7 Common Causes Why Your Car Won’t Start

Jumper Cables

It always happens at the worst possible moment. On a hectic Monday morning, you have barely enough time to get the kids to school and yourself to work. Then, all of a sudden, the car won’t start. What do you do? Screaming and/or crying in front of your offspring is not an option. Instead, you put on your best grownup manner and call a reliable auto repair shop to solve the problem ASAP.

As the professional mechanic you contact will tell you, these are the 7 most common causes why your car won’t start.

1. Bad Ignition Switch

Although the battery is your car’s source of electric power, it relies on an ignition switch to transmit power to the components. If the ignition switch goes bad, your car won’t start -- simple as that. You can double-check whether the ignition switch is indeed behind your problem by turning on your headlights. If they work, your battery is functional, but your ignition switch is kaput.

FIX: Have a professional auto mechanic replace the ignition switch.

2. Dead Battery

If you try switching on your lights but nothing happens (or you get only dim light), your battery is probably dead or dying. Jumpstarting the car battery will resolve the issue. However, with a late model car, check the owner’s manual first. A jumpstart might damage delicate electronics.

FIX: If you own a battery tester, check to make sure that a dead battery is actually at fault. And if you also own a portable charger compatible with your car, try recharging the battery with that. Otherwise, you’ll need a mechanic to recharge your battery -- or even replace it if it’s in poor condition or very old.

3. Battery Connection Is Poor

Occasionally, the cause of your non-starting car is poor battery connections. In this case, the battery itself hasn’t died, but its connection is poor. Probably either the battery posts or the cables connecting the battery have become loose, corroded, or dirty.

FIX: Get a professional to take care of the posts and/or cables, tightening, cleaning, or replacing them as required.

4. Broken Starter

The job of an electric car starter is to... well... start your car. If it doesn’t kick in when you use your key or key fob, then your car won’t work, either. A clue the starter is broken might be a clicking sound as you try to start your vehicle, although a damaged starter does not always produce this sound (or it might not be audible if your kids’ whining is getting loud enough by this point).

FIX: Opening the hood, locating the starter, and tapping it VERY gently with a wrench might get it going again. If not, you’ll need a pro to inspect this essential part.

5. Clogged Fuel Filter

Your fuel filter clears debris and dirt out of fuel travelling from the gas tank to your automobile engine. Since all that debris has to go somewhere, it ends up stuck on the filter. Eventually, it can create a clog severe enough the fuel can’t get through to the engine.

FIX: Change your fuel filter regularly. Every 50,000 km is recommended for older vehicles. For newer models, every 100,000 km will be sufficient. This essential maintenance task can be included as part of your annual car tune-up.

6. Failed Alternator

The signs of this issue are a little confusing. Your car actually starts -- but then suddenly stalls. The interior lights are bright to begin with -- but grow faint. The problem here is most likely the alternator, which charges the battery. A burning smell or a battery signal on your dashboard will tend to confirm this diagnosis.

FIX: You’ll need an expert inspection and mechanical repair. Potential problems with the alternator include bad wiring or a non-functional alternator drive belt, and damage from a failed alternator may have spread to other areas of your vehicle.

7. Old Or Damaged Timing Belt

Your timing belt takes care of precision-timing the opening and closing of your engine valves. A non-working timing belt will not allow your engine to start.

FIX: Have this essential rubber strip replaced every 5 years or 100,00 km to prevent severe engine damage and avoid the need for a complete engine replacement.

Bemac Will Get You Going Again

When your car won’t start, there’s a simple solution: call 613-728-1908 to request Bemac’s hassle-free Ottawa towing service. We’ll come pick up your car and get it back on the road fast, with our expert auto repair.

You can also schedule vehicle maintenance at Bemac to prepare for a safety inspection or clear up minor problems before they turn into emergencies.



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