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Car Wont Turn Over? Here’s What You Need To Know

If you’ve ever been in the situation where you turn the key to your car, and there’s no response, you are probably wondering how much this is going to cost as you frantically call friends for a ride to work. As someone who has been there, I can tell you that it’s a frustrating situation. So what is the most common reason your car wont turn over?

Typically, the most common reason for this comes back to your car battery. If you hear clicking as you attempt to activate your car, that’s a sign that your starter is trying to start your battery with no success. It can also be related to other issues that include the starter, fuel injection system, or a blown a fuse.

If you want to find out what can prevent your car from starting, the rest of this guide will help you along that path. If you do make any DIY repairs, please remember to disconnect your batteries, place immobilizers behind your tires, and activate the parking brake.

An Empty Gas Tank Will Prevent Your Car From Turning Over

Without gas, your engine will have no energy to run through. While this doesn’t require you to go to a repair shop, it’s still a common problem for more forgetful people. Make sure you always have enough of your gas tank for any trips.

You Likely Have A Weak Battery – Parenting Power From Getting To The Rest Of Your Vehicle

Your first step in finding out what is wrong with your car goes back to your battery. Battery problems are some of the most common, as your vehicle is continually putting a strain on your battery by using it. In this case, a dead battery won’t last long, even with the best set of jumper cables. 

If you hear clicking noises as you try and turn over your car, that means your starter cannot communicate with your battery. If your lights are still on while your battery works, that means your battery is currently at a very low voltage. Your battery’s lowest voltage can be at while still powering the lights and radio is 12.5 volts. You can test your car using a voltmeter, placed with one end on the positive terminal and the other end on the negative terminal. 

You may also have worn battery cables, which you can tell just by the visual test. Replace the cables if they seem worn, regardless of whether or not you need to. This allows you to avoid a potential problem down the road. 

Bad Alternators cause dead Batteries. 

If you have a dead battery that is regularly so, your next step is to test the alternator. Start by testing your battery at the auto shop to determine if it works. Once the battery tester has determined it works, drive your vehicle around for some time. If the car continues to have dim headlights and internal lights during the drive, your dead battery starts with the alternator.

Dirty Battery Terminals 

You may also have corrosion on the surface of your battery. To clean it up, you can use an over-the-counter cleaner and a stiff brush to remove the rusty substance. This will allow a clear connection between your battery and the engine, so that should mean you should see a bright dome light inside your car.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Battery Or Bad Alternator?  

  • Dim headlights or dome lights
  • Clicking sound when you turn the key
  • Need to press on the accelerator pedal to start
  • Car is backfiring

If you Turn The Key And It Still Doesn’t Work, It could Be Related To Fuses Or Your Ignition Key.

Your next stop will be the fuse box cover, located just beneath the dash on the passenger’s side on most vehicles. Remove the lid and check to see if you find any blackened material indicating a blown a fuse. This is another thing that can prevent your car from getting power to where it needs to go. 

It Could Be A Bad Ignition Switch

Your next step is to look back towards the ignition switch. If the ignition key won’t turn over, that means that nothing in your car will work. So if you turn the key and find that the lights on your dash or dome light decide not to respond, you have a defective ignition switch.

If Your Starter Doesn’t Work, You Prevent Energy From Reaching Your Engine.

Listen to your vehicle to see if they have any issues related to clicking noises. Suppose you hear multiple noises; it’s your battery. However, if you hear a single click when activating your car, that means your starter motor is out.

In this case, you have a reason to smack your starter with a tire iron. Tap it lightly to see if your car’s electrical components respond, saving you a lot of money in the long run. 

When your starter goes, it requires a certain amount of technical experience to figure out how to replace it. Aspiring mechanics who know about more than replacing batteries can dig into their car owner’s manual to find out what to do. 

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Starter Motor?

  • Clicking noise
  • Lights turn on, but the engine doesn’t turn over.
  • Smoke is coming from your car.
  • Your starter is covered in oil.

If you want to know how to handle your starter, check out this video below:

A Clogged Fuel Filter Can Mess With Your Air And Fuel Mixture

A fuel filter exists to filter out contaminants from your vehicle to attempt to use dirt particles as fuel. If you don’t regularly clean your fuel filter, some of those particles will have nowhere to go but through, causing irreversible damage to yours. Also, a full gas tank won’t matter if your fuel filter is clogged, so make sure you clean it every 30 thousand miles.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Clogged Fuel Filter?

  • It is challenging starting the engine 
  • Rough idling
  • Issues accelerating
  • Strong odors coming from the engine
  • Low performance and engine misfires 
  • Sputtering of the engine 

Your Fuel Pump May Not Be Working – Preventing Fuel From Getting To Your Engine

As you might expect, the fuel pump is what allows fuel to enter your engine. Without one, your car isn’t going to have much like moving forward. This problem causes other potential issues, such as lousy fuel efficiency, sputtering, and your check engine lights coming on. 

