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What to do when your car won't start

Emily Jackson, 2 years ago

5 min read

  • Guide
  • Advice
Breakdown 3

When you get in your car and it won't start no matter how hard you try to get it going, it's a frustrating experience. Not only that, but it can also ruin your whole day.

The first thing to do when your car won’t start is to get in touch with a local mechanic for immediate assistance.

If you're not sure why your car doesn't want to run, book in to one of our local garages and they can have a look.

Reasons your car won't start

However, if you want to understand what could be causing the issue, here are the top five reasons a car won’t start:

1. A dead battery

Having a dead battery is one of the most common reasons for a car not starting and we have created a complete guide to fixing a dead battery here.

Your battery will die if you leave your lights on overnight or if the alternator has broken in your car (This is the part which charges the battery from the engine). You can always try to jump start your car but unless you have a secondary vehicle and know what you are doing, this may prove difficult.

To get help getting your car with a dead battery started, get an expert to help!

Car Battery Issues


2. Broken starter motor

If you hear a nasty grinding noise when you attempt to start the engine of your car, the engine flywheel may have damaged teeth meaning it cannot start the car engine.

Alternatively, the relay may be damaged or the ignition switch could be causing the problem.

A lack of electrical current to the starter motor may also cause problems. If this is the case, you’ll hear a GRR sound.

Find Engine Repairs


3. Stuck wheel lock

In certain cars, there is a security feature which prevents a key being turned when it is in the ignition.

When the key is removed from cars with this feature, the wheel will lock, and sometimes the wheel will remain locked when the key is put back in the ignition. If this happens, try nudging the steering wheel left or right while putting the key in.


4. Faulty fuel pump

Even if there is enough fuel in the tank, a broken fuel pump will cause an issue and prevent you from starting your car.

The pump moves fuel around the engine so it is vital that it works.

Frozen fuel line

In extremely cold conditions, there is a risk that your fuel line will freeze. If this does happen, you’ll need a professional to help you out! Make sure you keep your tank at least half-full during seriously cold weather.


5. Worn spark plugs

Spark plugs need replacing after 100,000 miles so if you haven’t gotten new ones and have covered more than this distance, you may be facing secondary ignition system problems.

Though rare, it can happen. Spark plugs aren’t difficult or expensive to replace though so don’t worry if this is the issue!

Glow plug replacement for diesel engines


Lost your keys?

Unfortunately, since this isn't a technical problem, we can't offer any advice. What we can do is help you find an auto locksmith.

Remember, if you can’t start your car, the best thing to do is get a professional involved. Simply use WhoCanFixMyCar to find a great local garage and you’ll soon be on your way.