Car Won't Start

You can get cell service nearly anywhere in the United States. That makes the chance of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere a lot less likely if your car won’t start.

Being able to call for help doesn’t mean that help will arrive quickly though. It’s a good idea to have a few tricks up your sleeve to try if your car’s not starting.

What to Do When Your Car Won’t Start Depends on the Symptoms

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when your car isn’t starting. The fix depends on the symptom, so let’s look at a few common problems.

No Sound and Electrical Equipment Isn’t Working

If there’s no sound from the engine when you turn the key and things like the radio and interior lights don’t turn on, it’s likely a problem with your battery.

Check the cable connections at the battery terminals. If you can move them by hand, the connection might be loose. Remove them and clean them with a rag, then reconnect them and tighten the clamps with a wrench.

It could also be a dead battery, in which case you should try jump-starting it.

The Engine Clicks But Won’t Start

If the starter clicks when you turn the key but the engine doesn’t crank, turn on the interior light and try again. If the light dims or goes out, it’s a sign of a weak battery.

Try the same things as the previous tip — check the connections to the battery terminals and if that doesn’t help, try jump-starting it.

No Click From the Starter

If the starter doesn’t click when you turn the key, it could be a problem with the neutral safety switch. Put your foot on the brake, move the gear shift to neutral, and try starting the car.

If that doesn’t work, move the shifter back to Park and try again. If there’s a bad connection in the switch, this can sometimes fix it.

The Engine Cranks But Doesn’t Start

If the engine cranks but doesn’t start, check the simplest thing first — are you out of gas?

If not, try turning the key to the “run” position and listen for a short buzzing sound. That sound is the fuel pump priming the injectors. If you don’t hear it, there could be a problem with the fuel pump relay.

Check your owner’s manual to see where the fuel pump relay is. Pull it straight up to remove it and swap it with another relay that has the same part number. If this works, you’ll need to replace the faulty relay but swapping it will get you moving.

What to Do If These Tips Don’t Help

If none of these tips help, you’ll need to get some professional help. Hopefully, you have towing & roadside assistance services nearby that can either fix your car on the spot or tow it to the nearest mechanic.

Don’t Get Stuck in the Middle of Nowhere

If your car won’t start when you’re in some remote location, you could face a long wait for help. Knowing these simple tips for getting it going again could save you a lot of aggravation.

Be sure to browse through the rest of our site for more helpful troubleshooting tips for your car.