Turning the ignition and getting only silence instead of the engine cranking over is incredibly frustrating when you're sitting in your motionless Chevy. A Chevy that won't start will leave you stranded and clueless about the issue. The good news is that a number of familiar culprits make a Cavaliers fail to start, and you can fix a lot of them yourself or with a mechanic's assistance.
In this comprehensive guide, we're going to look at the top 14 reasons your Chevy Cavalier won't start and offer helpful suggestions to get your car running again.
The most common cause a Chevrolet won't start is a dead or drained battery. Your battery delivers the initial jolt of electricity to crank the engine and get it started.
Signs of a dead battery:
- Silence upon turning the key – no clicking or turnover
- Electronics not powering on
- Hard time starting in cold weather
The Fix: Keep jumper cables available for a dead battery situation. Jump starting your Chevrolet Cavalier using another vehicle or jump box can supply enough charge to get it started.
You can also try cleaning corroded battery terminals that are blocking a good connection. If problems persist, have your battery tested – it may need recharging if old.
If your battery checks out but your Chevrolet Cavalier still won't crank, the culprit may be a faulty alternator. This vital part charges your battery when running and powers the electrical system.
Clues of a bad alternator:
- Battery warning light coming on
- Electronics fading
- Difficulty starting, particularly following short trips
The Fix: Get your alternator inspected immediately by a mechanic. A bad alternator can quickly drain your battery. This will need to be replaced by an experienced mechanic.
Faulty Spark Plugs
Spark plugs fire the fuel/air mixture in the cylinders to run your car. When they are fouled or worn out, your Cavalier may not start due to no spark.
Clues of bad spark plugs:
- Poor fuel economy
- Rough idle
- Engine sputtering
The Fix: Spark plugs need regular replacement as they wear out. Most last 30k+ miles. Have your plugs checked and change any bad ones. Using quality gas prevents buildup.
Problems with parts like the switch, lock cylinder, fob, or wiring can prevent your Chevy from cranking.
Symptoms of ignition trouble:
- No noise upon turning key
- Instrument panel flickering
- Key won't turn
The Fix: For fob issues, replace the battery. For other problems, have the system diagnosed and fixed professionally. If you need a new Chevy key fob you can get one online here.
The starter motor engages when you turn the key to start the engine. If it's worn out, your Chevy Cavalier may not crank.
Signs of a bad starter:
- No noise upon turning key
- Clicking but no turnover
- Unusual noises
The Fix: Have your starter tested and replaced if faulty. This requires the help of a professional mechanic to diagnose and repair.
Transmission Not in Park/Neutral
If your transmission isn't in Park or Neutral, your Chevy's safety features will prevent it from cranking.
The Fix: Shift into Park/Neutral and try once more. If it only starts in one gear, you may have a faulty neutral safety switch needing repair. This will need to be repaired by a local mechanic near you.
Blocked or Clogged Fuel Filter
A blocked fuel filter can restrict fuel delivery to the engine, preventing your Chevy Cavalier from turning over.
Symptoms of a clogged filter:
- Hard time starting
- Engine misfiring
- Decreased fuel economy
The Fix: Change the filter when due or if thought clogged. Use quality gas and replace regularly. You can have a local mechanic repair this for you, or repair it yourself, maybe with the help and guidance of an online mechanic.
Faulty Fuel Pump
The fuel pump transfers gas from the tank to the engine. If it fails, your Chevy won't start due to no fuel.
Signs of a bad pump:
- No pump noise upon turning key
- Hard time starting
- Stalling when running
The Fix: Have your pump tested. If faulty, a mechanic near you will need to replace it.
Low Engine Compression
Proper compression is required to combust the air/fuel mixture. Low compression from damage can lead to a no start.
Symptoms of compression issues:
- Hard time starting
- Rough idle
- Lack of power
The Fix: Testing can confirm low compression. For diagnostics and carrying out this repair, a local mechanic is usually needed and will have to replace the worn engine components.
Broken Timing Belt
The timing belt synchronizes the camshaft and crankshaft. If it breaks, the valves and pistons won't be timed properly and your Chevrolet Cavalier won't start.
Signs of a bad timing belt:
- No start
- Unusual ticking noise
The Fix: Have your belt inspected and replaced immediately if broken. This requires a local professional mechanic to replace the timing belt of your Chevy Cavalier.
Loose or Detached Battery Cable
Signs of a bad cable:
- Corroded terminals
- Power loss from wiggling cables
- Frayed wiring
The Fix: Clean corroded terminals and tighten loose connections. Damaged cables need replacement. You can get expert Chevy mechanic advice and guidance online or with a local mechanic.
Relays control power to components like the starter, fuel pump, and computer. Failure can prevent your Chevy Cavalier from starting or running right.
Diagnosing relay problems:
- Swap relays to test
- Have relays checked by a mechanic
The Fix: Faulty relays must be replaced, often after a larger diagnostic. You will likely need a local mechanic to diagnose if the faulty relay is preventing your Chevy from starting.
