The main reasons why the car takes 2 tries to start are due to issues with the charging system, starter, fuel system, and ignition system.
Defective spark plugs, low or contaminated oil and fuel, worn-out distributor caps and rotor, malfunctioning sensors, poor weather conditions, bad engine ground connections, clogged air filters, vacuum leaks, and wiring system issues can also cause this problem.
More often than not, this issue is caused by a faulty battery, alternator, or starter. You can easily solve the problem by diagnosing the faulty part and replacing it.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can ignore the reasons behind this problem as they’re quite common as well.
Keep reading this article to find out all about these potential issues in detail. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Car Takes 2 Tries To Start [13 Easy Fixes]
- 1. Charging System Issues
- 2. Starter Issues
- 3. Fuel System Issues
- 4. Ignition System Issues
- 5. Defective Spark Plugs
- 6. Low Or Contaminated Oil & Fuel
- 7. Worn Out Distributor Cap & Rotor
- 8. Malfunctioning Sensors
- 9. Weather Conditions
- 10. Bad Engine Ground Connection
- 11. Clogged Air Filter
- 12. Vacuum Leak
- 13. Wiring System Issues
- How To Start The Car When It’s Difficult
- Can a dead key fob make it hard to start the car?
- Is the push to start cars harder to steal?
- What makes an alternator go bad?
- How long can a battery last with a bad alternator?
- Why does a starter fail?
- Do you need to adjust the ignition timing on all cars?
Car Takes 2 Tries To Start [13 Easy Fixes]
When you’re stuck in a situation in which your car takes a few tries to start, try to diagnose the issue and find its solution instead of panicking. Here are the most common reasons behind it:
Note: You can also read how to fix car cranks too long before starting.
1. Charging System Issues
The battery and alternator make up the charging system of your vehicle. All the electrical components in your car are powered by the battery.
And it gets charged by the alternator. When there’s any issue with the charging system in your car, that can make it stutter and the car takes multiple tries to start.
Start by checking the battery as it’s often the main reason behind a bad charging system.
You’ll know if the battery is corroded upon a quick visual inspection. Inspect the terminals and connections of the battery and make sure that everything is nice and tight.
Next and more important, check the voltage of the battery and its capacity to get charged. A battery can wear out with time.
If you don’t have a multimeter, you can take it to a local auto repair shop and have them do the tests.
Doing so will reveal if there are any issues with your battery or not. Besides the battery being dead, you’ll also have trouble starting the car if it’s severely corroded.
One good look at the battery will reveal whether it’s corroded or not.
The next thing to look at after the battery is the alternator. If you still have issues after replacing your battery or charging it to its full potential, chances are that you have a bad alternator. There are two easy ways you can go about checking the alternator.
In the first method, you can simply do it by disconnecting the battery. You won’t need a multimeter or any other fancy tools in order to do it. Here are the steps to do it:
- Open up the hood of your car and start your vehicle.
- Disconnect the battery once the vehicle starts running.
Now, you need to inspect what’s happening. If the car continues to run as it was, then chances are that there are no issues with the alternator and you most likely have a bad battery.
Diagnosing the alternator using this method can be hard for you as you’re having trouble starting the car in the first place.
But it’s a reliable method if you can do it. If you don’t want to test the alternator with this method, you can use a screwdriver to check it by following these steps:
- Pop the hood of your car and locate the alternator.
- Put the screwdriver by the pulley bolt on the alternator.
- Turn the key to the “On” position and the lights on the dashboard should come on even if the engine won’t start.
- The screwdriver will be pulled towards the pulley bolt if the alternator is working properly.
If that doesn’t happen, you can conclude that you have a bad alternator. Keep in mind that the result you get won’t be accurate if you have a rusty screwdriver.
Of course, there’s no better method to check it than using a battery alternator tester. But as you’d probably not have access to these tools, the other testing methods have been shared.
Loose Drive Belt
The drive belt connected to the alternator is an overlooked part of the charging system. If it’s loose, it can cause a charging system delay and that may very well be the reason why your car struggles to start but the battery is fine.
When the drive belt gets loose, the battery doesn’t get enough power to start the car and that’s what causes the delay. Visually inspect the drive belt for wear and tear and check whether you need to replace it.
If the battery is corroded, you’ll have to clean it. A mixture of baking soda and water usually does the trick.
