Why Wont My Car Start But Battery Is Good
When your battery is good but your car wont start, you are most likely dealing with an issue in the fuel or ignition systems.
However, before you completely write off the battery, you need to check a couple of things, as it is possible that even with a good battery, electricity is still the issue.
Make sure that the battery terminals are not dirty or corroded. Once they are clean, it can be helpful to add a gel lubricant to enhance conductivity.
Then, check that the battery cables are well connected to the correct terminals.
If both of these items check out, you are getting power to the cars interior, but you are still not able to start the car, then battery is clearly not the issue, and you are likely dealing with one of the following seven problems.
Is My Car Battery Dead If The Car Wont Start
Car starting problems happen at the most inopportune of times. Heres one that commonly occurs when people are ready to head out of the door: The car wont start.
This common car problem can be baffling, especially if your car started fine the day before. Whats causing this issue? Is your cars battery dead? Is it a bad alternator? Or is some other issue preventing your car from starting?
Most commonly, when a car doesnt start, a bad battery is the prime suspect. The battery plays a vital role in starting the engine. It powers the vehicles accessories, but more importantly, it powers the starter or cranking motor. The starter is what turns your engine over, and it draws a lot of power from the battery to do that. Therefore, when you have a bad car battery, the starter doesnt have enough ability to turn the engine over.
Think you might have a bad car battery? Or maybe your vehicle isnt starting?
Weve outlined some bad car battery symptoms, as well as other issues that can cause a car not to start to help you diagnose the problem.
Is A Fuse Cause A Car Wont Start
Yes, a blown or damaged fuse can cause a car not to start by preventing the electric energy supply from the battery to other components.
Electric power is needed to regulate the spark, which is responsible for the combustion explosion in the engine. So, if the fuse is blown, the engine doesnt function thus, the car wont start.
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How To Fix The Fuel System
If your car has water in its fuel lines, you may need to have the system professionally flushed.
However, certain additives can reduce contamination by using alcohol to hold water in suspension, then passing it out through the exhaust.
You can cut the risk of water ingress by keeping your cars fuel tank close to full, thereby reducing the likelihood of condensation.
Note that diesel fuel can thicken and become less free-flowing in cold conditions, too another obstacle for your car to overcome in winter.
Broken Distributor Rotor And Cap
The job of the distributor cap is to channel electricity from the ignition coil to the spark plugs. When the rotor stops functioning or the cap is not tight, your car may refuse to start.
Also, if moisture gets trapped underneath the cap, your car may be affected significantly. So, before reinstalling it, wipe with a dry cloth.
Always ensure you replace damaged caps.
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Issues With The Ignition Switch
The ignition switch moves power from the car battery to the cars components.
When theres an issue with the switch, theres no power in the starter motor or ignition system, and your car wont start.
While issues with the ignition switch arent the most common causes for your car to stall, it can still go bad.
Your vehicle will communicate this through signs like:
- The vehicle wont start
- The car key wont turn
- You wont hear any noise from the starter motor
- The vehicles dashboard may flicker
- The instrument panel may not light up
Keep in mind that another probable reason behind the ignition keys not turning could be your cars safety system.
This feature locks the steering wheel to prevent any accidental moving. All you need to do in this case is to move the steering wheel in either direction while turning the key.
Note: If your ignition switch is always in the on position, constantly powering the fuel pump, its another sign of a bad ignition switch.
What can you do about it?
The easiest way to deal with a bad ignition switch is to carry a lighter keychain with fewer keys.
A heavy keychain can put a strain on the ignition switch when you insert the key because the switch is right behind the ignition lock cylinder .
Car Wont Start But Battery Is Good Repair #: Air Intake Issues
As the video from ChrisFix showed, your car may have issues with the air intake system thats preventing the car from turning on. If the issue is just a dirty air filter, then replacing it should cost no more than $80 for most cars.
However, if you have a faulty Mass Air Flow sensor , then you might be looking at a $400 bill, but this already includes labor. If the issue lies with your intake manifold, then replacing it will set you back between $400 $600 including labor.
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Is It Worth Repairing My Car Wont Start But The Battery Is Good
Well, answering this question depends on so many factors, including the source of the problem itself.
When your car wont start, but the battery is good, if the problem is an easy fix and requires small repair costs, you can move ahead and get it fixed.
