My Car Won’t Start

car trouble starting

My car won’t start is a phrase we hear very often. There are many reasons a vehicle will not start, and a few questions will help determine if you need a simple jumpstart, or a tow truck. Are there lights on the dash? Is there any noise at all, when turning the key to the start position? Is the engine cranking (turning over) but not starting (or catching some people will say)

No lights indicate a very dead battery or perhaps and ignition switch issue. Lights and a "ratcheting" or "clicking" type sound, indicates a weak battery. A solid CLICK or no noise, would indicate a starter motor which has failed potentially. If the vehicle sounds like it is turning over, then there could be a fuel delivery, or ignition system issue.

What can I do to try to get my car started?

You can attempt a jump start, but please do this correctly! Please see our you tube video on how to jump start a vehicle correctly, and safely:

Also, see our video on how and why a battery can EXPLODE!

Always remember to make your last connection on the (dead) vehicle, of the negative cable, but NOT on the battery itself- somewhere away from the battery, such as an engine bracket, or something of heavy metallic under the hood. If the engine starts, and then stalls when you remove the cables, you most likely have an alternator that is not functioning. If the vehicle starts, you are NOT DONE! Batteries will fail again, jump starting a battery, does not “charge” or fix the battery. It is very likely, after you shut it off, it will not start again. You should seek a mechanic, at a repair shop who can expertly diagnose your battery, starter, and charging system.

What can I do to prevent a dead battery?

First, the obvious items, such as making sure your lights are turned off, you do not keep the key on without the engine running for great lengths of time. But the best is PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE. In 35 years + in the automotive repair business, batteries under 4 years of age have a very small failure rate. Whereas, once they get over that 4-year threshold, the failure % goes up as the battery ages. My recommendation, which I practice on my own vehicles, is when the battery is 4 years old, it gets replaced. Why would you wait until it fails? And ve to deal with a tow or a jump start?


Have your battery tested regularly, during your oil change 2-3 times per year by your local mechanic, automotive technician, or auto repair shop. Replace your battery anytime after it is 4 years old, and your chances of having a failed battery will decrease dramatically.

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Written by Wilton Auto and Tire Center