Mix the two of them and rub them on the surface of the corroded area using a brush. The time it’ll require to clean the battery will depend on the level of corrosion.
You may clear the corrosion within a few minutes or so if the battery is only a little corroded. But it’ll take longer for more extreme causes. If the battery has gone bad and it’s not holding a charge well anymore, you’ll have to replace it.
After completing the diagnosis, if you find that you have a bad alternator and not necessarily a faulty battery, you’ll have to replace it.
You can change it on your own if you have a little mechanical knowledge and access to some basic tools. Follow these steps to do it:
- Save the memory settings on your preset electronics to prevent yourself from reconfiguring the time, preset stereo stations, and more settings.
- Disconnect the negative battery cable and loosen up the belt tensioner.
- Take off the serpentine belt and remove the wiring connectors or harnesses.
- Remove the alternator.
Put the new alternator in place of the old one and reverse-engineer the process to keep it in position. Start the car again and check if replacing the alternator solves the issue.
If the drive belt in your car is loose, you can tighten it so that it draws enough power to the battery. But if it’s damaged and has undergone significant wear and tear, you’ll have to replace it.
2. Starter Issues
The starter in your car is composed of two main parts- the starter motor itself and the starter solenoid.
When the starter motor doesn’t connect to the flywheel properly, the motor will not spin right. And that can cause you to start the car at least three to four times so that the engine can fire up.
Inspect the motor relay connected to the starter as issues with it can also cause the motor to malfunction. There are many possible signs of a bad starter motor. Some of them are
- Leakage or corrosion in the starter wires.
- Loose or disconnected wires between the starter motor and the battery.
- Malfunctioning components in the starter system.
- Damaged starter relay.
- Oil leakage.
To find out specifically whether you have a bad starter relay or not, swap it with another relay that you know is working. You can also test if it has power with a tester.
If swapping the relay solves the problem, then you know the relay is causing the issue. Otherwise, it’s either the starter motor or the solenoid.
The starter solenoid closes two contacts or metal points together when you turn the key. In doing so, it sends an electrical current from the ignition to the starter motor.
So, if there are any issues with the starter, it’s obvious that your car will have difficulty starting and you may have to crank car twice to start it.
To inspect your starter solenoid, you need to locate the starter motor. The solenoid is mounted right on top of the starter motor in most vehicles.
You’re looking for a device with a coiled cylindrical shape. When you have your eyes on it, look for signs of damage.
You have to replace the faulty component to get your car running back to normal again. If the motor relay has gone bad, you can simply replace it with a new one. The same goes for the starter motor and the solenoid.
It’ll be easier to replace the starter solenoid if it’s not mounted on top of the starter motor. Here are the steps to replace a panel-mounted starter solenoid:
- Disconnect the negative terminal of the battery.
- Remove the cable from the battery that goes to the starter
- Take out any small wires in the way and note their exact locations.
- Remove the mounting screws holding the solenoid in place.
- Lift the solenoid and put the new one in the same location.
- Reattach the wires and cables and tighten them.
That’s how easy it is. But if it’s connected to the starter assembly, you’ll have to take out the starter first, and then replace the solenoid. Once you replace the damaged component, you should no longer have any issues starting the car.
If the starter hasn’t gone bad completely, giving it a few taps can get it going. Don’t hit the starter too hard and you need someone to crank the engine while you do it. Even if it works, the starter is likely to go bag very soon and you’ll have to replace it.
3. Fuel System Issues
Having low fuel pressure is another common issue that can cause your engine to start in a rough and jerky manner. Besides having insufficient fuel in the gas tank, there are many other issues that can cause it. Here they are:
Faulty Fuel Pump
The fuel pump needs a good voltage from the battery to supply the fuel needed by the engine to start the car. When it receives less power than it needs, it won’t function and that’ll make the engine hard to start.
So, if you’re wondering why my car takes a couple of tries to start when you have a bad fuel pump, it could be that the battery is dead or the fuel pump itself is bad.
You can easily test if the fuel pump is causing the issue by hooking up a fuel gauge and getting the readings. When you crank the engine, there’ll be little to no pressure on the fuel gauge when the pump is bad.
The pressure may also be zero when the fuel pump relays and fuses are damaged. So, make sure that they’re okay so that you can rule them out and confirm that you actually have a malfunctioning fuel pump.
