5 Reasons Your Car Won’t Start

As an auto mechanic, I sure hate the sound of a car not starting in the morning. And as a car owner, I am sure you do too. For me, the first step is investigating what the problem might be. Whereas, for the average driver, their first instinct is thinking:

“Man! This better not cost me a lot to fix!”

There are plenty of reasons that your car won’t start, even when it was running good enough to get you to Downtown Victoria but just doesn’t want to face another trip up Douglas Street again.

Below are the top 5 reasons your car won’t start, starting with the obvious one: your dead or dying battery.


Battery Issues. 

This is your best-case scenario as a dead batter is an easy, affordable problem to fix. The first tell-tale sign your dead battery is the problem is seeing that you’ve left your headlights or interior light on. Uh oh!

Jumpstart Your Car with Cables

Photo credit: teachernz

If your battery is relatively new and in good shape, you’ll be able to jumpstart it and be on your way, otherwise you might have to phone a friend and ask for a lift to the auto parts store if the battery can’t be jumpstarted or can’t hold a charge.

Another issue stemming from the battery might be faulty connections. Sometimes battery posts and cables can become corroded or loose. If this is the case, an auto mechanic can get this cleaned up for you, and examine how likely the issue is to come up again.

Fuel Issues. 

If your car fails to start, an empty gas tank is your best-case scenario number two. Experiencing an empty gas tank isn’t ideal, but it’s not as rough as having to replace any car parts. For example, a clogged fuel filter can keep an engine from firing, especially when the engine is already warmed up.

If you see a potential fuel leak, you have a larger problem, as there is possibly an issue with your fuel pump, fuel line, fuel filter, or carburetor if you’ve got one. An auto mechanic can help you fix any of these issues. Also check your owner’s manual to make sure you’re using the right fuel for your engine, either regular, or premium unleaded might be recommended.

In addition, if you’ve run out of fuel but your fuel gauge says you’re nearly full, you’ll want to mention this the next time you’re at the mechanic, as you’d hate for the problem to happen again and again. You’d be surprised how much an active fuel gauge on your dashboard rules your life without you even realizing it.

Starter Issues.

It’s natural to assume that if your car won’t start, the starter is to blame. If your battery is all well and good (you may be thinking, “I’m positive I just replaced that thing not too long ago…”) and you hear a clicking noise, but no action from the engine upon start up, you might have a starter problem.

Engine repair Victoria in the upper auto shop at Searles Auto RepairA car starter is a small, in most cases, electric, motor that harnesses power from the battery once the ignition is turned. It may not need replacing, however. For example, loose starter bolts may just need to be tightened, or sticking parts (a plunger) may just need to be cleaned. If you’re unsure where the problem lies and the starter still won’t turn even after checking the connections, take your car in to an auto mechanic who will be able to diagnose the issue for you.

Weather Issues.

If your car or truckwon’t start on rainy days, in which we have a lot of on the West Coast, their might be moisture in your distributor cap or electrical connections. Check for dampness. If there is even a hint of water inside, wipe out the cap or connections with a clean, dry cloth. There may be cracks harbouring moisture as well, which means the cap or connectors will need to be replaced.

Another weather-related reason for a car not starting is cold mornings, less of a concern here on Vancouver Island. This could be the result of not enough cold cranking amps available in your battery. This can be mitigated by either giving the battery a deep charge or replacing the battery with a new one.

An overheating vehicle may also be the culprit. This could be happening due to a leaky radiator or a broken/cracked radiator hose. If you feel inclined, check things yourself, but be very careful not to touch the radiator if your car has just been running. If you see next to no radiator fluid, by all means top it up with your vehicle’s recommended radiator fluid, and then take your car into the shop to have the radiator inspected.

Misc. Issues.

If all of the issues above are ruled out, a mechanic begins to suspect other reasons your car might not be starting, including a faulty on-board computer system, a faulty anti-theft device, an ignition switch that just won’t cooperate, and so on. They’ll also check things like your engine oil, your spark plugs, and your air filter. A clogged air filter or a desperate need for an oil change is sometimes all that is standing between you and your next road trip (or run to the grocery store.)

At the end of the day, vehicles need a few key ingredients to start and stay running:

  • Spark
  • Fuel
  • Air
  • Compression

Yes, it’s basically just like a campfire. And once it’s going, you have to tend to it every once and awhile.

If you’re experiencing car trouble, don’t put off having your car or truck inspected by a licensed auto mechanic. At Searles, our team of experienced mechanics means you won’t have to wait long until your vehicle is returned back to you in optimal running condition.

Searle’s Auto is located at 517 Kelvin Road in Victoria, BC. Make an appointment today and come see how we can help you with all of your vehicle’s needs.

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