alternator’s job.
The battery is primarily a reserve power source for when the car’s engine is off, and its energy is tapped into every time you crank the engine. So, if your new battery is dead, it’s time to explore what might have gone wrong.
1. Confirming The Battery Installation
If you’ve installed a new battery but the car still won’t start, the first thing you should check is whether the battery is correctly installed. Ensure that the battery cables are firmly attached to their respective terminals; they shouldn’t be loose or easily move when you wiggle them.
One of the most common mistakes made during battery installation is reversing the polarity, meaning that the positive cable gets connected to the negative post and vice versa. This can cause serious damage to your car’s electrical system, including the alternator and wiring, and can blow a fuse.
2. Unnoticed Lights Draining The Battery
For cars without automatic lights, it’s fairly easy to accidentally leave the lights on, draining the battery over time. Always double-check to make sure all lights are turned off when you exit the car. The solution here is simple: fully charge the battery and be more vigilant about turning off the lights.
3. Evaluating The Starter Motor
A faulty starter motor might also be causing your car to refuse to start. This problem can be misleading because a bad starter can mimic a dead battery. If your car only emits a single loud click when you try to start it, there’s a good chance your starter motor is the culprit, not your new battery.
4. Checking For Blown Fuses Or Relays
Sometimes, a blown starter fuse or relay is the root cause of your car’s starting issues. These components might fail if there’s an overdraw of power in the circuit. You can simply replace the fuse or relay with a good one to test this theory. If this solves the problem, ensure to investigate what caused the overdraw in the first place.
5. Inspecting The Alternator
An alternator in poor condition may cause your new battery to lose charge while you drive. Indicators of a bad alternator might be a shredded serpentine belt or a battery that’s been jump-started with reversed polarity.
An alternator failing to deliver the required charge won’t maintain your car’s electronics, let alone recharge the battery. Many automotive shops offer alternator testing services to help you verify this problem.
6. Considering Engine Problems
Sometimes the issue might not be with the battery or its associated systems at all; it could be an engine problem. For example, a seized engine will not turn over and often mimics a bad starter or dead battery. Diagnosing and fixing engine issues can be time-consuming and may require professional assistance.
7. Detecting Parasitic Draw
If your new car battery dies after only a few hours or days of being parked, you might be dealing with a parasitic draw. This occurs when an electrical component continues to drain power when it should be off.
Identifying a parasitic draw requires a deep understanding of car electrical systems and circuits. Despite the complexity, if a parasitic draw is indeed your issue, it was probably a good idea to replace your battery since fully discharging a battery can significantly shorten its lifespan.
By understanding and examining each of these potential problems, you’re one step closer to resolving the issue of your car not starting. Just remember to approach each potential cause methodically to ensure you correctly identify and solve the problem.
New Battery Car Won’t Start
In general (and we’ll go into more detail further down below), here are some of the top reasons why a car won’t start with a new battery…
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #1: Faulty Battery Connections
Battery connections form the essential bridge between the battery and the vehicle’s charging and electrical systems. If the battery connections are loose, rusted, or overly tightened, they may hamper the ability of your car to start.
An incorrectly tightened battery terminal could lead to inconsistent current flow and occasional sparks near the battery, potentially melting the battery post. Check the battery terminal’s nut, ensuring that it’s tightened appropriately. Remember, over-tightening can also cause harm.
Also, ensure the battery terminal is properly seated against the battery post. This problem can occur when the terminal isn’t pushed far enough over the post. Gentle taps with a rubber mallet can help position the terminal correctly, but be cautious not to hit too hard as it can damage the battery posts.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #2: Corroded Battery Terminals
Over time, battery terminals can corrode due to the battery’s acidity and the high electrical voltage, impairing their ability to deliver the necessary electricity to power the car. Corroded terminals increase electrical resistance, leading to suboptimal current flow and a higher voltage drop.
To clean the battery terminals, first, disconnect the negative terminal, then the positive terminal. Scrub the dust and corrosion particles with a small wire brush, then clean the terminals with a mixture of water and baking soda. To prevent future corrosion, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the terminals after reattaching them.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #3: Damaged Battery
Using a low-quality aftermarket battery could potentially cause damage to the car’s electrical system. Test the battery by turning the key and trying to start the engine while monitoring the voltage on the battery posts with a voltmeter. If the voltage drops below 9V during ignition, the battery may be faulty or depleted.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #4: Inadequate Battery Ground and Starter Connections
The negative terminal of the car battery is grounded to the vehicle’s chassis, engine block, and other metal components, while the positive terminal is connected to the starter motor. Inspect all these connections, especially the ground strap that connects the car body and the engine. Damaged, weak, or corroded connections can prevent the car from starting.
Using a voltmeter, you can check the voltage across these connections while trying to start the engine. If there’s a voltage reading, the ground connections may be compromised. Repeat this test with the positive terminal of the battery and the solenoid terminal of the starter.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #5: Malfunctioning Alternator
The alternator, which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, could be the source of your troubles. A faulty alternator could stop charging your battery, leaving it drained and unable to start your car. If your car dies shortly after jump-starting and removing the jumper cables, it’s a clear sign of a faulty alternator.
Also, inspect the serpentine belt connected to the alternator pulley for any damage or slack. A loose or damaged serpentine belt can disrupt the alternator’s operation.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #6: Faulty Starter
The starter motor uses a solenoid that energizes when an electric current is passed through it from the battery via the ignition switch. If the starter or ignition switch is faulty, your car may not start despite the dashboard lights being on.
