Nothing throws a spanner in the works like your car refusing to start – but sometimes the problem can be sorted faster than you might think.
There are several likely culprits if your engine won’t start, including a faulty or dead battery, dodgy starter motor or blocked fuel filter. Keep reading as we run through the most common causes and solutions in more detail below.
When your car won’t start, checking the battery should be your first port of call. If your dashboard lights don’t light up when you try and start your car, or you can hear a clicking sound when you try the ignition, your battery could be flat.
A drained battery might be caused by an electrical fault, headlights being left on by accident, or an issue with your alternator that stops your battery charging.
If it is your battery, you might be able to jump start your car with jump leads, connected to another car with a fully charged battery. If your battery needs replacing, check out our blog on How to Choose, Find and Fit New Car Batteries.
Malfunctioning Starter Motor
The starter motor is the electrical component responsible for starting your engine when you turn the ignition. You can tell if the starter motor is malfunctioning by checking if the electrics still work when you turn on your car – if your radio, horn, and lights are working, but your engine won’t start, the starter motor is probably the culprit.
This could be caused by a fault in the wiring – unfortunately this is difficult to fix without the help of a mechanic, so it’ll likely require an inspection and repair at your local garage.
Clogged Fuel Filter
The fuel filter prevents dust and particulates from being carried into your engine via the fuel line, but if it becomes clogged, fuel will be prevented from reaching your engine altogether.
Most cars will require a replacement fuel filter after between 15,000-20,000 miles, so you can easily prevent this problem from occurring by keeping up with regular servicing.
The majority of modern cars come with a security system that makes it impossible for someone to start your car with the wrong key. If the immobilizer in your car’s security system doesn’t recognise your key, your engine will fail to start.
This can sometimes happen if the battery in your key fob has gone flat. You can easily identify if your key is the problem by checking the central locking; if this doesn’t work either, you’ll need to replace the battery in your fob. No time to fit a replacement? Try holding the fob for your key right up against the start button as you start the engine, or if you have one, use the spare key until you can sort a repair.
Empty Fuel Tank
This sounds like an obvious problem, but it’s surprisingly common. If you run out of petrol without noticing, you won’t be able to start your car. Luckily, the solution to this one is pretty easy – just put some more fuel in your tank!
Keeping an empty jerry can in your boot is a convenient way to be prepared for this scenario, so you can easily collect some fuel from the nearest petrol station and transport it back to your car.
Next time your car won’t start – we hope this list of handy tips will help you diagnose the problem, and get back on the road as soon as possible. If your battery turns out to be the problem, don’t forget you can get a new one fitted with our convenient Fit It For Me service.