Type to search

Lifeless Engine? Here’s How to Fix Your Car Back to Life

Share -

Imagine this: you’re ready to hit the road, keys in hand, but your beloved car refuses to start. It’s a helpless feeling, but before you lose hope or frantically call for help, there are several tricks you can try to revive your dormant vehicle. We’ve put together a list of no-tools-required methods to help you when your car just won’t start. These tips are sorted by the symptoms your car exhibits, and while they won’t fix the root problem, they might provide a temporary solution to get you moving again. So, if your car cranks but won’t start, don’t worry, give these tricks a try.

When Your Car Clicks Upon Starting:

Try Cycling the Key:
If your car’s engine doesn’t start but you hear a clicking sound, it’s a sign of a weak battery. To warm up the battery, the terminals, and the starter, try cycling the key. Turn the key to the start position around 10 times consecutively, then pause for five minutes before attempting to start the engine.


Try Tapping on the Battery Terminals:
Without tools to clean corroded battery terminals, you can at least attempt to adjust them. Gently tap each terminal with the heel of your shoe to make better contact. Then, try starting the engine.

Try Tapping the Starter:
If you can access the starter motor, use your car jack’s tire iron to tap it. Sometimes, electrical contacts get stuck, and a few taps can free them.

When There’s No Click When You Turn the Key:

Try Shifting the Shifter:
With your foot on the brake, shift the transmission to neutral and attempt to start the engine. If it doesn’t work, return the transmission to ‘park’ and try starting again. This action can sometimes reestablish electrical contact within the transmission range selector.

When the Engine Cranks But Won’t Fire Up:

Try Swapping Relays:
With the radio off, turn the key to the ‘run’ position and listen for a two-second buzzing sound, which indicates the fuel pump priming the injection system. If you don’t hear this sound, the fuel pump relay might be bad. Find the fuel pump relay location in your owner’s manual or on the under-hood fuse box cover. Swap it with another relay of the same part number. Try starting the engine afterward.

Try Smacking the Fuel Tank:
Give the bottom of the fuel tank a few good hits with the heel of your shoe to jolt the fuel pump motor. Then, attempt to start the vehicle.

Try Un-flooding a Flooded Engine:
If you smell gas, your engine may be flooded. Press the accelerator pedal to the floor and hold it there while cranking the engine.

Try Tricking the Computer:
Sometimes, a vacuum leak or a malfunctioning temperature sensor can create an air/fuel mixture too lean to start a cold engine. If none of the previous tricks work, press the accelerator halfway and try starting the engine. This instructs the computer to add more fuel.


In conclusion, when your car refuses to come to life, don’t panic. You can try various tricks to diagnose and potentially resolve the issue temporarily. Remember, these tricks won’t fix the underlying problem, so it’s essential to consult a mechanic to address the root cause. Keep these handy tips in mind for those unexpected moments when your car decides to take a break from the road.