Why Won't My Car Start?

Jumper Cables

Maybe you’re in this situation right now. You’ve got the kids ready for school, lunches packed, you’re ready for work. Your car won’t start. And suddenly your day just got a lot more frustrating and difficult.

Figuring out why your car isn’t starting can be overwhelming, but fear not! We’ve created a list of possible reasons your car isn’t starting and the solutions that can help you get your car and your day started.

1. Empty Fuel Tank

This one is for the daredevils, the ones who live on the edge. The edge of ‘Empty’ on your gas gauge, that is.

It may seem obvious, but sometimes you’ve got other things on your mind and forget to look at the gas gauge. You could simply be out gas. Many gas stations will have a small 5 litre tank they can lend out for just this sort of emergency. 

Avoid Running on Empty

A more serious error of continuously driving on empty is you can potentially damage your fuel pump(s). When your gas is low, your fuel pumps are working harder than intended and more importantly, you risk pulling residue from the bottom of your tank into your fuel lines and clogging your fuel filter.

Even though you think you’re saving money, continuously filling your tank saves you on having to replace your fuel pump(s) or your filter. It's a good rule of thumb to keep your fuel tank as full as possible, especially during our Ottawa winters.

2. The Key Won’t Turn

It sounds like an easy fix, turning the key. Jiggle the key in the ignition enough and hopefully, it’ll turn. But, it’s more complicated than that. There are many factors to consider when you’re key won’t turn.

Gear Setting

When turning on your car, your transmission will need to be in “park”. If the gear selector is on any other setting, your key probably won’t turn. If you see your gear selector is in another setting, change it to “park” or "P" before starting the car.

In case your transmission is in “park”, and it still won't start, try jiggling the gear selector to ensure it’s not stuck between gears.

Key Malfunction

Unless you own a vehicle with start button activation, the key itself can be the reason your car isn’t starting. The key could either be worn, broken or bent.

If the key is bent, you can attempt to straighten it but be cautious, bending the key will weaken it, and may cause it to break completely. Replace your key if it’s missing grooves, broken, previously bent or worn down.

Key Cylinder

Over time, the ignition cylinder's pins and springs can become worn, stiff or stuck. Gently tap against the ignition cyclinder to loosen any stuck pins and springs. If there’s no change, then it may be time for you to replace your key cylinder.

3. Clogged Fuel Filters

The fuel filter ensures only clean, debris free fuel makes it from the tank to the engine. Over time, your fuel filters will get dirty and require changing. If you don’t change your filters, they will become clogged and completely prevent gas from reaching the engine.

For older vehicles, it’s good practice to change your fuel filter every 50,000 km. For newer vehicles, change your fuel filters every 100,000 km. (Older cars will have dirtier gas tanks) The filter can often be found under the vehicle near the gas tank or under the hood beside the fuel line. If you’re not sure about where your filter is located, Bemac can help.

4. Dead or Weak Battery

One of the most common reasons that your car is not starting is due to a weak or dead battery. Before you run to the store to buy a new battery, take a look at the battery itself to make sure that the wires connecting it to the car are not loose or overly corroded. Even if the interior lights and radio come on, your battery may not have the voltage needed to actually turn over the engine.

Here are some reasons to determine why your car battery isn’t working properly:

  • Leaving headlights on
  • Not fully closing your trunk
  • Leaving on dome lights
  • Faulty wiring or alternater failure
  • Loose battery wires
  • Expired battery (Batteries last between 5 and 7 years)
  • Severe temperatures
  • Electrical malfunctions/shorts
  • "Phantom" draw

Depending on the condition of the car battery, you’ll either need to jump start your car with battery cables or replace the battery. If you’re forced to replace your battery, choose Bemac. We provide speedy towing and battery replacements.

5. Broken Starter

The starter is in charge of activating the engine. Being powered by the battery, the starter requires a high voltage of electricity to allow the motor to spin and activate the engine.

When you have a faulty starter, you’ll hear a loud clicking sound or nothing at all, instead of the initial engine starting sound. If your starter is broken, then let a professional inspect it.

Start with Bemac

Whether you’re dealing with a dying battery, clogged fuel filter, or a faulty starter, Bemac provides an honest and expert repair service that you will feel confident in. From towing to mechanical repair, we’ll get your car from (non)starting to the finish line. 

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