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Car Won't Start - Need Thoughts

Very cold this morning, I got into my car, and started it. It started normally. Actually it does seem to have been having a hard time getting going the past few weeks.

Anyways, I got out to brush off the windshield, and when I got back in about 20 seconds later, I accidentally turned the car off. It is a push button start, where I press the brake and push a button on the dash. I had headphones in my ear, and simply out of force of habit, I put my foot on the brake and pushed the button. Stupid, I know.

So then, I simply try and start the car, and it won’t start. I’m screwed. Car won’t start after a few attempts. I took my wife’s car to work and haven’t tried it since. I will look at it in the light of day.

I called my mechanic and he suggested disconnecting the negative coil of the battery for 10 minutes to allow the computer to reset. He said there may be a safety mechanism that would prevent the vehicle from a sudden on/off/on scenario like what happened, whatever. I think it’s a long shot.

I think the battery just used up it’s juice on the first start, and didn’t have enough juice to get it going a second time (we’ve all been there, if you catch my drift). Anyone else agree with me or the mechanic? It’s a 2012 and I assume it’s the original battery but I don’t know because I just got the vehicle last year. I would be more than happy to pop in a brand new battery and be on my merry way if that’s what the problem is.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Probably the battery since it’s pushing 5 years now. The cold will rapidly doom a weakening battery too. It’s probably not a bad idea to have the charging system tested just to make sure the alternator and starter are ok, but I’d guess the battery bit the dust.

Yeah, for the past few weeks, I have noticed that it’s been taking unusually long to get started. Just those few split seconds after you try starting that make you say “Uhhhhhh”, but then it’s come on. Thanks for the tip on testing the alternator and the starter.

Not a problem, I hope that’s all it is :slight_smile:

UPDATE - I tried starting the car this morning and it started right up, no problem. I didn’t do anything. It was just as cold. It didn’t crank too long or anything. Very normal.

I still don’t know what the issue is, but I will be back if it happens again.

By “won’t start” do you mean it fails to crank, that rrr rr rrr sound. Or cranks, but not robustly as normal? Or do you mean it cranks ok, but won’t pop and run?

For fails to crank, try stating in N rather than P. And try jiggling the shift lever a little while cranking, see if that helps. If so, that’s probably a transmission neutral safety switch problem. If a manual transmission, there’s a equivalent safety switch, but on the clutch pedal.

If that’s not it, then disconnect the battery cables and clean the posts and the inside of the connectors with a battery post tool. Then recharge the battery with a battery charger overnight at the 2 amp rate preferably, see if all that helps. If not you’re probably looking at either a new battery or a new starter motor.

It cranked and turned over, but didn’t pop and run.

But like I wrote, it cranked and popped on this morning, and I drove it and it was fine.

If it cranks ok, the battery is good. No sense spending money replacing that. So it started and ran for a few minutes then you accidentally turned it off, then it wouldn’t start. But it starts ok now? hmmm … Absent any diagnostic codes, probably the best thing to do in nothing. Hope the problem doesn’t return. Sometimes when it is really cold the engine goes to elaborate lengths to prevent stalling when first started, like making a very rich fuel mixture. And if you turn the car off in that mode, it might cause a flooding condition that might prevent starting right away. After time the gas evaporates, then it starts. If that happens again, try holding the accel pedal to the floor when starting.

Yeah, it was on for about 20 seconds, then I accidentally turned it off, then tried to turn it back on again. I considered that it might have “flooded” or had something with the choke, but didn’t really think that happens in today’s vehicles. But that’s what it seems like could have happened.

You probably flooded the engine when you started the engine cold and then shut it off 20 seconds later.

This will sometimes happen to me when I start a cold engine to move a vehicle out of the shop and then shut it off a few seconds later…

The wife just had this happen with her Honda where it was started cold to move it and was turned of after a few seconds.

She called me saying her car wouldn’t start. I told her to hold the gas pedal to the floor when starting it.

Sure enough! She called back saying the engine started.


In my state it is illegal to drive with headphones on.

[quote=“robertn84, post:9, topic:98211, full:true”]I considered that it might have “flooded” or had something with the choke, but didn’t really think that happens in today’s vehicles.[/quote]Your car doesn’t have a choke.

Several years ago, my coworker was trying to find the source of the noise on a car

So he took it out on the road, with his chassis ears hooked up, all 6 leads, and he was wearing the headphones, and using the selector box to trace that noise

That was September 12th, 2001 . . . yup, the day DIRECTLY after 9-11

Needless to say, the local police pulled him over at gunpoint

In their minds, this guy looked EXTREMELY suspicious. What with all the leads visible, going underneath the vehicle, the officers probably thought the guy might have explosives rigged up

I’ve dealt with three modern cars in the last few years that were flooded, an Audi, a Ford, and an Infinity. To clear a flood, hold down the gas pedal as you attempt to start it. This signals the computer to cut the fuel injectors off. I used this method to successfully start all three cars. I do not know what happened to cause the engines to flood, however.