5 Reasons the Engine Cranks but Car Won’t Start

5 Reasons the Engine Cranks but Car Won’t Start

There are few things that are more frustrating than running out to the car, turning the key, and you hear the engine cranking – but it won’t start.

In the big picture, there could be countless reasons why this is happening. In this article, we’ll cover five of the most common reasons your car cranks but won’t start. We will also include some information to help you deal with each of them.


Weak Battery

A dead battery won’t get your engine cranking at all. A weak battery might be strong enough to turn the engine over, but not enough to start it.

Your battery can become weak for several reasons. If lights are left on, the vehicle is left outside without sufficient protection from the cold, the battery can weaken. But if you haven’t replaced your battery for a number of years, it may be trying to tell you something.

car battery

You can try jump starting it, or attaching a power booster to it. That will keep you for a while. But a weak battery that needs to be jump started frequently to get going, especially in the wintertime, it’s time to replace it.


Clogged Fuel Filter

You might find evidence of a clogged fuel filter if you’re driving it. The vehicle will sputter, hesitate or “cough” making it hard to drive. If you’re fortunate to get it home, consider yourself fortunate. Many clogged filters have left people stranded.

Thankfully, this is not a real expensive fix. Just change the filter or have someone do it for you. In fact, it would be a good practice to change the fuel filter every 10-15,000 miles.


Gas Tank is Empty

Have you ever tried to start your car and nothing happens, only to discover that you forgot to put the vehicle in park before you shut if off? Almost as embarrassing is to discover you don’t have enough fuel in your tank.

It could simply be that you weren’t paying attention, and lost track of where the fuel gauge was. Just make it a point to watch the gauge.

Or maybe your gauge doesn’t work well, if at all. In this case, after you fill up again, zero out the trip meter – assuming it still works – and be determined to refuel after driving a certain amount of miles.


Sensor Failure

Later model vehicles are loaded with sensors, but they too can have problems. In this case, it could be either the camshaft sensor or the crankshaft sensor. These two sensors are responsible for sending electricity to the parts that need it, to get the vehicle started and keep it running.

There is no known way to repair a sensor, so it’s best to replace it, which is not real expensive.


Starter Motor

A starter motor needs to send amps to activate the ignition as well as your fuel injectors. A bad starter motor might be able to crank the engine for a bit, but it will be noisy.

Eventually, it will stop cranking, so the best course of action is to replace it. Depending on your model of car, it could be expensive, but you cannot leave the car like that. You could end up with worse repairs – and an empty wallet.




If you happen to have this problem with your vehicle right now, then we anticipate that this article has been helpful. Make sure you have a good battery, clean fuel filter, a full tank of gas, sensors that are functioning properly, and a good starter motor. This will help ensure that your car starts when you want it to.


Bryce Newell is an automotive enthusiast who loves to write about the latest news, products, and DIY projects. While Bryce is an amateur in the field, he is passionate about cars and has been since he spent weekends in the garage helping his dad rebuild a 68 Dodge Charger as a kid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *