This is easily one of the biggest nightmares for any car owner. Cranking your vehicle one fine morning only to find out that the car won’t turn over but has power. It can be frustrating and disappointing, but with the right guide, troubleshooting is easy. Read on to find out more about how to get a car that won’t turn over but has power running again.
If a car won’t turn over but has power, it is failing to fulfill the one task that it is made to do, take you places. The engine refusing to start up can be scary, but it may not always be a nightmare to fix. In fact, in most cases, it ends up being an easy fix. Before we delve into the details, let us learn more about the conditions that happen so that your car won’t turn but has power.
- Why Won’t Your Car Turn Over?
- Common Causes & Problems
- How To Fix This?
- What To Do If It Won’t Start
- Other (Similar) Scenarios Where A Car Won’t Start/Turn Over
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When anything goes wrong with an engine, the first order of business is to assess the situation. Most problems cannot be narrowed down by looking at the health and age of the car. For example, if your car is just a year old, it is highly unlikely that it has a fuel injection issue. In newer cars, it’s most likely a faulty battery.
In older cars, however, especially the ones that are being started after a long while, it can be anything. Right from the battery, all the way to the engine itself. Therefore, in this guide, we’ll be looking at what’s causing this issue where your car won’t turn over but has power. Spoiler alert: there are as many as 11 primary reasons why.
In addition, we’ll be looking at diagnosis and troubleshooting steps for each one. On top of that, we’ll acquaint you with the common repair processes and DIY fixes, as well as any replacement costs that you need to account for. We’ll even look at other, similar scenarios where your car might have issues with starting up.
Why Won’t My Car Start
If your car won’t start but has power, anything from the battery to the engine can be the culprit. But this is not hard to track. We just need a map of events that happen when you try to start an engine.
To understand what can go wrong with an engine, let us look at what happens when you crank it. The first thing any driver does after sitting in a car is poking their key in and crank the engine.
Then the charge from the battery runs to the starter motor that rotates the crankshaft. Meanwhile, fuel from the fuel tank is pumped into the engine through the fuel pump, then through the fuel lines, the fuel rail, and finally the injectors.
Simultaneously air gets sucked in through the air filter and enters the engine after passing through the intake manifold. In the case of a gasoline engine, a distributor sends sparks through the spark plugs into the engine. This ignites the air-fuel mixture and voila, there is your horsepower.
With the operations sorted, let us dive into each stage and see what can go wrong in each of them.
In addition to discussing the main causes (there are 11 of them here, among the key suspects) as to why your car won’t turn over but has power, we’ll also include tiny snippets below to give you some context into the symptoms, diagnosis, troubleshooting, repair, and replacement costs of the each of the components. While addressing these issues is essential, ensuring you’re protected from unexpected costs related to these problems is just as vital. Explore the best car insurance in Singapore to keep yourself covered.
Car Won’t Turn Over But Has Power, Possible Causes #1: Electrical
This is easily the most probable issue a car that won’t start but has power will have. A flat battery is not an uncommon sight. Almost all car users must have experienced the trouble it can bring.
Though it is just a matter of replacing the battery – a 5 min job – the headache a failed battery can bring is agonizing. But the battery is not the only thing that can go wrong at this stage. But let us start with the most obvious.
1. Dead Car Battery
If your car won’t start but has power, the first thing to know is that it is not a dead battery. That may make the title of this story seem counterproductive but let me explain. If your car won’t turn over but has power, with all electricals functioning, it certainly is not a dead battery.
A car with a dead battery will not have any of its electricals functioning in the worst case. If they function, their weakness will be evident. The lights will be completely dim, the horn will not sound okay, et cetera.
In this case, the age of the battery needs to be considered. If you have a new battery, it is not likely to fail this easily. But if your battery age is more than 4 years, it may be almost time to take it to the grave.
If your vehicle has not been used for a while, jump-start it, and drive it for a while. After a drive, the battery should be charged, and restarting it should be a breeze if the battery is good. If not, proceed to the next step.
1.1. Symptoms of a Dead Battery
Recognizing a dead battery’s signs is crucial to prevent being stranded. Dim headlights, a slow crank, or the need to jumpstart your vehicle are indicative of a dying battery. Other signs include power fluctuations, corroded or damaged battery terminals, or an aged battery (usually over three to four years old).
1.2. How to Jump-Start a Dead Battery
- Position a working vehicle close to yours, but do not let them touch.
- Connect the positive jumper cable (usually red) to your vehicle’s positive battery terminal.
- Connect the other end of the positive cable to the other car’s positive terminal.
- Connect the negative jumper cable (usually black) to the good vehicle’s negative battery terminal.
- Connect the other end of the negative cable to a metallic, unpainted part of your vehicle’s frame or engine block.
- Start the good vehicle, then try starting yours.
1.3. How to Replace a Dead Battery
- Disconnect the battery’s negative terminal first, then the positive.
- Unbolt the battery from its holder and lift it out (wear gloves as it can be heavy and corrosive).
- Place the new battery in the holder and reconnect the terminals (positive first).
1.4. Car Battery Replacement Cost
On average, car batteries can cost between $50 and $200, depending on the vehicle’s make, model, and battery size.
