Why won’t your car start?

Your Transmission is in Drive or Reverse

It’s a little like checking to see if your computer is plugged in, but this is more common than you think. While distracted, it’s easy to park the car, hit the emergency brake, turn the ignition off and not shift the transmission to “P.” When you come back to start the car, the normal lights are on the dash, but nothing is happening. With many shifters on a center console, you’ll need to look down and check its location. Turn the ignition off, move the transmission to “P,” put your foot on the brake and crank it back up. Everything should be ready to go.

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You Have a Dead Battery

A battery that’s no longer holding a charge is the most common reason for an unresponsive engine. With newer batteries, you’ll often not even get a warning something is wrong. Without a working battery, the electrical components won’t have the power to make your car run. In general, an alternator charges the vehicle battery while the car is running. Alternatively, if the alternator fails, the battery isn’t charged, and you’ll run into problems.

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A battery will die for other common reasons such as:

  • Headlights or map lights were left on
  • The battery is at the end of its expected life (often 5 years)
  • Water in one or more of the battery’s cells has evaporated

If the battery light is lit on your dashboard, the map lights won’t stay on when you crank the engine, or the engine barely turns over, you may need a new battery. Seriously consider jump-starting your battery with a help of a friend and make your way to a parts store or automotive dealer. You can then have the battery tested to determine what may be wrong with the charging system and have it serviced or replaced.

The Key Fob Doesn’t Work

Depending on your car’s make and age, you may have a keyless entry system with a key fob. If the battery is dead or low in charge, you’ll not be able to start the car manually or remotely. Most of the key fobs have a key embedded in the fob so that you can use it as a regular key for both the doors and the ignition. You’ll need to read your owner’s manual on how to start the car or resync the fob with your vehicle in some models after having lost power from the battery.

Your Fuel Filter is Clogged

Fuel filter being serviced

It would be best if you changed fuel filters every two years or 30,000 miles. If you can’t remember when you last changed the filter and it’s been over 30,000 miles, it may be clogged and in need of maintenance. A clogged fuel filter won’t allow the needed amount of gas to reach the engine. There’s no time like the present to have the fuel filter replaced.

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