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Car Hard To Start Problems: 6 Things To Watch Out

Car hard to start problems are not a life-threatening malfunction, but these can be irritating and make getting around difficult. Think about jumping into your car, turning the key in the ignition, but it just cranks a few time. Frustrating, right? Well, there could be several causes of car having trouble starting, and you need to check everything from the fuel system to the starter motor to find out the culprit.

6 Things That Cause Car Hard To Start

These issues mainly occur in winter season as cold temperature affects an automobile in various ways. Especially, if you park outdoors in a cold night, you may notice the car hard to start in the morning.

1. Low Level Of Fuel

You need to keep the fuel tank full or at least half full during the colder months. It’s easier for the low temperature to condense a small amount of fuel than a full tank. So, if the oil level gets too low, the fuel line may freeze because of the condensation, preventing the fuel distribution to the engine. The result is having difficulty in car hard to start when cold in the morning.

Causes of hard starting
Parking outside in the cold could be a trouble. (photo source: George Chernilevsky)

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2. Thick Oil

The fuel can get thicker for two reasons – low temperature and not doing an oil change at the recommended time. As you know, a liquid cannot flow quickly if it is condensed. In that case, the engine has to push around a lot to spin and start because not much oil can get into the fuel line and the engine.

You will need to change the oil filter regularly too if you do not want your car has a hard time starting. It catches dirt and particles over time, and these things can get into the oil and the engine, contaminating them gradually.

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3. Slow Battery

Cold start car problems are the most common when starting automotive in winter. Extreme cold can affect the battery performance too. It produces electrons through chemical reactions, but the process slows down in low temperature. As a result, it generates fewer electrons and supplies less than sufficient energy to the starter. This obviously cause your car struggles to start. The same issue can occur in the case of a worn out battery.

Note: You can try a trickle charger to save a slow battery. Here are top 10 best trickle charger products recommended for you. 

4. Bad Starter

The function of car starter is to harness the power of the automotive battery. Once you insert key inside ignition switch and turn it, starter crank the engine to allow the piston create a suction drawing in the fuel and air mixture into the cylinder. Bad starter is one of the reasons causing car having trouble starting that you cannot avoid. At one time or another, the starter motors will wear out and suffer a breakdown.

You should check the starter when absolutely nothing happens after turning the ignition switch, or the car turns over slowly with faint dash lights.

car hard to start
Hard starting makes getting around difficult. (photo source: Mario Gutiérrez./Getty Images)

5. Failing Solenoid

Looking like a cylindrical coil of wire, basically, solenoid is a component to bridge the connection and allowing power to flow from the battery to the starter. That is why your car struggles to start if solenoid is broken or worn out. If there is not any sound from the starter when you turn the key, then it is highly that the solenoid is bad.

Checking process is simple, you just test whether there is power flowing from battery to starter. Make sure your battery is in good condition. A diagnosis of the starter will help you to determine whether the glitch is with the motor or the solenoid. If the second one is defective, you have to replace it.

6. Worn Out Ignition Switch

It’s one of the most common causes car hard to start. As it tends to deteriorate over time, you will need to replace it when it stops working. If the switch feels hot to touch, there must be a problem with its wiring.

However before spending an amount of money to replace ignition switch, you should take a thorough diagnosis of what causes a worn ignition switch. Heavy key chains are the top culprit for this issue. Holding weighty and keepsake key chains throughout long time definitely wears ignition switch. So we recommend you keep your car key on a separate chain.

FAQ – Car Hard To Start

Q1:Toyota Rav4 starting problems – My RAV4 has been getting harder to start. The car has a new battery and I know the starter works well. Any thoughts?”

A: Replace the ground strap, and add an extra directly from the battery (-) to the engine. A picture of mine might still be posted somewhere on here …

Also check/clean the battery cables.

Q2:Toyota Corolla starting problems – Driving down the road car died when you turn the key I clicks but won’t crank battery has full power what could it be.”

A: Battery not charging because of age 60 months / 5 years they tend to fail, have it tested 12.6 volts and a load test based on cranking amp hours. It can also be loose or corroded terminals connections on the battery preventing it from charging or cranking, next the alternator may have stopped functioning,(100,000 miles there tired) letting the battery discharge and stalling the car out then only a click when you try and restart.

Q3:Toyota Tacoma starting problems – It’s incredibly hard to start when the outside air is hot.”

A: For the hot start, hold the gas pedal to the floor while you turn the key to see if that does anything. If it helps then you may have a leaking fuel pressure regulator or fuel injector sending fuel into the intake on hot shut down. The other possibility is heat soaked ignition components. If the pedal on the floor doesn’t help, check for spark. Since it only takes 5-10 minutes, its not so bad. Try leaving you hood open a couple times as you go into the store or whatever. That would allow things to cool down.