Check the connections from the battery to the starter motor. The starter receives two wires from the battery’s positive terminal – a small wire and a large wire. Both need to be correctly connected to the starter. If the connections are good, you can gently tap the starter with a wrench to unstick a stuck plunger within the solenoid.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #7: Seized Engine
A seized engine refers to an engine that won’t turn due to its cylinders becoming blocked. It’s usually the result of excessive wear, poor maintenance, or mechanical failure, often brought about by insufficient lubrication, prolonged idling, or incorrect oil changes.
A seized engine will need a professional mechanic’s intervention for proper diagnosis and repair.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #8: Bad Fuel Pump
The fuel pump moves fuel from the gas tank to the fuel injectors. If you can’t hear the fuel pump whirring after turning on the ignition, the pump may be faulty. Check the fuel pump’s fuse and its electrical connections. If these are all in good order, a mechanic should inspect the fuel pump itself.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #9: Clogged Fuel Injectors
Fuel injectors can become blocked, especially if your car has been idle for an extended period. Clogged fuel injectors can’t deliver fuel effectively, leading to starting problems. A professional mechanic can perform a fuel injector cleaning service to resolve this issue.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #10: Damaged Key Fob
Modern cars use key fobs to initiate the ignition process. If your key fob is damaged, it can prevent the car from starting. This is especially common with luxury brands like Mercedes. The key fob may need to be replaced if it’s been damaged.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #11: Blown Fuse
Fuses are designed to protect the electrical circuits within your vehicle. If a fuse blows, it can disrupt the power supply to the respective circuit, which can prevent your car from starting. Check your car’s fuse box for any blown fuses and replace them as needed.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #12: Bad Ignition Switch
The ignition switch initiates the vehicle’s starter solenoid. A faulty ignition switch may not send the necessary electrical signal, preventing the car from starting. If your car doesn’t start despite having a fully charged battery and working starter, the ignition switch might be the problem.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #13: Anti-Theft System Malfunction
Some vehicles are equipped with anti-theft systems that disable the ignition system if they detect an unauthorized access attempt. If this system malfunctions, it could prevent the car from starting even with a good battery. You might need a professional mechanic or dealer service to reset or repair the system.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Reasons #14: Out of Gas
Although it may seem obvious, it’s easy to overlook – your car won’t start without fuel. If you’re sure the battery is fine but your car still won’t start, it’s worth checking the fuel gauge. Even if the gauge shows some fuel, it might not be accurate, especially in older vehicles. Refilling the tank can solve this problem.
Remember, each vehicle is unique and may exhibit different symptoms or require slightly different procedures. Always refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific instructions, and when in doubt, consult with a professional mechanic.
How To Fix A Car That Won’t Start
If your car won’t start with a new battery, here are some of the things that you might have to consider to fix and repair this for good…
1. Revisiting the Battery
Though your battery is new, a few hitches can still make it problematic. Make sure the connectors are free of corrosion and well-tightened. Utilize a battery cleaning solution or an equal ratio mix of baking soda and water to eliminate any corrosion.
It’s also crucial to test your battery’s charge with a voltmeter, which should indicate a minimum of 12.6 volts for a fully charged battery.
2. Inspecting the Alternator
A malfunctioning alternator can mimic a battery issue. Refrain from unplugging the battery while the car runs, as this could damage your vehicle’s electronics. Instead, measure the alternator’s output with a voltmeter while the car runs.
The voltage should be higher than when the car is off, which shows a functioning alternator. If you can’t get the car to start, your local auto parts store may provide a free alternator test.
3. Investigating the Starter
In situations where your lights and accessories work but the car won’t start, you may be dealing with a faulty starter. The starter is comprised of various components, including the motor and solenoid, that can individually fail. If you’re uncomfortable testing the starter yourself, many auto parts stores offer free testing services.
4. Addressing Fuse Issues
Check the car’s fuse panel, typically located under the steering wheel. Replace any blown fuses with ones that match the correct amperage. Remember, using a fuse with the wrong amperage can lead to significant electrical problems.
5. Swapping the Ignition Switch
If the ignition switch is the problem, you can replace it following the manufacturer’s instructions and with the appropriate tools. Remember to disconnect the battery before you begin, and use a memory saver to keep the vehicle’s computer data intact.
6. Examining the Fuel Lines
Fuel line issues can prevent your car from starting. Make sure to put a drip pan under the fuel line connections to catch any spills when replacing fuel lines. Check the fuel line fittings for any damage and replace them if necessary. Once installed, ensure the fittings are not overly tightened, which could prevent a proper seal.
7. Draining the Fuel Filter
If your car’s fuel filter is dirty, it can block fuel flow and prevent the car from starting. You can clean and reuse a metal filter if it isn’t excessively dirty. Be sure to disconnect the battery and relieve the pressure from the fuel system before cleaning the filter.
8. Changing the Spark Plugs
Faulty spark plugs can cause ignition problems, leading to starting issues. Always replace spark plugs when the engine is cool, and make sure the car is parked on a flat surface. Remember to replace the ignition coils or spark plug wires after installing new spark plugs.
9. Consulting a Mechanic
If none of the above solutions work, it’s time to visit a professional. Complex issues like engine failure, faulty fuel pumps, or old spark plugs are better left to a trained mechanic. They can provide a proper diagnosis and expert repair, saving you time and potential additional costs.
Bad Alternator Vs Bad Battery
Before diagnosing why your car won’t start with a new battery, you should understand more about how the battery, the electrical system, and the starter in your car work.
This will give you a better understanding of your car and make it easier for you to understand what might be wrong with your car. When starting a car, there are four critical components: the battery, the ignition switch, the starter motor, and the alternator.
Your car has a battery that powers your car’s electrical systems and starter motor. When you turn the ignition switch to start the car, the battery will turn on the starter motor. This is a small device consisting of gears that turns your car’s flywheel which cranks the engine.
