Car Cranks but Wont Start

The car cranks but won’t start.

Possible causes of car that cranks but won’t start

Out of Gas

When the car cranks faster than normal then it is possible that the car is out of gas, therefore during cranking observe if the car will crank faster than normal then check if the car has fuel.

Free Car Diagnostic Recommendation
Just fill the car with enough fuel and crank again.

Broken Timing Belt

If the car has enough fuel then the possible problem is that the car timing belt is broken. Broken timing belt can cause the engine compression to become low and since the car has low compression it is the reason why the engine cranks but won’t start.

Timing belt ensures the engine valve to close during the combustion of each engine cylinder, when the belt is broken there will be no compression in each cylinder thus the car won’t start during cranking.

Free Car Diagnostic Recommendation
Bring the car to a reputable car shop and ask the mechanic to check the timing belt to confirm if it is indeed broken, if the mechanic confirms the broken timing belt then have it replaced.

Clogged Air Filter

If the car cranks normally or is the same as when the car is about to start then the possible problem is a clogged air filter. Clogged air filter is the reason why the car cranks but won’t start because when the air filter is clogged there is not enough air going into the engine, the air filter becomes clogged because of too much dirt in the element, this dirt is preventing the air to go inside the combustion chamber. Since there is not enough air inside the cylinder then it will not start because air is one of the components necessary for combustion.

Free Car Diagnostic Recommendation
Now, start the car and observe if the engine crank the same as when it is about to start. Open the hood and locate the air filter. Removed the air filter then clean it, usually to clean the air filter just spray a pressurize air on the element. Cleaning the air filter is just a temporary solution on the problem.

The permanent solution is to replace the air filter. Normally air filter is replaced every two years therefore verify if the air filter installed on your car is past the two years period.

Car Battery is Weak or Battery Terminal is Corroded

If the car cranks slower than normal then the possible problem is a weak battery or the battery terminal is corroded. When the battery is weak there is not enough power to crank the engine, however if the terminal is corroded then the current that flow into the starter is not enough to start the engine because the corrosion interferes on the flow of current.

Free Car Diagnostic Recommendation
Check the car battery. Do the simple test to check if the battery is weak.

1. Turn ON the headlights then turn the ignition key to start the engine while the headlights are ON.
2. During cranking observed if the brightness of the headlights changes, if the brightness changes when the engine is crank then there is a problem with the battery.

Now open the hood and locate the battery. Look thoroughly on the battery terminal for any corrosion present on the terminal. If the terminal is corroded then it is the reason why the car won’t start.

Clean the terminal with a wire brush. Apply baking soda mix with water into the terminal before brushing with a wire brush. Also after the cleaning apply a petroleum jelly on the battery terminal to prevent the terminal from corroding in the future.

However, if the terminal is not corroded then the battery is weak. Now look at the fluid level of the battery, remove the fluid filler cap and check if the battery fluid covers the top of the battery plate, if not then add distilled water on the battery. The distilled water must cover the top of the battery plate then jump start the car to start the engine.

However, if the battery has enough battery fluid then you have no other choice but to replace the battery with a new one.

Frozen Battery Electrolytes

If the car cranks but won’t start only when the temperature is very cold then the problem is a frozen battery electrolytes. At a very cold temperature the electrolytes inside the battery may freeze or partially freeze, if this happens the battery will lose its power and it will not start the engine.

Free Car Diagnostic Recommendation
Let the battery get warm for a while before starting the car. Now if you are about to drives on a very cold region use a battery with a higher cold cranking rating.