Q4:Honda Fit starting problems – Today, i put the key in and it wouldn’t turn…took 35 minutes of trying (tried both keys i had for the car) before i could start it. had this happen a couple of times before but usually got it in three or four tries. i was ready to have the thing towed back to the dealership…any thoughts?”

A: Battery not charging because of age 60 months / 5 years they tend to fail, have it tested 12.6 volts and a load test based on cranking amp hours. It can also be loose or corroded terminals connections on the battery preventing it from charging or cranking, next the alternator may have stopped functioning,(100,000 miles there tired) letting the battery discharge and stalling the car out then only a click when you try and restart.

  1. ADVIN says

    Thanks a lot, now I know the problem of my car’s hard start in the morning

    1. DJ lead auto tech 39+ years says

      No, you DON’T know what your car’s problem is just by reading some clown’s F.A.Q. cheat sheet B.S.!!!!
      The NON-mechanic who typed this article obviously knows NOTHING since he could only rip off 6 issues off the web!
      What a tool!

      Your vehicle may have one or more problems, each possibility should be checked and ruled out by a PROFESSIONAL who knows what he’s doing!

      Your problem could be;
      faulty crank sensor,
      worn/loose timing belt, or a belt with missing teeth,
      shot/worn belt cam sprockets or lobes, that would cause a loose belt
      a loose timing belt would cause a “hard” start.

      Or maybe you have a bad or faulty ground from the starter,
      or a bad starter,
      or a bad or sticking stator gear inside your starter (that’s the gear on top of the starter that pops out and engages your vehicles flywheel and tries to turn it to start your vehicle when you turn the key (or press the start button on newer vehicles)!
      Stator’s do sometimes get stuck or wear down and sometimes they loose “teeth” and “miss” the flywheel when trying to start,
      could be a bad flywheel that has some missing teeth, it happens,
      or a bad ground from the motor to he transmission,
      or it could even be a faulty key fob,
      Yes!, I’ve seen bad/dying batteries in key fobs cause non-start or hard start issues with Nissan’s a few times.
      Could even be one or more faulty coil packs,
      or a bad fuel pump,
      or clogged fuel filter.
      or a clogged fuel line,
      or a battery that just doesn’t have enough “CCA” (cold cranking amps), all motors require a certain amount of “Amps” to turn over and start. I have one vehicle that requires only 500 CCA, yet my older Chevy must have at least 650 CCA to turn over and start, any less and it just wont crank and start, especially durring the cold months!

      Many times with many issues, it’s never just one or two things to check, more like 20 things to rule out.

      I work in a very large, very busy, high-volume Foreign and Domestic vehicle repair shop for a living and we get at least 12 to 20 Nissan’s, many Ford/Lincolns/Mercury’s, Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler, Volkswagen’s, Volvo’s, BMW’s each and every week with starter or alternator or some sort of electrical issues.

      We don’t get very many GM vehicles (Chevy/GMC/Buick/Pontiac/Oldsmobile/Saturn/Geo), other than the occasional Yukon with a dogged transmission or leaky gasket/seal, nor many Toyota’s and we rarely ever get any Honda’s, Audi’s, or Saab’s.

      My bay alone gets 5 to 10 repairs per day, on Monday (yesterday) alone I had 3 Nissan Maxima’s (’98 Crank Sensor and Starter/03 Starter/09 Alternator) an Altima (2010 A/C recharge, tune up, fluid flush and change, front brakes), an older Dodge Durango (Starter), GMC Denali (09 front brakes) VW Cabriolet (brakes, window switch, A/C charge, interior light fuse) and VW Beetle (exhaust).

      The issues for each vehicle’s problem(s) were all diagnosed and repaired ASAP simply by going down checklists and seeing which problem it could be and figuring out which one’s it wasn’t! lol

      There are literally HUNDREDS of parts/wires/components that make a car start, go and stop, while many CAN last 12, 20, 30 years or even more and yeah, some DO seem to last “forever”, each part really can go at any time and when they do it helps knowing what you’re doing and having the right skills and tools for the job.

  2. Japheth says

    I have a Toyota platz 2nz four wheel, my problem is that the gear box fails to pick from level two to three. I replaced the gear box recently.

  3. Darwin says

    Good day. I have to ask my 1997 honda city with engine ph13. When i start at first it’s just ok, but when the temperature goes around half and then I turn it off. And start it back again it will be very hard it seems like you have a battery discharge when i tried to start. But when the temperature goes around 1/4 down. It starts again in normal. I recently have gone to my mechanic to do the tune up before this things happen. Very much appreciated on your quick advise thank you.

