Official SafeAuto Blog

What to Do if Your Car Won’t Start

car won't turn over
August 13, 2020

It’s a horrible feeling – you’re heading out to start your day, you put your keys in the ignition, and your car won’t turn over. If this happens to you, listen closely to what your car is telling you. Perhaps your car starts making a sound, or maybe it’s silent. Either way, the sounds it makes or doesn’t make is a good indicator of what could be going on under the hood. Usually, this is a good indicator to decide if your car requires a tow and maintenance or if you can fix it yourself.

 Although we can’t help you from being late to where you’re headed, we can help you figure out what’s wrong with your vehicle and how to start a car that won’t start. In fact, according to Richard Reina, product training director of, here are some of the most common issues that could be going on with your vehicle, as well as information on what to do if your car won’t start.

What to do if your car won’t start

1. No sound but dashboard light goes on.

When there’s no sound associated with you turning your key, but your dashboard lights up, there are three possible reasons why this could be happening.

A) Faulty starter motors.

If the issue is that you have a faulty starter motor or that your ignition switch or cables from the ignition to the starter aren’t working properly, this will require additional help. That means it’s time to get your car towed to a repair shop.  

B) The car isn’t in park or neutral.

– When your car isn’t in park or in neutral but isn’t starting, this could be mean that the switch on the side of the transmission isn’t working properly. Here’s how you can troubleshoot it: move the gear to neutral and see if the car will start on its own again. If this doesn’t work, you can also try pushing the brake pedal, or clutch, and see if it roars to life.

2) The key fob isn’t working.

If you’re experiencing an issue with your car fob, which could be a bad transponder or a dead battery, you may have an option that will allow you to re-start your car yourself. Additionally, there should be an option to start your car even if the fob’s battery is totally dead. We would suggest checking your car manual to get additional instructions.

3) Engine making a clicking sound.

When you hear a clicking noise coming from your engine, this is a tell-tale sign that your battery is getting weak. In order to properly assess the battery issue at hand, you should turn on the headlights to your car. If they come on brightly, you know your battery is okay and that the clicking noise means that you may have a bad connection or starter. If the light comes on very dim, your battery is on its way out and you should either start a jump start to buy yourself more time or head to a repair shop.

4) A Slow Crank.

When your battery is trying to work but is slow to do so, this could mean that your battery is dying. The only thing you can really do to get you moving as quickly as possible is to ask another for a battery jump. However, it’s important to know that even if your battery starts back up again from receiving a battery jump from another vehicle, it doesn’t solve the problem permanently. The best thing to do if you revive a battery from receiving a jumpstart is to head to the mechanic as soon as possible, as the probability that this could happen again to you is very high.

5) A crank with a grinding noise.

If you are trying to turn on your vehicle and you hear a cranking noise, it could mean that the starter is not engaging the flywheel of your vehicle. When this happens to you, you should cycle the key on and off three to four times, and it should catch the flywheel to get you back to driving shape. We recommend taking it in for a more permanent solution immediately.

The bottom line.

No one likes heading out to start their day with a vehicle that’s having issues. It’s frustrating and can be time consuming. Even so, we highly advise paying close attention to what your car is trying to let you know so that you can drive safely and really enjoy the road ahead.

During the warmer months of the year, we hope you and your loved ones are remaining healthy, and playing it safe on the road.

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