2. Bad Alternator
The alternator is the device that takes power from the engine and recharges the battery when the vehicle runs. It is essential for the electrical cycle of a car as its malfunction can stop the car from starting. If the alternator is unable to charge the battery, it can exhaust its stored energy and die.
But the main event we are expecting is an increase in the voltage when you rev the engine. The alternator, if good, should flow a bunch of electrons into the battery as the engine runs. If no change or a meek increase in voltage is detected, it shows that the alternator is failing to do its job.
The alternator can have issues with its coil, which converts the rotational motion from the engine into alternating current. Or it can be an issue with the Rectifier/Stator which converts this alternating current to direct current.
2.1. Symptoms of a Bad Alternator
If your vehicle’s electrical system experiences fluctuations, the alternator may be the culprit. Symptoms include dim or flickering headlights, a weak battery that frequently needs jump-starting, or the “ALT” or “GEN” light appearing on your dashboard.
2.2. How to Check an Alternator
With the car running, disconnect the battery. If the car stops, the alternator is likely faulty. However, modern cars may require a multimeter test at a mechanic shop.
2.3. Alternator Replacement Cost
The cost of replacing an alternator can range from $200 to $700, with parts and labor included.
3. Bad Starter
This is the third and final element in the ignition circuit. The starter motor is directly connected to the crankshaft of the engine. This rotates the crankshaft to initiate its strokes of the engine when we turn the key. A failure of the starter motor can be a reason why your car won’t start but has power.
Diagnosing this issue is quite simple. If you turn the key, it should crank. The cranking of the engine is initiated by the starter motor. So, if the starter motor has gone south, you turning the key will make no difference. No cranking, no desperate attempts to get the cylinders firing. Just silence.
To confirm that it is indeed a starter motor issue, you can diagnose a dead battery or alternator. If these are working, and the engine won’t crank at all, the starter motor is most likely your culprit.
If you have a stick shift (and know how to drive manual), you can push start it, but that is a solid workout that we will not recommend due to safety reasons. So, tow it to the nearest garage and get the faulty starter motor replaced.
3.1. Symptoms of a Bad Starter
You may have a bad starter if you hear a clicking sound when trying to start your vehicle, or if the engine cranks slowly or doesn’t crank at all.
3.2. How to Diagnose a Starter
A professional should do a detailed diagnosis, but a simple test is to tap the starter motor with a hammer while someone tries to start the car. If it starts, you might have a sticking or bad starter.
3.3. Starter Replacement Cost
A starter replacement can cost between $300 and $600, with parts and labor included.
4. Fuse And Wiring Issues
This is a little too obvious. Before your jump the gun and replace the alternators, starter motor, and battery in one go, check the fuse box. If the ignition fuses are blown, a simple fuse replacement can get your car started. Be sure to diagnose what caused the fuse to blow in the first place.
The wiring harness can cause issues too. Do you have a rodent issue in your area? If yes, they may be the reason you are standing in your driveway, late for work, and with a dead car. These mincing machines can make quick work of a car’s wires, disconnecting many critical components. So, it might be helpful if you know how to keep mice out of your car.
The starter motor and battery may be perfectly healthy, but a severed connection can render them useless. A cut-open wire can cause electrical shorts that can blow the fuse, or more importantly, turn into a fire hazard. So, be sure to check and make sure that no wires are damaged. A mechanic can help you with that.
4.1. Symptoms of Fuse and Wiring Issues
Blown fuses, broken wires, or loose connections can cause a variety of electrical problems, including a vehicle that won’t start.
4.2. How to Diagnose and Repair
Check the fuse box and replace any blown fuses. Inspect the wiring for damage and repair or replace any damaged sections.
4.3. Fuse and Wiring Repair Costs
Replacing fuses is relatively inexpensive (usually less than $20). If you need professional help with wiring repairs, the cost can range from $100 to $300.
Car Won’t Turn Over But Has Power, Possible Causes #2: Fuel System
The fuel system is what feeds the engine its choice of potion. Gasoline and diesel engines have different designs for their fuel systems, but the general working principle is almost the same.
So, if your car won’t start but has power, the fuel system can be a source of the problem. But the fuel system must be checked after the entire battery & ignition system are found to be faultless. Let us drill through the list to find out what can be the pain points in the fuel system.
5. Faulty Fuel Pump
This is not a problem with most new cars. If your car is regularly driven and is filled with neat gas/diesel, this should not bother you. Unless your vehicle was fitted with a faulty fuel pump right from the factory. But, if your car is quite old or the fuel quality in your area is questionable, a faulty pump can be a scary reality.
Diagnosing this problem is quite easy. When you turn your key to ignition, before cranking the engine, you can hear a hum from the rear. This is the functioning of the fuel pump. Before the car is started, the fuel pump ensures the flow of fuel and readies it for injection.
But if you have a faulty fuel pump, this may not happen. The engine will not get its calories and refuse to start. So, when you turn the key and hear no hum coming from the back, it is possibly a fuel pump issue. Or your car’s sound deadening is that darn good. You decide.
But if you suspect a fuel pump failure, it must be checked. Maybe it is just clogged up and unable to function. But that is for a trained eye to decide. So, an expert technician is needed for this job.
