Posted under Car Maintenance

Nearly every driver has experienced this scenario — you get in your car, turn the key in the ignition, and…nothing. Your car refuses to start. It’s frustrating and inconvenient, but it happens. As the frustration mounts, you inevitably think to yourself: Why the heck won’t my car start?

There are several possible answers to that question, so let’s go over some of the most common reasons why your car may not start.

Potential Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start

There’s a three-ingredient recipe every engine needs to run properly:

  • Spark — The ignition system (spark plugs, wires, coils, ignition module, Engine Control Module (ECM)) must deliver a spark strong enough to ignite the air/fuel mixture (and at the correct time), creating combustion that makes your engine generate power.
  • Fuel — The fuel system (gasoline, filters, pumps, injectors, lines, etc.) is another key element for starting a car. Fuel is injected into the combustion chamber and combined with air. This air/fuel mixture is then ignited by a spark from the ignition system.
  • Compression — The cylinders in your engine compress the air/fuel mixture before it ignites. When the air/fuel mixture ignites, the burning gasses in the cylinders expand, driving the pistons and transferring the energy from combustion into mechanical energy that moves the car.

If any of these components are missing or occur at the wrong time or amount, your vehicle simply won’t start. Let’s look at some common scenarios you might encounter and the possible reasons why they’re happening.

Dead Battery

A dead battery is one of the common reasons why a car won’t start. After all, you’ve probably been stranded in a parking lot, asking a good Samaritan to help you get back on the road. There are multiple scenarios as to why your battery can die, such as:

  • Leaving an electrical accessory, such as your headlights or dome light, on for too long
  • Faulty wiring
  • The battery’s lifespan has expired

Jump-starting your car is the first order of business for reviving your battery. If that doesn’t work, check for battery corrosion, clean all the corroded connections, and try jump-starting the battery again. Still nothing? It may be time to replace your battery.

Bad Alternator

The alternator is a generator that recharges the battery and keeps the vehicle’s electrical system running after the engine has started. Since the alternator and battery work hand in hand, jump-starting your battery is a good place to start. If your car starts but stalls shortly afterward, you may have a defective alternator on your hands. Why? A bad alternator can’t sufficiently charge the battery while the engine is running, causing the charge in the battery to deplete faster than usual.


You should also look out for other warning signs like dimming lights, problems with the stereo system output, strange sounds, and the smell of burning rubber or wires. If you think you have a failing alternator, bring your vehicle to your local Jiffy Lube and the trained technicians will diagnose the issue.

Starter Motor Issues

The starter motor is an electric motor connected to your battery that’s responsible for cranking the engine by converting the battery’s electrical energy into mechanical energy. If your car clicks but won’t start or your car won’t start but the lights come on, your starter motor could be the problem.

Faulty Ignition Switch

You know the slot where you insert your key and turn it? That’s the ignition switch. It’s responsible for beginning the electrical process that cranks your vehicle and for providing power to other areas, including the electronic accessories, engine, and ignition system. If you have a faulty ignition switch, you likely won’t hear the starter motor working to crank the engine. You may also experience electrical issues, such as flickering or dimming lights. Additionally, a mechanically defective ignition switch can prevent you from turning your key at all.

Defective or Worn Out Spark Plugs

Spark plugs ignite the air/fuel mixture within the engine’s combustion chamber, producing the power that drives your engine. Without them operating properly, your vehicle won’t start. Over time, your spark plugs can become worn out or defective, potentially losing power and fuel economy. If you think your spark plugs are the culprit, visit your local Jiffy Lube, where a trained technician can inspect your ignition system and replace your spark plugs according to your vehicle manufacturer recommendations.


Jiffy Lube technician opening a vehicle's car

Clogged Fuel Filter

You may not realize it, but a lot of contaminants and rust can get into your fuel system. This is where a fuel filter comes into play. It helps keep contaminants and rust away from the fuel injection system, ensuring clean fuel and optimal engine performance.


Over time, the fuel filter will naturally clog from capturing all those contaminants. But if your filter becomes severely clogged, it can restrict enough fuel from reaching the engine, potentially causing starting problems. If your car cranks but won’t start, your fuel filter may have reached its expiration date.

Let Jiffy Lube Handle the Details

As you can see, there are several reasons why your car may not be starting. But try not to stress! The trained technicians at Jiffy Lube® will be glad to get you rolling again. They will perform diagnostics and make service recommendations based on your specific vehicle manufacturer. Also, no work will be performed until you decide on the best option for your vehicle.

Please note: Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube® location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube service center or visit for specific services offered.