The reasons of a car cranks but won’t start

Indeed, a vehicle has not been made to run smoothly all the time. That's why we experienced some odd situations like a dead battery, key stuck in the ignition, reduced engine power, engine misfire, white smoke in the exhaust, poor engine performance, dirty engine, starting problem, etc. So, proper maintenance is essential to avoid these kinds of situations.

From all of these, starting problem or car won't start but cranks is one of the most common problems experienced by a vehicle owner. He repeatedly turns the key in the ignition but the car doesn't start while it cranks. When it happens, it doesn't mean that you have a problem with the starter. Normally, the starter has no problem when the engine cranks. Then, you should understand that there is something wrong with the engine.

You know the engine is the heart of the vehicle, and it works with the help of a lot of parts inside the car. When all of them can't do their duty properly to make the engine run, it doesn't work. So, now you can understand that starting problem can happen for several faulty things that help to make the engine run smoothly. Today, I am here to describe it in detail.

Reasons for an engine cracks but won't start

When it happens to the car, you should fix it as early as possible. Most of the time it is very affordable to fix. But if you become lazy doing this, it can cause serious problems for the car. And finally, you will have to pay a lot. But before fixing that, you need to know the exact reasons behind this problem. Here are the most common causes and some troubleshooting tips to identify the cause.

Lack of fuel flow

When there is a problem with the fuel pump, contaminated or incorrect fuel in the tank, a clogged fuel filter or injector, or there is an empty fuel tank, the flow of the fuel gets hampered. But the engine requires a certain amount of fuel to run.

To start the car engine, an appropriated fuel pressure is essential, especially it is a fuel-injected engine. When you turn the ignition to the "on" position, try to hear the fuel pump buzz for a few seconds. If you can't hear pump buzz from inside, the fuel pump may be dead. That's why fuel doesn't reach the engine.

But if you can hear something, try to put a flathead screwdriver on top of each injector. If the injectors are firing, you will get a faint ticking sound form injectors. In recent times, some cars have come with an inertia switch that shuts off the flow of fuel automatically after an impact. Check the owner's manual, if your car has this feature, learn to switch it to allow fuel to flow.

Battery Issue

It can cause because of the battery problem. When the battery is low on power or there is corrosion on the terminals of the battery, you can experience a cranking engine that doesn't start. You can check the battery using a multimeter. If it shows less than 10 volts, then there is a problem. The good news is that you can fix this problem at a low cost. But if it becomes worst, you will have to change the battery.


Spark Problem

When there is a damaged ignition module, a faulty crank position sensor, a flooded engine, bad spark plugs; you may face a starting problem. It can also happen because of a problem in the ignition circuit, such as the wiring, security system, or a malfunctioning ignition switch.

When there is a problem with the timing system, an inappropriately timed spark can occur. It is not easy to diagnose this problem, but you can check it by a timing light that all the cylinders are firing when they are supposed to.

If you check the distributor cap, and the spark plug wires, you can determine if you have a problem with spark plugs. You can use a spark tester to check the proper arc from each spark plug wire or coll.

If you think the engine may be flooded, you can remove spark plugs, and make them dry, then replace them and dry again.

Low Compression

Compression is essential for correct engine function. During the stroke of the piston, the compression ratio compares the maximum to minimum cylinder volume. When there is low compression to one or more cylinders, air from the combustion cycle leaks past the piston rings. Then it doesn't allow the cylinder to work properly that spins the crankshaft.


You can face a compression problem if there is a broken or loose timing belt or chain or a snapped overhead camshaft. You should also know that the starting problem also can happen because of an overheated engine.

You can diagnosis this problem by using a compression gauge or tester. To check the leaks in the cylinder, a leak down test is a secondary test.

Power supply problem

You can also face this problem because of a weak starter motor that cranks the engine using a lot of amps. And it can't switch on the fuel injectors and ignition system, because it doesn't have much power left to do that. Then when you attempt to crank the engine, it creates noise and doesn't turn over at all.

Problem with the security system

If your vehicle has a sophisticated security system, any type of error here can prevent the ignition system from working properly. When you don't find any possible causes that have been explained above, check with the security system whether it is working properly or not.

Final words

This is all about I have promised earlier to tell you about car engine cranks but won't start. I have tried to tell you about every possible reason behind this problem. If it happens, you shouldn't be tensed. You will fix the problem very quickly at a little cost. But if you become lazy to do the job, you will have to pay a lot. 


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