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car wont start? click here! (troubleshooting guide)

248625 Views 50 Replies 41 Participants Last post by  amc49
Won't turn over, won't click, won't anything:

Is there power to the accessories?
NO - power distribution problem. Verify battery is good and power is making it to the central junction box and fuse box.
YES – continue

Is the PATS light flashing rapidly?
NO – continue
YES – PATS problem. Key is corrupt or not programmed, reciever is damaged or disconnected. ECU is damaged.

Is the Clutch in? (if equipped)
NO – depress clutch pedal all the way
YES – verify that the clutch switch is working properly by measuring resistance across the 2 wires when the clutch is depressed, should be 0 ohms, then continue.

Is the transmission in Park or Neutral? (if equipped)
NO – Move selector switch to Park or neutral.
YES – verify that the lever is actually moving the selector switch on the transmission to park or neutral, measure the resistance of the safety switch when in park or neutral, should be 0 ohms. then continue.

Do you have an alarm or lockout?
NO - continue
YES – verify that the alarm is disabled and the lockout is working properly.

Is the grey wire near the coil pack connected?
NO - connect
YES – continue

Is your engine ground less than 100 ohms?
NO – add a ground wire from a lift point to the chasis or batt-.
YES – continue

Is there power to the starter?
NO – repair broken wire or terminal.
YES – continue.

Is the starter grounded?
NO - repair engine to chasis ground wire.
YES - continue.

Is there 12v on the key terminal when the key is in the "start" position?
NO - check operation of the ignition switch, ignition relay, and fuse.
YES - bad starter.

Clicks, won't turn over or start:

Are the battery terminals connected securely and corrosion free?
NO – clean and secure the terminals
YES – continue

Will the car jump start?
NO - continue
YES – bad battery or charging circuit.

Is your engine ground less than 100 ohms?
NO – add a ground wire from a lift point to the chasis or batt-.
YES – continue

Will the rotating assembly turn freely?
NO – engine is jammed or seized
YES – continue

Is the starter seated correctly?
NO – seat properly and tighten bolts.
YES – continue

Does the starter motor turn when power is applied and load removed?
NO – bad starter
YES – have starter bench tested.

Cranks, turns over, but won't start or run:

Is there gas in the car?
NO – buy gas
YES – continue

Are the spark plugs firing?
NO – no signal from crank angle sensor or faulty coil pack/coil harness.
YES – continue

Can you hear the fuel pump whir for 2 seconds when the key is set to “on”?
NO – look under the passenger side kick panel and verify that inertia switch is not tripped and is working correctly. Fuel pump problem if switch is ok.
YES – use a fuel pressure gauge to verify that you are receiving adequate fuel pressure during cranking. Continue if ok

With the oil cap off and a friend trying to start the car, can you see the cams spinning while the engine cranks?
NO - Possibly a bad timing belt. Pull the timing gear cover off to check the belt and watch the cam gears. Replace belt if bad.
YES - continue

Are the injectors firing?
NO – damaged ECU or no signal from camshaft position sensor. (could be a broken timing belt)
YES – continue

Is there adequate compression in all cylinders?
NO – broken timing belt, head gasket leak, or damaged valvetrain componant.
YES – continue

Is there a blockage in the air intake?
NO – verify engine timing, have ECU tested.
YES – remove blockage
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special thanks to Ax0n for his contributions to this guide.
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Added timing belt check. I can't believe we missed that in this write-up!
Timing belt is mentioned. I went to fix it and found it under the compression y/n.

yay, we're not dumb.

oh wait, I see you edited the post.
I guess we ARE dumb.
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I'm having the "clicks, won't turn over, won't start" thing going on. I popped the hood and checked the terminals... those were good.

Here's an easy question: where can I find the starter / starter motor? (Pics would be awesome if anyone has 'em)

edit: I have a 2004 D23e
I too am having the same problem. It clicks but it won't turn over at all... Ran through the steps and don't know where the starter on our cars are located. It should be behind the flywheel under the car, but cannot find it.
Tailhooker said:
I'm having the "clicks, won't turn over, won't start" thing going on. I popped the hood and checked the terminals... those were good.

Here's an easy question: where can I find the starter / starter motor? (Pics would be awesome if anyone has 'em)

edit: I have a 2004 D23e
Have you checked the battery? If you haven't its most likely a dead battery.
SilverZXIII said:
Have you checked the battery? If you haven't its most likely a dead battery.
Thats what I was thinking, but when I first had this happen (a few days ago) it clicked for a while and then cranked hard and turned right over. Does that make a difference?

Also, should I be able to push-start it?
I have a 2004 ZX3-DURATEC 2.3lt with 7,500 miles, and having the exact same symptoms with my car.-

I just replaced the starter and celenoid, replaced the battery terminals, replaced the baterry....and start!!! ... if push start the car, it works.

