Car Cranks Too Long Before Starting [9 Easy Solutions]

Car cranks too long before starting! If this is the issue you encounter, there are several things to blame. A faulty or dirty MAF sensor, a bad fuel pump, a faulty coolant temperature sensor, and worn-out spark plugs are some culprits that cause your vehicle to crank longer before starting. 

Apart from these reasons, there are other things like bad regulators that can also cause this problem. In this troubleshooting guide, we will break down every reason that causes the vehicle to crank for a long time. So, stay in tune with us till the end to explore the solution. 

Car Cranks Too Long Before Starting [9 Easy Solutions]

This chapter will reveal every caveat that causes your car to struggle before starting. 

1. Defective Or Dirty Mass Air Flow Sensor

A MAF (Mass Air Flow) Sensor is a component that calculates the amount of air entering your vehicle’s engine. If it fails or gets dirty, it will affect the air-fuel ratio. 

Now, the question that may come to your mind is- how can I understand if the MAF sensor gets faulty? There are several signs of a bad Mass Air Flow sensor. In most cases, this issue will cause a lean condition. Therefore, the air-fuel ratio is too rich, and stalling or hesitation during acceleration are other symptoms of a dirty or faulty Mass Air Flow sensor. 

At the start-up stage, your engine requires more fuel. If the MAF sensor sends an improper signal, less fuel will be sprayed into your car’s engine. Consequently, it causes a hard start, and the car cranks before starting. 


If the MAF sensor gets dirty, you should clean it to solve this issue. 

First off, turn the engine off and let it cool. Make sure you disconnect the electrical (battery) to avoid potential electric accidents. 

Secondly, check the owner’s manual to locate the Mass Air Flow sensor. Start with pulling the air filter assembly out of the way. You can use a wrench to unbolt the assembly. Then, unscrew the clamp that holds the duct. Then, remove the entire assembly out of the way. 

Thirdly, unscrew the back clamp that holds the sensor on. As it’s a bit of a difficult task, we recommend you use a wrench and a little socket. Afterward, unplug the electrical connections. They just snap right off. 

Finally, wiggle the whole sensor until it comes off. 

Once you pull the MAF sensor out, place it on a towel. Now, it’s time to clean the sensor. We recommend you get a cleaner that is specially designed to clean the Mass Air Flow sensor. Make sure you thoroughly clean the interior & exterior of the sensor, its housing, and terminals. After cleaning it, leave it for several hours to let it dry. 

And lastly, put it back into its place and install every component you previously uninstalled. 

2. Weak or Failing Fuel Pump

A fuel pump is an important component of your vehicle’s fuel system that pumps oil to the engine. If the fuel pump fails, your car engine will not get the amount of fuel it needs to operate smoothly. Consequently, it will cause low oil pressure. 

When the fuel pressure is low, the weak fuel pump won’t be able to keep up with demand. Due to low oil pressure, it will cause a hard start, long crank time, and no start. 


If you find the fuel pump at fault, you must replace it right off the bat. Otherwise, wait for severe engine damage. We recommend you check the tutorial to learn how to replace a fuel pump on a car. Alternatively, bring your car to a mechanic to do this replacement workflow for you. 

3. Bad Coolant Temperature Sensor

A coolant temperature sensor is a thermistor that actually measures the temperature of the coolant. If it gets bad, the coolant temp sensor will send an incorrect signal to the computer. And this incorrect signal will disrupt the air-fuel ratio and will cause a hard start and long crank times. In some cases, it causes the engine to not start (it’s very rare). 


Changing the bad coolant temperature sensor with a new one is the only solution to fix this issue. Just follow the below steps to make a replacement. 

  • Turn the engine off and let it cool.
  • Put a clean pan right under the radiator and drain about two to three quarts of coolant by opening the drain radiator valve. Then, shut the drain radiator valve. 
  • Now, find out the coolant temperature sensor in your car. You can find the sensor around the cylinder head or upper section of the engine block in most inline engine models. On the other hand, it should be around the engine upper part or under the intake manifold on most V8 engines. We recommend you check the repair manual of your car to locate the coolant temperature sensor successfully. 
  • Once you locate the sensor, don’t forget to disconnect the electrical connector. Afterward, seize the sensor with a six-point wrench and a deep socket to remove the coolant temperature sensor. 
  • Install the new coolant temperature sensor and hand-tight it. Then, use the six-point wrench to tighten it up firmly. 
  • Connect the sensor electrical to the sensor. 
  • Put everything back into its place and refill the radiator. 
  • Finally, verify your repair by starting the engine and letting it idle. 

4. Damaged Or Worn Out Spark Plugs

Damaged spark plugs cause a weak spark. A strong spark is needed to ignite the fuel, spraying into the engine. Without a strong spark, it will cause the engine to bog down or hard start. Several reasons like carbon buildup, overheating, and improper spark plug gap cause the spark plugs to wear out. 


