Few sounds are more stress-inducing than an engine cranking over and over. By the time the car actually starts—if it does at all—you’re a ball of nerves worrying about being late to your destination, wondering if your car will start at your next stop or if it’ll leave you stranded. All the possibilities can fill you with anxiety.
A car taking longer to start can be attributed to a couple of reasons. Some are simple to address while others are a bit more complicated. Here, we’ll discuss six possible causes.
But first, let’s look at the steps needed to actually start your vehicle in the first place.
The Vehicle Starter: How It Works
When you turn your car key in the ignition or press your car’s start button, it triggers a battery-powered electric motor. This motor starts the engine’s rotation, which sucks air and fuel into its cylinders to mix together. That mixture will then be pushed into the engine’s combustion chambers, where the ignition system provides a spark. That spark ignites the fuel-air mixture, causing a small explosion, which pushes the piston down in the engine’s cylinder, powering the engine as the pistons are put in motion.
But this whole sequence begins with that first signal from the car key or ignition button, which feeds an electric current from the battery to a solenoid through heavy wires. The solenoid is a small switch that connects to an electromagnet to complete the starter circuit, turning on the starter motor. The electric starter motor is attached to a shaft that leads to a gear wheel, called a pinion. The pinion is connected to a larger gear ring on the engine flywheel or flex plate, which starts the engine’s rotation.
If all of that sounds a little complicated, it is. The starter system includes multiple components that work together to send signals from the ignition to the engine. An issue could arise with any one of these parts. The configuration and design of these pieces can vary depending on the age and make of your vehicle.
Thankfully, a good automotive technician will be familiar with the intricacies of many different types of vehicles. If you can’t figure out why your car is slow to start, you can—and should—enlist some help from professionals.
Why Is My Car Taking Longer to Start?
The reason for your car taking longer to start can depend on a variety of conditions including weather, battery health, starter health, fuel pump health, and other factors.
If your vehicle is slow to start, or if something seems to be wrong with your vehicle, it can be tricky to find the cause. That’s why you’ll want to get an estimate and diagnostic inspection from us at Callahan Automotive