Why Is Your Engine Not Cranking Over – What To Check And Why

Why Is Your Engine Not Cranking Over - What To Check And Why
Why Is Your Engine Not Cranking Over - What To Check And Why

So, your engine not cranking over can be scary when it first happens.

First you need to get over the initial (Why me) frustration. And, hopefully not the, (I knew this was coming).

Consequently, this is usually one of the easiest problems to test and solve.

So, to find out what’s going on, you will need to analyze the situation. If your engine is not cranking over; you are probably dealing with a starter or battery problem.

The Battery Test

Why Is Your Engine Not Cranking Over
Boost Or Jump Start

So, the quickest and easiest thing to do first is; replace the battery with a known good battery. If you don’t have one ask someone for a boost or jump start.

If the engine starts, you may have solved the problem. At the very least you have narrowed it down to; a bad battery or the charging system. Finally, have the battery and charging system tested.

If Nothing Changes After The Test With A Good Battery Or Boost, Keep Reading.

If you said (I knew this was coming), ask yourself some easy questions to narrow down the possibilities. You may surprize yourself:

  • Has the starter been acting up, possibly cranking slow, or making strange noises?
  • Has the engine failed to crank or start before, or is this the first time?
  • Have you recently replaced the starter, battery or cables?
  • Maybe it is a defective part?
  • Has the battery been running down?
  • Could there be a problem with the charging system?
  • Have there been any other electrical problems lately?

As a result, the answers to these questions may shed some light on what is going on. In addition, these are tests that anyone can perform in a short time; that can save you time and money.

I Recommend The Following Path For A Engine Not Cranking Over:

Test Car Battery

Why Is Your Engine Not Cranking Over
Testing Car Battery
  • First of all, make sure the battery is fully charged.
  • If in doubt, charge it or replace it with a fully charged one.

Car Starter

Car Starter
Car Starter
  • Do a Voltage drop test on the starter motor’s power and ground circuits. Test the starter solenoid circuit to make sure; it’s getting power when you turn the key to the START position.
  • If you don’t have the tools to test the starter; there are a number of parts stores that would test it for free. Usually you would have to remove it and take it there.

Mechanical Failure

Mechanical Failure Bent Connecting Rods
Mechanical Failure Bent Connecting Rods
  • Try to turn the engine over by hand to make sure it is not locked up; possibly because of a thrown con-rod.
  • If the engine does not turn over, remove the serpentine belt to check that the; air conditioning compressor has not locked up (or any other accessory pulley).

Security System Or Immobilizer

Security System Or Immobilizer Light On
Security System Or Immobilizer Light On

Many cars are equipped with an immobilizer or a security system that; allows the engine to start only if the correct key is used. Consequently, the ignition key has a chip inside with the security code. When you insert it into the ignition, a sensor for the security system reads the code. Normally when you turn the ignition on; you would see a “Security” light come on for a short time and then go out. As a result, that would mean that the code in the ignition key is correct; and the car is allowed to start.

If when you turn the ignition ON, the “Security” light stays on or is flashing; it means that your car security system does not recognize the key or; there is some problem with some part of the security system itself.


So, there is a test for pretty much any part of your vehicle. As a result, there’s really no wrong or right way to test something; (as long as all safety precautions are taken to not damage it or get yourself hurt). Some tests take longer than others and; of course a lot depends on the tools you’re using and your experience.

Thank You !