Replacing the worn-out spark plugs will be an easy fix to this issue. AutoZone covered an in-depth guide on replacing the spark plugs. On the other hand, we recommend you hire a certified car mechanic if you are not mechanically inclined to do this task for you. 

5. Bad Fuel Pressure Regulator

The purpose of a fuel pressure regulator is to regulate fuel pressure under different engine loads. If the fuel pressure regulator gets faulty because of a defective diaphragm, it can cause excess fuel to flow through vacuum lines and into the intake manifold. Consequently, it will cause a long crank time during start-up. 


None but replacing the faulty fuel pressure regulator is the only option to fix this problem. If you are not ready to pay a single buck to your mechanic, you can watch this tutorial to learn how to replace a fuel pressure regulator.  

6. Engine Oil In Spark Plug Tube

The spark plug tube seal is mounted on the valve cover. It stops oil from going to the spark plug tube. When this seal gets worn out, the oil will seep into the tube and contaminate the spark plug tube and coil. It can cause a hard start, engine misfire, and no start. 


In most cases, worn-out spark plug seals are the culprit behind this issue. So, what you need to do is- just replace the seal by removing the valve cover. It would be best if you change the valve cover gasket as well. 

7. Defective Crankshaft Position Sensor

The crankshaft position sensor is a part of the timing system and it sends signals to the computer. This sensor is used to determine the position and rotational speed of the crankshaft. If your car engine fails to determine where the crankshaft is in its rotation, it fails to trigger the sparks and the fuel injectors. Consequently, the car takes a long time to start after sitting, or it will stall. 


Change the bad crankshaft position sensor and walk away! Most modern cars have the crankshaft position sensor between the engine and the transmission because they measure the flywheel spinning around. The evil engineers hide this sensor way down here on the back. Use a little socket wrench to pull out the crankshaft position sensor that is at fault. Then, install the new one and tighten it up with the wrench socket. If you want to see the whole procedure of replacing the crankshaft sensor.

8. Dirty Fuel Filter

Car cranks and eventually start! If this is the case, we bet the fuel filter of your car is dirty. The engine requires more fuel to get the engine running during startup. If the fuel filter gets dirty, it will restrict fuel flow, which lowers the fuel pressure. Indeed, it will cause a leaning condition, causing a long crank time before the engine starts. 


If the issue is the result of a dirty oil filter, replace it to fix the problem. Just go underneath the vehicle, place a drain pan right under the drain plug, and drain the oil by unplugging the drain plug. Then, pull out the oil filter and replace it with a new one. 

9. A Failed Fuel Injector

The long crank time when the engine is cold! Then, fuel injectors can be the main culprit. A worn-out O-ring can cause the injector to leak oil. Due to the heat of the engine, the O-ring starts getting hard & brittle over time. If it breaks, the oil can leak out over the engine. Turns out, that a clogged fuel injector, poor maintenance, and leaky fuel injector seal can also be the caveat behind this issue. 


If the fuel injector is at fault, you should replace the fuel injector. We recommend you inspect the fuel injector regularly for dirt buildup. Clean it regularly and maintain your engine. All of these will help to increase the lifespan of the fuel injector. 


How long should a car crank before starting?

It shouldn’t crank more than 2 to 3 seconds before starting. In simple words, your car should start within 2 to 3 seconds. 

Why is my engine having a hard time starting?

A fouled spark plug is what causes hard starting engine. Spark plugs are responsible for creating a spark, which allows your car to burn fuel. If the spark plug fails, your car won’t burn fuel, and the engine will struggle to start. 

What causes a car not to start on the first try?

A dead battery is the main culprit that causes a car not to start on the first try. The battery provides electric power to every electrical component of your vehicle. If it fails, your car will not get the electric power it requires to start the engine. 

Why does my car take so long to start in the morning?

Car hard starting in the morning is the result of low temperatures. Because of low temperatures, the car battery will fail to produce less current. 

Why does my car take so long to start after sitting?

A defective fuel pump is a culprit that causes a car to take so long to start after sitting for a period. 


Why does my car cranks long before starting? We hope you get the answer to the question. A dirty Mass Air Flow Sensor, a bad fuel pump, a dirty fuel filter, and a defective crankshaft sensor are some reasons that cause a car to crank too long before starting. 

Fortunately, we mentioned every reason behind this car problem. And the best part is- we also broke down how you can troubleshoot those issues. So, follow every troubleshooting step to let your car start smoothly. 

About John M

John contributed as a technical head at an automobile company just 2 years after his post-graduation in Automobile Engineering. He loves to lead a free life, so he left his job & started blogging. Now, he does research on every automotive problem, part & product and seeks a better solution & best products & shares his findings with his readers to help them as well as to minimize their struggle.

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