It only takes a little bit of cranking of your car engine and a slow start to dredge up a feeling of panic. Why won’t my car start? What’s wrong? Why is the engine cranking? Is it going to happen again…and is my car going to start next time I need it? You don’t need to drive straight to the mechanic, but you should make an appointment as soon as possible; whatever car part is causing the engine cranking and slow start can lead to a no-start. We can’t diagnose your problem through the internet, but we can give you the most common part culprits that cause engine cranking and slow starts:
When car batteries start to die, the energy in the battery starts to decline—the same energy needed to start your car quickly. Most batteries start to give out around the 5-year mark (though we’ve seen customers have problem as early as 3 years.) To keep from getting stranded, look for these signs of a dying battery, and know the age of your battery so you can be proactive about battery replacement. You can also contact your mechanic to check your battery for low voltage.
Your car’s starter plays a very big part in the process it’s named after. The signs of a failing starter include an engine cranking and slow start, a grinding noise, or, eventually, no start and a clicking noise. The grinding noise is connected to freewheeling, a term used to describe when the gears in your starter malfunction. There is not necessarily a “shelf life” for a car starter; unlike a battery, there’s not a guideline in years (or miles) for replacement.
If your car takes its sweet time turning over, don’t automatically put the blame on your car battery. A quick spark from your spark plugs ignites the fuel-air mixture in your cylinder, creating the combustion that starts and keeps your car engine in motion. As spark plugs age, the gap at the top of the spark plugs widens and wears, slowing down the spark and the strength of the spark.
Spark plugs need to be changed between 30,000-100,000 miles depending on the kind of spark plugs in your car. Ask your mechanic when you should have the spark plugs replaced, and stick to a stringent schedule. If you procrastinate too long, worn spark plugs can lessen the life of other parts of the engine or damage other parts of your car, such as your catalytic converter.
Another cause of a slow start can be the wiring in your car, a corroded connection, or any other number of parts. The best way to find out the cause of your slow start, and to repair it, is to schedule an appointment with your mechanic. They can make sure that your slow start doesn’t progress, and your car starts up quickly—without panicked moments.