5.1. Symptoms of a Faulty Fuel Pump
Symptoms can include difficulty starting, poor engine performance, stalling, and a noticeable decrease in fuel efficiency.
5.2. Diagnosing a Faulty Fuel Pump
To check the fuel pump, turn your ignition to the on position and listen for a whirring or humming noise from the fuel tank. If you can’t hear a noise, it’s possible the fuel pump may be faulty.
5.3. Fuel Pump Replacement Cost
Replacing a faulty fuel pump can be quite costly due to its location within the fuel tank. You can expect to pay between $400 and $600 for parts and labor.
6. Low Fuel Pressure
Your fuel pump may be working but what if the fuel pressure is not reaching the injectors? A clogged fuel rail or fuel line can be an issue. Or it can be a fuel pump issue that reduces the fuel pressure. Some fuel rails may have a Schrader valve on the fuel rail that helps you test the fuel pressure.
If the fuel pressure is found to be low, you have to give it to a mechanic for further diagnosis. But know that, these issues mostly crop up in very old vehicles.
6.1. Symptoms of Low Fuel Pressure
The car struggling to accelerate, misfiring, or having difficulty starting are signs of low fuel pressure.
6.2. Diagnosing Low Fuel Pressure
Fuel pressure can be checked with a pressure gauge attached to the fuel rail. The pressure should be checked while the engine is running and turned off to ensure it maintains pressure.
6.3. Repairing Low Fuel Pressure Issues
Fixing this issue often involves cleaning or replacing the fuel injectors or fuel pumps. It’s best handled by a mechanic.
7. Fuel Injector Failure
This is a rare possibility if your car won’t start but has power. If you have a four-cylinder engine, all four fuel injectors should stop working for the engine to not start. So, this is a rare scenario but still possible.
If you find all your fuel injectors failed, proceed to check the throttle position sensor. Remove the sensor and try starting the engine. If it starts, replace your throttle position sensor and you should be on the road in no time.
Generally, it is a good practice to clean your fuel system as a maintenance procedure. This guide will help you as a guide to learn how fuel system cleaning works.
7.1. Symptoms of Fuel Injector Failure
Engine misfires, poor idle, reduced fuel efficiency, and difficulty starting the engine are signs of fuel injector failure.
7.2. Diagnosing Fuel Injector Failure
To diagnose a faulty fuel injector, mechanics use a fuel pressure tester to check for leaks and a multimeter to test for resistance.
7.3. Fuel Injector Replacement Cost
Expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a single fuel injector replacement, including parts and labor.
Car Won’t Turn Over But Has Power, Possible Causes #3: Air Intake
This is yet another rare that prevents a car from starting. If your car won’t start but has power, it can mean that the engine is not getting all it needs. We covered the starting movement and fuel supply. Now let us focus on the air supply. The engine needs air to burn the fuel. If less air is being pumped in, your car won’t start but has power.
8. Clogged Air Filter
In rare instances, a clogged air filter or airline can stop the engine from starting. Check for a choked filter. Replace the filter if needed. Look as far as possible into the air tube that leads to the engine to spot any debris, animal nests, etc. If it looks clear, it is clear.
8.1. Symptoms of a Clogged Air Filter
Symptoms include reduced fuel efficiency, a misfiring engine, unusual engine sounds, and decreased horsepower.
8.2. Replacing a Clogged Air Filter
- Locate the air filter unit in the engine bay.
- Open the air filter box and remove the old filter.
- Install the new filter and close the box.
8.3. Air Filter Replacement Cost
The cost of replacing an air filter is relatively low, typically between $20 and $50.
9. Faulty MAP Sensor Or MAF Sensor
The MAP (manifold absolute pressure) sensor and MAF (mass airflow sensor) measure the volume and pressure of the air being pumped into the engine. If these sensors are faulty, the engine can get a wrong reading and will not start. Unplug these sensors and start the engine. If it starts, replace the faulty sensors.
To find out more, be sure to check out our guide on what does a mass air flow sensor do.
9.1. Symptoms of a Faulty MAP/MAF Sensor
Common signs include decreased fuel efficiency, lack of power, and difficulty starting.
9.2. Diagnosing a Faulty MAP/MAF Sensor
This involves unplugging the sensor and trying to start the engine. If the engine starts with the sensor unplugged, it indicates that the sensor is faulty.
9.3. Sensor Replacement Cost
A new MAP or MAF sensor can cost between $100 and $200, not including labor costs.
Car Won’t Turn Over But Has Power, Possible Causes #4: Ignition
For diesel engine owners, you can skip this section. Gasoline engine users, read on. If your car won’t start but has power, and has a gasoline engine, it can be a spark issue. The system is important for spark-ignited units like gasoline or natural gas engines. So, what can go wrong in this area?
10. Ignition Coil Or Distributor
The ignition coil and the distributor are two important parts of the ignition system. If they have failed, the engine will not receive timely sparks, causing it to not start. You can test these using a multimeter but a trained hand working on it will be the better option.
10.1. Symptoms of Ignition Coil or Distributor Failure
Symptoms can include engine misfires, rough idling, stalling, reduced power, or decreased fuel economy.
