Q: Car intermittently won't start -- this time won't even start when jump started

asked by on

A few months ago I replaced my alternator and battery. So far it happened twice that the car won't start, with a few weeks in between. It happened after morning commute for both times (i.e. after parking in company lot for a whole day). The symptom is that the dashboard lights are on when the key is inserted, but are shut down when I turn the key to try to start the engine. I can't barely hear any cranking noise. Immediate after a starting attempt the battery seems completely dead (lights are all off) but after a while the lights turn back on, but the engine still can't be started. The first time I found another car to jump start my car and it was OK for a few weeks. This time nothing happens even though I'm connecting my battery to that of a Toyota 4-runner's. I guess something downstream of the battery is broken? Could be the wires connecting the starter, or the starter itself?

My car has 109500 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi Eric M. An issue like you’ve described is very difficult to diagnose without an onsite inspection. If you’re able to activate the starter on a consistent basis, then you can rule that component out as the source of your electrical problem. If the dash lights randomly turn on and off, and you have inconsistent operation of the ignition system, then the root issue may be related to the ignition cylinder itself. Sometimes an exposed wire or electrical short can cause this to occur, while in other instances, electrical wires and connections from the battery or alternator, connected or relayed to the ignition switch or relay can also cause these problems. This is a rather complex issue to attempt to diagnose and resolve, so you might want to have an experienced mechanic help you at your location.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Car intermittently won't start -- this time won't even start when jump started

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: my gear shift is hard to move and keeps getting stuck

Try to move through the gears with the engine off and clutch pedal pushed in. If it is still hard then you may have bad synchronizers inside of the transmission. First, I would have the clutch rechecked to make sure...

Q: Car smoking and smelling

If the smoke coming from the tailpipe is white and has a sort of sweet smell, it is coolant getting into the exhaust system, due to one of the engine head gaskets being blown, and leaking coolant into one of...

Q: My steering is very loose? Do you suggest I repair/replace Font Struts, Steering Rack or Tie Rods?

Hi there: Without being there to inspect your Honda Pilot, it's very difficult for me to give you accurate advice on what is causing the steering to be loose. All of the items you've listed in your question could be...

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
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...