  4. Peter says

    Hi.. Am peter my car has a problem with hard start, anytime i want to start i have to step on gas so it can start what can it be the problem



  6. Mwila says

    I have a Toyota Noah, 2003 1AZ Engine. It developed hard start and when you do get it to start, It does not idle, you have to keep your foot on the accelerator to keep it running. Once you take your foot off the accelerator it goes off. Others say it is the Injector Drive, others say it is the Mechanical Pump. I have tried getting a diagnostics tool but none are compatible off ebay.

    Kindly advise.

  7. Robert says

    I have a car Toyota corolla EFI in morning to start it’s a problem, battery is good, fuel enough, distributor nice, when the sun rises it starts with no problems. What may be the cause of hard start in the morning

  8. TeeGee says

    I have a toyota camry 2004 model. For some months I have been experiencing hard start and slow in accelerating. I have bought new battery and also change my fuel pump but the problem persists. Please assist me

  9. Pius Clement says

    What is the effect on double start? I already turned the ignition for 2-3 minutes ago, and forget that it was turned on and I again turned to the start and it stop after producing a sound. I switched off and turned on again , it didn’t start but produced a sound next to the engine. Could someone advised what I shall do or what happened.

    Thank you

    1. Mark says

      Sounds to me like it broke teath on either your starter or your flywheel, I would remove starter and check for missing teath on either

  10. Keron Samuel says

    Good morning, I recently imported a 2008 Toyota Vitz car, 1000cc F Model from Japan. The car hard starts on early mornings and very late nights when its a bit chilly, I give it a second crank and its starts always on the second crank but when the sun is out hot the car starts perfectly on its first crank, the dashboard has no checklights, recently serviced with new spark plugs, engine oil, oil filter, air filter, what may be the issue here?

    1. Obinna says

      Good day my Nissan sunny 2012 super saloon refuses to start, it doesn’t supply light to the plugs.I have changed the start sensor yet it couldn’t start

  11. John Nathaniel Gureng says

    I need a new battery my toyota 86 needs 550 replacement battery only have 420 takes 5 seconds to start unlike before with just a push of the button.

  12. Shadrack says

    I have Toyota Corolla 2007 model,have hard start in the morning and when it’s stays for a while,but after couple of hours it start with 1kick.i changed fuel filter,coil packs and spark plugs.what else can it the morning I don’t hear fuel pump running but after hours I can hear it.please help

  13. Najuwa says

    Hi I have a Nissan Almera 2003 automatic if I start my car it wont start but after the third attempt it starts.

  14. Hamza says

    hi i own a toyota mark 2 110 year 2002, i have had a issue that been going on for a week now and it just got worse. it started with the cars electricity completely switching off and on randomly it done it while the car was on and the car was about to switch off but it came back on, two days later i turned the car off and i left for ten minutes came back and the ignition would not come on no lights would come on i had to wait for a bit then i tried it again and it came on it done that for the past few days and now it wont start and it just makes clicking noises i have tried to wire the battery to another car and it still did not start but it keeps making clicking noises. what could this issue be?

  15. Marvin says

    Goodday,my car is cheverolet captiva 2010
    Every morning i start the engine,its hard to start?have a new battery.what’s problem of my car?thanks for your ryply.

    1. Umar Deen Fullah says

      check the fuel nozzle and the starter if it does not start look for a very good battery

  16. Rolly says

    My 2010 Toyota Innova Sport Runner is hard to start. Already replaced fuel filter & with brand new battery, still hard start problem remains. Looking forward for your favorable reply. Thanks

  17. […] you will beat the car next to you off the line. So when you put your accelerator down, does your car take longer to take off than it should? If it does, it’s not your reaction time; there may be an issue with your […]

  18. Marie says

    A friend has a problem with a 2009 Toyota Camry. It starts well, but if you ride for a while in it (15-30 minutes) and stop somewhere, it won’t restart. We’ve changed the battery. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

  19. Zowie Wills says

    I have. A 2006 toyota camry only the first morning start it doesnt work but after that its fine

  20. Sherrida says

    I have a 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Sport, I brought a new starter, alternator, fuel filter, fuel pump, battery and fuel relay. My car won’t start and after I cut the car off you can hear a ticking sound. What can be the problem with it?

  21. Noki says

    My 99 ek9 civic is cranking but having a hard time starting and when it starts its like having a hard time to pump fuel or more like its choking. I already changed the spark plugs, fuel pump, fuel filter and had my throttle body cleaned including the IACV, Upon doing this methods the ignition problem was lessen but still having hard time hope you can enlighten me with this concern, thank you.

  22. Munsanje says

    I have a 1997 Toyota Spacio. It fails to start and the battery behaves as though it is flat once the engine heats up.
    It even has a hard start.
    what could be the possible problem?

  23. SAM says

    How do I remove MAINTAINCE REQUIRED on my dash board.

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