Once the engine is on, it will start running the alternator via the drive belt. The alternator then turns this mechanical energy into electrical energy. It then feeds this electricity into your car’s electrical accessories, as well as feeding it into the battery to prepare it for the next time you need it to start your car again.
Over time, the battery will lose its ability to hold electrical charges and will be unable to supply power to the starter motor, preventing you from starting the engine. This is what’s known as a flat battery.
If the alternator isn’t working properly, it won’t be able to feed the battery with the necessary amount of electricity. This then leads to a flat battery much faster than it normally would. Here’s a video to learn more about batteries and alternators in greater detail:
Bad Alternator Symptoms
If your car won’t turn on with a new battery, it’s possible that the alternator wasn’t working properly. This means your new battery wasn’t being charged as it should and is thus losing charge.
A new battery will last long only if the alternators are working well. In the case of a car that’s refusing to start even with a new battery, the most likely culprit is a bad alternator, here are the signs:
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Alternator Symptoms #1: Dim Headlights
As mentioned, the alternator powers most of your car’s electrical accessories when the engine is on. This includes the car’s headlights. A bad alternator won’t be able to supply the right amount of electricity to them, leading to weird behaviors. This includes a dim brightness to your headlights since they’re not getting enough electricity to power the lights.
Jumpstart your car with a second car to start it, and then turn on your headlights. Afterward, turn on other electrical accessories such as your car’s HVAC system, and see if the headlights get dimmer. If it does, this means the alternator isn’t producing enough electricity and needs to be repaired or replaced.
Sometimes, a malfunctioning alternator will also produce too much electricity. In this case, your headlights will be overly bright. This is also a bad thing as too much electricity can damage your car’s battery and other components.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Alternator Symptoms #2: Malfunctioning Accessories
Since the alternators supply power to your electrical accessories, a bad alternator will affect your other accessories as well. For example, your power windows may take longer to roll up or down. Your car’s radio or entertainment system might also be slow to respond or might not even start at all.
Sometimes these accessories may malfunction because of an isolated issue. However, if you have two or more electrical accessories in your car that aren’t working as they should simultaneously, it’s very likely the alternator is causing it.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Alternator Symptoms #3: Growling Or Whining Noise
As mentioned, the alternator is powered by your engine via a drive belt. Over time, this belt can become loose. When it does, it will create a growling or whining noise when the car is running. If you hear this noise, this means the belt is slipping and the engine can’t power the alternator properly. Resulting in less than the optimal output from your alternator.
The sound will usually come on when you turn on the AC. This is because your car’s HVAC system runs off the same belt system as the alternator. Turning on the HVAC puts more load on the belt resulting in noise.
It might go away after a while, especially once your car warms up. But this means your drive belt is worn out and you should replace it. Sometimes your alternator should be fine in this scenario, and you only need to replace the belt.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, Alternator Symptoms #4: Smell Of Burning Wires
If you smell burning rubber coming from your engine bay, the alternator’s drive belt may be wearing out. This belt is always under tension and experiences a lot of friction, and since it sits close to the engine, it will wear out and can emit a burning rubber smell.
Meanwhile, a burning wire smell may come from an overworked alternator. The wires inside it can become frayed or damaged, and when the alternator is overworked, it will heat up greatly. This results in an unpleasant smell similar to an electrical fire.
The two scenarios above isn’t a common fire hazard, but it’s still dangerous and should be taken seriously. If you smell anything unpleasant in your car and it persists, we recommend that you stop driving and verify the cause.
If the smell is coming from a fuel or oil leak in the engine bay, you should stop driving and have a mechanic take a look at the issue as this can result in a fire. The bottom line is don’t underestimate the weird smells in your car. Unless you just bought a really cheap air freshener from a shoddy gas station.
Battery Or Alternator Test
If you see the symptoms above, you likely have an alternator issue. It wasn’t charging your battery, and now it’s flat and your car won’t start even with a new battery. What now? Well, let’s make sure that the alternator really is the problem.
Servicing or replacing an alternator is quite expensive, so it’s best to make sure first before you spend a great deal of money. While we’re at it, you should also check the battery’s condition. If both the battery and alternator turn out to be fine, then we’ll guide you on how to check the ignition switch and fuses as well.
Keep in mind that this diagnostic guide is for a car that doesn’t crank when you turn the key. If the car still cranks, then your battery is still fine and there’s another issue – usually mechanical. If your car still cranks, we recommend skipping to the next section.
But before we start, does your car have an automatic gearbox? If it does, check if the transmission is in P or “Park”. You may have forgotten to move the gear knob into P the last time you drove, and now it’s preventing the car from turning on.
This is a safety feature so the car doesn’t immediately roll off when you turn on the car. Simply turn the ignition on, make sure the transmission is in Park, and try again. If that doesn’t work, here’s how you diagnose a car that won’t crank:
First, you’ll want to visually inspect the battery terminals and their connectors. It’s new, so the terminals should be fine, but are the connectors clean? And are they tightly secured to the terminals? If not, this might be the problem.
A rusty or loose battery connector may prevent the transfer of electricity. You’ll want to clean them, remember to turn off your car and then disconnect the battery first. Afterward, use a battery cleaner and brush them with a bristled brush. Don’t forget to wipe and dry properly before you reconnect the battery.
Next, you should test the battery’s condition itself. You will need a multimeter for this:
- Set your multimeter to the 20 volts setting.
- Connect the multimeter’s red probe to the positive terminal and the black probe to the negative terminal.
- The multimeter will immediately take a reading. If it’s under 12.6 volts, then this verifies the battery is flat.
