What Can Cause a Truck Not to Start?


Nothing is more frustrating than when you slide into your truck in the morning and the engine whines, the key won’t turn, and the darn thing just won’t start. If you are in a pickle and wondering why on earth your truck refuses to start, you have come to the right place!

There are many different reasons why a truck may be having trouble starting. It could be that the battery is dead, the steering wheel is locked, the rotator belt needs replacing, or several other things. Luckily, these are things that can be checked before the truck needs to be taken in.

The potential problems and issues with a truck are endless but don’t worry because there are also plenty of solutions.

Read on to learn a few things that might be wrong with your truck, most of which you can take care of yourself if you have the know-how. Hopefully, these tips will prevent you from making an unnecessary trip to the auto shop.

Why Won’t My Truck Start? Problems and Possible Solutions

As mentioned above, there are dozens of reasons why your truck might be having issues functioning at one time or another. While that’s undoubtedly the last thing you want to hear, the good news is that many of these problems can be minor and won’t usually require a mechanic’s diagnosis. Here are a few things to check before you head to the auto shop:

First things first, check to see if you can turn the key. If you can’t, that means that the steering wheel has locked itself. This is not a difficult problem to fix most of the time.

If you jiggle the steering wheel back and forth a little, it will usually free itself up and allow you to turn the key once again. You can also try jiggling the key to see if that works.

If you turn the key but nothing on your dashboard lights up, that is probably indicative of a dead battery which is also a relatively easy fix. If you’re like most car owners, you keep jumper cables in your trunk or truck bed. If you don’t, this experience might be a sign that you should invest in some!

Grab a friend or family member and have them bring their car over. Attach the jumper cables to their car and then to yours and start the car up. This should help the battery to get going again in no time.

If you find that your battery is repeatedly dying on you to the point where it becomes a regular occurrence, that is likely a sign that you need to get the battery replaced, which means you’ll have to take it to a mechanic.

If you suspect the battery, you should also be checking the cabling between the battery and the motor. It is possible that the battery is not dead, but that the cables are damaged or disconnected.

You will know the battery is fine if the lights on the instrument panel come on, so that should signal you to check the connection.

If your truck is one with remote start and it won’t start, you may notice a message in the information center that says key not found. This might mean that your key fob is slowly losing battery power and might need replacing.

That, of course, is an easy fix. Just pop some new batteries in there and you should be as good as new.

After you have checked each of these things, you should also check your truck’s fluids (oil and steering fluid especially).

If your oil tank is running dry, this could cause some serious stress on the engine and might keep the truck from starting properly. Check and make sure the fluids are filled to the right level and you will probably be fine from that point forward.

At the end of the day, if you have checked and tried each of these things and none of them have worked, it might just be time to take the truck to the experts and let them deal with it.

This will be necessary at one point or another, so don’t worry if you haven’t been able to diagnose your truck’s issue. That’s what a mechanic is for!

Maintenance: Keep the Truck in Good Condition

Of course, most truck owners have to face issues like this at some point and that’s okay. However, if you want to avoid going to the shop as much as possible, there are certain preventative measures that can and should take place as regularly as needed. Here are a few maintenance tips that every truck owner should follow!

First of all, you should always keep your truck’s fluids regular. As mentioned above, a lack of oil can cause your engine major stress. So too can a lack of steering fluid which will cause the engine to quickly burn up. You will know if your steering fluid reservoir is low because your car will start to whine every time you turn the wheel.

Make sure that doesn’t happen! Get your car to the shop often and have the oil changed and steering fluid checked. You should also do the same for your oil filter. The oil reservoir is prone to get contaminated with dirt, leaves, and bacteria. Get the oil filter changed as often as needed to prevent this from happening. Dirty oil means poor performance!

Getting the truck cleaned and inspected regularly is also key to keeping it in good shape. Scrub your truck down every once in a while to prevent any exterior dirt from making its way to the inner workings of the vehicle. Likewise, you should also take it in for inspection every so often. Trucks need checkups from their “doctors” just like we do from ours.

Lastly, get the tires rotated as often as necessary. Having poorly performing tires is a surefire way to get your truck checked into the shop with a much bigger expense than you’d probably have otherwise.

Stay up to date on all the needs of your truck and that will prevent you from having little startup problems as well as bigger problems in the future!

What Can Cause a Truck Not to Start?

Will Turner

Will has an absolute passion for 4x4s and loves discovering all of the small details about each model. Will joined the Four Wheel Trends team in early 2021 and has been a valuable contributor ever since!

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