Clogged Fuel Filter
Just like the oil filter, the fuel filter can also get clogged with time. When there’s too much dirt or grime in it, the chemical reactions that are required to start the car smoothly often get blocked. Inspect your fuel filter to see if it’s clogged or not.
Worn-Out Fuel Lines
In cold weather, the fuel lines can get frozen and cause them to get blocked. But with time, they can also get worn out by rubbing with metals and develop a significant blockage.
It can create low fuel pressure and cut the supply of fuel you’d normally get. That’s why a car won’t start on the first try but will on the second.
Damaged Fuel Injectors
When you attempt to start the car, the fuel pump sends the fuel to the fuel injectors. It sprays the fuel into the intake manifold at a specific angle so that it combines with the air in the optimum ratio.
This mixture is compressed and ignited in the combustion chamber to start your engine.
So, the fuel injector is an essential component to start the car. If it’s not clean, it won’t deliver the fuel correctly and that can cause issues when you try to start your vehicle.
Sometimes, your vehicle won’t start at all if the fuel injectors are too dirty or completely worn out.
Check out this diagram to know the condition of the fuel injectors in your car:
When you have a bad fuel pump, you need to replace it with a new one. The fuel pump is usually located inside the gas tank in most modern cars.
So, you’ll have to jack the car and take out the tank to replace the fuel pump. Here are the steps to do it:
Step 1: Lift The Car And Remove The Fuel Lines
- Turn off the car’s engine and let it cool down.
- Lift the car using a jack stand.
- Drain the gas out and make sure you have an empty tank.
- Remove all the fuel lines that lead to the gas tank.
Step 2: Detach The Gas Tank
- Place a jack just below the gas tank so that it doesn’t fall on you.
- Unscrew the bolts that hold the tank in place. There are usually two straps that secure the gas tank. Remove both of them.
- Let the jack down nice and easy so that the tank starts to come down.
Step 3: Remove The Gas Tank Cover
- Some cars are easier to access by taking off the tires. If that’s the case with yours, pull it out.
- Locate the top of the gas tank and slide it somewhere where you can maneuver it with ease.
- Use a hammer and a chisel to take off the ring of the cap so that you can access the fuel pump.
Step 4: Replace The Fuel Pump
- When you remove the cover, you’ll see the pump assembly.
- Remove the bolts that seal the fuel pump to access it.
- Take off the old fuel pump and put the new one in its place.
- Reverse all the above steps to complete the replacement job.
It’s recommended that you get an OEM fuel pump if you don’t want to face this issue any soon.
Getting the aftermarket ones can save you a little in the short run but in the long run, the OEM ones are better. Now, if changing the fuel pump solves the starting issue, you’re good to go.
If the fuel filter is clogged and you see visible traces of dust there, you should replace it. To keep this problem from happening again, identify what’s causing it in the first place.
The filter can get clogged if you don’t change the fuel for long periods. That’s because old fuel can form rust and they’ll come off the filters in chunks of debris. Using low-quality fuel can also cause this issue. If you’re making any of these mistakes, correct them.
Replace the fuel lines if they’re worn out and they’re blocking the smooth movement of fuel. That’ll make it much easier to start the car.
If you have dirty fuel injectors, you can try cleaning them first. But if they’re damaged, you’ll have to replace them. Here’s how you can do it:
Step 1: Remove The Fuel Rail
- Wait for the car to cool down.
- Unplug all the fuel injector connectors by squeezing them with a pair of pliers and pulling them off.
- Get a socket and a wrench and put it on the fuel line where it bolts onto the fuel rail.
- Doing that will relieve the fuel pressure and you’ll be able to remove the fuel rail now.
- Loosen it with the socket and wrench and unscrew the bolts that hold the fuel rail onto the head.
Step 2: Replace A Fuel Injector
- After removing the fuel rail, you’ll have access to the fuel injectors. There are usually four of them.
- Grab one injector and wiggle it out. At this stage, you can just clean the injector if you think that’ll fix the issue.
- Get the new injector and make sure it has new seals as using the old seals isn’t a good idea. Pour a little gasoline into a cup and dip the fuel injector in it so that the seals get covered with it and don’t leak.
- Slide the new injector in place of the old one.
Step 3: Replace All The Injectors
- It’s never a good idea to replace just one of the fuel injectors. When you do that, the engine tends to run unevenly. So, replace all four injectors.
