Car Hesitates to Start (10 Causes & Solutions)

Are you finding it difficult to start your car? Is your vehicle taking too much time before the engine starts? Does your car hesitates to start, and you don’t know why and how to solve the problem.

Worry no more because we have the answers you need on this page.

This article will explore the various reasons why your car hesitates to start and give out ways to solve such a problem.

The frustration one would experience when their car hesitates to start can be very annoying; often, this experience happens during cold seasons, and it’s prevalent on diesel engines.

Sometimes, this hesitation will take long before the car finally picks up and starts running.

The cause of this problem varies depending on the type of car you have because the reason for the situation on a diesel engine is not the same with a gasoline engine. Therefore, it is also essential to factor in the condition of your vehicle when such a problem arises.

For example, is the car engine warm or cold when experiencing this hesitation? Such a situation will help narrow down the actual cause.

Many factors contribute to car hesitation, and we will explore a good number of these causes and give hints on what to do in such a situation.

Also Read: Car won’t start? Causes and How To Fix

10 Reasons Why Your Car Hesitates to Start

Car Hesitates to Start

1. The Battery Is Dead

A dying battery is one of the common reasons why your car hesitates to start.

Your car battery is the sole source of power for your car; when the battery is low or worn out, it will become challenging to deliver the right amount of power capable of turning on your car engine.

Thereby causing starting difficulty; sometimes, the car won’t start no matter how much you try. Most times, this occurs during the cold period.

In situations like this, you will observe that the starter is turning, but the vehicle will take a long time before picking up or starting, and sometimes it won’t start. A voltage drop due to a worn-out battery is more often the cause of this.

Your car’s electrical system could have a leakage that drains the car battery to death, leading to a shortage of voltage and hard starting.

In addition, some of these electrical systems, such as radio, AC, heater, etc., could have a bad wire connection causing the leakage. Therefore, a thorough check on the electrical system to verify is vital.

2. The Spark Plugs Are Bad

Spark plugs are essential in starting up your car engine; they are crucial components that help ignite the combustion chamber for the engine’s running.

However, when they get bad, they can be why your car hesitates to start. A bad spark plug is one of the common reasons your car hesitates to start.

This hesitation due to a bad spark plug can be linked with a failing ignition system or bad ignition coil. Changing the spark plug can quickly solve this problem.

3. Low-Quality Gasoline

Your car won’t start without gasoline; gasoline is what gives the energy needed for car operation.

However, bad gasoline can be very catastrophic to your car engine and be a reason why your car hesitates to start. This is because bad petrol comes with the wrong detonation and can damage a car engine.

It can also cause injector clogging and failing or a spark plug when you notice that you have added bad gasoline; the best thing is to drain it all out and put in a good one. The addition of additives can also help.

4. Air Filter Problems

The air filter is part of the engine components that guarantee nothing but the air entering the engine combustion area.

If the air filter is clogged, it will be difficult for air to pass through, which can be why your car hesitates to start. This problem happens more often during winter.

5. Air Leaks

Temperature changes affect the speed the car starts because the low temperature drops the air in the vehicle. Therefore more air will be needed to start the car.

When the ECU notices this drop in temperature, it opens the air control valve to admit more air.

However, the ECU does not know how much extra air has come in, and for this reason, the car will hesitates to start but could come up after a few attempts.

Checking the intake air leaks could help in such a situation. Most cars have this intake air leak at the crankcase ventilation valve.

Car Hesitates to Start

6. Bad Camshaft Position Sensor

The camshaft position sensor receives the information that determines how the ECU sets the cylinder, ignition timing and how the fuel will be supplied.

Since the fuel is the essential component that starts up the engine, if the camshaft position sensor sends an incorrect signal, it will affect the fuel that ought to be supplied, causing difficulty or hesitation in starting the car engine.

Therefore, when you notice a gasoline smell, it could signify a bad camshaft position sensor.

7. Bad or Failing Purge Valve

The fuel vapor generated in the fuel tank does not move into the atmosphere due to a purge valve. Therefore, fuel vapor shouldn’t go into the engine cylinder or exhaust manifold, but unfortunately, it does when the purge valve fails.

When this fuel vapor gets into the cylinder, they create excess fuel in the engine, making the car difficult or hesitant to start. So when you notice that the car floats in idle, it’s a bad purge valve.

8. A Bad Starter

Your car starter is the first point of action when you want to start your car; if it gets faulty, the car hesitates to start or won’t start, even if every other component is in good condition.