10.2. Diagnosing Ignition Coil or Distributor Failure
Testing the ignition coil or distributor usually requires specialized equipment and a mechanic’s expertise.
10.3. Ignition Coil or Distributor Replacement Cost
The average cost to replace an ignition coil ranges between $200 and $300. Distributor replacement cost is generally higher, ranging from $400 to $600.
11. Faulty Spark Plugs
Spark plugs ignite the fuel injected into each cylinder. These can wear down over time, leaving the engine with no spark to burn fuel, and your car won’t start but has power.
Removing the spark plugs is easy. Once removed the spark plugs can be inspected for cracks or clogs. If the ceramic area of the spark plug is cracked, the insulation is compromised, and it is a broken spark plug. If the tip of the plug is clogged with gunk or debris, you must replace it.
Replacing spark plugs is supposed to be done as a timely maintenance procedure. Keeping tabs on their health and replacing them at manufacturer-recommended intervals can help sustain the health of the engine.
Once you have the spark plugs out and they look okay, you can test them again using a multimeter. This measures the resistance across the ends of the spark plug. If it shows a wrong resistance across the ends, it is a faulty plug. If it shows resistance between any two points, other than the ends, it is still a faulty plug.
11.1. Symptoms of Faulty Spark Plugs
Symptoms include difficulty starting the car, engine misfires, reduced power, and lower fuel efficiency.
11.2. Replacing Faulty Spark Plugs
- Remove the ignition coil or spark plug wire from the spark plug.
- Use a spark plug socket to remove the old spark plug.
- Install the new spark plug and reattach the ignition coil or wire.
11.3. Spark Plug Replacement Cost
Spark plugs are generally inexpensive, typically ranging from $16 to $100 for a set, not including labor costs.
Car Won’t Turn Over But Has Power: What Can Cause A Car Not To Start
The battery is mostly the culprit for a new engine that fails to start. But if the vehicle still has power, a dead battery is mostly out of the question, and so is a dead alternator. Some batteries may come with lower charge retention capacity from the factory. This is a manufacturing defect and a replacement can be claimed under warranty.
But if a car won’t start but has power, it is easy to confuse that the battery is completely healthy. Especially, if the lights, horn, and other electricals function properly, it can be quite misleading. This is due to the fact that all peripherals do not have the same energy requirement.
But the starter motor needs a lot of energy to crank the engine. A battery that is almost at the end of its lifecycle may not be able to supply enough electricity to the starter motor. Some electronic ignition systems also will leech a lot of energy at the start. But the peripherals like lights, horns, stereo, etc. may work as they need less energy from the battery.
This is where it can confuse everyone. So, if your car won’t start but has power, break out your multimeter and get the battery terminals checked. With the engine off, it should read ideally 12 volts, if not very close to it. If not, the battery is almost dying.
Jumpstart the engine, turn on most peripherals, and read it again. There should not be a drop in voltage, and it should increase to 13.5 to 14 volts as you step on the accelerator. If this is not happening, then it may be an alternator issue. This is the most common issue if a car won’t start but has power.
Car Won’t Turn Over But Has Power: How To Fix It
If the issue can be traced back to a faulty battery or alternator, replacing them is the only measure. This diagnosis can be done by almost anyone and needs no specialized tools. You only need to have an inexpensive multimeter.
But if the problem lies with other areas of the engine like the fuel system, ignition system, or air intake, you will need a trained mechanic to go to the bottom of it. Yes, the basic diagnosis can help you narrow down the options. But, for a thorough diagnosis, a skilled pair of hands is indispensable.
But that being said, the preliminary diagnosis must be done before you approach a garage. This is more important if you are approaching an unknown mechanic. There are possibilities of them scamming unwary customers. So, if you turn up at an unknown garage and go “There is something wrong with my engine”, they may pick that up as an opportunity to drain your wallet.
Though you might find that your car insurance policy will cover assistance to get your car started and back on the road, it’s worth checking with them. So, do your homework and conduct basic troubleshooting to narrow down the possibilities.
It is always better to tell a mechanic that “I suspect it is a problem with my fuel pump. Can you please check that for me?” instead of being completely clueless. Not rocket science but can save you some valuable bucks.
Car Won’t Turn Over But Has Power: Some Quick & Easy DIY Tips To Get Going Again
Knowing what to do when your car refuses to turn over, despite having power, can save you from unnecessary stress and expense. By following these simple steps, you might just get your car up and running again in no time.
NOTE: These troubleshooting steps are meant to be simple cheats and hacks that you can practice to quickly and easily get your car going again. However, they might not be a definite and lasting fix to an issue where your car won’t turn over but has power. So, once you’re up and running again, consider checking it more thoroughly, or send it over to a qualified mechanic for a check-up.
Step 1: Listen for The Click
The first thing to do is to listen for a click when you try to start your car. If it clicks but doesn’t start, this could indicate a weak battery, dirty battery terminals, a worn-out starter motor, or a stuck solenoid.
Cycle The Ignition Key
Turn on your car’s dome light and watch it while trying to start your car. If the light dims significantly or goes out, it’s a sign that your battery is almost dead. To remedy this, try the key cycling technique. This involves turning the ignition key to the start position about ten times in quick succession. After this, wait for about five minutes before attempting to start the car again.
