Car Turns Over But Won’t Start – Reasons and Remedies

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Car turns over but won’t start ? let’s dig deeper to find out why? You may have come across this incident several times in your life, but do you know the reason for this and what exactly should be done in such an instance? Imagine you are driving home late in the night all alone and you come across such a situation with no help……. What would you do to overcome this frustrating situation? You keep pressing the button to start the vehicle or you keep turning the key to start the vehicle, but the vehicle won’t start. Let’s drill down to identify the key reasons for this and be well averse to handle such a situation the next time we face it. There can be two types of a car not starting. It will either not start at all or will start, rotate but the vehicle will crank.

Whatever the type of the bad starter is it is essential to know the signs of a bad starter. For this purpose, there is a check list that one must be well averse with to ensure to identify the reason for the bad starter and to take the corrective action to start the vehicle.

Check list to identify the signs of a bad starter

  • Check the vehicle battery

Either due to forgetting to switch off the car lights or due to a defect in the vehicle that drains the battery down the vehicle may not start. Check whether the battery is old, or the battery is low on charge, because if so, the car turns over but won’t start. The best way you can check this is switch on the wipers of the vehicle and if the wiper movement is very slow then it means that the vehicle is low on battery.

If the vehicle battery is quite old (more than 3 to 4 years) then the battery will not charge even if you try recharging, then you will have to replace the battery. But before getting a new battery check whether there is something wrong with the charging system of the vehicle. You can recharge the battery by jump starting your vehicle and allow the engine to run for some time.

  • Check whether there is enough fuel in the tank and check the fuel pump

It sounds obvious but sometimes we run miles and miles with a low fuel tank forgetting to check the fuel and if there isn’t enough fuel in the tank then this too can be a reason for the vehicle not starting. Hence always as a practice train yourselves to always check the fuel before starting the engine.

Sometimes even though the tank is full a weak pump can be the reason for the car not starting. Here’s another tip in cold climates. Ensure you fill the tank half when traveling in cold climates in order to prevent the collection of water inside the tank. This is a usual problem for a car turns over but won’t start situation

  • Check whether the security light in the dashboard is blinking

If the security light is not switched on when you start the vehicle that means the power from the battery is not connected. It can be either due to the battery being dead, it is a sign of a bad starter switch. If the headlights are working when you turn the headlights on, then it means the battery has power so the issue can be because of the power from the switch to the batter or an issue with the ignition switch. Jump start the vehicle if the battery is completely dead

  • Check the System Security

If the engine cranks but car won’t start it can be due to a System Security issue and this can be due to a technical problem. So, if the security system light flashes when you start the vehicle then immediately get out of the vehicle and keep the doors and windows closed for about 20 minutes and then try resetting the alarm system afterwards and then restart the vehicle.

How to start a car with a bad starter?

If your question is how to start a car if your car turns over but won’t start, there are two ways that you can start the vehicle.

1. Push start the vehicle

If the car is a manual car and if you don’t have a jump starter cables, then you can use this method. This is where you sit in the driving seat and put the gear on “neutral” and a few people push the car until it gains speed. When it gains speed the person who is driving need to press the clutch and shift the gear to number “three” and then release the clutch and start the vehicle. This should start the vehicle. Remember this method can only be used for manual cars.

2. Jump start the vehicle

Whether it’s a manual or an auto car the easiest way to start a vehicle is to jump start. This should be done only in an emergency as jump start is the transmission of power from one vehicle to the other. For this you need jumper cables which is common to find in most vehicles. Even though the jump start process looks simply. The right connection points to connect the cables differs from vehicle to vehicle, but most of the time Red is (+) and Black is (-). In a separate article I will bring you how you can jump start a car.  So, I would advise you to check the owner’s manual to find out the correct way to jump start your vehicle. If you incorrectly connect the cables to your car it can cause damage to the vehicle system.

Be well averse with the reasons for the car not starting that was discussed in this article and on the ways of starting the vehicle when the engine doesn’t start. Next time you face such a situation you don’t have to shoot calls to your friends asking what to do or shoot calls to your mechanic. You should be able to identify the cause for the vehicle not starting if you have read this article and then act upon it. Make sure you keep a jump starter cable in your vehicle. As a practice before you go on a long journey ensure to check the condition of the vehicle as you don’t want to ruin your journey because of a frustration of the vehicle not starting and you surely don’t want to be stranded somewhere till you get help. And you will not have to think why my car turns over but won’t start.


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