- If it reads 12.6 volts or more, then your battery is fine. In this case, you’ll want to check the fuses and ignition switch.
Assuming your battery is flat, next you’ll want to check your car’s alternator to verify the problem. However, this requires you to jumpstart your car as you need the engine to be running to test the alternator. The only other way to test it will require you to remove the alternator and that’s far more complicated. Here’s how to test your alternator:
- Jumpstart your car with the help of another car. If you have a manual transmission, you can push-start your car with the help of a couple of helpful strangers.
- Once the car is on, connect the multimeter’s red probe to the positive terminal and the black probe to the negative terminal. Don’t forget to test set it to the 20 volts setting.
- The multimeter should read anywhere between 14.2 – 14.7 volts. If it reads somewhere around 13 volts, then the alternator is already weak and won’t be able to charge the batteries when you turn on accessories like the headlights and air-conditioning. In this case, try checking the cables running between the alternator and battery and see if there is any damage.
- If it’s far below 14.2 volts then you need a new alternator.
The average cost for a new alternator is around $500. For some cars, it can be as cheap as $200, but premium cars are likely to cost more. Here’s a video on how to check the alternator:
Check The Fuses And Ignition Switch
If both your battery and alternator seem to be fine and your car doesn’t crank, you’re likely looking at a fuse or ignition switch problem. To check the fuse, you will need to locate the fuse box. You can find this in your owner’s manual.
Next, take out the fuses and see if there is any damage to the metal wires inside them. A damaged fuse won’t be able to send signals, preventing the car from starting. Most common fuses are no more than $20 to replace, but some specialized fuses may cost up to $100 to replace.
Meanwhile, the ignition switch is the electrical switch inside your car’s key housing. This one is a bit more tricky to diagnose, especially if you have a keyless system. But see if there are any irregularities when you try to turn the ignition on.
If the car’s electrical accessories refuse to start even if the battery is fine, this could be a sign of a bad ignition switch. A car that suddenly shuts off or refuses to turn off could also be a sign of a faulty ignition switch. This is because the ignition switch is faulty and the switch isn’t moving properly. In this case, you’ll want to check the ignition switch and replace them.
Crank But No Start
If a car won’t start with a new battery but you can still crank it, then the problem is likely to be mechanical. This means the battery, alternator, and other electrical functions are fine. But there’s something wrong with the engine that’s preventing the combustion process from starting, thus preventing the engine from turning on. Here’s how to troubleshoot it:
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, But Cranks #1: Check The Fuel Level, Pump, And Lines
First, make sure you still have fuel in your car. Some people might forget to fill up and now their car doesn’t have enough fuel to turn on. If you have enough fuel, the first couple of things you’ll want to check are the fuel pump and lines.
If either of them is faulty, then your engine won’t get the fuel it needs. A fuel pump will last around 200,000 miles but may fail early if they’re not properly maintained or if you don’t use quality gas.
To check the fuel pump, turn on your car’s ignition or turn the key to the ‘ACC’ position. This will turn on all electrical accessories, including the fuel pump. If you hear a slight humming sound from the back of the car, then your fuel pump is working fine.
But if there’s no sound, check the fuel pump fuse and voltage, as it may not be getting any electricity thus preventing the fuel pump from turning on. If the fuel pump turns out to be faulty, it will cost you around $400 to replace it. However, this is just an average number and can cost up to $850 for some cars, not including labor.
If the fuel pump turns out to be fine, then next you’ll want to check for leaks along the fuel lines. The fuel line usually runs along underneath and in the middle of your car. See if there are any fuel leaks (as indicated by a P0441 error code) or any cracks in the lines, as this may cause fuel to leak out.
Additionally, the fuel system needs pressure to run properly. The smallest leak could prevent fuel from getting into your engine.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, But Cranks #2: Check The Fuel Pressure
If you can’t see any leaks along the fuel line, you’ll want to check the fuel pressure as the leak may not be visible. Low fuel pressure can also mean a weak fuel pump, dirty fuel filter, and clogged-up fuel lines. To check the pressure, you will need a fuel pressure gauge and your car needs to have a Schrader valve. Here’s how to test the pressure:
- Connect your fuel pressure gauge to the Schrader valve.
- Turn your key to the “ON” position, this will turn on the fuel pump.
- Your fuel pressure gauge should read 40 – 45psi.
If it’s less than that, you will need to check the fuel pressure regulator and the fuel filter as well. We recommend taking a look at the fuel pump again as well, making sure that it’s working fine and there are no clogs in the fuel line.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, But Cranks #3: Listen To The Fuel Injectors
If the fuel pressure is fine, next you’ll want to check the fuel injectors themselves. A bad fuel injector means your car can’t get fuel into the engine, preventing it from turning on. For this, you ideally need a mechanic’s stethoscope, but a screwdriver could do the job as well.
What you need to do is get someone to help crank the engine whilst you listen to the injectors. Then touch the screwdriver against the fuel injector. You should be able to locate them by consulting the owner’s manual. Afterward, press your ear against the screwdriver, and have your friend turn the ignition key to crank the engine.
If you hear a rhythmic clicking, then this means the injectors are working. Repeat this process for all the injectors, there’s usually one for each cylinder. If the injectors are working, this means your engine is getting fuel and there’s something else preventing it from turning on, so let’s move on…
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, But Cranks #4: Check The Spark Plugs
The combustion process that happens in your engine requires three things: fuel, air, and a spark. Now that we know fuel isn’t the issue, let’s check the spark (by learning how to read spark plugs). First, let’s check the spark plugs.
Spark plugs are devices that create a spark inside your engine’s cylinder that combusts the fuel and air mixture inside. Not enough spark means the mixture won’t combust and the engine can’t run.
