What To Check If Car Is Cranking But Not Starting?

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What To Check If Car Is Cranking But Not Starting?


It can be frustrating when your car cranks but does not start. There could be several reasons as to why this happens. In this article, we will discuss the most common causes for this issue and provide you with a checklist of things to check in order to diagnose and fix the problem.

Possible Causes

Before we dive into the checklist, it is important to understand the possible causes for a car that cranks but does not start:

  1. Fuel Problems
  2. Electrical Issues
  3. Ignition System Faults
  4. Engine Mechanical Problems
  5. Sensor Malfunctions
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1. Verify Fuel Supply

Start by checking if your car has enough fuel. It may sound obvious, but sometimes we overlook the simplest things. If you have fuel, check the fuel pump and fuel filter. A clogged fuel filter or a faulty fuel pump can prevent fuel from reaching the engine.

2. Check Electrical Connections

Ensure that all electrical connections, including the battery terminals, are clean and tight. Loose or corroded connections can disrupt the flow of electricity, preventing the car from starting. Use a multimeter to check the battery voltage, ensuring it is within the recommended range.

3. Inspect the Ignition System

The ignition system plays a crucial role in starting your car. Check the ignition coils, spark plugs, spark plug wires, and distributor (if applicable). Worn-out or faulty components can prevent the spark plugs from firing, resulting in a no-start condition.

4. Look for Engine Mechanical Issues

Perform a visual inspection of the engine for any visible mechanical problems, such as a broken timing belt or a snapped serpentine belt. Additionally, check the engine compression using a compression tester. Low compression in one or more cylinders can indicate internal engine damage.

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5. Test Sensors

Modern cars rely on various sensors to deliver the right amount of fuel and air mixture for combustion. A faulty sensor, such as the crankshaft position sensor or the camshaft position sensor, can cause a no-start condition. Use a diagnostic tool to check for any error codes related to sensor malfunctions.

6. Check the Anti-Theft System

If your car has an anti-theft system, ensure that it is not causing the starting issue. Sometimes, the system may malfunction and prevent the car from starting. Look for any warning lights on the dashboard indicating an issue with the immobilizer or anti-theft system.

7. Test the Starter Motor

The starter motor is responsible for cranking the engine. A faulty starter motor can prevent the engine from turning over, even if it has sufficient fuel and spark. Use a jumper cable to bypass the ignition switch and directly connect the starter to the battery. If the engine starts, it indicates a faulty ignition switch.

8. Check the Engine Control Unit (ECU)

The ECU is the brain of your car’s engine management system. A malfunctioning ECU can prevent the car from starting. Check for any error codes using a diagnostic tool. Additionally, ensure that the ECU is receiving power and that its connections are clean and secure.

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9. Test the Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors deliver fuel to the engine cylinders. If they are clogged or malfunctioning, it can cause a no-start condition. Use a fuel injector tester to check if they are spraying fuel properly. Cleaning or replacing the faulty injectors may be necessary.

10. Seek Professional Help

If you have gone through the checklist and still cannot determine the cause of the starting issue, it is recommended to seek the help of a professional mechanic. They have the knowledge and tools to diagnose and fix complex car problems.


A car that cranks but does not start can be a frustrating situation. By following this checklist and systematically checking the possible causes, you can increase the chances of diagnosing and fixing the issue. It is always important to prioritize safety and seek professional help if needed.



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