- Align the fuel rail back to its original position and put the bolts back on to secure its position.
- Tighten the fuel lines and connectors you unplugged previously until they snap and become secure.
That’s how you can replace the fuel injectors. The fuel lines won’t have any fuel at this stage. Turn the key on to energize the fuel pump so that some fuel goes into them and your car should start without any issues.
When the car starts, check for leaks in the engine to double-check that you didn’t make any mistakes while replacing them. If it’s dry, you’re done.
But if it’s leaking, you should start all over again as leaking gasoline can cause all sorts of problems.
4. Ignition System Issues
Are you still wondering why it takes 2 tries to start my car? If you’ve already diagnosed the battery, alternator, starter, and fuel system, the next potential culprit you need to be on the lookout for is the ignition system. Here’s what can go wrong with the ignition system and cause this issue:
Bad Ignition Switch
The ignition switch provides power to the ignition, starter, and several other engine parts when you start the vehicle.
But if you have a faulty ignition switch, it won’t be able to do so and that could lead to issues when you try to start your vehicle.
Apart from the car not starting, the other signs of a bad ignition switch are the engine stalling when driving, and issues with maintaining the power of the vehicle.
Smoke coming out of the steering column in the middle of driving is also a good indicator of a faulty ignition switch.
To be sure if you have a bad ignition switch, you can check it using a test light. Connect it to the battery and you should be getting 12.7 volts from the battery to rule out battery issues. Then, check the connectors for voltage with the key turned on.
If any of them don’t have power, then you know that you have a bad ignition switch. If all of them have power, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a good ignition switch.
Turn the key off and if they still have power, it means that every circuit has melted and you have a faulty ignition switch.
Faulty Ignition Coil
An ignition coil converts a small amount of current produced by the battery is converted into enough power to ignite the fuel and run the engine.
When it wears out, you can experience a total loss of power from your car or you have issues when starting it, such as taking multiple tries.
Why does it happen? Because when the ignition coils don’t work properly, the spark plugs don’t get enough power to ignite the fuel mixture.
To diagnose if you have a bad ignition coil, start by making a visual inspection of it. If you see signs of wear and tear, there’s a good chance that it’s damaged.
When doing the visual inspection, pay special attention to the ignition coil wiring. Any damage to the wires can be the main reason behind the ignition coil problems.
Check the coil harness and connector for faults, as well as the bent terminal pins and loose connections to detect any potential issues.
You have to remove each ignition coil from the engine if you still can’t find a problem. If any liquid leaks into the ignition coil, it can damage it.
So, check if there’s any moisture if you take them out. It’s important to wear insulated and thick rubber gloves when you do any test so that you’re safe. Here are the steps to test an ignition coil if it’s a CNP ignition coil:
- Turn off the engine.
- Take out the spark plug wire.
- Connect a new spark plug to the spark plug wire.
- Hold the spark plug’s threaded portion to any metal part of the engine using insulated objects.
- Remove the fuse from the fuel pump and crank the engine.
There should be blue sparks coming from the spark plug gap if you have a functional ignition coil. If you don’t see such sparks or notice orange sparks, that means it’s no longer working correctly.
Besides that, there are many symptoms of a failing ignition coil that you should be on the lookout for. Your car will feel sluggish, the CEL may turn on, and you can experience poor fuel economy, backfiring, misfiring, and engine stalling.
If you have an OBD-II scanner, and you can see the check engine light turned on, you can scan your vehicle. If the codes shown are in the range of P0350 to P0362, that means you have a bad ignition coil.
Incorrect Ignition Timing
The spark plugs in your car need to fire at the right time to start your vehicle. If it doesn’t do that, you’ll have trouble starting the car. When the spark plugs fire too soon or too late, it’s called incorrect ignition timing.
During the summer, the ignition timing takes place earlier as the engine tends to be overheated. The opposite is seen in the winter season. But how can you tell if you have bad ignition timing?
The common symptoms of this issue are knocking sounds from the engine, poor fuel economy, and low power. You can check the ignition timing if you have a timing gun.
It’s a good idea to take your car to your local auto repair shop to have it tested. Here’s how you can test it if you do have the tool:
Step 1: Connect The Timing Gun
Connect your timing gun up to the car’s battery, and connect the sensor that comes with the timing gun to a cylinder spark plug wire. Here’s how it works and how you can measure the ignition timing:
This device works by highlighting the timing marks in a strobe fashion when it spins. It allows you to see the exact point at which the spark plug fires on the timing index.