However, suppose the problem is more complicated and requires a lot of repair costs approaching your vehicle’s actual value. In that case, you might need to step back and evaluate the situation. Some of the common questions that you can ask yourself to make an informed decision include:
- Does your car have any other significant problems?
- Are repair costs approaching your vehicles value, if not more?
- Does your car have high mileage?
If your answer to any of these questions is a yes, it might not be worth repairing your vehicle.
The question remains, what do I do then?!
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Reason : Have A Bad Spark
Even after having a good battery, a car wont start if the spark malfunctions. A spark usually helps start the combustion explosion, which is responsible for starting the engine.
In that case, if the spark doesnt work, there wont be any spark, thus not igniting a combustion explosion in the engine. As a result, your car wont start. Although this is very difficult to identify the problem, below are some symptoms that help to notice the problem.
- Engine Misfires
- Acceleration problem
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Ensure The Battery Is Connected Properly
If your car wont start and youve tested the alternator and found that it works, then you should check if the battery is connected properly.
- The positive cable has a firm connection.
- Theres no corrosion on the cables or terminals .
- The negative cable has a firm connection.
- The battery tray is secure in the engine bay.
Tighten the terminal connections if theres any corrosion and clean them with a wire brush before reconnecting to their respective terminals.
Heres a helpful YouTube video that shows you how to do this:
Car Wont Start But Battery Is Good Repair #: Ignition Coil And Spark Plug Replacement
These replacement jobs are among the cheapest on this list. Ignition coils usually cost around $300 to buy. While the labor cost is usually around $150, which brings your total ignition coil replacement cost to about $450. Spark plugs are even cheaper, theyre usually no more than $50 for an entire set. While labor costs will vary between $40 $100, which brings your total to around $150.
If you have the tools, we recommend doing these two replacement jobs yourself so you dont have to pay for the labor cost. Our article about coil packs also contains guides on how to diagnose and do the replacement job for both the coils and spark plugs yourself, so you should read that if youre planning to do the job yourself.
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How To Fix Putting The Wrong Oil In Your Car
Check your cars handbook to see what type of oil the manufacturer recommends, and switch to a thinner grade if possible in winter.
Typical grades include 10W-30 and 5W-20, with the first number denoting the oils thickness in cold weather. The lower the number, the thinner the oil.
For cars operating in very cold climes, even 0W oil is available.
Check The Ignition Coil
The best way to test the ignition coil is by doing a spark test. This test will determine whether or not the ignition coil is transferring enough electricity to create a spark, which is essential to the combustion process.
The process will differ depending on which type of ignition coil you have in your car. If you have a coil-on-plug system, which most modern cars have, heres how to do it with a coil-on-plug spark tester:
RockAuto Auto Parts made a great quick video on how to test a coil-on-plug system:
Weve written a comprehensive guide about ignition coils, from how they work, diagnose, and replacement costs. You should read it if youd like to learn more about ignition coils. However, if your coils are fine, then its time to continue our troubleshooting and check other components.
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How Much Does It Cost To Solve The Cars Problem Wont Start But The Battery Is Working
When your car wont start, but the battery is good, many different problems could be causing the issues, as you noticed in the previous sections.
Therefore, when looking at the price to resolve this issue, the price varies by the problem source, and below are some rough estimates about how much to expect to resolve each problem:
- If the problem is related to the battery and you need to replace the entire part, expect to pay between $45 to $250, according to Kelly Blue Book.
- However, if the problem has to do with burnt fuses, you might need to pay between $110 and $140.
- To replace your vehicles starter, you need to pay between $344 to $562
- Replacing the ignition switch requires about $125 and $275
Remember, all these price ranges are just rough estimates, and the actual price depends heavily on your vehicles make, model, and year. Furthermore, the labor cost can increase the total bill significantly. Thats why you might see a big difference in some repairs when going to a dealership versus doing it yourself or having a small repair shop take care of the problem.
When You Turn The Key And The Engine Doesnt Crank
- Dead car battery: A dead battery is the most common reason why a car wont start. If you have a battery tester, check your battery to see if its weak. If you dont have one, try to jump start your car with jumper cables. After a jump start, let the car run for a few minutes to give the alternator time to recharge the battery.
