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Car Won't Start?

If you can’t start your car then you’ve come to the right place. Go through the following to see which best matches your issue.

When you go to start the car there are no lights on the dashboard and nothing happens

If nothing is appearing on your dash then more than likely your battery is totally dead or not connected properly. This is quite rare and would normally only occur if the vehicle has not been driven for a long period and/or something left on.

Solution: Check connections to the battery are good. Replace or recharge the battery. You can also try jump starting the vehicle – click here for a safe guide on doing this.

Dashboard lights come on but when trying to start, the engine barely turns or you just get a click

Likely battery is very low on charge. Enough to power dash lights but not enough to turn the starter motor properly or at all. Usually the dash lights also dim or turn off as you turn the key to start.
The other possibility is that connections to the battery are not tight. Or possibly even to the starter motor.

Solution: Check connections are tight. Recharge or jump start the battery. Click here for a safe guide on jump startin

Dashboard lights are on but when you try and start nothing happens

If dashboard lights are coming on but when turning the key nothing happens at all. No turning of the starter, no click, no dimming of dash lights, nothing. This can be any of the following:
– If the car is an automatic, check the gear is in Park (P). If not the vehicle will not be allowed to start
– If a semi-automatic, check the gear lever or stalk is in Neutral (N). Make sure you are pressing the brake. If not the vehicle cannot be started. Many Citroen/Peugeot have this.
– If a manual, try pressing the clutch and then starting. Some vehicles require the clutch to be pressed or they will not start.
– Check the fuse of the starter motor is good (See your hand manual for location).
– Check on the dashboard to see if an illuminated key is shown or flashing. This means the car’s immobiliser is active and will not the let the car start. If the car has keyless entry the battery in your key could be too low to send a signal. Try holding it nearer to the steering column and then seeing if it starts.

The starter motor is turning healthily but the engine will not fire up.

If the starter is turning fine but the engine doesn’t even show small signs of firing up then it could be any of the following:
– The obvious, but sometimes not so obvious, there is no fuel in the car.
– The car’s immobiliser is enabled. An immobiliser is a security feature built into most cars manufactured in the last 20 years at least. But will usually be indicated on the dashboard with an illuminated key flashing. To resolve or deduce or an immobiliser issue click here.
– The fuel cut off has been activated. Try resetting it. This is quite rare but if a car has been involved in a crash/sudden jolt, the safety fuel cut off may have been activated. In some situations it may have been activated inadvertently. Check your vehicle’s handbook for the location of the reset switch.
– The fuel pump is faulty. This is usually situated in or near the fuel tank. When you first turn the key in a vehicle (before cranking) the fuel pump’s motor can usually be heard for a few seconds as it primes. If you don’t hear this then it’s possible there is a fault. Do check the fuse for the fuel pump just in case (see handbook for location).
– An engine sensor has malfunctioned. Try pressing the accelerator slightly and see if the engine starts. If it does so and then cuts out when you take your foot off, then there is possibly a fault with the ICV/IAV which controls the engine idle. You will need to consult a mechanic to resolve.

The engine feels like it is almost starting but fails to stay on

This can be down to the following:

– A sensor or wiring to it is faulty causing a misfire. This can be caused with crank and camshaft sensors. You would need to seek a garage to resolve.
– The fuel pump is not working efficiently. Again you would need to seek professional guidance on this.
– The timing belt is out of synch. This will cause a misfire situation. Timing belts can slip if ill fitted or usually through age (become stretched). Even timing chains can do this with age. Seek expert help on this. Continuing to try and start a vehicle with a loose or weakened belt could end up causing a lot of engine damage if it breaks totally.

In the above misfire situations you can usually tell from the engine sound when trying to start. It sounds different to normal when cranking the engine.