Sitting in your idle Chevy, turning the key, and hearing nothing but silence can be very aggravating. A Chevy that fails to start leaves you immobilized and uncertain about the cause. Fortunately, there are several well-known issues that can cause a Cobalt to not start, and you can repair many of them on your own or with a mechanic's help.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the fourteen most common reasons your Chevrolet Cobalt doesn't start and offer useful tips to get your car started again.
Drained or Dead Battery
The most common cause a Chevrolet doesn't crank is a dead or weak battery. Your battery delivers the initial jolt of electricity to turn over the engine and get it running.
Indications of a dead battery:
- Silence upon turning the key – no engine cranking
- Accessories not powering on
- Difficulty starting in cold weather
How to Fix It: Keep jumper cables on hand for a dead battery situation. Jump starting your Chevrolet Cobalt using another vehicle or jump box can supply enough charge to get it cranked.
You can also clean corroded battery terminals that are blocking a good connection. If problems continue, have your battery tested – it may need replacing if old.
If your battery checks out but your Chevrolet Cobalt still won't crank, the culprit may be a faulty alternator. This key component charges your battery when running and powers the electrical system.
Clues of a bad alternator:
- Battery warning light coming on
- Lights dimming
- Difficulty starting, particularly following short trips
The Fix: Get your alternator checked ASAP by a mechanic. A bad alternator can rapidly deplete your battery. This will need to be replaced by an experienced mechanic.
Bad or Fouled Spark Plugs
Spark plugs fire the air/fuel ratio in the cylinders to power your car. When they are fouled or worn out, your Cobalt may not start due to no spark.
Signs of bad spark plugs:
- Poor fuel economy
- Rough idle
- Engine hesitating
The Fix: Spark plugs need regular replacement as they degrade. Most last 30k+ miles. Have your plugs inspected and swap any faulty ones. Using quality gas prevents buildup.
Ignition System Issues
Issues with parts like the switch, lock cylinder, fob, or wiring can prevent your Chevrolet from cranking.
Signs of ignition trouble:
- No noise upon turning key
- Instrument panel malfunctioning
- 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 crank the engine. If it's damaged, your Chevrolet Cobalt may not turn over.
Symptoms of a bad starter:
- No noise upon turning key
- Clicking but no cranking
- Unusual noises
The Fix: Have your starter inspected and repaired if faulty. This requires the help of a professional mechanic to diagnose and repair.
Transmission Not in Park/Neutral
If your gearbox isn't in Park or Neutral, your Chevrolet's safety features will prevent it from starting.
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 clogged fuel filter can constrain fuel delivery to the engine, preventing your Chevrolet Cobalt from starting.
Signs of a clogged filter:
- Hard time starting
- Engine sputtering
- Decreased fuel economy
The Fix: Replace the filter per your schedule or if thought clogged. Use quality gas and change often. You can have a local mechanic repair this for you, or repair it yourself, maybe with the help and guidance of an online mechanic.
Bad or Failing Fuel Pump
The fuel pump delivers gas from the tank to the engine. If it fails, your Chevrolet won't start due to no fuel.
Symptoms of a bad pump:
- No sound upon turning key
- Difficulty starting
- Stalling after starting
The Fix: Have your pump tested. If faulty, a mechanic near you will need to replace it.
Proper compression is needed to combust the air/fuel mixture. Low compression from damage can cause a no start.
Signs of compression issues:
- Difficulty 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 snaps, the valves and pistons aren't synchronized properly and your Chevrolet Cobalt won't start.
Symptoms of a bad timing belt:
- No start
- Unusual clicking sound
The Fix: Have your belt checked and fixed right away if broken. This requires a local professional mechanic to replace the timing belt of your Chevy Cobalt.
Detached or Loose Battery Cable
Symptoms 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 Cobalt from starting or running right.
Identifying 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.
Empty Gas 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 clear 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 potential causes for a no start situation, it can be challenging to determine the exact problem yourself. In some cases, using aid from an experienced mechanic can be time-saving 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 Cobalt|Chevrolet Cobalt starting again ASAP.
3. Chat with a Chevy Mechanic Online
This is a superb possibility for most DIYers or car buff. It's often an easy mend you can do yourself, like changing or charging the battery. In these instances, if you understand 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 help, guidance, and recommendations you require, right away by online chat. You can then execute the simple repair on your own.
The top online mechanic we recommend is JustAnswer, and through our link, you can get a free trial of their service for just $5, request endless inquiries for a week, get the assistance you need, and you don't have to keep going with the service after that. We love JustAnswer for this reason, professional auto mechanic help for just $5 is an unbeatable price.
The certified mechanics at JustAnswer's Ask a Mechanic service are ready 24/7 to provide virtual troubleshooting and recommendations. The perks 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 rapidly with likely issues and solutions based on your description.
- Cost savings: Pay per question rather than full diagnostic fees – great for basic troubleshooting.
- Documentation: All conversations are logged in writing, providing helpful reference.
- Expert help; Seasoned licensed mechanics have the expertise to solve Chevy Cobalt|Chevrolet Cobalt 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 Cobalt or your Chevrolet Colorado 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 lights turn on but wont start“, consider our Chrevrolet mechanic chat service. In just minutes, you can leverage expert Chevrolet knowledge to help get your beloved Cobalt fired up again.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why is my Chevy car not starting but I have power?
If your Chevrolet doesn't crank but the lights and electronics power on, the most likely culprits are problems in the starter system, ignition switch, or neutral safety switch. Defective 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 lights and accessories but won't crank when trying to start, the problem is often a bad starter motor or related wiring issue. This prevents the starter from engaging to turn the engine over for starting.
What would cause my Chevy car suddenly not start?
Sudden no-start issues can occur from loose battery cables, fuel pump or relay failure, broken timing belt, or an empty gas tank. These critical issues can arise without warning and prevent your Chevy's engine from starting.
Why doesn't my Chevy car start but the battery is fine?
With a good battery, the culprit may be a bad alternator not charging the system, bad spark plugs providing no ignition, or a fuel flow 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 sounds, and difficult 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 problem, and starter relay failure. Complete diagnostics of all electrical and fuel systems are needed by a qualified local mechanic.