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Sometimes car will not start

Car wouldn’t start Friday morning, called AAA and as I waited, I tried starting and it started right up! He said I needed a new battery. I was surprised that the battery went bad after a year. There was acid forming around the cables but AAA cleaned it up for me. Bought new battery and this morning, it wouldn’t even turn over but interior lights and radio came on. Had a jump and ran some errands and car started up with no problems at 3 stops. There hasn’t been any unusual sounds. The interior lights are not dimming and radio sound has not decreased so I don’t think it’s the alternator. Had the battery checked and the report said good. What could cause it not to start sometimes?

If the vehicle has an automatic transmission, with the dash lights on, step on the brake pedal and shift the transmission into neutral and then try starting the engine.

If the engine starts, it points a to a problem with the transmission range/ park-neutral safety switch.


Do I need to pull up the parking brake as well for this test? A year ago, I did replace the brake fuse which I think controlled that because I couldn’t shift to reverse. Is this switch related to the starter problem also? Maybe I need to buy another fuse?

The parking brake has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the engine starts.


So leave the parking brake alone for this test? Just press on brake and shift to neutral? Car wouldn’t start and I replaced the brake fuse and then it started. I was referring to the fuse maybe causing the problem of car not starting again.

It doesn’t matter if the parking is engaged or not.

It has nothing to do with the engine starting or not.

Just shift the transmission into neutral and see if the engine starts.


I need to turn on dashboard lights to do the test? There isn’t a control for it. What does the name, Tester signify?

I’m stranded right now and I can’t shift into neutral when I press the brake.

Turn the ignition on first, then press the brake and shift into neutral.

Turn the ignition key so the dash lights come on.

Step on the brake pedal and shift the transmission into neutral, and then try starting the engine.


I waited 10 minutes and it started up

You have to remove the cables and clean the mating surfaces. Cleaning the outside does nothing. There is probably corrosion inside the connections. Note that there are 2 cables and each has two ends.

I had that thoroughly cleaned when it was replaced.Maybe the cables need replacingg?

Just happened again and The shifter will not move at all.

There’s a switch on the brake pedal. It turns the brake lights on; it also signals the transmission to allow a shift out of Park. Maybe that circuit is bad. First check: do the brake lights work?

There are a lot of jumping to conclusions here. You need to check battery voltage with a voltmeter the next time it happens, both at rest and then while cranking.

What car is it, how many miles, where is it driven?

We know it’s not the battery itself but it could be:

  • charging system: alternator, cables or connections
  • something draining the battery when it is parked (since you say it takes a jump start, this is a strong possibility)
  • starter or solenoid
  • some switch or relay in the circuit.

I didn’t see a switch on brake pedal and I am the only one driving the car so i didn’t have anyone available to step on brake pedal to test brake lights. I appreciate the tip.

A few days ago the voltage was fine while running. It’s a brand new battery. He didn’t test it when off though. Connections were retightened. Its a 2001 Ford Escort with 167,000 miles and driven about an hour per day. It will start after maybe ten minutes.

The break lights do come on.

A mechanic just look at my car and said the The car aircon compressor is locking up up and causing the engine to stall. I have the ac turned to off because it has been broken for over 9 months. Is this even possible?