When the spark plug fires, the sensor signals the light, which strobes in the gun and highlights the numbers at the proper moment.
Step 2: Have Someone Rev The Engine
While you highlight the timing numbers with your light, have someone rev the engine to check the timing number. Make sure that the car is in neutral when you do it and keep your hands at a safe distance from the engine to avoid any unwanted accidents.
Step 3: Find The Number
You have to shine a light on the harmonic balancer to find the right number. Though the wheel will be turning, the light will stop at a specific number. This number is the timing number. Note down the number.
When the RPMs are increased, the point at which the spark plug is firing should also increase to a certain degree. That’s because ignition works on a curve and allows for the speed to increase and adjust the timing.
Rev the engine to a minimum of 3500 RPMs to check for the total timing. Doing that will allow you to ensure that the initial timing and the curve of the ignition timing are being set.
Step 4: Adjust For Vacuum Timing If Needed
Depending on the model of your vehicle, you may have to adjust for vacuum timing in addition to mechanical timing. Vacuum timing makes minor adjustments at lower RPMs by rotating slightly.
Loosen the bolt connected to the distributor before starting the engine. Take off the vacuum advance hose from the carburetor and plug it in using a rag to check for the ignition timing.
If the ignition switch is damaged, you need to put a new one in its place to solve the issue. Here’s how you can do it:
- Remove the screws located at the bottom of the steering column cover.
- Take off the cover so that you can access the ignition switch.
- Unscrew the screw connected to the switch assembly and it’ll come off.
- Extend your hand to the dash and unplug the other end where it connects to the wiring harness.
- Place the new ignition switch, snap the connector back in, put the other end back into the ignition switch assembly, and tighten the screws.
At this point, start your car and test if it’s starting without any issues. If it does, you’ve solved the problem.
Then, reverse-engineer the above steps and secure the new ignition switch in its place. If you still have issues starting the car, you have other problems and you need to keep on diagnosing.
If you have a faulty ignition coil, you’ll have to replace it. It can easily cost $200-$300 if you hire a mechanic but you can save labor costs if you decide to do it yourself. If you can access the ignition coil, it should be an easy job and you should try taking it on. Here are the steps to do it:
- Turn off the engine and disconnect the negative terminal of the battery to ensure your safety.
- Mark the cables running into the ignition coil before removing them so that you can put them back in the correct order after replacing the coil.
- Pull each of the cables connected to the coil and turn them to the side to have easy access to the ignition coil.
- Release the plastic clip on the electrical plug running into the side of the coil to remove the ignition coil. Pull the plug backward to detach it. You may have to use a flathead screwdriver to pry the clip up in some models.
- Unscrew the bolts that secure the coil in its place. Remove it from the engine bay and replace it with a new one. Do the above steps in reverse to make sure to complete replacing the ignition coil.
If your issues with starting the car is being caused by incorrect ignition timing, you need to adjust it. Taking it to an auto repair shop is a good idea if you don’t have the tools to do it. But if you want to do it yourself, you can follow these steps:
- Loosen the bolts connected to the engine’s distributor so that you can turn the distributor cap.
- You can advance the timing by rotating it counterclockwise. Rotate it in the other direction if you want to move back the timing. It can take a few tries to get it right.
- Move the distributor by aligning it to the timing marks and checking with the timing light. Once you’re happy with the position, tighten the bolt back.
5. Defective Spark Plugs
Another reason why your car takes 2 or 3 times to start is fouled spark plugs. When the spark plugs go bad, the gap between them widens and that’s why it can take more effort and tries to start the car. A good look at the spark plugs may reveal if they’re damaged or not.
They can turn black when they’re damaged. There may also be moisture on the spark plugs due to oil or coolant leaks. The other signs of bad spark plugs include engine misfiring, black smoke coming from the exhaust, loss of acceleration, and a knocking sound.
If you have successfully diagnosed that you have bad spark plugs, you need to replace the spark plugs. Luckily, they’re not too expensive to replace and you can expect to get a set of spark plugs within $100 or less.
6. Low Or Contaminated Oil & Fuel
As silly as it may seem to include low fuel in the list, it’s still a frequent reason behind a car taking two key turns to start or more. There are many car owners who stress out in this situation without looking at the fuel meter.