Remove the spark plugs and then visually inspect them. If they’re all black at the tip, then you probably need to replace them. But you can test them with a multimeter first before you decide to buy new ones:
If they’re bad, then you should change them and you should change the entire set. They should be around $10 each to replace, but you can get better ones for about $20 each.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, But Cranks #5: Check The Ignition Coil
If the spark plugs are fine, then it’s possible your ignition coils aren’t supplying enough electricity to power the spark plugs. The ignition coil takes power from your car’s battery and converts it into high-voltage electricity for the spark plugs. A faulty ignition coil means the spark plug won’t be able to create a powerful spark even if they’re still in good condition.
The method of testing an ignition coil varies depending on the type of ignition coil you have in your car. We wrote a comprehensive guide already about ignition coils, and you should read it if you suspect you have an ignition coil problem. But most modern cars now have a coil-on-plug system, and this is how you test them:
- Remove the ignition coil you want to check and plug in the tester.
- Connect the ground wire to the engine.
- Start the engine and see if there’s a strong spark on the tester.
- Repeat the process on the other coils.
If the ignition coils are faulty, then you will need to replace them. The cost will vary depending on the type you have in your car. A can-type distributor coil is usually quite cheap, at around $50 to replace. But most cars now have a coil-on-plug system, which costs around $450 to replace the entire set.
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, But Cranks #6: Check The Air Filter, Intake, And MAF Sensor
The fuel and spark are fine, and the final thing your car needs is air. Open your air filter housing and check if the filters are dirty (for more insight, check out our guide on how to change air filter in car).
Also, check inside the air intake tube for any evidence that a small animal may have gotten in there. If the filters are clean, and there are no animal droppings inside the intake tube, then let’s move on to the Mass Air Flow (MAF) intake sensor.
The MAF sensor analyzes how much air is being pumped into the engine’s cylinders. If it’s faulty, then it may be preventing your car’s ECU from understanding just how much air the engine’s getting. To test it, you will need a multimeter and find the MAF connector and unplug it. Here’s how to test them:
Car Won’t Start With New Battery, But Cranks #7: Check The Engine Compression And Timing
Finally, if your engine has fuel, air, and spark, that means there’s probably something wrong with either your engine’s compression or timing. A loss of compression inside the cylinders will prevent the engine from running. This can be caused by a blown head gasket or leak inside one of the cylinders, causing compression loss.
Additionally, your car has a timing belt. This timing belt controls the timing of the crankshaft and camshaft, making sure all the components are moving to the right position at the right time. If the timing is off, then your engine can’t run.
These two can be quite difficult to test and diagnose, and we think it’s best if you see a visual guide on how to do this instead. Here’s an excellent video from ChrisFix on how to diagnose it, we recommend skipping to the 9:20-minute mark:
Other Scenarios & Situations Where A Car Doesn’t Start
Besides the situation here where your car won’t start with a new battery, here are some other car no-start scenarios that you might encounter…
Car Won’t Turn Over But Has Power
When your car has power, yet fails to turn over, it can be a perplexing situation. This is usually indicative of an issue with the starter motor. The starter motor’s purpose is to initiate the engine’s operation, and if it is faulty, you may have all the power you need but no way to use it.
If your dash lights come on and your radio works, but the engine doesn’t start, your starter motor could be the culprit. Visiting a mechanic for a comprehensive starter motor test can help diagnose and resolve this issue.
Car Clicks But Won’t Start
A car that clicks but refuses to start is often dealing with a weak or dead battery. However, since your battery is new, it’s more likely that the starting system is to blame. The “clicking” sound is often the starter relay attempting to engage the starter motor without success.
This could be due to a weak current from the battery (perhaps because of a poor connection), or because the starter motor itself is failing. It’s advisable to check your battery connections and, if everything looks good, consider a visit to your local mechanic to test the starter motor.
Car Won’t Start But Lights Come On
When your car won’t start but the lights come on, it indicates a strong battery but a weak starting system. This could be a sign of a failing ignition switch, a bad starter relay, or an issue with the ignition coil. Since these problems are related to your car’s ignition system, a thorough diagnostic of this system should help identify the exact cause.
Car Won’t Start with Jump
If your car won’t start even with a jump, the issue could lie within the starting system or fuel system, not the battery. Problems such as a faulty ignition switch, a bad fuel pump, or a clogged fuel filter can prevent your car from starting, even with a fully charged battery. A proper diagnosis of these systems will help you get to the root of the problem.
Car Won’t Start One Click Then Nothing
This scenario is often associated with a problem in the electrical system. The single click indicates that the starter motor is trying to engage, but for some reason, it can’t. This could be due to a poor connection somewhere in the starting circuit, a faulty starter motor, or a failing solenoid. Again, a visit to your mechanic will be invaluable in solving this issue.
My Car Starts Sometimes and Sometimes It Doesn’t
Intermittent starting problems can be particularly vexing. They might be caused by a range of issues including a faulty ignition switch, a failing fuel pump, or even a problematic sensor in the engine management system. Such problems may require a bit more diagnosis, as the intermittent nature means that the issue may not be present when you take the car for inspection.
Car Struggles to Start but Runs Fine
When your car struggles to start but then runs fine, it could mean there is a problem with the cold starting. This could be due to issues with the choke (in older cars), or a problem with the fuel or ignition systems. A diagnostic scan could help uncover any potential fault codes that might point to the problem area.
Car Won’t Crank
If your car won’t crank, it is usually an indication of issues within the electrical system. Problems could range from a faulty ignition switch, to a broken starter motor, or even a damaged flywheel. Electrical issues like these often require the expertise of a professional mechanic to diagnose and fix them.
