Has your car suddenly stopped working?

This blog post’s for you.

Here is our ultimate guide to car starter issues. We’ll run you through the most common reasons why your car won’t start and give you some tried-and-true ways to fix them.

Read on to find the solution to your problem!

1.   Dead Car Battery

Your car battery is the most likely culprit stopping your car from starting. If you have a dead battery, your vehicle won’t start.

How to check:

So how can you tell if your battery is dead?

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Your instrument panel doesn’t turn on
  • Your dashboard lights don’t turn on
  • It’s hard to start your car when it’s cold
  • Flickering or dead headlights
  • Your dashboard’s battery light is on

What to do about it:

You should always keep a set of jumper cables in your trunk for situations just like this. If you can access another car with a good battery, you can use the jumper cable to jump-start your car according to your owner’s manual instructions.

If you can’t jump-start your vehicle—or your batter problems persist—it’s best to contact a mechanic, who can assess the issue and fix it accordingly. At ADL Auto Repair And Driveshafts, we use a voltmeter to evaluate your battery’s power level and determine whether it’s still usable or needs to be replaced.

A note on battery connections: Sometimes, the cables connecting your car battery can corrode or come loose. If your battery isn’t functioning as it should, double-check that the cables are in good condition and properly connected.

2.   Dead Fob Key Battery

If you have a push-start system with a remote transponder, you may be dealing with a dead battery in your fob key.

How to check:

Press Start on your ignition system. If the engine crank fails, your key fob may be the problem. Your ignition system won’t be able to recognize your key fob, so your car won’t automatically start.

What to do about it:

Replace your car key’s battery. Use a coin or screwdriver to open the battery cover. Then check the numbers on the battery, and buy a replacement that matches. If that doesn’t work, or you can’t seem to replace the battery yourself, contact a mechanic.

3.   Bad Starter Motor

The starter motor is the device that kicks your vehicle’s internal combustion engine into power.

If your starter motor isn’t working, it likely has something to do with the starter solenoid, a small, cylindrical component that transfers current from the battery to the starter motor.

How to check:

Here are some signs that suggest there’s a problem with your starter motor or starter solenoid:

  • The engine doesn’t start
  • The engine crank starts but is very slow
  • You hear a grinding noise when you start the engine

What to do about it:

If you have a bad starter or a bad starter solenoid, you’ll need to get it replaced by a mechanic.

4.   Your Alternator Isn’t Working

The alternator is the generator that distributes electricity to your vehicle. It’s what’s responsible for recharging your car battery while you’re driving.

If your car battery is fine but doesn’t recharge, and you’re having trouble starting your car, you likely have a faulty alternator.

 

How to check:

Generally, a bad alternator means you’ll notice some strange electrical mishaps. Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Your interior lights start bright but go dim or flicker
  • Your battery or check engine light turns on
  • You smell something burning
  • Your stereo system is malfunctioning

What to do about it:

Contact a mechanic to inspect your alternator. If it’s broken, you’ll need a new one. A faulty alternator can damage your car’s battery, so make sure you contact a mechanic as soon as possible.

5.   Your Ignition Switch Is Faulty

Your ignition switch is what transfers power from the car battery to the rest of the vehicle.

If your ignition switch isn’t working, your vehicle won’t receive power and it won’t be able to start.

How to check:

Here are a few signs that your ignition switch isn’t working:

  • Your vehicle won’t start
  • Your car key won’t turn 
  • You don’t hear any noise from the starter
  • The dashboard flickers or doesn’t light up
  • Your ignition switch is always in the On position, even when off

What to do about it:

To fix a bad ignition switch, contact a mechanic who can replace it.

To prevent damage, avoid putting your car key on a heavy keychain, as it can strain the ignition switch and damage the ignition cylinder. If you have many keys you carry around, try putting your car key on a separate keychain so it doesn’t weigh down your ignition switch.

6.   Bad Timing Belt

The timing belt is a rubber belt that synchronizes the rotation of your engine's camshaft and crankshaft. It ensures your engine’s valves open and close at the right time during each stroke of the combustion process.

If your timing belt fails, your engine won’t start. You may hear a whirring or ticking sound from the starter motor, but nothing beyond that.  

How to check:

Here are some signs your timing belt has broken:

  • You hear unusual noises from the engine
  • Your check engine light is on and/or flashing
  • Your car sometimes starts and/or misfires

What can you do about it?

Generally, your timing belt should be replaced every 60,000 – 80,000 miles. A licensed mechanic will be able to tell you whether your timing belt needs to be replaced or if it’s still got some life in it. Contact your local mechanic to get it fixed.

Looking for a Mechanic to Fix Your Car Starter Troubles?

ADL Auto Repair And Driveshafts Is Here to Help!

Diagnosing car-starter issues isn’t always easy. But fortunately, we’re here to help.

ADL Auto Repair And Driveshafts is your source for quality repairs and expert car-starter troubleshooting. Our ASE-certified mechanics offer fast, comprehensive solutions to all types of automotive problems.

If you’re in the Anoka County area and need help starting your car, consider us your top choice. To schedule an inspection, call us at (651) 426-8700, contact us online, or stop by our Centerville shop today.