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 leaves you immobilized and uncertain about the cause. The good news is that a number of familiar culprits make an Expresss 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 fourteen most common reasons your Chevrolet Express won't start and offer helpful tips to get your car running again.
The most common cause a Chevy won't start is a dead or weak battery. Your battery provides the initial burst of electricity to turn over the engine and get it running.
Indications of a dead battery:
- Silence upon turning the key – no clicking or turnover
- Accessories not powering on
- Difficulty starting in cold weather
The Fix: Keep jumper cables on hand for a dead battery emergency. Jump starting your Chevy Express using another vehicle or portable charger can supply enough charge to get it cranked.
You can also try cleaning dirty battery terminals that are blocking a good connection. If problems continue, have your battery tested – it may need replacing if worn out.
If your battery tests fine but your Chevrolet Express still won't turn over, the culprit may be a bad alternator. This key component charges your battery when running and energizes the electrical system.
Clues of a bad alternator:
- Battery warning light coming on
- Electronics dimming
- Difficulty starting, particularly following short trips
The Fix: Get your alternator inspected immediately by a mechanic. A bad alternator can rapidly deplete 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 Express may not start due to no spark.
Clues of bad spark plugs:
- Poor fuel economy
- Rough idle
- Engine misfiring
The Fix: Spark plugs need periodic replacement as they wear out. Most last 30k+ miles. Have your plugs inspected and swap any bad ones. Using quality gas prevents buildup.
Ignition System Issues
Problems with ignition components like the switch, lock cylinder, fob, or wiring can prevent your Chevy from starting.
Signs of ignition trouble:
- No noise upon turning key
- Instrument panel malfunctioning
- Key won't turn
The Fix: For fob issues, try the battery. For other problems, have the system diagnosed and repaired 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 worn out, your Chevrolet Express may not crank.
Signs of a bad starter:
- No noise upon turning key
- Clicking but no cranking
- Unusual grinding or whining
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 transmission isn't in Park or Neutral, your Chevy'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 restrict fuel delivery to the engine, preventing your Chevy Express from turning over.
Signs of a clogged filter:
- Hard time starting
- Engine sputtering
- Decreased fuel economy
The Fix: Change the filter per your schedule or if thought clogged. Use quality gas and change 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 draws 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 needed to combust the air/fuel mixture. Low compression from damage can cause a no start.
Symptoms 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 breaks, the valves and pistons won't be timed properly and your Chevy Express won't start.
Signs of a bad timing belt:
- No start
- Unusual ticking noise
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 Express.
Detached or Loose 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 Express 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.
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 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 issue, it can be difficult to identify the exact problem yourself. In some cases, using 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 Express|Chevrolet Express starting again ASAP.
3. Chat with a Chevy Mechanic Online
This is a fantastic possibility for most DIYers or car aficionados. It's frequently a straightforward mend you can do on your own, like replacing or powering up the battery. In these situations, if you know what to do in a stepwise fashion, you can do it on your own, you do not have to pay a mechanic in person. Alright, it's your lucky day, an online mechanic can supply all the help, advice, and recommendations you require, instantly by online chat. You can then execute the simple fix yourself.
The top online mechanic we propose is JustAnswer, and through our link, you can get a free trial of their service for just $5, inquire unlimited questions for a week, get the help you need, and you do not need to continue the service after that. We adore JustAnswer for this reason, expert auto mechanic assistance for just $5 is an unmatchable price.
The qualified mechanics at JustAnswer's Ask a Mechanic service are available 24/7 to provide online analysis and recommendations. The advantages of asking a mechanic online include:
- Convenience: Get help from home without having to schedule an appointment or wait at a shop.
- Fast replies; Mechanics reply quickly with potential reasons 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 address Chevy Express|Chevrolet Express 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 an Express or your Chevrolet Forester 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 “Chevy starts but wont stay running unless foot is on gas“, consider our talk to a Chrevrolet mechanic for free service. In just minutes, you can access expert Chevrolet knowledge to help get your beloved Express started again.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why is my Chevy car not cranking but I have power?
If your Chevrolet won't start but the accessories and dashboard 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 doesn't crank?
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 issue. This prevents the starter from activating to turn the engine over for starting.
What would make my Chevy car suddenly not start?
Sudden no-start issues can occur from disconnected 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 issue 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 cranking, unusual grinding sounds, 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 are good?
If the battery and alternator check out, common causes are bad spark plugs, blocked fuel filter, blown fuse, immobilizer problem, and starter relay failure. Thorough diagnostics of all electrical and fuel systems are needed by a qualified local mechanic.