...any one has any ideas on what might be? any info will be apreciated, thank you.
I got one for ya.....I have a 01 focus zx3 with the roush turbo kit. I pulled my car in the car port to put on my lambo's and went to start my car and it just clicked like my battery was dead so I used our charger on the jump start function started up and my plugs fouled and got some nice grey smoke outta the tail pipe. Watcha got for this?
HELP!!!!! I think I blew the fuse for the ignition. :eek:
Where is it located?
Never mind, found it. I'm just an idiot. :rolleyes:
Okay you Car Guru's please help...

I have a Ford Focus Zx2 and today when I tried to start it. When I turn the key it starts just fine but then it starts stuttering and dies on me with the following lights: battery and alternator..

Well, I checked the battery to make sure there wasnt any corrosion on the battery itself (We just replaced the battery on a different occurance anyways) and if its the alternator it just wouldnt start right?

Just recently a friend and I had to change a hose that was going from the air filter because the old one had a hole in it and I checked that and it was still tight on the hose and felt no holes.

When, I give it gas when it starts it stays alive for a few more minutes before spuddering and dying on me...

Hey guys I need some help...I installed a new optima battery about a week and a half or 2 weeks ago. 2 nights ago I went out to my car to leave a friends house and I went to start it and nothing no click nothing. Battery has juice. Tested ign. relay and replaced the blown fuse in auxilary block underhood. 30 amp maxi with a square and a key in it. What is this fuse? Does anybody know? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

So here's my story (yesterday).

2750 miles on a 1.5 month old Focus. I get into the car and it won't crank. Battery seemed ok. I manually pressed the clutch switch, no difference. I noticed instead of the mileage, the dash shows a number of dashes (-). I get out and wait a minute, just in case the anti theft has mixed up, no difference.

I call ford roadside assistance and they sent someone to tow me to the nearest dealership, which is already closed at 8pm. Not the best thought I must say ;) It would have been nice if they had a mechanic on call to help diagnose simple problems for people willing to try, but they didn't have any.

While waiting, I checked the manual to find out what fuses are related to the PATS / ECU / starter /.... I checked the fuses, but they were all fine. Then I looked at the related relays, the first one I swapped was the ECU relay and bingo! Now I have no AC though ;)

I called Ford roadside assistance back to dismiss the tow truck.

It's a shame people get stuck for such a simple problem. I wonder if all the Ford relays are low quality, or was I just too unlucky.

I went to a dealership today (I'm in NJ, 1900 miles away from home (TX)) and told the service advisor my story. They wanted the car to stay for today, which was impossible for me without a rental. So they scheduled it for tomorrow morning. I wonder if they are going to say you modified the relays so it's out of warrantee?! :|

Anyway, I guess in this FAQ, you should mention checking related fuses and relays :)

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Your troubleshooting tips should be very helpful. I am trying to determine why my 2003 Ford Focus SVT does not crank on a regular basis. I had the battery removed and checked, but was found to be OK. I have juice to run the radio, lights, security, etc but no sound when I try to start the engine, (not even a click). It has started a couple of times since I had the battery recharged, but not a consistent basis. Most times it will not restart if the engine has been turned off and I try to start it again when the engine is warm.

Could this still be a battery or starter problem? This problem has been ongoing ever since I bought the vehicle but more so know, that the car has been not been driven for 6 months.

Also is it common for the AC not to work after the battery has been disconnected and reconnected? Does it have to relearn itself? Doesn't run cold and only on high speed - nothing on speeds 1, 2 or 3?

Any help would be appreciated.

Idle in Texas.
My car wont start in the morning while cold. But later i try it start but i have to hold 1sec the key and then it crank. Any body know? Its a new battery. Its like delay 1sec after i turn the key.
Lets see in anyone can help me. I'm guessing its the ign. relay, but we'll see. I have an 02' ZTS w/ 85000 on the od. In the mornings or when I go to leave from work, the car will not crank. If the car stays warm overnight, the problem seems to go away, but if it drops below freezing, the problem comes back. I have to cycle the key 1500 (or atleast thats what it feels like) times or so before it will finally turn over. When I do this, the odometer will blank out with "------" but eventually the car will start.

Sound like an ignition relay?

Thanks for any help
Ok I put in my key and try to turn the ignition but cant. I tryed turning the wheel and beating on the key and other things but it just dont want to turn at all. Not sure but for some reason a while back the LED on the dash started blinking fast and I had to jiggle the key to get it to go in then it owrked fine. It just didnt go in all the way and stopped about half way then you pull it in and out a couple of times and it went in and all was fine. I think it finally quite working. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
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