9. Low Compression in Diesel Engines

If your cylinder-piston group starts to wear out or gets bad, it will cause soot, carbon deposits, and other unwanted contaminations inside the engine. These carbon deposits will hinder the operation of compression rings.

A fall in compression will result in poor or difficulty firing up the fuel mixture for the engine’s running.

An engine flush is one way to prevent this; cleaning the entire engine will help flush out all the carbon deposits and unwanted contaminations.

10. The Electronic Control Unit (ECU) Might Not Work Properly

When your electronic control unit is faulty, it can lead to many problems, not excluding car hesitation to start; however, ECU failing is rare.

Also Read: Car Stutters When Starting (How To Fix)

Why Is My Car Cranking Not Starting?

Car Cranking Not Starting

Before a car starts, a few things happen:

  1. The engine will receive a proper amount of fuel.
  2. The air and fuel mixture must be correct.
  3. There should be a spark at the appropriate time.

Except for air filter clogging situations, the engine continuously receives the right amount of fuel.

Modern cars come with a computer control unit that helps to ensure the right amount of air-fuel mixture and when the spark should happen.

This computer control unit works with the crankshaft and camshaft position sensor to know when it is suitable for sparking. Therefore when these sensors are faulty, it could affect the engine starting process.

Spark plug and ignition coil also affect or influence the engine startup process. These two ought to be functioning correctly. Else they will make the engine startup process difficult.

Your oil fuel pump is also another factor that can hinder the engine startup process. Your car computer unit will always give out signals when issues like these surface.

Therefore, check regularly and observe the signs your car gives out, primarily through the computer control units.

Car Hesitates To Start When Cold

Your car battery is designed to have two types of amperage ratings. They are cranking and cold cranking amperage. During the cold season, your car may find it difficult to start because it will be trying to give out cold cranking amperage.

While during nice weather, the battery provides total cranking amperage. Cold-cranking amperage is the amount of amp supplied by the battery at 0°F for 30sec while retaining 7.2V or above.

Also Read: How to Start a Car with a Bad Starter (9 Fast Ways)

Car Hesitates To Start (How To Fix)

Check out this video for more tips and solutions for a car hesitating to start

Frequently Asked Questions – Car Hesitates To Start

What Causes a Delayed Start in a Car?

Different problems cause a delayed start in a car; the problem could be a weak battery, and the car starter could be bad or poorly connected. When you observe this delayed startup in the morning, it could be that the battery has been drained, maybe you left one of the electrical components on overnight, and it drained the battery.

Can Low Oil Cause Hesitation?

Oil is vital in the operation of the car engine. The engine needs to be lubricated at all times. When the engine lacks oil or the oil in it is old and weak or maybe dirty, it causes poor performance in the engine and, in some cases, can cause poor acceleration and hesitation in starting.

What Does Engine Hesitation Feel Like?

Your car engine will start to misfire during hesitation, and it won’t be easy to accelerate. There are a couple of reasons for this, of which inappropriate air/fuel mixture is the most common cause.

Why Is My Car Hesitating When I Press the Gas?

It could be that your gasoline has been contaminated with water. It could also mean that your carburetor is bad if your car has one. A clogged filter could also be the cause. You need to have a proper check on your vehicle to determine the actual cause of the problem and fix it accordingly.

Can Timing Cause Hesitation?

Yes, it can. If the timing is moved off the right angle, it can cause hesitation. Checking on the timing light will assist you in determining if there is a need for adjustment.

Conclusion – Car Hesitates To Start

If your car hesitates to start, it could be because of bad or failing batteries, worn-out spark plugs, a bad starter, or Low-quality gasoline. Car hesitation to start may differ in a diesel engine and a gasoline engine. Therefore, If your car hesitates to start, you need to take your car to an auto mechanic for proper diagnosis and repair.

We have highlighted a few reasons why your car hesitates to start. These reasons are easily noticeable and can be tackled before getting worse or developing into a bigger problem.

If you notice that your car hesitates to start during cold weather, inspect the battery or possibly change it.

Regular car maintenance will save many troubles, including car starting problems. When carrying out this maintenance, inspect the electronic and electrical components, ensure there are no forms of leaks, and fix them.

Inspect the camshaft and crankshaft position sensors and make sure they are working correctly; if they have issues, it will be challenging to start your car. Clean out clogged-up filters and visit a good mechanic if you have to carry out any replacement.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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