Step 2: Check the Battery Terminals
Then, check the battery terminals:
Give the Terminals a Tap
Corroded battery terminals can prevent your car from starting. If you don’t have the necessary tools to clean them, try rotating the terminals slightly around the battery post by gently tapping each one with a shoe heel. This could potentially improve the contact enough for your car to start.
Step 3: Tap the Starter
If you have easy access to the starter motor, it might be worth giving it a light tap with a blunt object such as a tire iron. Occasionally, the electrical contacts in the starter motor can get stuck, and a gentle tap might free them up.
Step 4: Shifting the Shifter
Now, play around with the shifter:
Try Shifting to Neutral
Sometimes, moving your shift lever to the neutral position can help if your car won’t start. With your foot on the brake, shift the lever to neutral and try starting the engine. If that doesn’t work, try shifting it back to park and attempting to start your car again.
Step 5: If the Engine Cranks But Doesn’t Start
If your engine cranks but won’t fire up, there are a few more things you can try.
A) Swap the Relays
Try turning the key to the run position with the radio off. If you don’t hear a two-second buzzing sound (which is the fuel pump priming the injection system), you might have a bad fuel pump relay.
You can find the location of this relay in your owner’s manual or on the fuse box cover legend. If you find a different relay with the same part number, you could try swapping it with the fuel pump relay and see if this helps.
B) Tap the Fuel Tank
If your car still won’t start, consider smacking the bottom of your fuel tank a few times with your shoe to jar the fuel pump motor. This may help get your car started.
C) Unflood a Flooded Engine
If you smell gasoline, your engine might be flooded. In this case, press the accelerator pedal to the floor and hold it there while you attempt to start the engine.
D) Trick the Computer
Sometimes, a vacuum leak or a faulty temperature sensor can result in an air/fuel mixture that’s too lean to start a cold engine. If you’ve tried everything else and your car still won’t start, try pressing the accelerator halfway and then attempt to start the car again. This action may signal the computer to add more fuel, helping to resolve the issue.
Remember, while these steps can be helpful in the short term, it’s always important to address the root cause of your car’s issues to prevent further problems down the line. Always consult with a professional mechanic to ensure your vehicle is properly maintained and safe to operate.
Reason My Car Won’t Start
Besides the main issue that we’re discussing here, where your car won’t turn over but has power, there are other similar scenarios that we’ll provide some additional context for, too. These can vary from your car might actually be able to turn over and start, but it might not run properly. Alternatively, if your car won’t crank or start, at all.
Or, a variety of differing variables – you might notice a clicking noise, or if your car loses power while driving. If your exact issue isn’t exactly that your car won’t turn over but has power, these ones might help…
1. Why Won’t My Car Turn Over
If you’re asking, “Why won’t my car turn over?” the problem could be linked to your starter motor. The starter motor is what sets the engine in motion when you turn your key in the ignition. If it’s malfunctioning, you may hear a clicking noise, or there might be no noise at all.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: A faulty ignition switch, a dead battery, a broken starter motor, or a blown fuse could be responsible. Use a multimeter to check the battery’s voltage – if it’s below 12.6V, it might be the issue.
Fix and Replacement Cost: You might need to replace the starter motor, which could cost around $300 to $600, depending on the make and model of your car. It’s a complex job that involves dealing with high-voltage components, so it’s usually best left to professionals.
2. Car Won’t Start But Has Power
A car that won’t start but has power suggests a problem with the ignition or fuel system. Your car might be receiving power from the battery, but if the engine isn’t getting enough fuel or the spark plugs aren’t igniting the fuel, the car won’t start.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: Fuel pump failure, faulty spark plugs, or a bad ignition coil could be the culprits. Check if you’re out of fuel, or if there are any warning lights on your dashboard.
Fix and Replacement Cost: Replacement costs for a fuel pump could range from $600 to $1000. For spark plugs, the cost can range from $40 to $150.
3. Car Won’t Start But Battery Isn’t Dead
If your car won’t start but the battery isn’t dead, you might be dealing with a faulty ignition switch or a problem with your fuel system.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: The ignition switch, fuel pump, or fuel filter could be at fault. If your car cranks but doesn’t start, try to listen for the fuel pump while someone else turns the key. If you can’t hear it, that might be the issue.
Fix and Replacement Cost: Replacing an ignition switch can cost between $125 to $275. If it’s a fuel system issue, it could be more expensive, particularly if it’s the fuel pump, which can range from $600 to $1000.
4. Car Won’t Start But Lights Come On
Your car won’t start but the lights come on? This might be due to a faulty ignition system or a problem with your starter.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: Starter motor failure, a bad ignition switch, or an issue with your car’s computer can all prevent your car from starting. Check the condition of your starter and ignition switch, and look for any error codes on your dashboard.
Fix and Replacement Cost: Depending on your car model, replacing the starter can cost between $300 to $600. If it’s an ignition switch issue, you’re looking at $125 to $275.
5. Car Won’t Start With Jump
A car that won’t start even with a jump suggests a serious issue with the starting or charging system.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: This could be caused by a dead starter, a damaged ignition switch, or a broken alternator. Check the starter, alternator, and ignition switch for faults.