So, the first thing you should do when you’re having trouble starting the car is to check the fuel meter and make sure you’re not running low on it. The dashboard may also show that you’re running low on fuel exactly as shown in the picture above.
Using the wrong type of fuel can also cause this issue. Some fuels are weather specific and work well only in certain conditions.
When you drive your car in cold weather, it tends to use up more fuel. If you’re using the wrong fuel as per the climate, it can cause this issue.
Even if you have enough fuel, having contaminated fuel can also cause this issue. Microorganisms or pollutant particles can get mixed with the air and make the fuel dirty in the combustion chamber. If you doubt this can be the issue, get your fuel checked. The effects of engine oil are also similar.
You need to make sure there’s sufficient engine oil to lubricate the engine. Use engine oil of the right viscosity according to the demands of the weather.
Not changing the oil as needed can also cause it to thicken over time. Just like the fuel, it can also become contaminated and will not flow to the engine in a smooth manner. That can cause issues when starting the car.
If it has been a while since your last oil change, it’s most probably become too thick and contaminated by now. Drain the old oil from your car, and refill with fresh engine oil of the right viscosity. Change the oil filter as well as the old one is also most likely clogged.
When there are issues with the quality of fuel, you can replace them. Make sure you use high-quality fuel to prevent this issue from happening in the future. Your engine will also run smoothly and survive longer if you use the correct fuel for it.
7. Worn Out Distributor Cap & Rotor
The distributor cap transports electrical energy from the ignition coil to the cylinders. If there’s moisture, dirt, or other pollutants in the cap, it’ll get clogged and won’t transfer sufficient energy to the cylinders. That’s why it can take a few tries to start the car in this condition.
The distributor cap can also get worn out with time because of its position and the critical job of sending energy to the engine cylinders. The rotor sneds high voltages to the right spark plugs and they can wear out too.
You’ll have to replace the distributor cap and rotor in your car if they’re worn out. Luckily, they’re not too expensive and you can easily replace them on your own. Here’s how you can get the job done:
Step 1: Locate The Distributor Cap And Rotor
- Pop the hood of the engine and look for a plastic grey component close to the center of the engine.
- The distributor cap will have spark plug wires connected to it.
- Refer to your owner’s manual if you’re having difficulty finding it.
Step 2: Remove The Distributor Cap
- You can label the wires before removing them. Or, you can take off the distributor cap with the wires connected to it and attach them one by one to the new one after replacing it.
- Some distributor caps are secured in their position by clips while others are connected with screws. Remove the screws or pull the clips to make the distributor cap come loose.
- If there are no screws or clips, push the cap down and rotate it in an anticlockwise motion until you remove it.
Step 3: Replace The Rotor
- Once you remove the cap, you’ll have access to the rotor button. They’re not screwed to anything in most cars and you can simply wiggle them out.
- If there are screws holding the rotor in place, they’ll be located under the blade. Make sure they don’t fall into the engine when you remove them.
- Check that the rotor is moving freely after you replace it.
Step 4: Replace The Cap
- You’ll be replacing the cap at this stage if you leave the wires still connected to the old one.
- Put the new cap in place of the old one and tighten it using the clips or the mounting screws.
Step 5: Connect The Spark Plug Wires
- Remove the spark plug wires one by one from the old cap and put connect them to the new cap in the same position. Add some dielectric grease to them before putting them in the new cap.
- The spark plug wires are connected to the new cap when you hear a snap.
- Repeat the process for all the wires, make sure you connect them in the right order and they don’t crossover. Otherwise, there can be wiring damage in your car.
After replacing the distributor cap and rotor, try starting your car once again. If it no longer takes multiple tries, that means a faulty distributor cap and rotor were causing the issue and you’ve fixed it.
8. Malfunctioning Sensors
There are many sensors in your car that play important roles in starting and running the car. When any of these sensors go bad, it can get difficult to start the car.
For example, the coolant temperature optimized the temperature during the mixing of fuel and air to keep the engine from being overheated.
If it doesn’t do its job properly, it could take multiple tries to start the vehicle. The MAF sensor also needs to be in good condition if you want to start the car without any hitches. You can diagnose problems with a code scanner and that’ll identify if any of the sensors have gone bad.
