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Why Won’t My Car Start?

Have you been sitting in the driving seat, possibly in a bit of a hurry, and had that heart-sinking moment when the car won’t start? Older motorists may well be attuned to that. Fortunately, one good thing about modern automotive technology is that cars today are much more reliable. The days of seeing stricken vehicles at the side of the road, billowing steam, are mostly in the past. No technology is perfect however and from time to time even the best vehicles can let us down.

Modern Day Problems

If there is a downside to 21st Century motoring it is that our cars are technically complex: Issues arising that once would be dealt with by the owner are often now a matter for a professional car servicing garage with the requisite tools and skills to effect repairs or renewals.

That said, it doesn’t hurt for drivers to know the cause as to why a car isn’t starting or working as it should. At least that way it is possible to save time and cost when solutions are needed.

Common Starting Faults

Many people have experienced that dreaded moment when the previously trusted car struggles or fails to start. To help, here are three common causes for starting issues:

The Flow Of Fuel

Most cars will let you know by means of an incessant beep when fuel is running low so there’s not really any excuse to run out, but it is not a good idea to let the fuel tank get perilously low. All systems have an in-line filter that keeps any specks of dirt or contamination from the tank away from the engine to maintain the required air-fuel ratio mixture for optimum performance.

This filter is part of a vehicle’s servicing regime so should not give any problems, but it’s not unknown. Accumulated muck at the bottom of the tank could be drawn into the system, for example. Engines can misfire or fluctuate in performance or indeed fail to start at all if there is no juice flowing. A clogged fuel filter or a faulty fuel pump could be responsible.


A failure to start, accompanied by a clicking sound suggests a fault with the battery or its components. The battery is a part of the engine that we take for granted. Often drivers only think about it when it’s too late.

The battery could be flat, suggesting that in-use charging is not taking place. This could mean an alternator fault or simply that the battery is old and defunct. (Note: It makes sense to change a battery every three years, just to be on the safe side). Terminals might be corroded or not connected properly and thus electric power is not reaching the starter. This is an easy fix, cleaning and tightening connections but there is a safety procedure to follow.

It’s conceivable too that the starter motor itself is at fault. That loud clicking noise and failure to start may also be a symptom of a faulty starter or an issue with electric wiring. Time to call your local car servicing specialist.


Using either a key or a start button, the effect is the same. The vehicles starts up. If nothing happens at all (no clicking sound or sluggish turnover) then it could be the ignition itself. This might be due to a flat battery but not necessarily. Try switching on the headlights: If there’s a strong beam then that signifies a full charge. This is yet another electrical issue.

Most starting problems occurring in today’s cars emanate from either fuel flow or electrical faults. We know that modern cars are generally reliable but they can still present starting problems, especially if neglected by lack of servicing for example. Make sure your car gets its regular annual service and enjoy trouble-free motoring.

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