Car Slow to Start
A car that is slow to start might be experiencing issues with the starter motor, or possibly a weak battery. However, if the battery is new and fully charged, it’s best to investigate the starting system. A slow crank could also be an indication of an issue with the car’s fuel system. In any case, this is a symptom that should not be ignored, as it may worsen over time.
Car Won’t Start No Noise
If your car won’t start and makes no noise at all, it could be an electrical issue. It may be a problem with your car’s ignition switch, a blown fuse, or a problem in the wiring between your battery, ignition switch, and starter motor.
It could also be a dead battery, though this seems less likely if you’ve recently replaced it. You’ll want to check your electrical system and perhaps consult with a professional.
Car Turning Over But Not Starting
When your car turns over but doesn’t start, it’s often a sign of a fuel or spark issue. For instance, there could be a problem with your fuel pump, fuel filter, or fuel injectors. On the spark side, there might be an issue with your spark plugs, ignition coils, or distributor cap (if your car has one). In these cases, a mechanic can diagnose the problem and help you get back on the road.
Car Won’t Start Just Clicks Once But Lights Work
This scenario usually indicates a starter motor problem. The single click suggests the starter relay is working, but the starter motor isn’t spinning. Check the connections to your starter motor and, if they’re secure, consider having the motor tested at a repair shop.
Car Has Power But Won’t Start No Click
If your car has power but won’t start without even a click, it’s usually due to a problem in the starting circuit, possibly with the ignition switch or starter relay. An electrical issue may be preventing current from reaching the starter motor. A professional inspection is advised to pinpoint the problem.
Car Battery Dead After Sitting 5 Days
If your car battery dies after sitting for just 5 days, it suggests a parasitic draw, where something in your car continues to use power even when the car is off. Common culprits include trunk lights, glove box lights, or radio systems that don’t shut off. You can test for a parasitic draw yourself or have a professional do it for you.
Car Stopped Running While Driving and Won’t Start
This is a frightening scenario. It often points to a major failure like a seized engine, a broken timing belt, or a fuel pump failure. These problems will require professional help to diagnose and repair. It’s advised to tow your car to a mechanic immediately.
Car Dies While Driving But Still Has Power
If your car dies while driving but still has power, the issue could lie within the fuel or ignition system. It might be a clogged fuel filter, a faulty ignition switch, or a failing engine control unit (ECU). Such problems usually require a mechanic’s expertise to diagnose and resolve.
Car Won’t Start But Radio Works
If your car won’t start but the radio works, it indicates your battery has enough power to run accessories, but not enough to start the engine. However, given that your battery is new, this scenario could also point to a problem with the starter motor or ignition switch. It would be best to have these parts checked by a professional.
Car Struggles to Start After Putting Gas In
If your car struggles to start after refueling, it could be due to a faulty evaporative emission control system (EVAP). This system controls your vehicle’s fuel vapors, and a malfunctioning EVAP can flood your engine with excess gasoline, causing hard starts. If you consistently face this issue after refueling, have your EVAP system checked out.
Corrosion on Battery Terminal and Car Won’t Start
Corrosion on battery terminals can hinder the flow of electricity from the battery to the starter motor. This can prevent your car from starting even if your battery is new and charged. Cleaning the terminals with a mixture of baking soda and water should resolve the issue.
Engine Turns Over But Won’t Start
This scenario typically indicates a lack of fuel or spark to ignite the combustion process. Problems with your fuel pump, injectors, or fuel filter can prevent proper fuel delivery. Issues with spark plugs, ignition coils, or your vehicle’s ignition control module can prevent the needed spark. It’s best to take your car to a mechanic for a precise diagnosis.
Car Starts After Jump But Won’t Start Again
If your car starts after a jump but won’t start again, it likely means your battery isn’t holding a charge. Even though you have a new battery, it’s possible for a faulty alternator to drain it. A mechanic can perform a charging system test to confirm this diagnosis.
Car Won’t Start Then Starts Later
Intermittent starting issues can be particularly frustrating to diagnose. They could be due to various problems like a failing ignition switch, a problematic sensor, or an issue with the fuel pump. Such issues may not be present during a mechanic’s inspection, so recording the conditions when the issue occurs can be helpful.
Car Struggles to Start But Battery is Fine
If your car struggles to start but the battery is fine, it could be a sign of a failing starter motor. Other possibilities include a clogged fuel filter or a failing fuel pump. It’s important to have your vehicle inspected to identify the exact cause.
Car Won’t Start Just Clicks But Battery is Good
A single click but no start typically indicates a problem with the starting system, most likely the starter motor. Other possibilities include a poor connection somewhere in the starting circuit, or a faulty solenoid. A mechanic can help pinpoint the problem.
Car Keeps Dying Battery and Alternator are Good
If your car keeps dying despite a good battery and alternator, there might be an electrical drain or a problem with the fuel system. A parasitic draw test can help identify if there’s an electrical issue. Alternatively, a fuel pressure test can help diagnose any fuel system problems. A professional inspection would be advisable in this scenario.
Car Won’t Start: Need-to-Know Facts
- When your car won’t start, troubleshoot common problems like a dead battery or cold engine oil before seeking help from a mechanic or roadside assistance.
- Dead batteries are one of the most common reasons for a car not starting (to learn more, you can check out our guide on how to charge a completely dead car battery). Auto repair shops and auto parts stores can test the battery’s life for free.
- Cold weather can significantly reduce battery strength and thicken essential fluids, making it harder for them to flow through the engine.
- Cycling the key 10 times to get the battery warmed up may help if you suspect the cold is causing the issue.
- If your vehicle has a push-button start, a dead remote battery or a key fob out of sync with the car could be the issue.
