By January 14, 2013 1 Comments Read More →

Car Starting Problems

Reader Question

Ok mymechanic I need your help today ASAP. I just went outside and my engine will not start, what can I do to determine this type of car problems?



Hi there Richie,

Thanks for your email but you really did not give me much to go on. Let me say this…about that.

If the engine will not turn over

If you do not get the normal cranking over of the engine, and you hear nothing or maybe just a click when trying to start. I would first look at the battery. Turn on the headlights, are they good and bright? If not, charge or replace the battery.

If you hear a clicking noise you might have a very weak battery or the starter motor that turns the engine over has a problem. Turn on the headlights and watch them (or have someone watch the headlights) as you crank the key to the start position. IF the lights are bright but go out when you try and start the engine the problem is a bad connection at the battery or battery cables are loose.

If the engine will turn over but won’t start

This is a little harder to diagnose.

The engine needs 3 key ingredients to run.

1. Fuel and proper fuel pressure at the engine.
2. Spark at the spark plugs to ignite the fuel
3. Compression in the cylinders to ignite the fuel

Can you hear the electric fuel pump inside the fuel tank come on when you cycle the ignition key to the ON position? Sometimes you can bang on the bottom of the fuel tank with a piece of wood AS you crank the engine over to jump start a weak fuel pump.

Can you test for spark at the spark plugs? Can you test for fuel pressure at the engine? Can you get the engine to run with starting fluid….if so, you DO have spark, but not fuel.

Sorry to say, things are just not that simple to test yourself anymore. Cars are much more complex and require a mechanic and test equipment, which the average person does not have.

Try to find out which scenario you have…lack of fuel, spark or compression.

Lack of compression can be a broken timing belt. The engine will spin over much faster, with almost no resistance if the belt is broken.

Hope this helps some

Austin Davis

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."
  • Jeff Garcia

    So I have a 1989 V2500 suburban that won’t start doesn’t turn over and no lights come on. I replaced the battery and cables are good. What could be causing the problem