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Why your car won’t start but the radio and lights are on [Explained and Solved]


Why your car won’t start but the radio and lights are on

car won’t start but the radio and lights are on
car won’t start but the radio and lights are on

Car owners are aware of the many problems they face each day. One of those bad days is waking up to a car that won’t start or even getting stranded by the roadside after putting your car off for a few minutes. Most cars won’t even give a bad sound or signal when some of these frustrating moments are about to happen. This means you have to be prepared and always ready to face problems at all times. But what happens when you don’t know what might be the cause of the problem?

Sometimes we experience difficulty in starting our car, and many things might cause this, but it’s quite difficult to know when you still have power in your vehicle. I mean, your car has refused to start, but your lights and radio are still on. Several things might be the cause of this. I will share some of them in this article, and you should read to the end to learn.

Reasons why your car won’t start, but your light and radio is on

    1. Your battery is dead or about to die
    2. Your battery terminals are dirty or rusty
    3. Faulty ignition
    4. Blown fuse
    5. Bad spark plug
    6. Fuel is not pumping
    7. Low gas level
    8. A faulty starter

1. Your battery is dead or about to die

This is one of the simplest reasons for your car refusing to start. Many things may have made your car battery run low overnight and cannot start in the morning. Although, most people assume that if the battery is dead, your radio shouldn’t work. This is true in a way but not entirely true. Your car battery can have an issue and not necessarily die. This might be one of the factors contributing to the difficulty in starting.


Also, considering the amount of power needed to turn on the lights and radio, you realize that your battery might be near dead but can still pick the radio but unable to start the engine.

If you encounter this challenge and you suspect your car battery. You should go ahead to check if your dashboard is on. If it is off, then your battery is dead. If you observe that your radio is still on or the lights are still on, your battery is weak or has very low power.

To solve this problem, you should get your battery charged up or get a new battery if the current one has a fault and is no more useful. However, you can use a jump start cable to start your vehicle. Once your vehicle is on, the alternator will charge the battery.

2. Your battery terminals are dirty or rusty

This is another reason why your car may not start. You may have a lot of battery power, but the battery is not supplying voltage to the car because of a rusty terminal or a dirty terminal. If you experience this, you can solve this problem by cleaning the terminals of your car battery and removing the corroded part. This is fairly easy to do, and you can do it yourself.


3. Faulty Ignition

A faulty ignition is one of the causes of hard starting. It might be difficult to detect, but most times, this can just be the cause of your headache. The ignition switch I the electrical part of the car that the mechanical part operates. Most people might think it is the mechanical part that you put your key into, but this is untrue.

Signs of a Faulty Ignition

Some of the things you might observe in your car when your ignition switch is faulty are:

  • Tripping While Driving

This is a situation where your vehicle suddenly turns off while driving. This can be very dangerous, especially when you are driving on a busy road and it happens. A cut in power supply causes this to the fuel and ignition system. It is one of the things you will observe if your ignition switch is faulty.

  • Start and Stop

This happens when you start your car, and it trips off after few seconds. This is a familiar occurrence for car users. If you observe that your car trips after you put it on, then you should consider checking your ignition switch to detect the cause of the fault.

4. Blown Fuse

A blown fuse is one of the causes of your car not starting. Like the electrical system of a house, some fuses are put at certain points in the car to protect some sensitive parts. When this fuse gets blown, it cuts off the power supply and might be the reason for your car not starting. If you are experiencing a hard car starting, you can check to see If the fuses are working. You may have to check the fuses to detect which one is faulty, but I recommend that you consult the services of a mechanic.

5. Bad Spark Plug

A bad spark plug is one of the reasons you might be having difficulty starting your car. A spark plug has the duty of igniting the fuel in your car. It plays a very important part in powering your vehicle. If the spark plug is weak, has a crack, or even gets dirty, you might experience difficulty starting your car. Always check to ensure that your spark plug is in the very best condition. You can replace the spark plug by getting a new one. They are not as expensive.

6. Fuel is not Pumping

Another challenge you might be facing is when fuel refuses to pump. A bad fuel pump usually causes this. Fuel supply is necessary to get your vehicle started. If your spark plug and battery are in perfect condition, then the next thing you should consider checking is your fuel pump. The fuel pump sends fuel from the tank to the carburettor. As the name implies, its duty is to pump fuel. If the fuel pump has a fault and cannot deliver the fuel to where it should be, you will have a problem starting your vehicle.

7. Low Gas Level

Surprisingly, a lot of people drive their vehicles until the fuel level is empty. This is not good and might cause problems for your vehicle. However, this is one of the causes of your car not starting. If everything is working perfectly, but your car refuses to start, then you should check your fuel level. That might be the solution. Always fill up your gas and never let it run dry.

8. A Faulty Starter

You might have heard about the term starter a few times but may not have known what it means. A starter is a battery-powered motor that gets your car to start by making the engine crank. It is a very critical part of your car, and your engine must start without having to jumpstart.

For the starter to work properly, it needs to be powered by the battery and requires a high electrical current for that to happen. If you try to start your car and you hear a clicking sound even when your battery is fully charged, then it might be that your starter is faulty.

Signs of a Faulty Starter

There are a few signs you will observe to know that your starter is not working fully. These include

  • Clicking: Most times, starters begin to make a noise like a clicking sound when it begins to die. If you try starting your car and hear a clicking sound, it might be a warning that your starter is dead or about to die.
  • Smoke: Seeing smoke coming out of your car is a bad sign and might be scary. However, this can be a sign that your starter is bad and needs to be changed. When your starter overheats and burns, you will see smoke coming out from it, and you should stop to avoid further damage to other components.
  • Oil leak: If your car has oil leakage, and it saturates the starter, then this will affect the workings of your starter. You can check under your car to know if there is an oil leakage and if you observe any, you should check if it affects the starter. The starter is located on the driver’s side of the car. If the leakage affects the starter, then you should think of changing it.

Human Error

Humans make errors all the time, and this might be out of forgetfulness. Some errors made by you might be responsible for your car not starting. Some of these errors include

For an automatic car, always make sure your car is in parking mode before starting. Most automatic cars will not start if the car transmission is on drive or when you are not pressing the brakes.

Before starting a manual car, always make sure to press the clutch far is enough. This is to disengage all gears and give the car a free start.

Always check the gas level of your car frequently. This will save you a lot of stress of figuring out what is wrong with your car when it is just a case of a low gas level.

Some automatic cars are designed to start only when the seatbelt is tightened on the driver. If you own any of this, always remember to tighten your seat belt once you start the vehicle.


Conclusively, car starting problems are one of the issues car owners face. If you are experienced, you can diagnose and solve this problem yourself. If you do not have enough experience, then you should consult the help of a mechanic.


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