- Certain mechanical or electrical problems, such as a bad alternator, require professional assistance.
- Other parts that could fail and prevent your car from starting include the starter motor, fuel filter/pump, timing belt, spark plug, ignition switch, or cables.
- Modern cars have onboard computing systems, and a faulty temperature sensor or alternator can confuse these systems. A qualified mechanic can run diagnostics.
- Roadside assistance services can often fix the problem without having to tow the car, and services include moving a stuck vehicle, towing to a mechanic, battery jump-starting, electric vehicle recharging, flat tire changes, fuel delivery, and lockout services.
- When in doubt, seek help from a professional.
Car Won’t Start with New Battery: In Conclusion…
If your car won’t start even with a new battery in place, you should first check your transmission. If you drive an automatic, make sure that it’s in Park, and if you drive a manual, make sure it’s in neutral. After that, the troubleshooting process will depend on whether or not the car cranks.
If it doesn’t crank, then check the battery, the alternator, and finally the fuses and ignition switch. If it turns out to be the alternator, then you will need to service or replace it. But don’t worry, you can still use your new battery afterward, although the lifespan might be shorter than it normally would be.
If the car still cranks, then that means the battery is fine and healthy. This means you’re probably looking at a mechanical issue that’s preventing your car from starting the combustion process and turning it on. Troubleshooting a car that won’t start is a lengthy process, so hopefully, our guide will help you to do it, and good luck!
FAQs On Car Won’t Start With New Battery
If you’re still curious to learn more about why your car won’t start with new battery, our FAQs here might help…
How To Test Alternator
To test your car’s alternator, you’ll first need to have your car running. If the battery’s dead, then jump-start it to begin testing the alternator. First, grab a multimeter and connect the red probe to the positive terminal of the battery. And, the black probe to the negative terminal. The multimeter should be reading somewhere between 14.2 and 14.7 volts. This is indicative that the alternator is charging your car’s 12-volt battery just fine. However, with the engine running, if the voltage reading drops to about 13 volts or lower, then this is a sign that the alternator is too weak to charge the battery.
Why Won’t My Car Start
There are countless reasons to explain why your car isn’t starting. First off, as you’re trying to turn the ignition on, see if you can hear anything from the car. If it’s all silent, it’s most likely that the electrical system has died. In other words, you may be dealing with a dead battery, a faulty alternator, blown fuses, or a bad ignition switch. But, if you’re able to hear some clicking sounds, this means that something mechanical has failed, instead. Probably, it’s a clogged fuel filter, broken fuel pump, dirty fuel injector, worn-out spark plugs, bad ignition coils, or a malfunctioning starter motor.
How To Tell If Alternator Is Bad
If your car’s alternator is on its way out, there are several ways you can tell. Mainly, you might notice symptoms such as dim and flickering headlights. Or, if your electrical and electronic accessories like the interior lights, radio, power windows, and infotainment system aren’t working properly. Some of these tell-tale signs could be simple, such as how your power windows might take longer to wind up and down. Or, if the radio keeps shutting down and rebooting itself. In other words, a faulty alternator won’t be able to supply enough electricity to keep the battery charged up, thus interfering with your car’s electrics.
How To Start A Car With A Bad Starter
Should your car’s starter fail, you could try something simple like giving it a few taps with a hammer to get it going again. This actually works, because, over time, gaps may appear between the armature and the electromagnetic field coils. Giving it some taps may close the gap between these two, allowing them to properly interface with each other. Other than that, you could try jump-starting your car (or push-starting it, if you have a manual transmission). Sometimes, a starter fails to start your car up due to a weak or dying battery. So, giving it a bit more power to work with might eventually allow the starter to function properly.
How To Test A Car Battery
Before you begin testing a car’s 12-volt battery, it’s a good idea to inspect it visually first. Begin by checking to make sure that the terminals and connectors are free of any corrosion. And, that the connectors and cables themselves are seated firmly, without any looseness. Also, ensure that the battery doesn’t show any physical signs of wear, such as a bloated battery. Finally, you can begin testing the battery using a multimeter – red probe to the positive terminal, and the lack probe to the negative terminal. If it reads anywhere below 12.6 volts, then the battery has a weak and low charge. Ideally, we want to see at least 12.6 volts with the engine off.
Why Won’t My Car Start but I Have Power
This can be due to several reasons such as a faulty ignition switch, a bad starter, or problems with your car’s fuel system. Though you may have power, if these key components are not functioning properly, your car will not start. Also, note that a car requires a considerable amount of current to start the engine, and even if your lights and radio work, the battery might still be too weak to start the engine.
Car Won’t Start Just Clicks but Battery Is Good
If your car just clicks when you try to start it but the battery is good, the issue is likely with the starter motor or the starter solenoid. The clicking sound usually suggests that the starter motor is trying to engage, but it is not turning over the engine. This can happen if the motor itself is faulty, or if the solenoid, which transmits electrical current to the motor, is not working correctly.
Why Is My Car Not Starting but the Battery Isn’t Dead
There could be several reasons why your car is not starting even if the battery is good. These can include a failing ignition switch, a bad starter, a malfunctioning alternator, or even issues with your fuel system. It’s best to have a professional mechanic diagnose the problem to avoid damaging any crucial components.
Why Is My Car Cranking but Not Starting
If your car is cranking but not starting, it’s likely a fuel or ignition system issue. The fuel system could be blocked or the fuel pump might be failing. For the ignition system, spark plugs could be worn out or ignition coils could be failing. It could also be an issue with the timing belt.
When Connecting a Car Battery Which Terminal First
When connecting a car battery, always connect the positive terminal first. This is typically marked by a plus (+) sign or the color red. After securing the positive cable, proceed to connect the negative terminal, usually marked by a minus (-) sign or the color black.