- Battery corrosion: Corrosion on your battery can also spell trouble, and it could prevent your car from starting, even with a jump start. Check and wipe down your battery posts to make sure there is a clean, complete connection, then try to start the engine again. An auto store employee can direct you to the right products and offer advice on how to clean your battery.
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Electrical Issues In The Car
Sometimes, a car wont start up because of electrical problems in the vehicle. This can be due to defective fuses and relays, badly grounded electrical systems , and issues with the computer.
A qualified technician will need to diagnose the electrical system to identify whats wrong with it and fix any issues as required before a car can start up again.
The Ignition Coil Is Too Weak
The ignition coil is responsible for converting battery voltage into an electric spark.
Due to wear and tear or damage, the coil may not be powerful enough to accomplish this task. You can use a multimeter to test the current running through the ignition coil.
If you get a reading of 12,000 volts or more, the ignition coil is still strong enough, but anything lower than that indicates a problem.
Fortunately, you can detect problems with your ignition coil early enough and replace it before it becomes serious.
If you use the car every day or more than three times a week, you must have noticed a few things when the vehicle was running that indicate a problem with the ignition coil. Some of these include:
- Engine misfires
- Car dying when idle or at a stoplight
Car Wont Start After Getting Gas
Yes, it can be as simple as this. When was the last time you filled up your car? Most people wont forget to fill up their car with gas as they have a fuel gauge telling them their fuel levels.
However, your fuel gauge may display an incorrect reading, where the gauge is indicating the car still has fuel but has actually run out. For example, certain model years of the Nissan Rogue had this issue. It was quite a common problem with the car and many customers complained about it.
Unfortunately, most modern cars now have a fuel float mechanism that supports the sending unit. This prevents you from checking your fuel level with a dipstick. However, if youre sure that youve filled up your car with gas recently and havent run out, then something else is preventing your car from turning on.
In any case, if you believe that your fuel gauge is giving you incorrect readings or is behaving erratically, then you should check and fix it. You can diagnose it yourself or take it to your trusted mechanic.
A Clogged Fuel Filter
There is always a fuel filter within your fuel supply system preventing contaminants and other dirt from making its way to the engine. Over time of use, this filter can get clogged partially or completely.
While a partially clogged filter might not prevent your vehicle from starting, a completely clogged filter doesnt allow any fuel from getting to the engine, and thus, your vehicle wont start even if you have a good battery.
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You Have A Bad Fuel Pump
Located in the gas tank, the fuel pump helps pump fuel from the gas tank through the fuel lines and to the engine.
It will cost you more than $500 to replace a fuel pump. While the problem can be serious, its pretty easy to diagnose it even if youre not a car expert.
When you turn the ignition to on, you will hear a faint whirring sound that lasts a second. This is the fuel pump sending gasoline to the engine.
If you dont hear this sound, the fuel pump could be faulty and need replacement.
Your Car Isnt In Park Or Neutral
If your car is in gear, it wont start. It has to be in park or neutral.
What can you do about it?Move the gear to neutral and see if your car starts.
You can also try pushing the brake pedal.
If you own a vehicle with a manual transmission, then push down the clutch pedal.Note: If your car starts even though its in drive gear, or it starts just in park and not in neutral or vice versa, it might indicate a bad neutral safety switch, which can be very dangerous.
You should seek professional auto repair help right away.
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How Did You Know The Battery Is Good
One of the most common reasons for your vehicle not to start is a dead or bad battery.
Now, you might be wondering, I know for sure that my battery is good!
Well, how did you confirm that your battery is not the culprit? If you see the lights working and the radio functioning and thought that battery is good, this is not the right conclusion.
This is because sometimes you might have a bad battery that doesnt maintain the charge, and right after you try starting the vehicle, this low charge goes right away to the lights or the radio, which requires a very small electrical current around 30 amps.
On the other hand, your engine requires at least 300 amps where your battery cannot supply it. As a result, you will see working lights or radio, but the vehicle is not starting.
You can do one of two tests to confirm that your battery maintains the charge: the hydrometer or battery load tests. If your battery did not pass any of these tests, you might need to replace your vehicles battery.
One of the fastest ways to confirm its not your battery causing the issue is using a jump start. If your battery shows a charge after a jump start, then the problem is not related to the battery, and you need to move on and keep reading to detect the culprit.