Car won't start and you hear clicking noise

By YOUCANIC on May 14, 2019

Car won't start, Engine clicks

You try to start the car but all you hear is a click, click, click noise. Car won't start. The instrument cluster lights turn on but they dim or go off when you try to start the car.

In this guide, we will go over some of the most common problems that can cause a car to not start and the clicking noise.

Example of a car that won't start and all you hear is rapid clicking. 

Most Likely Problem  (Dead Battery)

If you notice the following the problems, you most likely have a discharged battery

  • Car won't start, you hear clicking noise and the battery seems good.
  • Car won't start, you hear clicking noise but lights work.
  • The car does not start but radio works.

At first, you may think that you have a bad starter, but that is a less likely problem. Here is why this is most likely a dead battery problem:

  • Car won't start and all you hear is clicking noise: Chances are that your battery has partially discharged. If you forget the lights, radio, heated seats on, or keep the engine turned off but the keys in the ignition you may have this problem. Maybe you didn't leave the lights on. Yet the battery could have discharged for a number of reasons. If your car battery is old, it may not even hold a charge.
  • Lights and radio still work but the car won't start. Your car battery has not discharged completely and that is why your lights still work. But it has discharged to the point that it can no longer turn to offer the engine or start it. Even if your radio works or lights turn on, there is a very high chance that you have a discharged battery. 
  • You have a new battery. Yes, it can happen even if your car has a new battery. If you installed a new battery and still have a problem where you car clicks but won't start, the chances are that a system on your car is draining the battery when the car is parked. An electrical system in your vehicle draws excessive current from the battery when the car is parked. This discharges the new battery to the point that it can no longer start the engine. This problem is known as a parasitic draw.  

How to fix this problem

Jump start the car or charge the battery following the instructions on your owners manual. If the battery is over 5 years old it may need to be replaced.

Keep having no start problem after the car is parked overnight

One of the electrical systems in your car is draining the battery when the vehicle is parked. Check for a parasitic current draw.

You try to jump start the car but all you hear is a clicking noise

This is often because the clamps of your jumper cables are not making good contact, your jump box is not fully charged or your car battery is completely discharged and needs to charge first. 

Try the following:

  1. Check the jumper cable clamps: The clamps may not be making good contact. Make sure the clamps have a good grip on the battery terminals. Clean battery terminals if they are corroded then reconnect the clamps. 
  2. Connect the negative battery clamp on a better location. You can connect the Negative / Black clam of your jumper box or jumper wires directly to the engine block. 
  3. Allow the car battery to charge: 
    • Using another car. Keep the jumper cables connected for at least 15 min while the other car running. After 15 min try starting the car that has the dead battery.
    • If you are using a jumper box to start the car, keep the jumper box connected for 15 min then try again. This will not work if the battery in the jump box is partially discharged.
    • If you are using a trickle charger, let the car battery charge for at least 4 hours. Trickle chargers provide small current, and it takes a while for the car battery to charge.

Car won't start, the battery is fully charged but you hear clicking noise

If you have ensured that the car battery is fully charged and you still hear a click the problem can be one of the following: 

  • A loose battery terminal or ground. 
  • Corroded battery clamps. Clean battery terminals and clamps. Reconnect and try to start the car. 
  • Sized engine
  • Broken timing chain
  • Bent valves
  • Mechanical engine failure
  • Bad starter

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