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Car won't start

My car won’t start! When I turn the key, the car doesn’t make any sounds aside from the fan turning every few seconds. The car seems to think the engine is going. All the lights and everything turn on (they’re hardly turning on now after trying to get the car running for a couple of days). All the wires on the battery and to the starter are in really good shape, no corrosion or damage or anything. I’ve tried starting the car while in neutral as well, still nothing. Does this sound more indicative of an issue with the starter or with the battery? My friend and I were trying to get the starter out so I could have it tested but the bolt is on very very tight (broke a wrench trying to undo it). I want to figure out what the most likely culprit is before I go too much further. Unfortunately I’m out of work right now so taking it to a mechanic isn’t really an option, but I really really need to get my car fixed so I can go to interviews and what not.

Any advice or insight would help!

You don’t say how old the battery is.

But a starting battery can be fine one minute and totally die the next minute.

Do you have access to a volt meter to test the battery to see if it reads at least 12.4 volts?


The battery is at least 2 years old. I have a friend that might have one I can use to check. I don’t know much about cars so I’m kind of learning as I work on it (replacing the brake pads and rotors was definitely an experience)

The battery seems to be in really good condition though. I haven’t actively cleaned it at all but there’s really no erosion or signs of wear on any of the contacts. Prior to my car not starting, I didn’t have any issues with it starting more slowly than normal or issues with any of the electronic equipment, but I’ll try to test it anyway.

You could really use a charger like this:

Put it on your battery overnight. Running the battery down is greatly shortening its life.

You could gain some better idea what’s wrong by measuring the voltage at the starter motor during attempted cranking. You didn’t mention your cars make/model/year, so have to guess a little, but there’s probably one thick wire and one thin wire attached to terminals on the starter motor. If you have the expertise and equipment, measure the voltage on both of them between the terminal and the starter motor case, while a helper attempts to crank the engine by turning the key to “start”. Post the results here.

Have you tried to jump it?

You don’t take out the starter for testing first

You test the battery first

Maybe the problem is with the neutral safety switch or possibly even the ignition switch.
Don’t go yanking starter motors out for testing. That is just make-work procedures.

This problem should not be difficult to sort out with a test light or VOM. A test light is dirt cheap.
Probe the small terminal at the starter solenoid when the key is turned to the START position.
No power means a faulty neutral switch, ignition switch, popped fuse, or possibly a near dead battery.