Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Car not turning over.

asked by on

My car won't start and I am not sure why. It cranks, but will not start. It has more than a half tank of gas, but won't completely turn on.

A: From the description of the symptoms your v...

From the description of the symptoms your vehicle is experiencing, I can tell right away that the starter and battery are likely not the culprits. While most people assume a non-starting vehicle is due to a bad battery or a bad starter, over the years I have learned that sometimes the gas gauge on the dashboard displays one reading when it should actually say another. If you are not 100% sure there was gas just recently put in the tank, I recommend trying to add a gallon of gas to the tank first, then attempt to start your car again. If it starts up, great! Your car was out of gas and it is time to get your car’s gas gauge inspected.

However, if after adding gas, it still does not start, enlist the help of a friend and remove the gas cap, putting your ear to the opening while your friend turns the key to the on position. In most cases you will hear the car’s fuel pump turn on for a few seconds to pressurize the fuel lines. If you hear that sound but the car is not starting, the problem lies elsewhere. However it must be noted that when fuel pumps do fail, some will completely quit and stop working, but some may actually still turn on and still fail to provide adequate fuel pressure to start the vehicle.

Not hearing the fuel pump turn on while doing this test is a clear sign that the fuel pump is the issue. Even if your battery and starter are good, with the symptoms your car is experiencing, there are really several possibilities that could keep your vehicle from starting. After low gas and bad fuel pump, the list includes a bad cam or crankshaft sensor, worn out spark plugs, bad ignition coils and more. Due to the amount of variables, I highly recommend having a professional inspect your vehicle to verify the problem and get you and your car safely back on the road.

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・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Security light constantly on or flashing, battery light flashes, radio locked, power locks and dome lights don't work. Please help

Hi there, thanks for writing in. I'd be happy to provide my insight. I would not replace the BCM without a thorough diagnosis first. GM vehicles such as yours suffer from two small wires that break in the steering column....

Q: Car making popping noise when braking.

After seeing the video, you will need to have the lower ball joints and bushings checked to see if one or all need to be replaced. You should also have the exhaust checked to see why the engine is so...

Q: The bolt on my headlight is stripped and I can't remove it

Hello. This happens a lot if you live in climates with a lot of moist weather. In order to remove it, the bolt must be drilled out and extracted using an extraction bit. Once it is removed, the bolt can...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
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...