What to do if the car won't start and the engine won't start?
Get in the car, turn the key and nothing happens.
Note that the ignition and instruments do not turn on. Try turning on the headlights and they give no sign of life. This is exactly what happens if the car won't start and the ignition won't turn on.
In this case the problem is definitely a low battery. There are many problems with a low battery.
The battery may be damaged because it has been discharged for too long or it is old.
Alternatively, there may be a problem with the alternator not charging the battery properly.
If the car won't start, the fault is most likely due to the battery, which will need to be recharged or replaced if it is too damaged. If the car won't start and the ignition won't turn on and you want to be sure that the problem is with the battery, we advise you to check for one or more low battery symptoms.
What to do if the car battery is low?
As we have seen, if the car won't start and the engine won't start, the problem is probably in the low battery. To remedy this problem we have four different solutions. Let's see what they are:
- Replace it with a new, already charged battery, purchased from a parts dealer, mechanic or even online. If you are not familiar with cars, we recommend that you ask a professional for help (you can do this directly by filling out the form at the bottom of the page).
- Recharge the battery with a wall charger suitable for car batteries. If the car has been stationary for a long time, the battery may be damaged and will no longer hold a charge. It will discharge much faster and risks leaving you with a dead car again, so we recommend that you replace the battery with a new one.
- Jump starting thecar with the cables is not a complicated procedure but it must be done correctly (see how in this article).
- Push start thecar by having passengers or some kind of bystander help you (we talked about it in detail in our article on how to start the car with a battery on the ground). Obviously, this type of solution is only advisable in open spaces and should be avoided in garages and covered car parks due to the restricted and safe manoeuvring spaces.
What to do if the car won't start but the ignition is on?
Get into the car, turn the key and the dashboard lights up.
As soon as you turn the key to the last click (the one that starts the engine) you only hear a mechanical noise but the engine won't start. So what is the problem if the car won't start but the ignition is on?
In this case the culprit for the stalling of your car is the faulty starter motor. To be sure that the problem is related to a malfunctioning starter motor we suggest you read our article where we talk about the 5 definitive symptoms of a faulty starter motor.
The starter motor may be stuck or damaged. This type of problem is very rare but not impossible in new cars and can be more common in cars that are many years old.
What to do if the car's starter motor doesn't work?
If the car won't start but the ignition comes on and we fear that the cause is a starter motor failure, there is little we can do. One solution is to try to start it by pushing it. So let's see how to push start the car:
- Put it insecond gear and push the clutch down;
- Turn thekey and start the engine (it doesn't matter if it starts or not due to a possibly dead battery, as long as the key is in the first click position);
- Have a friend or bystander push you or your car down the hill;
- As soon as the car has picked up speed, release the clutch and press the accelerator. The car should start and be able to move properly now.
An important note: be careful not to turn the engine off because if the starter motor has not been serviced the car will have to be pushed again! Ideally you should contact a mechanic willing to take the car into the workshop to repair the faulty starter motor as soon as possible.
The car won't start: other causes of the problem?
As we have said, if the car won't start, the cause is in 99% of the cases related to a failure of the battery or the starter motor.
However, as cars are very complex objects, the problem could lie elsewhere.
So let's look at what other problems there might be in a car that won't start:
- The starter motor works but the main engine won't start - the problem could be in the coil or in the fuel system. Basically, something isn't getting fuel to the cylinders, so they won't start combustion. Another cause of this problem could be a broken spark plug preventing one of the first cylinders from firing.
- The engine starts, idles poorly and then dies, in this case the engine is clearly flooded. In practice, the cylinders have been filled with too much fuel and the spark does not ignite. It is best to wait a few minutes and try to start again, accelerating all the way (in neutral).
- Dieselfreeze - owners of cars with diesel engines should remember that in winter, due to low temperatures, the fuel needs antifreeze. If it freezes, the car will not start and will have to be pushed to a warmer place for a few hours (an indoor garage is fine).