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My Car Won't Turn Over, What's Wrong?

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Man looking under hood of vintage car
Cultura/Leon Harris/Riser/Getty Images

A car that won’t turn over can be a very frustrating problem. If your engine won’t turn over, there’s a good chance you have a very inexpensive repair on your hands. Of course, in the event that your inexpensive repair is diagnosed by an expensive repair shop, you could end up with a much more expensive repair on your hands, and that’s not a good way to start your day. If your engine won’t turn over, there are a number of problems that could be the cause. The first and most likely problem is a dead or drained battery. Just because you have a dead battery today doesn’t mean you necessarily have to go out and purchase a new battery. Many batteries lose their charge or go dead because of an outside power drain. Something as simple as leaving the headlights or overhead dome light on can drain your battery overnight, meaning your car won’t turn over in the morning. This dead battery will still hold a full charge if you recharge it. You can recharge your battery by getting a jump start and driving your car around for an hour or so, or you can use a battery charger to recharge the dead battery. If your battery is still good, you won’t have another no start problem unless there is an outside drain on the battery. Another thing that can cause your car to not turn over are the cables that connect the battery to the starter. This is the thickest cable in your car’s electrical system, and carries the most current. As such, it is also very susceptible to corrosion. If your starter cable becomes corroded, you can clean it fairly easily by removing each end (one end is attached to the battery and the other is attached to the starter) and cleaning the connections with a wire brush. Unfortunately the same fate can befall your ground cables. A corroded or poorly connected ground cable can mean your car won’t turn over either. Clean ground wires and connections in the same manner. Finally, your car might not turn over if you have a bad starter. Starters sometimes go bad slowly, a little at a time. It may seem that your engine is starting more slowly in the morning. You may be able to actually hear the starter turning slower when you turn the key. Also, there can be a situation where your car fails to start one day, then starts the next seven days, but on the eighth day it fails again. It can be very frustrating, but this is also a sign that you need a new starter on your engine. For more troubleshooting help regarding your engine not turning over or if your car won’t start, see the No-Start Troubleshooting List.

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