Why Does My Car Start Sometimes and Not Others?

January 24, 2024

There are few sounds more stress-inducing than your car cranking over but not starting. Whether you are in a parking lot after dinner or stuck at the side of the road, it’s never a good time for your car to fail to start. You’re left feeling worried about being late to your destination, wondering if you will be able to get it going again at the next stop, or even worse - are you stuck in that Dan Murphy car park forever?!

The good news is that although this is a problem most drivers experience at least once in their driving lifetime, it doesn’t necessarily mean something dangerously serious is wrong with your vehicle. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it either. It’s always a good idea to know why your car might start sometimes and not others so you can take action as quickly as possible to resolve the issue.

1. Your steering wheel may be locked.

Make sure that the wheel is free to move in and out while turning your key in the ignition. This should help verify that the lock isn’t blocking the ignition from being turned fully to the start position.

2. Your starter or spark plugs are not working.

If the battery, fuel system, and engine are all in great shape, your problem could be caused by an issue with the starter or spark plugs. These components are responsible for igniting the air/fuel mixture inside the engine’s cylinders, and the resulting explosion is what powers your car.

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Traffic Dave is on a mission to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.
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