The silence that fills your inactive Chevy when you turn the key and it won't start can be extremely annoying. A Chevy that won't start will leave you stuck on the side of the road trying to figure out the problem. Fortunately, there are several well-known issues that can cause a Prisma 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 top 14 reasons your Chevy Prisma won't start and provide useful tips to get your car started again.
Drained or Dead Battery
The most common cause a Chevy doesn't crank is a dead or weak battery. Your battery delivers the initial burst of electricity to turn over the engine and get it started.
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 available in case of a dead battery emergency. Jump starting your Chevy Prisma using a good battery or portable charger can deliver enough juice to get it started.
You can also try cleaning dirty battery terminals if they prevent a good connection. If problems continue, have your battery tested – it may need replacing if old.
If your battery tests fine but your Chevrolet Prisma still won't turn over, the issue may be a faulty alternator. This vital part charges your battery while driving and powers the electronics.
Signs of a bad alternator:
- Battery warning indicator illuminating
- Lights dimming
- Difficulty starting, particularly following short trips
The Fix: Get your alternator inspected ASAP by a mechanic. A bad alternator can quickly drain your battery. This will need to be replaced by an experienced mechanic.
Bad or Fouled Spark Plugs
Spark plugs ignite the air/fuel ratio in the cylinders to power your car. When they are dirty, bad, or corroded, your Prisma 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 swap any bad ones. Using quality gas prevents buildup.
Ignition System Issues
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
- Dashboard flickering
- Key won't turn
The Fix: For fob issues, try 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 Chevrolet Prisma may not crank.
Symptoms of a bad starter:
- No noise upon turning key
- Clicking but no turnover
- Unusual grinding or whining
The Fix: Have your starter tested 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 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.
Clogged Fuel Filter
A clogged fuel filter can constrain fuel flow to the engine, preventing your Chevy Prisma from turning over.
Symptoms of a clogged filter:
- Difficulty starting
- Engine misfiring
- Decreased fuel economy
The Fix: Change the filter when due 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 transfers 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
- 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:
- 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.
Timing Belt Failure
The timing belt keeps the camshaft and crankshaft. If it breaks, the valves and pistons won't be timed properly and your Chevy Prisma won't start.
Signs of a bad timing belt:
- No start
- Unusual ticking noise
The Fix: Have your belt checked and replaced immediately if broken. This requires a local professional mechanic to replace the timing belt of your Chevy Prisma.
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 Prisma 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 completely empty 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 potential issues for a no start situation, it can be tough to identify the exact problem yourself. In some cases, getting help 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 Prisma|Chevrolet Prisma starting again ASAP.
3. Chat with a Chevy Mechanic Online
This is a fantastic choice for most DIYers or car aficionados. It's often a simple fix you can do on your own, like changing or recharging the battery. In these cases, if you understand what to do one step after another, you can do it yourself, you are not required to pay a mechanic on-site. Well, it's your lucky day, an online mechanic can supply all the help, guidance, and recommendations you need, right away by online chat. You can then execute the easy mend yourself.
The finest online mechanic we propose is JustAnswer, and through our link, you can get a trial of their assistance for just $5, request endless questions for a week, get the assistance you need, and you do not need to keep going with the service after that. We love JustAnswer for this reason, expert auto mechanic assistance for just $5 is an unmatchable price.
The certified mechanics at JustAnswer's Ask a Mechanic service are ready 24/7 to provide virtual troubleshooting and advice. The perks of asking a mechanic online are:
- Convenience: Get help from the comfort of your residence without having to schedule an appointment or wait at a shop.
- Fast answers; 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 recorded in writing, providing helpful reference.
- Expert help; Seasoned licensed mechanics have the know-how to troubleshoot Chevy Prisma|Chevrolet Prisma 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 Prisma or your Chevrolet Prizm 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 “key fob wont start Chevrolet“, consider our chat with a Chrevrolet mechanic online service. In just minutes, you can access expert Chevrolet knowledge to help get your beloved Prisma fired up again.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why is my Chevy car not cranking but I have power?
If your Chevrolet doesn't crank but the lights and electronics power on, the most likely causes are problems in the starter motor, ignition switch, or neutral safety switch. Defective ignition components prevent the engine from cranking even when battery power is present.
Why does my Chevy have power but doesn't crank?
When your Chevy has power to the lights and accessories but won't crank when turning the key, the problem is often a bad starter system or related wiring problem. This prevents the starter from engaging to turn the engine over for starting.
What would make my Chevy car suddenly not start?
Unexpected no-start issues can happen 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 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 when 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 are good?
If the battery and alternator check out, common culprits are bad spark plugs, clogged fuel filter, blown fuse, immobilizer issue, and starter relay failure. Thorough testing of all electrical and fuel systems is needed by a qualified local mechanic.