We had just filled up at the gas station, and now the car was refusing to turn over. We tried everything, but it just wouldn’t budge. This left us stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. At last, we called a tow truck which towed us to a nearby town. We were so relieved, but we still didn’t know what was wrong with the car.
We took it to a mechanic, who told us that the gas had been contaminated due to a clogged fuel filter. He replaced the fuel filter, and we were up and running after an hour or so. Apart from this, there are several reasons why your car might not start after getting gas, we will go over them all in this blog post.
We will also explain how a car starts and some of the most common causes of starting problems. At the end of this post, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic.
Table of Contents
- How Does a Car Start? A Complete Guide
- 10 Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas? (Symptoms + Solution)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Is it normal for the car engine to sputter after getting gas?
- Why is it necessary to switch off the car while filling the fuel tank?
- How can you remove the air in the fuel pump & fuel lines?
- Can low-quality fuel affect the performance of your engine?
- What are the consequences of overfilling the fuel tank?
- Can a fuel filter counter the negative effects of bad fuel?
- What happens when you press the gas pedal in your car?
How Does a Car Start? A Complete Guide
How does a car start? It’s a question that has been asked since the early days of the automobile. The answer, quite simply, is that a car starts by turning a key in the ignition.
But how does that happen? What happens when you turn the key? Let’s take a look at the process, step by step.
Turn the Key & Battery is Engaged:
When you turn the key, the first thing that happens is the battery is engaged. The battery is the heart of the car’s electrical system. It provides power to all of the car’s electrical components, including the starter motor. It is charged by the alternator, which is powered by the engine.
Battery Power Starter Motor:
The battery provides power to the starter motor, which is what actually starts the engine. The starter motor is an electric motor that turns the engine over, essentially “starting” it. Once the engine is started, the starter motor disengages, and the engine runs on its own.
Starter Motor Disengages:
How does the starter motor know when to turn off? That’s where the ignition switch comes in. The ignition switch is what tells the starter motor when to engage and when to disengage.
Fuel and Air are Delivered:
Now let us jump to the engine a bit. The most common type of internal combustion engine is the gasoline engine. Three things are needed to start a gasoline engine: fuel, air, and spark.
Fuel is delivered to the engine via a carburetor or fuel injection system. Air is drawn into the engine through the intake manifold. The spark is provided by the ignition system.
Spark Ignition Occurs:
The spark ignites the air/fuel mixture in the engine’s cylinders, and the expanding gases push the pistons down. This action turns the crankshaft, which in turn powers the wheels and other accessories.
The Car Finally Starts!
So that’s how a car starts – by turning a key in the ignition, which engages the battery, and the starter motor, which in turn starts the engine.
10 Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas? (Symptoms + Solution)
There are many reasons why your car might not start after getting gas. Well, for ease of understanding, we can classify all those reasons into five main categories.
1. Problems With Battery
- Dead Battery
- Corroded Battery
- Battery Life Ended
2. Problems With EVAP System & Fuel System
- Faulty Purge Control Valve
- Faulty Fuel Pressure Regulator
- Bad Fuel Injectors
- Broken Fuel Pump
- Air in Fuel Lines
3. Problems With Electrical System
- Faulty Alternator
- Sensors Malfunction
- Bad Starter Motor
4. Problems With Ignition System
- Bad Ignition Key
- Faulty Ignition Cylinder
6. Problems With Miscellaneous Parts
- Slipping Timing Belt
- Choked Intake Manifold
- Security System Problems
- Defective Spark Plugs
- Low Engine Compression
Now let us explain each of these reasons one after the other:
1. Problems With Battery
The most common reason for a car not starting after getting gas is a dead battery. If the battery is completely dead, it won’t be able to provide the power needed to start the car. There are several reasons why a battery might die, including leaving the lights on or using too many electronics while the engine is off.
You might see a warning light on the dash that says “battery” or “check battery.”
If you think your battery is dead, the best thing to do is recharge it. Or maybe you can try to jump-start your car as well.
Another reason your car might not start after getting gas is a corroded battery. Over time, the battery terminals can become corroded, which prevents them from making a good connection. This can happen if the battery is old or if it’s been exposed to the elements.
You will be able to see corrosion on the battery terminals or on the cables that connect to them.
If you think your battery is corroded, you can try cleaning the terminals with a wire brush. If that doesn’t work, you might need to replace the battery.
Battery Life Ended:
If your battery has become too old, it might not be able to hold a charge. This can happen if you don’t use your car often or if you live in a hot climate.
The most common symptom of an old battery is seeing a warning light on the dash that says “battery” or “check battery.”
If you think your battery is too old, the best thing to do is replace it.