Why Won’t My Car Turn Over
A car that won’t turn over is often due to a dead battery, a bad starter, or a faulty ignition switch. If the battery has power and the starter is good, you’ll need to check the ignition switch. Fuel delivery issues can also prevent a car from turning over.
Can You Jumpstart a Car With a Bad Starter
Jumpstarting a car won’t work if the starter is bad because the issue lies with the starter system, not the battery. The purpose of jumpstarting is to provide enough power from a good battery (in another car) to a dead or weak battery.
How to Fix a Dead Car Battery
A dead car battery can sometimes be recharged using a battery charger. If the battery won’t hold a charge, it needs to be replaced. In some cases, the issue could be a poor connection or corrosion on the terminals, which can be cleaned and tightened for a better connection.
What to Do After Replacing Car Battery
After replacing a car battery, you should start the vehicle and let it idle for a few minutes to allow the battery to charge and to ensure that all the systems are working properly. It’s also good practice to check your car’s electrical systems (lights, radio, etc.) to ensure they’re functioning.
Where to Get Battery Replaced
Car batteries can be replaced at most auto parts stores, repair shops, and dealership service centers. Some offer the service as part of the purchase price of the battery. It’s recommended to choose a reputable service provider to ensure proper installation.
What Causes Corrosion on a Car Battery
Corrosion on a car battery is often caused by a chemical reaction between the battery terminals and the battery acid. This can occur due to overcharging, undercharging, or even a battery leak. Corrosion can cause poor battery performance and eventually lead to a dead battery.
How to Start an Automatic Car With a Bad Starter
Starting an automatic car with a bad starter can be challenging. One method is to tap the starter with a hard object, which may free up a stuck gear within the starter. Another method is push-starting, but this can only be done if the car is on an incline and is not recommended as it can damage the transmission.
How to Change Battery Terminals
To change battery terminals, first disconnect the negative terminal followed by the positive. Remove the old terminals and clean the battery posts with a cleaning solution and wire brush. Slide the new terminals onto the battery posts, starting with the positive terminal, followed by the negative. Ensure they are secured tightly.
What Causes a Car Not to Start
There can be multiple reasons why a car won’t start, including a dead or weak battery, a faulty ignition switch, problems with the fuel system, a bad starter, or a malfunctioning alternator. Environmental factors like extreme cold can also cause difficulties in starting a car.
Why Is My Car Struggling to Start
If your car is struggling to start, it may be due to a weak battery, bad spark plugs, or a clogged fuel filter. Additionally, the issue could stem from the starter motor, ignition, or even the timing belt. Each of these components plays a critical role in starting your car.
Why Won’t My Car Jump Start
If your car won’t jump-start, it could indicate problems beyond a dead battery. For instance, your car’s starter or alternator might be failing. There could also be an issue with the jumper cables or the battery you’re using to jump-start your car might not have sufficient charge.
Why Does My Car Take so Long to Start
If your car takes a long time to start, it may be due to a weak battery, failing spark plugs, or issues with the fuel system. A faulty ignition switch or starter could also be to blame. These issues may cause your car to crank longer than usual before starting.
Can a Low Battery in Key Fob Cause Car Not to Start
Yes, a low battery in your key fob can potentially cause your car not to start. If the key fob’s battery is low, it may not be able to send the necessary signal to the car’s ignition system to start the car, especially in keyless ignition systems.
Why Does My Engine Turn Over but Not Start
If your engine turns over but doesn’t start, it might be due to a lack of fuel, spark, or compression. Issues with the fuel system, such as a faulty fuel pump or clogged fuel filter, can prevent the engine from starting. Similarly, problems with the ignition system or a broken timing belt can cause this issue.
Why Won’t My Battery Charge
If your car battery won’t charge, the problem could be with the alternator, which is responsible for keeping your battery charged. Issues could also be due to a faulty voltage regulator, a poor battery connection, or simply a very old battery that can no longer hold a charge.
Can a Weak Battery Cause a Car to Run Rough
While a weak battery primarily affects the starting of a car, it can indirectly cause the car to run rough. This is because a weak battery may not provide enough power to the spark plugs, resulting in inefficient combustion and rough running.
Why Won’t My Car Turn Off
If your car won’t turn off, it may be due to a faulty ignition switch that is unable to break the circuit when the key is turned to the off position. Alternatively, problems with the car’s computer system or a wiring short could also cause this issue.
How to Change a Car Battery Without Losing Settings
To change a car battery without losing settings, you can connect a secondary power source like a battery maintainer or memory saver to your car’s electrical system during the process. This will keep the electrical systems powered and maintain your settings.
Can You Start a Car Without a Battery
If the car has a manual transmission, you can potentially start it without a battery through a method called ‘push starting’ or ‘bump starting’. However, this is not recommended as it can damage your vehicle. Cars with automatic transmissions or modern computer systems cannot be started without a battery.
Why Won’t My Car Lights Turn Off
If your car lights won’t turn off, it may be due to a faulty switch or relay that’s stuck in the ‘on’ position. Alternatively, it could be an issue with the car’s timer or a problem with the car’s computer system.
How Do I Know If I Need a New Car Battery
Signs that you might need a new car battery include a slow engine crank, a lit battery warning light, an old battery, swollen battery case, corroded battery terminals, or the need for frequent jump-starts. If your car exhibits these signs, it may be time for a battery replacement.
How to Make a Dead Battery Work Again
You might be able to revive a dead car battery by recharging it using a car battery charger. If the battery doesn’t hold a charge after this, it likely needs to be replaced. Remember, repeated draining can severely reduce a car battery’s life.