Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Car doesn't start.

asked by on

I bought a used car.

Ran fine, and I didn't see any cosmetic defects. I looked at the engine and didn't see any disconnected bits (that's about where my mechanical skills end).

I took it to a full-service place and they looked at the usual non-engine stuff. Found some things, but nothing super major there either. Well, except a control arm that should get replaced soon-ish.

Anyways, I took it home and then saved up money for car insurance.

I let it sit in the parking lot for like 20-25 days without moving it (bad, I know), some of those days being down to single-digit temperatures.

Now, the car no longer turns over. the clock and display come on, but when I try to jump it there is NO turning of the engine what-so-ever.

I didn't SEE any fuel from a leaky carburetor (though that doesn't rule it out).

The battery light is on.

Do you think it could be a bad motor-starter?

My car has 260000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Prior to performing diagnostics be sure you have a fully charged battery installed that passes a load test. Then, confirm that the engine immobilizer system (security system) is not activated thus preventing the car from starting. If there is no starter motor operation at all, that is if there is no starter operation with the key held in the "start" position, the procedure is to test for power to the starter motor. If there is no power, then the electrical circuit supplying the motor has a fault. That circuit begins at the battery and includes grounds, wiring (some of which is very heavy cabling), fuses, relays, the ignition switch and terminations. Basically, with a fully charged battery, and with the key held in the "start" position, the starter is either getting power or it isn’t. With the key in the "start" position, if the starter motor is getting power but the starter doesn’t work, then the starter is condemned and replaced. On the other hand, with the key in the "start" position, if there is no power to the starter, then the circuit is traced until the fault in the circuit is found. In addition to a faulty ignition switch, faults can include high resistances, due to corrosion, wire strand breaks, or loose terminals, which can only be diagnosed using a voltage drop test. If you desire that a certified mechanic resolve this, please simply request a no start diagnostic and the responding certified mechanic will get the problem diagnosed and repaired for you. Please let us know if you have further concerns or questions as we are always here to help you.

Was this answer helpful?

Hello, and thank you for writing in. When the battery completely fails, it will not complete the circuit or allow the vehicle to start. Considering the circumstances you should start by replacing the battery. If this fails to start the vehicle, then you can look at having the starter replaced or tested. Also make sure your battery terminals and it’s ground connection are clean, dry, and tight. For more help resolving the issue, contact our service department to schedule an appointment.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Slow crank no start, 1997 Ford Mustang

Hello. Slow cranking can be caused by a few things. If the battery is new, I would make sure that it is fully charged as a low battery can cause slow cranking. I would also carefully examine the battery cables...

Q: Whining during acceleration with high RPMs, in lower gears and overdrive

I agree with the mechanic that checked it. It needs to have the transmission overhauled. I cannot make the decision if you should get it done or not, since it is a very expensive repair and may exceed the value...

Q: Sometimes my car has issues starting

Hello there, a car that starts only after it sits overnight is a common fault. The fact that it starts after it sits for a long while tells me one or more component is on its way to failing but...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...