My Car Starts Sometimes and Sometimes It Doesn’t [Here’s Why & What to Do]

Having a car that starts reliably is essential for many of us who depend on it to get to work, school, and other important appointments. However, it can be frustrating when your car starts sometimes and sometimes it doesn’t. This problem can lead to a lot of stress and inconvenience, especially if it happens unexpectedly.

Reliable car starting is critical for anyone who relies on their car for daily transportation. Not being able to start your car when you need it can lead to missed appointments, work absences, and other inconveniences. Also, a car that starts inconsistently can also be a safety hazard, especially if it dies unexpectedly while driving.

We will explore the common causes of intermittent starting problems and provide tips on how to diagnose and address them. We will also discuss preventative measures and maintenance practices to help keep your car starting reliably.

What are Intermittent Starting Problems?

Intermittent starting problems occur when your car sometimes starts without any issues, but other times it fails to start altogether. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including issues with the battery, starter, ignition switch, fuel system, electrical system, and sometimes even the engine.

If your car has an intermittent starting problem, you may notice that it starts fine one day, but the next day, it won’t start at all. This can be frustrating and stressful, especially if you depend on your car to get to work, school, or other important appointments.

Intermittent starting problems can happen to any car, regardless of its age or model. It’s important to diagnose and address the issue promptly to avoid any inconveniences or safety hazards. In the next section, we will explore some common causes of intermittent starting problems.

Common Causes of Intermittent Starting Problems

1. Corrosion on Battery Terminals

Over time, the terminals on your car’s battery can become corroded, which can lead to poor electrical connections. This can cause starting problems, as the battery may not be able to deliver enough power to start the engine. You can clean the battery terminals with a wire brush or terminal cleaner to remove any corrosion.

2. Low Electrolyte Levels

The electrolyte solution in your car’s battery is essential for delivering power to the starter. If the electrolyte levels are low, the battery may not be able to start the engine. Check the electrolyte levels and add distilled water if necessary.

3. Sulfation of Battery Plates

Sulfation occurs when lead sulfate crystals build up on the battery plates, which can reduce the battery’s ability to hold a charge. This can lead to starting problems, especially in cold weather. You can prevent sulfation by keeping your battery charged and avoiding deep discharges.

4. Worn-out Starter Motor

The starter motor is a component that wears out over time, especially if it is used frequently. If the starter motor is worn out, it may not be able to turn the engine over and start it. In this case, the starter motor may need to be replaced.

5. Defective starter solenoid

The starter solenoid is a component that sends an electrical signal to the starter motor to start the engine. If the solenoid is defective, it may not be able to send the signal properly, which can cause starting problems. In this case, the solenoid may need to be replaced.

6. Malfunctioning starter relay

The starter relay controls the flow of electrical power to the starter. If the relay is malfunctioning, it may not be able to send power to the starter when it is needed. If you find out this is the problem after diagnosis, then you may need to replace the relay.

7. Loose or Damaged Wiring

The wiring that connects the ignition switch to the starter and other components can become loose or damaged over time. This can cause intermittent starting problems, as the electrical signal may not be able to reach the starter when it is needed. To solve this problem, repair or replace the wiring.

8. Worn-out Tumblers or Contacts

The tumblers and contacts inside the ignition switch can wear out over time, especially if the key is frequently used. For this reason, the ignition switch may not be able to send the proper signal to the starter. Replace the ignition switch as soon as possible.

9. Failed Key Cylinder

The key cylinder is part of the ignition switch where you insert the key. If the key cylinder fails, it may not be able to turn properly, this can cause your car to start and stop. In this case, you may need to replace the key cylinder.

10. Clogged Fuel Filter

As fuel flows from the fuel tank to the engine, the fuel filter prevents dirt and debris from entering the engine. Over time, the fuel filter can become clogged, which can restrict the flow of fuel to the engine and cause starting problems. If your car is experiencing starting problems due to a clogged fuel filter, the filter may need to be replaced.

11. Dirty Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors are responsible for delivering fuel to the engine in a precise spray pattern. If they become dirty or clogged, they may not be able to spray fuel effectively, and this cause starting issues. The fuel injectors may need to be cleaned or replaced.

12. Faulty Alternator

The alternator charges the battery and provides power to the electrical components of the car. If the alternator is faulty, the battery may not be charged properly. If your car’s alternator is the cause of the starting problem, it may need to be repaired or replaced.

13. Dead Battery Cells

A car battery is made up of multiple cells that store electrical energy. If one or more of these cells is dead, the battery may not be able to supply enough power to start the engine. The battery may need to be replaced if this is the problem.

14. Broken Ignition Coil

The ignition coil is responsible for supplying the spark that ignites the fuel in the engine. If the ignition coil is broken or faulty, the engine may not start or may start intermittently. For this problem to go away, the ignition coil may need to be replaced.

How to Maintain Your Car to Prevent Intermittent Starting Problems

1. Regular Maintenance Practices

Regular maintenance is crucial in preventing intermittent starting problems. It is recommended to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for your car. This includes routine inspections, fluid changes, and replacement of worn-out parts. Here are some tips for regular maintenance practices:

  1. Scheduled maintenance: Regularly scheduled maintenance includes oil changes, air filter replacements, tire rotations, and brake inspections. Follow the recommended schedule in your car’s owner’s manual.
  2. Self-maintenance tips: In addition to scheduled maintenance, there are some self-maintenance tips you can follow, such as checking the battery connections for corrosion, inspecting the tires for wear, and keeping the car clean to prevent rust.

2. Best Practices for Preventing Intermittent Starting Problems

Apart from regular maintenance, there are some best practices you can follow to prevent intermittent starting problems. Here are some tips:

  1. Recommended driving practices: Avoid excessive idling or revving the engine, which can drain the battery and put a strain on the engine. Try to drive at a consistent speed and avoid sudden stops or starts.
  2. Precautions to take in extreme weather conditions: In extreme temperatures, such as very cold or very hot weather, it is important to take extra precautions. For example, in very cold weather, use a block heater or keep the car in a garage to keep the battery and engine warm. In hot weather, park the car in the shade to prevent the battery from overheating.
  3. Tips for parking your car: When parking your car for an extended period of time, it’s important to take certain precautions. Turn off all accessories, such as the radio and air conditioner, and make sure the headlights are turned off. If possible, park the car in a garage or covered area to protect it from the elements.

Read: Car Revving in Park


Intermittent starting problems can be frustrating and inconvenient. However, by understanding the common causes, such as battery issues, starter problems, ignition switch issues, and fuel system problems, you can take steps to prevent these issues from occurring. Regular maintenance practices and following best practices, such as avoiding excessive idling, taking precautions in extreme weather conditions, and properly parking your car, can help prevent intermittent starting problems.

It is important to address any starting issues promptly to avoid being stranded and to prevent further damage to your car’s electrical and mechanical systems. Remember to seek the advice of a certified mechanic if you’re not sure how to address any starting problems.

By implementing these recommendations and regularly maintaining your car, you can minimize the risk of intermittent starting problems and enjoy your car for years to come.