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Car Won't Start - Ingition 'Click'

Breakdown girl on phone

There are few things worse than leaving work or getting ready to leave in the morning, sitting in your car and turning the key to.. nothing. That dread "ignition click" where there is no turnover and definitely no starting the engine. The good news is that of all of the things that could cause a no-start, the "click without turnover" is almost always the simplest to diagnose and repair.

Ignition clicking with the engine failing to turn over almost always indicates a problem with power reaching the solenoid and/or starter. It's usually an indication that there is a connection, however, which allows you to rule out keyswitch and other complex issues and focus on why power isn't getting from the battery to the starter.


Begin by checking your battery. Does it have enough charge? Are the connections solid?

You can check the first by looking at the state of charge on the vehicle's dash, if it has the gauge, or by using a volt meter on the battery itself (recommended). You're looking for 10 or more volts (as close to 12 as possible) and amperage at or near the battery's cranking amps rating.

Check the latter by simply wiggling the connections on the battery's post to make sure they're tight. Look for a lot of oxidation there as well, which may be interfering with power flow. Then follow the ground cable to its ground point and make sure that's solid as well. Finally, follow the positive side down to the starter solenoid and make sure all connections are, again, solid.

Get It Started Again

If your battery is dead, you'll need to recharge it or jump start it and get it charged. If you can get the vehicle running this way (most roadside assistance programs will jump-start), drive to the nearest auto parts store and have your ignition circuit checked.

You may have a faulty alternator, a bad battery, or something else that needs repair or replacement. Most of the time, failed components will include the alternator, battery, ignition switch, or the starter and/or solenoid. A "load test" at most auto parts stores is free.