In this case, it can come from the fuel pump motor, which is the engine that allows your fuel pump to pump fuel. Failure of this means that your car will start to build up gas where it doesn’t need to be. 

The other problem you may leave is the fuel pump relay, which informs the fuel pump when to activate and transfer fuel over. Both of these lead to the same problem, so keep an eye on any increased temperature readings from your instrument panel. 

To avoid further issues, avoid putting any more gas into your fuel tank. Also, contact roadside assistance to get a towing service to the nearest repair facility. With something like this, you don’t want to wait for it to get worse. 

Your Transmission May Prevent Your Car From Turning Over

Whether you have a stick shift or an automatic, your transmission dictates what level your car will be at. If you have a manual car, your first step will be looking at the clutch pedal. If the clutch pedal (or shift lever)  is broken, you won’t be able to change gears. 

If you don’t have a manual, you likely have an automatic transmission range selector (neutral safety switch). This issue is expected if you feel your car start to sputter as you pick up speed, switching to a higher gear as you transition from RPMs.

In this case, if you try to start the engine, your car may not be able to get into first gear. So if the engine cranks, but it doesn’t entirely turn over, your transmission may be the root problem. 

What Are Other Symptoms Of A Bad Transmission

  • You smell something burning
  • You hear an unusual buzzing or clunking noise.
  • The engine is revving unusually high.
  • The shift between different gears are delayed. 

FAQs

If you’ve tried to start your car, here are some things to keep an eye on.

Does Your Check Engine Light Turn On? 

Your car’s computer can track what issues are going on, and a little light on your instrument panel is a pretty clear sign that you need to stop driving and check out what’s going on.

At this point, your first step will be buying a screen reader, which can point out where the issue is. By taking this light seriously, most of your problems will be solved. The same can be said about other warning lights.

Buy Something That Can Charge Your Battery Externally

You can prevent a weak battery from becoming a dead battery by having a trickle charge unit at your house. Simply plug one end into your wall and the other end onto your battery terminals. With enough time, you don’t have to worry about going to the auto parts store to find out what’s going on; you can find out without ever leaving your home. 

If You Jump Start Your Car – Make Sure The Other Car Has The Same Voltage

Your electrical system has particular demands that can only be met by your car’s unique needs. That means if your friend brings your smart car to jump-start your V8 engine, you aren’t going to have much luck getting it to work. 

What Does “Crank The Engine” Mean When Compared To A Started Engine?

When someone asks you to crank the engine, it means that you need to turn the key. It is a turn of phrase that comes from the first vehicles, where you had to use a hand crank to add power to the engine. 

If your engine fails to turn over, that means that you are unable to start the engine after you crank it. For someone who regularly sits around mechanics, you’ll find that this terminology will be something you get used to after you deal with enough car troubles. 

Is There A Way To Get Around The Starter If It Isn’t Working Properly? 

A primary component to get your car engine started comes from the starter. That means without your starter, your vehicle isn’t going to be running much at all. 

Your starter sends an electric charge that informs your car to ignite the combustion engine. There are no tricks to get around it, like a clicking sound when you try to start your engine is a clear sign that you need to make a replacement. 

What Does The Air Fuel Mixture Have To Do With My Car Starting?

The ignition in your car is a spark that moves along to your battery. That battery signals additional sparks to move ahead to your fuel ignition system, which forms combustible elements that can ignite your fuel. 

Everything from the ignition switch to the starter motor contributes to this tiny spark, allowing your vehicle to run on the power of explosions.

What If My Car Doesn’t Start In The Cold?

A cold battery or cold oil can lead to another problem that stops you when you start the car. This can be especially concerning if you leave an empty gas tank, as built-up moisture can freeze in that tank, causing significant issues that go beyond something told your check engine light.

If you are having trouble starting the car during a cold morning, start by making sure all of your electrical components are off. Also, make sure your battery cables (and battery terminals) are clean and free of debris, and check to see if you need to top off your engine oil. Auto parts stores will typically sell specialized oil that is better at surviving in the cold for these situations. Put that on your winter list the next time you can’t get your engine started during the cold winter months. 

Conclusion

If you are having issues when you try to start the car, you may hear that the engine cranks but doesn’t turn over. When this happens, it can be related to various issues that go back to a bad ignition switch, a neutral safety switch, or any variety of reasons why your car isn’t starting. 

With the comprehensive guide listed above, you can easily see that many problems can cause your attempt to turn the key to fail. However, it is essential to pay attention to any additional symptoms that may cause your car this issue. 

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