Troubleshooting A Car That Won’t Start

Pushing a broken down car
Is there anything more annoying than when your car won’t start? Whether it cranks, clicks or remains silent when you turn the key in the ignition; there are a few things more frustrating than a non-starter — particularly if it’s a wet, cold morning and you’re already late for work.

Sadly there are loads of reasons why cars sometimes struggle to start. From flat batteries to a bad fuel supply, understanding the symptoms of different starting issues is the first step in getting your car going again. Here, we’ll help you to troubleshoot the problem based on the signs and symptoms of different starting issues.

The car makes a clicking noise but doesn’t start

If the dashboard lights are illuminated, but the car makes a clicking noise when you turn the ignition, this could mean the battery is flat. It may be that you’ve left something electrical on in the car when it’s parked, which has drained the battery of power, or the battery is just old and needs to be replaced. You’ll need to jump the battery to get you where you are going or manually recharge it using a car battery charger. However, if the battery is past its best it’s best to get it replaced as soon as possible. If in doubt, have an auto electrical specialist diagnose the problem.

The car makes no noise/stays silent when the ignition is switched on

Man calling someone for help with his broken car

You’ve turned the ignition to be met with complete silence from the engine – perhaps the dash has not illuminated with the key in the start position. This could mean there’s a problem with the battery’s cable connections, in that they’re heavily corroded. To check this, carefully insert an insulated screwdriver firmly between the terminal post and the battery connector, and try to start the car. If it starts, you’ll need to have the battery cable connectors replaced. If the car still won’t start the battery could have drained completely and will need to be replaced.

The car starts for a moment, but then dies

Holts Bradex Easy Start


If this is the case, there could be a problem with the fuel injection system, or if you have an older petrol car it could be the carburettor — specifically the choke adjustment. Spraying Bradex Easy Start into the air intake can help the engine to get started so you can get on the road. Diesel cars in particular can suffer, especially in winter. If you experience this problem regularly you’ll most likely need to call in the professionals to see if the engine is being starved of fuel (see the next section for more on this).



The car cranks over but doesn’t start

If the car cranks over each time you turn the key in the ignition, there may be a fuel supply or electrical problem. You could have a problem with the fuel pump, or a blocked fuel filter. Another cause could be a lack of electrical power to the spark plugs. Check leads, coil packs and plugs for any obvious signs of anything out of the ordinary or loose. If in doubt have a mechanic take a look.

The car doesn’t start when it’s raining

If you’re stood in the rain trying to get your car to start, try spraying some Bradex Easy Start into the air intake to get the car going. If you have an older car which often struggles to start when it’s wet and rainy, it may be that moisture is getting into the distributor cap and shorting the charge to the spark plugs. Try removing the cap and spraying the components with Holts Maintenance Spray to get rid of any water before replacing and trying again. If the problem persists, you may need to change the distributor cap as it could be damaged.


The car doesn’t start when it’s cold


warning triangle with winter car breakdown in backgroundCold weather can cause all sorts of starting issues, as the lack of heat makes engine ignition so much more difficult, especially for larger diesel engines. Try spraying Bradex Easy Start into the air intake for a few seconds. The product will mix with the air-fuel mixture and help it to ignite in the combustion chamber. Hey presto — the car should start first time.

If you’re experiencing starting issues with your car, you can rely on Holts to get you moving again. By carrying a can of Bradex Easy Start in your boot, you can start your engine whatever the weather. To find out more about our DIY car maintenance products, visit the Holts website. Please read the instructions carefully before use. If in any doubt, seek advice from a qualified mechanic or auto electrical expert.