Low Fuel or Empty Tank
Running your tank bone dry can cause a no-start due to lack of fuel. This seems obvious however it often happens because of an inaccurate or broken fuel gauge.
The Fix: Keep your tank at least 1/4 full to avoid unexpected emptying. If issues persist, have your fuel sender unit checked by a professional mechanic.
Sometimes an engine can flood with too much fuel, preventing starting due to wet spark plugs. This is most common in older carbureted engines.
The Fix: Press the gas pedal fully and crank briefly to flush the system so the plugs can spark. If problems continue, have the carburetor adjusted by a professional local mechanic.
Top 3 Ways To Get a Mechanics Help
With so many possible reasons for a no start issue, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause yourself. In some cases, getting assistance from an experienced mechanic can save you time and give you peace of mind.
These are the 3 ways to get a mechanic's help in starting your Chevy again.
1. Local Auto Repair Garage Near You
This is the regular way to get it repaired, however, it can be very wasteful in time and money, transporting your vehicle to them, plus expensive garage fees as they often have expensive overhead costs etc, that they have to pass on to the customer.
2. A Mobile Mechanic Near You
Having a qualified mobile mechanic come to your Chevy and repair it on-site can be a great time and money saver. The best mobile mechanics we can recommend in the USA are RepairSmith and YourMechanic. We have recommended them thousands of times, and they both have great prices, services and coverage across most of the USA.
In the UK the best mobile mechanic we can recommend is Fixter, they will come pick up your car, take it get repaired, and deliver it back to you. You can get an instant free quote on their official websites by clicking the name. We have tested, vetted, and can heartedly recommend each of these services to get your Chevy Cavalier|Chevrolet Cavalier starting again ASAP.
3. Chat with a Chevy Mechanic Online
This is a wonderful possibility for most DIYers or car aficionados. It's often a simple repair you can do yourself, like changing or charging the battery. In these situations, if you are aware of what to do one step after another, you can do it on your own, you don't need to pay a mechanic in person. Well, it's your fortunate day, an online mechanic can offer all the assistance, advice, and recommendations you need, immediately by online chat. You can then perform the easy repair yourself.
The finest online mechanic we suggest is JustAnswer, and through our link, you can get a trial of their assistance for just $5, request endless inquiries for a week, get the help you need, and you don't have to continue the service after that. We love JustAnswer for this reason, expert auto mechanic help for just $5 is an unmatchable price.
The qualified mechanics at JustAnswer's Ask a Mechanic service are accessible 24/7 to provide remote diagnostics and recommendations. The benefits of consulting with a mechanic online are:
- Convenience: Get help from your house without having to schedule an appointment or wait at a shop.
- Fast responses; Mechanics answer back quickly with possible causes and solutions based on your description.
- Cost savings: Pay per question rather than full diagnostic fees – great for basic troubleshooting.
- Documentation: All conversations are saved in writing, providing helpful reference.
- Expert knowledge; Skilled licensed mechanics have the knowledge to address Chevy Cavalier|Chevrolet Cavalier no starting issues with ease.
You will get matched with the best auto mechanic for your particular case, it doesn't matter if it's a Cavalier or your Chevrolet Celebrity won't start, the expert Chevy mechanic you are paired with, will be the best for the job.
So next time you find yourself searching online for something like “Chevrolet starts after jump but wont start again“, consider our Chrevrolet specialist mechanic near me service. In just minutes, you can access expert Chevrolet knowledge to help get your beloved Cavalier fired up again.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why is my Chevy car not cranking but I have power?
If your Chevrolet won't start but the lights and electronics power on, the most likely causes are problems in the starter system, ignition switch, or neutral safety switch. Faulty ignition components prevent the engine from turning over even when battery power is present.
Why does my Chevy have power but won't turn over?
When your Chevy has power to the electronics and dashboard but won't crank when trying to start, the problem is often a bad starter motor or related wiring problem. This prevents the starter from engaging to turn the engine over for starting.
What would cause my Chevy car suddenly not start?
Unexpected no-start issues can occur from loose battery cables, fuel pump or relay failure, broken timing belt, or an empty gas tank. These urgent issues can arise without warning and prevent your Chevy's engine from starting.
Why won't my Chevy car start but the battery is fine?
With a good battery, the problem may be a bad alternator not charging the system, bad spark plugs providing no ignition, or a fuel delivery problem preventing combustion. Your Chevy's engine needs air, fuel, compression and spark to run.
What are signs your Chevy starter is bad?
Signs of a bad starter include no noise upon turning the key, a single click but no turnover, unusual grinding noises, and slow/labored cranking. These indicate starter failure and the need for replacement by a local mechanic.
Why doesn't my Chevy car start but battery and alternator is good?
If the battery and alternator check out, common culprits are bad spark plugs, blocked fuel filter, blown fuse, immobilizer issue, and starter relay failure. Thorough testing of all electrical and fuel systems are needed by a qualified local mechanic.