When a difficult engine start is not a problem and can be easily fixed

Not many drivers can remain calm if they can’t get the engine started the first time. Most people think that the problem with starting is caused by a serious breakdown. And in fact, a small glitch or a minor malfunction, which is easy to fix with your own hands, can cause a hesitant start. Especially since the causes of the problem have long been studied and have solutions. For this purpose it is not necessary to go to the car service. We have prepared an overview of the most common malfunctions, which you can fix yourself.


The most common cause of difficult starting is a dead battery or its low charge, which prevents the engine from starting. That the battery needs recharge will be indicated by the battery gauge, flickering or fading light, sluggish cranking of the starter when starting and decreased revs.

Charge the battery and try again to start the engine. If it worked, the problem is solved. If the engine does not respond, proceed further.

If the battery is relatively new and does not require replacement, the problem may be caused by oxides and deposits on the terminals and wire ends. These are the ones that prevent normal engine starting. You can remove them with a soda solution and a brush. After cleaning, check that the terminal nuts are tight. If necessary, tighten them up.

Power leaks from the on-board electrical system

The battery is often discharged by all kinds of devices, installed by the car owner. This may be security systems, heaters, power adapters for phones, etc. Such gadgets make the life of the driver easier, but greatly burden the on-board network, as originally they were not designed for it.

Modern cars are never completely de-energized while they are parked. A small amount of electricity accumulated by the battery keeps them alive. Battery consumption will increase if the devices are improperly connected to the on-board network or the integrity of the wiring is compromised.

In this case, figuring out the causes is quite simple. The fact that the charge is approaching a catastrophic level will be reported by some gadget. So if the car alarm started screaming in the parking lot, check if there is no current leakage.

Poor-quality fuel

A counterfeit mixture is one of the common causes of engine starting problems. The fact is that bad fuel contributes to the formation of fouling on the plugs. And the soot covers them with such a thick and dense layer, that the electrodes become blocked. As a result the battery cranks the starter, but nothing happens. The engine doesn’t respond. In this case the only way out is to replace the spark plugs and refuel with quality fuel. As a preventive measure, you can pour an additive into the tank to remove dirt from the fuel line.

And in winter time the cause of difficult starting can be diluted gasoline. And water in it may be inherent or formed due to strong condensation. The liquid sinks to the bottom of the gas tank, gets into the gasoline pump or freezes in the lines.

The same problem is also found in diesel cars. Poor-quality diesel fuel thickens, becoming jelly-like, so it does not flow to the injectors.

Intake system

Problems with engine starting may appear if the intake system is damaged. For example, the air filter is not closed tightly, so air escapes. And in winter time, moisture can get into it and freeze. As a result, the flow rate is severely reduced, the mixing process is disturbed, which is signaled by the illuminated button Check Engine. To eliminate the problem, it is enough to remove and dry the filter.

Low pressure in the fuel rail

If the pressure has dropped, the injectors will not be able to properly supply fuel into the combustion chamber. Going to the car service, you will get the advice to replace the fuel pump. Do not hurry to agree, because the service is expensive, and it is profitable for the masters to talk you into it. It is better to check the electric circuit first – to be exact, the fuse. It is possible that after replacing it the gas pump will work.

Low spark formation

Ignition misses are often caused by punctured high-voltage wires. This causes the engine to start extremely hesitantly, stalls, jerks, or idles intermittently.

The problem with the spark formation will be solved by replacing the wires. The procedure is not complicated, so even a novice driver can cope with it. To help the engine start, you can pull the engine’s choke or constantly press the accelerator pedal.


If the engine does not react on ignition key turn or a creaking noise is heard in the underhood space, the starter can be a culprit. There are many reasons why it malfunctions. Both serious and the most elementary.

For example, the contacts of traction relay got oxidized, bushings got stuck or closed in windings. If the car has a mechanical transmission, you can try to squeeze the clutch at startup. This will make the starter easier and solve the problem.

Activating the starter interlock

Many modern cars are equipped with an engine lockout control program.

If there is a sudden drop in the on-board voltage, the electronic unit cannot activate the injectors and coils. Therefore, the starter will idle the crankshaft. The source of the problem is usually a dead battery.

Difficulty starting in the cold may be due to the immobilizer lock. Because of this, the car does not read the electronic code and therefore blocks the engine start. This usually occurs due to a dead battery in the key fob of the non-standard alarm system. Replace it and the problem will be solved.

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