You have to replace the faulty sensors if the OBD-II scanner detects any issues. Luckily, most of the sensors aren’t too expensive and you can easily replace them on your own.
Once you complete replacing the bad sensors, you should no longer face difficulty in starting the car if there are no other issues.
9. Weather Conditions
You may also require multiple tries to start the car when the weather conditions are adverse and extreme. Regardless of whether the weather is too hot or too cold, both these things can make it difficult to start the engine.
When it’s too hot, the liquid electrolyte inside the engine can get evaporated and that’ll reduce the power of the engine. In that case, you’ll require more time to start the car.
During cold weather, the chemical reactions will be slower and that can cause the car battery to produce less voltage than usual. When car batteries don’t produce the right amount of current, it can lead to starting issues.
There are plenty of other issues that are caused by harsh weather. The car may require a few cranks to supply fuel for combustion. The engine oil can also get thick in a cold climate and interrupt a smooth flow.
Having a cold temperature can also freeze the moisture that may be present in the fuel lines. It’s more commonly seen in thin fuel lines and when it happens, the fuel flow can get blocked.
If you’re facing issues because of weather conditions, taking preventive measures is generally more useful. Using antifreeze, engine oil of the right viscosity and the right fuel for the weather will minimize the difficulty you have when starting the engine.
But if you’re already having a hard time starting the car, one option is to do nothing. Just fire up the engine a few times to clear the ice in the fuel lines and run your car.
You can keep driving in this condition until the bad weather passes away or start using the products mentioned above to solve this issue.
10. Bad Engine Ground Connection
There will be unwanted resistance to the circuits in your car when you have a bad engine ground connection. As you try to start the car, the engine will warm up, the heat will create more resistance and you’ll have issues starting the car.
There are many ground straps between the body of your car and the engine. Each of them serves as a pathway for transferring electrical current.
Even if one of these connections is torn or damaged in any way, you may experience interference when starting your car. If you have a multimeter, you can check the engine grounds by following these steps:
- Turn off the car and let the engine cool down.
- Disconnect the ignition coil and disable the ignition and fuel system.
- Select the low-range direct current (DC) settings on your multimeter.
- Ask a friend for help and have him crank your engine for no longer than thirty seconds at a time.
- Connect the black lead of the multimeter to the negative post of the battery and the red lead to the unpainted metal surface of the engine.
- Check the display of the multimeter and collect the readings.
If the voltage drop is between 0.3 volts, then that’s normal and you have nothing to worry about. But if the readings are higher, then there may be a lot of resistance from the ground.
If you notice voltage drops that are higher than 0.3 volts, you need to inspect the ground connections one by one. Eventually, you’ll find the contaminated or loose one that’s causing all the trouble. Once you do, you can repair them and start your car without running into any trouble.
11. Clogged Air Filter
Even something as simple as a clogged air filter can be the reason why your car takes 2 times to start or more. The air filter blocks dirt and debris from getting into the engine. But all of that gets stuck on the air filter itself.
If you don’t replace the air filter at recommended intervals, it can get too clogged up with time. When that happens, it passes less oxygen than required by the engine for proper combustion. Due to incomplete combustion, the spark plugs work extra hard and that’s why it requires more tries.
Of all the problems that can cause your car to take multiple times to start, this one is the easiest and cheapest to fix. Get a good quality OEM air filter and replace it if the previous one you had has become dirty.
It’s a good idea to change it every 12,000 to 15,000 miles to prevent these issues in the future.
12. Vacuum Leak
There are many hoses, gaskets, and other components in your car that are supposed to work in a sealed environment. But if any of them start to leak, unmetered air can get into the engine and mess up the air-to-fuel ratio required by the engine.
The air that goes into the intake manifold and combustion chamber is only supposed to go through the throttle body. But because of a vacuum leak, it can get in through any of these hoses.
The MAF sensor only accounts for the air that goes past the throttle body and sends this information to the ECU. Then, the fuel injectors supply the necessary fuel to match the quantity of air. The extra air leads to an engine running lean and that’s why you may have issues starting your car.
You’d be able to hear a light whistling or hissing noise when the leak is severe. The other symptoms of a vacuum leak include the check engine light is turned on, erratic idling, engine stalling, and rough engine operation/
There are many potential issues that can lead to a vacuum leak. But the most common ones are the rubber tubes which tend to deteriorate over time and develop a leak. Besides them, problems with the intake manifold gasket, EGR valve, and PCV valve can also cause this issue.
