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Car Cranking: What Are The Causes?

For any driver, a car cranking when you’re about to start driving is one of the worst mechanical problems you can encounter.

Even so, such problems are usually untimely, and no one prepares for them.

And that is especially frustrating when you hurry to get somewhere. 

But worry not. In this article, we’ll discuss some causes that make cars crank or fail to start.

So, let’s dive right in to learn more about car cranking!

Table of Contents

Reasons Why A Car May Fail To Start

When starting a car, you should be able to hear a short crank sound before the engine comes to life. Like every machine, cars fail sometimes. So, certain factors should immediately cross your mind when a car fails to start.

Let’s discuss each one in detail below: 

Reasons why a car engine won’t crank.

Dead Batteries

Batteries supply power to every car component, including the engine. So when the car engine doesn’t start, your first line of thinking should be a dead battery.

It is because dead batteries are usually the primary cause of a failed engine start. 

Usually, most people use jumper cables to jump-start their cars. Jump-starting the car will direct the alternator to revive its battery.

Recharging only happens when your car’s engine is operating.

Therefore, once you jump-start the car, let it run for a few minutes before turning off the engine.

However, if this situation occurs frequently, perhaps it’s corrosion in the terminals of your car battery. You can clean out the rust using some preferred cleaning agents.

But if the cranking persists, then corrosion might not be the problem. It would be best if you considered replacing the battery

jumper cables

(jumper cables)

Broken ignition

A broken ignition switch can be why your car may fail to start. You should turn on the headlights to identify the issue as a damaged ignition, not dead batteries.

If the headlights function properly, then the battery isn’t the problem.

Jump the starter engine with a fully charged battery to easily fix a starter issue.

start/stop button

(start/stop button)

Starter engine problems.

A clicking sound is the only thing that can easily differentiate a starter engine issue from a dead battery.

If you run or start your engine and the sound is absent, the problem should be in the battery.

Alternatively, the starter engine may be the problem since it’s not receiving sufficient power supply.

For confirmation, open the hood and locate the starter. Then carefully use a voltmeter to test the amount of power present in the starter cables. 

charging a battery

(charging a battery)

Reasons why the car engine would crank but fail to start.

Fuel-related reasons are the main causes of why your car might fail to start. A car might fail to start in most winter-prone areas because fuel has frozen in the fuel line.

In such a case, the solution would be to thaw the fuel. 

Other fuel-related causes:  

Empty gas tank

An empty gas tank means you ran out of fuel. Surely, a car won’t start if it lacks fuel.

There is an easy solution to this problem. All you need to do is find fuel, fill up your tank, and your engine should start.

No spark

A spark in a car comes from the firing of spark plugs. Essentially, the spark causes the combustion of fuel and air. Spark plugs fire at a very fast rate.

So, their failure may result in no sparks hence no fuel combustion, and thus the engine won’t function. 

To solve this problem, change the spark plugs. 

spark plugs

(spark plugs)

Spoiled fuel filter

Fuel filters need frequent changing and replacements depending on the car’s manufacturer.

Check your car manual to know how often yours need changing.

Follow the written instructions because a clogged fuel filter normally stops fuel from traveling to the engine. 


You can fix some of these cars starting failure problems on your own.

If you’re unsure what to do, kindly call a professional to help.

Otherwise, be careful when diagnosing and fixing your car so that you don’t cause more damage.

We hope our guide helped you learn about car cranking and how to fix it. Happy driving! 

I am Lillian Yang, having been a sales manager for over 10 years.

I have received many positive reviews from customers. They have praised our excellent service, on-time delivery, and high-quality cable assemblies.

For your projects, please provide cable assembly files/images/smples, etc., so that I can send you a quotation within 24 hours.

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