If your car has power but won’t start, it can be especially frustrating. The lights come on, the stereo comes to life – but your engine just won’t crank.
So, what’s the problem?
In truth, there could be any number of things wrong. With this in mind, we’ve put together a quick guide that will help you understand what’s going on under the bonnet!
When you’ve read this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of what could go wrong – and how Auto Hero can help!
What’s going on when the car won’t start?
Your car’s engine needs very specific conditions to start when you turn the ignition switch. It needs exactly the right amount of fuel and air, a source of ignition from the spark plugs, help from a starter motor, and a handful of other factors to be all working properly.
If the car’s electrical system is good, the engine will have some of the conditions it needs – but with one missing, it still won’t come to life.
So, what could those missing conditions be?
1. The battery could be flat
This is the most common reason why a car have power but won’t start. If your headlights are dim or your car is making a clicking sound when you turn the key, it’s likely that your battery is flat.
You can check this by using a multimeter to test the voltage of your battery. If it’s 12.6 volts or less, then it’s time to recharge or replace your dead battery.
2. There could be an issue with your starter motor
If your starter motor is faulty, it won’t be able to provide the power needed to start your engine. This can be caused by a number of things including a loose wire or a problem with the solenoid. Engine cranks needs a lot of power to get started – so if you have a faulty starter motor, your car won’t turn on.
You’ll need to get this checked out by a mechanic to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced.
3. Your fuel system could be the problem
If your car has petrol in the tank but won’t start, there could be an issue with your fuel system.
This fuel supply system is made up of a fuel tank, a fuel line or fuel lines, a fuel pump, fuel filter, and a fuel injector on each of the engine’s cylinders.
It could be something as simple as a dirty air filter preventing enough air from getting into the engine or a problem with the fuel pump not delivering enough petrol to the engine. Again, this is something best left to a mechanic to diagnose and fix.
4. You battery terminals may be corroded
If you don’t have a dead car battery but you still don’t seem to be getting full electrical power to get your engine cranking, you might have corroded terminals on your battery.
The acid inside your battery can cause a reaction that creates a kind of ‘fur’ build up on the terminals. This reduces the effectiveness of the connection and can causing problems with electrical power delivery.
Sometimes, cleaning the terminals with a wire brush and reattaching the cables can fix a problem like this – but be sure to wear appropriate protective clothing if you do this job.
5. Your battery cables could be loose
Battery cables should connect tightly to the battery terminals. If they don’t, you could have no power or intermittent power – and this often won’t be enough to ensure the car cranks.
Battery terminal clamps are quite simply to tighten up – so if they seem loose, you might find your problem is solved with a few careful turns of a 10mm spanner.
Car still not starting?
These are just some of the reasons why your car might have power but won’t start. If you’re having trouble with your car, it’s always best to take it to a mechanic so they can figure out what’s going on and fix it for you. Trying to carry out bigger fixes yourself might just make things worse!
If you need the help of a local mechanic – Auto Hero can help! Give us a few details and we’ll connect you with the best workshops in your area. We even work with mobile mechanics in most areas – so you don’t have to worry about moving your car if it won’t start!
Matt is the founder of Autohero.com.au and has been hooked on cars and repairs ever since childhood. A veteran in automotive since leaving school, Matt has completed his trade as a panel beater and is across all things with wheels.
His first car was a 1967 FORD XR Wagon followed by a string of collectable Holden’s.
Have a question for Matt? leave a comment below.