Fix and Replacement Cost: Replacing a starter can cost from $300 to $600, while an alternator can cost from $200 to $600.
6. Car Won’t Start One Click Then Nothing
If your car won’t start and you only hear one click, then nothing, it could be due to a malfunctioning starter motor.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: A faulty starter motor, bad solenoid, or a problem with your car’s electrical system could be at fault. To diagnose, try to jump-start your car. If it still doesn’t start, the problem likely lies with the starter motor or solenoid.
Fix and Replacement Cost: Starter motor replacement costs can vary from $300 to $600. If it’s a solenoid issue, the cost might be slightly lower.
7. Car Won’t Start But Lights Come On Clicking Noise
A clicking noise when trying to start your car usually points to a dead battery or a poor connection.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: A drained battery or corroded battery terminals could be to blame. Check the battery’s voltage and look for any visible corrosion on the battery terminals.
Fix and Replacement Cost: Battery replacement costs typically range from $50 to $200. If it’s just corroded terminals, a simple clean-up can resolve the problem.
8. Car Won’t Turn Over But Battery Is Good
If your car won’t turn over but the battery is good, you might be dealing with a bad starter motor or a faulty ignition switch.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: The starter motor, ignition switch, or a blown fuse could be the issue. Use a multimeter to check for a blown fuse and inspect the starter and ignition switch for any issues.
Fix and Replacement Cost: Replacing the starter can range from $300 to $600, and the ignition switch from $125 to $275.
9. Car Cranks But Won’t Start
A car that cranks but won’t start usually indicates an issue with the fuel or ignition system.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: Problems could lie with the fuel pump, fuel filter, ignition coil, or spark plugs. Check the fuel pump and filter, and use a spark plug tester to check the spark plugs and ignition coil.
Fix and Replacement Cost: Repair costs can range from $40 to $150 for spark plugs, $200 to $300 for ignition coils, and upwards of $600 for a new fuel pump.
10. Car Clicks But Won’t Start
A car that clicks but won’t start usually indicates a dead battery or a problem with the starter.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: It could be a drained battery or a bad starter motor. Check the battery’s voltage and look for any issues with the starter.
Fix and Replacement Cost: Battery replacement can cost between $50 to $200. If it’s the starter, expect costs to range from $300 to $600.
11. Car Struggles To Start But Runs Fine
If your car struggles to start but runs fine afterward, you might be looking at a weak battery or an issue with the fuel system.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: The battery, fuel pump, or fuel injectors could be to blame. Check the battery’s voltage, and inspect the fuel pump and injectors.
Fix and Replacement Cost: A new battery can cost between $50 and $200, while a new fuel pump can range from $600 to $1000. Fuel injectors usually cost between $100 to $300 each.
12. Anti-Theft System Won’t Let My Car Start
If the anti-theft system won’t let your car start, the immobilizer might be having issues. The immobilizer is a security device that prevents the engine from running unless the correct key is present.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: This could be due to a damaged key, a faulty ignition switch, or a problem with the immobilizer itself. Try using a spare key, and check the ignition switch for any faults.
Fix and Replacement Cost: If you need a new key, costs can vary widely, from $50 to $400. If the ignition switch needs replacement, costs can range from $125 to $275.
13. Car Starts But Won’t Stay Running
A car that starts but won’t stay running can indicate a problem with the fuel or ignition system.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: Issues could be related to the fuel pump, fuel injectors, spark plugs, or the car’s computer. Check these components for faults and look for any warning lights on your dashboard.
Fix and Replacement Cost: The cost of fixing this issue varies widely. Replacing spark plugs might cost between $40 to $150, a fuel pump from $600 to $1000, and fuel injectors from $100 to $300 each.
14. Car Lost All Power While Driving Now Won’t Start
If your car lost all power while driving and now won’t start, the alternator could be to blame. The alternator is responsible for powering your car’s electrical systems while the engine is running and recharging the battery.
Possible Causes and Diagnosis: It could be due to a failed alternator, a broken serpentine belt, or a dead battery. Check the alternator and serpentine belt for faults, and test the battery with a multimeter.
Fix and Replacement Cost: A new alternator can cost from $200 to $600. If the serpentine belt is broken, expect to pay around $100 to $200. If the battery is dead, a new one can cost between $50 to $200.
That concludes this comprehensive guide to various car starting problems. Keep in mind that while these are common issues, there could be other factors at play. If you’re unsure, always consult with a professional mechanic to ensure your car is in safe operating condition.
Car Won’t Start: 14 Reasons and Solutions
- Dead battery – signs include engine not turning over, dashboard lights not turning on, and flickering headlights. Solution: use jumper cables (with some guidance on how to put on jumper cables) or a portable jump starter, or have a mechanic test and replace the battery.
- Bad battery connection – loose or corroded connections can prevent the car from starting. Solution: tighten connections or have a professional handle battery corrosion.
- Bad alternator – signs include dimming interior lights and burning smells. Solution: have a mechanic check and replace the alternator.
- Car is not in park or neutral – the car won’t start if it’s in gear. Solution: move the gear to neutral or park and press the brake pedal.