The easiest to fix is leaking hoses as you can seal the leaky area easily. The other issues will require more work. But most of the fixes should be inexpensive. Although it may not seem urgent to address a vacuum leak, it’s a good idea to fix it ASAP to prevent total engine failure later on.
13. Wiring System Issues
There are several wires in your car that transfer power from one component to another. If your car takes two turns to start or more, start by checking the starter wires. There are usually two of them and you need to inspect them thoroughly for corrosion and leaks.
Then, check the wire connected to the battery and the alternator. If any of the wires in the charging system comes loose, they can cause trouble when starting the car.
If you check the wiring and you find that some of the wires are worn out or corroded, you need to replace the damaged components. If the issue is with the connectors, replace them and the same goes for the wires.
How To Start The Car When It’s Difficult
Let’s say you have to get to work or go somewhere urgently. In that case, you won’t have time to diagnose the root issue and solve the problem for good.
You need to start the car as soon as possible and get to your destination. Follow these methods when you’re in that situation:
Inspect The Battery
If any terminals or cables of the battery get loose, it can prevent the car from getting started. If the terminals are corroded, you’ll have to spend a fair amount of time cleaning them.
But if something is simply disconnected or loose, you can quickly tighten them in no time. If you have a multimeter with you, check the voltage of the battery to determine whether you can start your car.
Warm The Starter
Sometimes, the reason that the car takes a long time to start is that the starter takes a lot of time to warm up. You can expedite the process by cycling the key if you hear a quick click when trying to start the car.
It’ll warm up the starter faster and should start your car in a shorter period. Start by moving your key from the Off to the Start position at least ten times at a stretch. Wait for a few minutes and try to start the car. If it still doesn’t work, try it one more time before moving on to other steps.
Using The Shifters
This method will be particularly useful if you don’t hear anything when you try to start the car. First, put your foot on the brake and shift the car into neutral mode. Then, shift it back to the park position and start the car again.
Sometimes, this method will work as the electrical contact inside the transmission range selector gets established due to the shifting of the gears. If this method also fails to do the job for you, there’s pretty much nothing else you can do to start the car on your own.
Call For Help
Now that you’ve exhausted all the possible options to start the car without any assistance, it’s time to accept that you can’t do it and call for help. Call a mechanic who has experience dealing with automotive and can help you fix your problem.
Some of the problems discussed in this guide can be easily diagnosed and fixed. You won’t need a highly experienced mechanic for those issues. But for the other issues, it’ll take an expert with a lot of experience and knowledge of using advanced tools.
Can a dead key fob make it hard to start the car?
The key fob is powered by a battery and you’ll no longer be able to start your car from outside using it when it runs out of charge. You can still run the car manually if there are no other issues.
Is the push to start cars harder to steal?
The key fob sends the signal to the car that the driver is in the vehicle. That’s why it’s harder to steal these types of cars.
What makes an alternator go bad?
The most usual reasons behind an alternator going bad are the power steering fluid leaking into the alternator, idling the car with the accessories turned on for too long, and moisture leaking into it.
How long can a battery last with a bad alternator?
You can drive your car for nearly half an hour with a bad alternator in most cases. But if your battery is fully charged and you don’t put too much pressure on it, you may get up to two hours.
Why does a starter fail?
Normally, a starter is a durable component. But it can fail due to becoming corroded or worn-out after usage over a long period. Besides, a battery with low power or weak connections can also cause it to fail.
Do you need to adjust the ignition timing on all cars?
Modern cars that have electronic ignitions don’t need to be adjusted. But the ignition timing adjusted needs to be on the four-stroke engines periodically to get the optimum performance.
It can get frustrating if your car takes 2 tries to start when you’re trying to go somewhere, especially if you’re in a rush. The experience can get more embarrassing if you’re in a busy place or driving with someone. There are many potential reasons behind this problem.
Hopefully, you’ll have a clear idea about all of them after completing this article. Diagnose the issue that’s causing the trouble in your case and fix it. Leave a comment below if you have any questions about why a car could take multiple tries to start.
About John M
John contributed as a technical head at an automobile company just for 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, parts & products and seeks a better solution & best products & shares his findings with his readers to help them as well as to minimize their struggle.