What To Do When Your Truck Won’t Start

By Product Expert | Posted in Tips and Tricks, Trucks on Monday, May 27th, 2019 at 8:08 pm
A human hand holds up a few chewed wires above a car's (or truck's) open hood and engine.

Common Truck Starting Problems and Solutions

There’s not much worse than that moment when you just can’t get your truck to start. Whether your key isn’t turning in the ignition, the engine won’t crank, or it just keeps revving but never starts, we’ve got some suggestions that can help you figure out what’s wrong and get your vehicle going again.


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Note: If the suggestions on this page don’t work, it’s a good idea to check your owner’s manual.

A man lifts a vehicle battery out of the vehicle.

If you have a key-start ignition- can you turn the key?

If not, the steering may be locked by the ignition lock; try turning the steering wheel left and right while gently jiggling the key in the ignition. Otherwise, the issue may be with the key or ignition mechanism itself. Try a spare key, and if this doesn’t work, call a local dealer or shop.

Do the lights on the instrument panel turn on?

If not, the battery may be dead or something may be damaging its electrical connection. Try jump-starting (see below). If that doesn’t work, it’s probably an issue with the battery connection.

If a security or “key-shaped” light comes on and stays on, there is likely a problem with the key or the car’s security system. Look up information about reprogramming a key.

If the check engine light does not turn on, this could mean there’s some problem with the engine computer, or it may not be receiving power as it should.

Does the ignition turn but the engine clicks or cranks and doesn’t start?

In this case, it’s most likely a problem with a weak battery (this can also cause your car to stop while driving). Also check the cables that deliver the current from the battery to the starter motor. We recommend jump-starting to get going and possibly replacing the battery, as a new battery is not too expensive.

It could also be a lack of oil, or the starter motor may need to be replaced.

A gloved hand firmly attaches a red starter cable to one side of a car (or truck) battery.

Remote Start Issues

Some different issues can arise with a Remote Start system instead of a traditional turning key.

If the “key not found” warning light is on, your key fob battery may be weak. Try putting the key fob close to the start button. The battery can be replaced at your dealership.

If the brake lights don’t activate, you’ll have to get the brake light switch and circuit checked. This is common.

If the gear indicator doesn’t show the vehicle is in park, try shifting to neutral and trying again. If it still doesn’t work, there may be a problem with the gear selector switch.

Jump-Starting the Engine

If you can’t get your vehicle to start in some of the aforementioned ways, we recommend jump starting the vehicle. Look up how to do it and be careful, as mixing up the positive and negative cables in this process can cause extensive damage to your electrical system.

 

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