Auto Repair Help


by Kyle McFadden

The engine fails to crank over.

This symptom is usually a result of a defect in the electrical system. It is usually a result of a drained battery, defective starter, or a defect in the ignition switch circuitry.

The first step in the diagnosis is an inspection of the fuses. Refer to the fuse box placard and owner’s manual for fuse ratings and designations. Some vehicles use fusible links that are at or near the batteries positive battery cable. These fusible links are designed to open when an electrical overload is present. They will not reset and will require replacement when blown. An inspection of the fusible links should be performed. Clean the battery terminals using a wire brush. Ensure that the inside of the battery terminal and posts are clean and free from corrosion. You should ensure the vehicle has a fully charged battery. Attempt to jump start the vehicle. If the vehicle cranks, a functional check of the battery and charging system should be performed. Refer to the “Battery Goes Dead” or “Battery or Charge Light On” articles for further diagnosis. If the engine will not jump start, a defect in the starter or ignition circuit is the most probable cause. Using a voltmeter, measure the voltage on the small wire of the starter solenoid while an assistant cranks the vehicle. If voltage is present, the most likely cause is a defective starter. If there is no voltage present, a defect in the ignition switch or circuitry is indicated. Refer to a vehicle specific wiring diagram and service manual for specifics on diagnosing the ignition switch circuitry.

Use caution when working around hot or rotating engine parts. When using test equipment, refer to the manufacturers instructions for proper usage.

(Kyle has an affinity for Pale Ale and tooling on his 1956 Chevrolet Nomad Station Wagon.)

5 responses to “Diagnose Engine Will Not Crank”

  1. kimberly says:

    My car was in water about half way up the tires. I have cleaned all the sensors with Electra clean, replaced the battery, starter, plugs, air filter. I have also cleaned the crank position sensor and the car still will not start. By the way the car was hydra locked after I got the water out of the cylinders I was able to turn the motor over but it still won’t start. What came I do now?

  2. Bill Thomas says:

    How can you prevent a drained battery?

  3. jason says:

    engine makes one click sound and wont start

  4. Fred Buses says:

    My 2005 Tauras starter hesitates to turn over at cold engine starting when weather is cold, 40 degrees or lower. The original starter was replaced in 2014 and worked well until the end of 2014.The shop that replaced it said there was no problem.Now with weather turning cold again the problem is back.How can this problem be checked? I need to know so I can tell the mechanic. During warm weather there is no problem! I should describe the hesitation as a stutter, then a normal start.

  5. My 1999 Chevy Tahoe will not crank. I have tried changing the alternator but it was not bad so tried the starter check and it spins but the engine will not turn over or try to turn over!!! NEED YOUR HELP PLEASE IN DIRE NEED

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