Easily Fix a Car Not Starting

We are a team of ASE certified mechanics that have created this guide to help you get back on the road, please use gloves and safety eyewear before you begin. We have listed the car's non-starting problems by symptoms, and how it can be easily repaired. Caution: Never hit or strike a battery. If help is needed you can ask our experts to supply you with information to fix your car (free).

 Easily Fixed!

The most common no-start problems for every car which occurs once every three to four years is a bad battery. This is easy to detect, and you can test it yourself without equipment simply by turning the headlights on and then trying to start the engine. If you hear a rapid clicking sound or the headlights go out or are very dim the battery is bad and needs to be replaced.
new battery

If when starting your car the dash lights and electrical goes out, and then returns shortly after or stays out, (the cycle may repeat) the battery cables need to be cleaned or tightened which is easy to do with everyday tools and a small wire brush, baking soda or battery terminal cleaner.
clean battery post terminal

Every car is equipped with a neutral safety switch, either on the transmission (automatic) or clutch pedal (manual), if no noise is heard when starting cycle the gear shifter 5 times and then leave the car in neutral (parking brake on) and try to start the car. If this works the neutral safety switch is bad. For manual transmissions, pump the clutch pedal 5 times then hold the pedal all the way down, if this works, again the switch is bad.
neutral safety switch

It needs to be quiet for this next test, turn the ignition key on without cranking the engine over. You should hear the electric fuel pump run for about five seconds (a low hum) in the fuel tank (rear). If not, sometimes you can get the car going with a hammer or large object by rapping the bottom of the fuel tank which can coax the pump into working again, (this works very well). If the car starts the fuel pump is bad and needs to be replaced.
stike fuel tank

Watch the Video!

Please watch this video of the job being done, then continue down the guide to glean additional helpful information.

Most cars have a mass air flow sensor (MAF) located in the air intake system of the engine which sends feedback data to the computer to trigger fuel to be allowed into the engine, when this sensor fails the computer will restrict fuel causing the engine not to start. Disconnect the MAF sensor and try again, if the engine starts the MAF needs to be replaced.
mass air flow sensor unplugged

Try this trick, have a helper hold the ignition key in the crank position, then use a hammer or large metal socket extension and tap on the starter motor body, if it works this will get you to where you are going, but it means the starter is going bad.
strike starter with hammer

Of course there are more things to check if the above steps have not helped, which take a little more effort and tools that we have outlined here: My engine still doesn't start?


Our certified technicians are ready to answer car repair questions for free. We hope you saved money and learned from this guide. We are creating a full set of car repair guides. Please subscribe to our 2CarPros YouTube channel and check back often for new videos which are uploaded regularly.

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