- Faulty fuse – a damaged or blown fuse can prevent power from reaching the starter relay. Solution: check the owner’s manual and call a mechanic if necessary.
- Bad fuel pump relay – signs include stalling or inconsistent acceleration. Solution: swap relays to check, or have a mechanic check the fuel system (or check out our explainer on the signs of a fuel pump going bad).
- Issues with ignition switch – signs include the key not turning or the dashboard flickering. Solution: carry a lighter keychain, or have a mobile auto repair solution fix the switch.
- Dead key fob battery – the engine won’t start if the key fob has issues. Solution: replace the battery or call a mechanic.
- Bad starter motor – signs include slow engine crank and grinding noises. Solution: have a mechanic replace the starter or starter solenoid.
- Bad spark plug or broken distributor cap/rotor – signs include reduced fuel economy and rough idling. Solution: have a mechanic inspect and replace components if necessary.
- Timing belt needs replacing – a broken timing belt can prevent the engine from functioning. Solution: have a mechanic replace the belt.
- Not enough gas in the fuel tank – a common reason for a car not starting. Solution: ensure the gas tank has enough fuel and check the fuel gauge for accuracy.
- Clogged fuel filter – a clogged filter can prevent fuel from reaching the engine. Solution: follow manufacturer recommendations for changing the fuel filter and use high-quality gasoline.
- Ground cable wiring problem – issues with the ground cable can prevent power from flowing to the engine. Solution: visually inspect the cable and replace it if necessary.
FAQs On Car Won’t Turn Over But Has Power
If you’re still curious to learn more about why your car won’t turn over but has power, our FAQs here might help…
How To Start A Car With A Bad Starter
If your car fails to start properly due to a bad starter, there are some things that you can do. First off, check to make sure that all the wires leading to and from your car’s starter are in good shape. And, the respective connectors are all tight and secure. Besides this, you could also try tapping on the starter very gently with a hammer. Over time, it’s possible that the armature inside isn’t making good contact with the starter motor’s brushes. To close that gap, a gentle tap with a hammer can make them fall into place neatly once more. Other than this, you could try bypassing a bad starter relay by jumping the (starter) motor’s positive terminal to the (starter) solenoid’s terminal.
How To Tell If Alternator Is Bad
There are numerous ways that you can tell if your car’s alternator is failing. The most obvious one would be a dead or dying battery, as the now-faulty alternator isn’t able to provide a sufficient amount of charge. Elsewhere, a bad alternator would also impact your car’s electrics and their ability to function. So, see if you’re able to notice dim or overly bright lights, or if the accessories (like the radio, A/C, power windows, heated seats, etc.) aren’t working properly. Beyond this, your car would also have trouble trying to start. It might fail to turn over, show a battery warning light, emit burning smells, make growing/whining noises, or cause your car to stall while driving.
How To Test A Car Battery
To test your car’s 12V battery, you should start by turning off the ignition and all other accessories or electronics. Then, grab a multimeter… And, if the multimeter isn’t able to auto-range, manually set it to 20V DC. Now, connect the red lead to the positive battery terminal, and the black lead to the negative battery terminal. Finally, take a look at the multimeter’s readings. An ideal reading should be somewhere between 12.2 volts to 12.6 volts. If the reading is below 12.2 volts, it’s an indicator that your car’s battery is weak or dying, and needs a recharge. It’s a good opportunity to consider replacing the battery if it’s too old (more than 3 to 5 years), as well.
Why Is My Battery Light On
Some cars will display a battery light warning on the dashboard if it senses a problem with your vehicle’s electrical system. Specifically, it usually entails a dying or bad battery. Or, if there’s an issue with your car’s alternator, including if there’s a bad alternator belt (or if the entire alternator is faulty). Otherwise, corrosion on the battery terminals, frayed/burnt battery cables, or general wiring issues may also prompt the battery light to come on. In some cases, it’ll light up if the car senses a likely accessory overload. This is where your car’s accessories and electronics (radios, lights, infotainment system, etc.) are drawing too much power at once.
What Sensors Can Cause A Car Not To Start
Should your car fail to start, among the potential causes is faulty sensors. There are a vast number of sensors that might prevent your car from starting. They might relate to informing the ECU of the state of the engine, such as the crankshaft position sensor and camshaft position sensor. Or, it might be sensors that otherwise fail to initiate the combustion process (i.e. mixing and ignition of fuel and air), such as the fuel pressure sensor, manifold absolute pressure sensor, or mass airflow sensor. Otherwise, the throttle position sensor, brake pedal position sensor, and oil pressure sensor are among the other possible points of failure as far as sensors are concerned.
What Do Spark Plugs Do
Spark plugs are essential components of the ignition system in your car’s engine. They function by producing a spark of electricity that ignites the air-fuel mixture within the combustion chambers of the engine. This ignition causes an explosion, forcing the pistons in the engine to move, which in turn drives the car’s wheels. Thus, spark plugs are crucial for the engine to start and run efficiently.
How to Start a Car
To start a car, first, make sure the car is in park or neutral. Insert the key into the ignition and turn it to the ON position. You should hear the fuel pump whirring and see dashboard lights come on. Next, turn the key to the START position. Once the engine starts, release the key. The engine should continue running, allowing you to drive. Always ensure the emergency brake is off before driving.
How Much Is a Fuel Pump
The cost of a fuel pump can vary greatly depending on the make and model of your car, it typically falls between $300 and $700 for parts and labor. It’s always a good idea to get a few estimates before deciding on a service provider and to consider the overall condition of your vehicle before making major repairs.
Why Is My Car Not Starting
There could be a variety of reasons why your car isn’t starting. It might be due to a dead battery, a faulty ignition switch, a defective starter, or problems with the fuel system like a failing fuel pump, or it could be an issue with the car’s computer system. A professional diagnosis is often required to isolate and address the specific cause.
What Engine Does My Car Have
You can typically find information about your car’s engine in your vehicle’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. Alternatively, look for an engine code, usually located on a sticker under the hood or imprinted directly on the engine. This code can be cross-referenced online or with a dealership to find the specific engine type and specifications.
Why Won’t My Car Start But I Have Power
If your car isn’t starting but there is power (lights, radio, etc. are working), it’s likely an issue with the ignition or fuel system. The problem could be a faulty ignition switch, a failing starter motor, a defective fuel pump, or clogged fuel injectors. These issues prevent the engine from getting the necessary spark or fuel to start.
How to Start a Car with a Bad Fuel Pump
If your car has a bad fuel pump, starting it may be challenging. One method to try is to apply pressure to the gas pedal while starting the car. However, this is not a permanent solution, and the vehicle will need repair. Repeated attempts to start a car with a failing fuel pump can cause further damage to the vehicle.
How to Tell if a Starter Is Bad
Signs of a bad starter include a clicking noise when you turn the key, the engine not cranking despite repeated attempts, the starter staying on after the engine has started, or the dashboard lights dimming significantly when attempting to start the engine. If the car only starts intermittently, this could also indicate a failing starter.
How to Tell If a Relay Is Bad
A bad relay may show symptoms like an inability to start, or certain electrical components such as lights, horns, or fuel pumps not functioning. You can test a relay using a multimeter by checking for continuity between the relay’s power input and output terminals. If there’s no continuity, the relay is likely faulty.
Why Won’t My Key Turn in My Car
If your key won’t turn in the ignition, it could be due to a few issues. The steering wheel might be locked, the key may be worn or damaged, or the ignition cylinder itself could be faulty. Sometimes, jiggling the steering wheel while trying to turn the key can help unlock the steering wheel.
Why Is My Car Cranking but Not Starting
If your car cranks but won’t start, it means the starter is working, but the engine isn’t igniting. The most common causes include problems with the fuel supply (such as a bad fuel pump or clogged fuel filter), issues with the ignition system (like a faulty ignition coil or spark plug), or a malfunctioning engine control unit.
How to Tell If a Car Fuse Is Blown
A blown car fuse can be diagnosed visually or with a multimeter. The fuse’s metal strip will be broken or the glass window at the top of the fuse will be blackened if it’s blown. When using a multimeter, set it to read resistance (ohms) and touch the probes to each end of the fuse. If the multimeter reads infinite resistance, the fuse is blown.
How to Start a Car with a Bad Ignition Switch
Starting a car with a bad ignition switch can be dangerous and is not typically recommended. However, it can be done by using a screwdriver or similar tool to turn the ignition switch. Be aware, doing this could cause damage to the ignition system and may be illegal in some areas.
What Is the Main Function of an Engine Cut-Off Switch
An engine cut-off switch, also known as a kill switch, is designed to shut off the engine in an emergency. It can cut the supply of electricity or fuel to the engine, thus stopping it immediately. This safety device is commonly used in boats and motorcycles, but some car models may also have this feature.
Why Is My Car Not Starting but the Battery Isn’t Dead
If your car isn’t starting, but the battery isn’t dead, it could be due to a number of issues unrelated to the battery. It might be a faulty ignition switch, a problem with the starter motor, a failing fuel pump, or a problem with your car’s security system. These issues prevent the engine from starting even though the electrical system is powered.
What Does a Bad Starter Sound Like
A bad starter often makes a distinctive clicking sound when the ignition key is turned. This sound is due to the starter motor gear failing to engage with the engine’s flywheel. In other cases, you may hear a grinding noise, which could indicate that the starter gear is worn or not engaging properly.
Can a Fuel Pump Fail Suddenly
Yes, a fuel pump can fail suddenly, although it’s more common for it to degrade over time. A sudden failure can be caused by a number of issues, including electrical problems, fuel contamination, or simply the age of the pump. When a fuel pump fails, it can prevent the car from starting or cause the engine to stall while driving.
Here are some additional ideas to consider:
Car Won’t Turn Over – Check Below
There could be many reasons why a car won’t turn over. Some common reasons include:
- Dead battery
- Loose or corroded battery cables
- Bad starter motor
- Clogged fuel filter
- Fuel pump failure
- Ignition switch failure
- Engine oil level too low
- Engine mechanical issues
- Bad alternator
- Clogged air filter
- Engine timing belt issue
It’s recommended to have a mechanic diagnose the issue to determine the exact cause of the problem.