2. Problems With EVAP System & Fuel System
Faulty Purge Control Valve:
The EVAP system is responsible for trapping vapors from the fuel system and preventing them from entering the atmosphere. The purge valve is a part of the EVAP system that opens and closes to allow fuel vapor to be purged from the system. If this valve is stuck open, it can prevent the car from starting.
The most common symptom of a faulty evap purge valve include:
1. A check engine light illuminates on the dashboard.
2. Poor idling performance, as the engine may stall or surge.
3. Difficulty starting the engine or stalling soon after startup.
4. Rough running at low speeds or hesitations during acceleration.
5. Excessively rich exhaust fumes are released through the tailpipe due to unburned fuel.
If you think your purge control valve is stuck open, you can try resetting the EVAP system. If that doesn’t work, you might need to replace the valve.
Faulty Fuel Pressure Regulator:
The fuel pressure regulator is responsible for maintaining the correct pressure in the fuel system. If this part fails, it can cause the car to stall or not start at all.
The most common symptom of a faulty fuel pressure regulator include:
- Poor engine performance
- Rough idling
- Decreased fuel economy
If you think your fuel pressure regulator is not working properly, you can try to clean it. If that doesn’t work, you might need to replace it.
Bad Fuel Injectors:
The injector is responsible for getting gasoline into the engine in the form of a fine mist to be burned efficiently. This mist is created by pressurizing the gasoline until it turns into a fine spray.
This pressurized gasoline is then injected into the engine through a series of small holes in the injector. If these holes become clogged, the engine will not be able to get enough gasoline, and it won’t start even after getting enough gas.
One of the most common symptoms of a bad fuel injector is poor engine performance. Your engine may also run lean if it’s not getting enough fuel.
If you think your fuel injector is clogged, you can try to clean it with a can of compressed air. If that doesn’t work, you might need to replace the injector.
Broken Fuel Pump:
A fuel pump is a mechanical or electrical device that transfers fuel from the tank to the carburetor or engine. Fuel pumps come in various designs, but all work to move fuel from the tank to the carburetor or engine. If the fuel pump fails, it can prevent the car from starting.
A failed fuel pump can cause several different symptoms, all of which point to a loss of power or an engine that simply won’t run.
First, check the fuel line to make sure it’s not clogged or blocked. Next, check the electrical connection to the pump. If the connection is loose, tighten it up. Finally, if the problem still persists, you may need to replace the fuel pump.
Air in Fuel Lines:
Another common reason why a car won’t start after getting gas is that there’s air in the fuel line. When you get gas, the pump will automatically fill the tank until it reaches the “full” level. However, if the pump doesn’t stop immediately after reaching this level, it can cause gasoline to siphon back out of the tank and into the pump. This can cause air to be drawn into the fuel line, which will prevent the engine from starting.
The most common symptom of air in the fuel line is that the engine won’t start. You may also notice that the car’s engine sputters or stalls when you try to start it.
If you think there’s air in the fuel line, the best thing to do is bleed the line or prime the fuel pump.
3. Problems With Electrical System
The alternator is a device that charges the battery while the engine is running. It does this by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. If the alternator fails, it can prevent the car from starting.
One of the most common symptoms of a faulty alternator is that the car’s battery dies quickly. Another symptom of a bad alternator is dim or flickering lights.
If you think your alternator is failing, you should take it to a mechanic to have it checked. They will be able to test the alternator and determine if it needs to be replaced.
In modern cars, many sensors work together to ensure the engine is running properly. These sensors send signals to the computer, which then adjusts the fuel mixture accordingly. These sensors include the mass airflow sensor, oxygen, and knock sensor. If one of these sensors malfunctions, it can cause the car to stall or not start at all.
The symptoms of a malfunctioning sensor depend on which sensor is failing. For example, if the mass airflow sensor is failing, you may notice that the car’s engine is running lean or rich. If the oxygen sensor is failing, you may notice that the car’s engine is running too hot.
If you think a sensor is causing problems, the best thing to do is take the car to a mechanic. They will be able to test the sensors and determine which one is malfunctioning. Once they know which sensor is causing the problem, they can replace it.
Bad Starter Motor:
The starter motor is responsible for starting the engine. The starter motor engages and turns the engine over when you turn the key. If the starter motor fails, it can prevent the car from starting.
There are a few different symptoms that can indicate a bad starter motor. One of them is a clicking noise when you turn the key. Another is that the engine won’t turn over at all when you turn the key.
If you think your starter motor is failing, you should take it to a mechanic to have it checked. They will be able to test the starter motor and determine if it needs to be replaced.
4. Problems With Ignition System
Bad Ignition Key:
The ignition key is responsible for sending a signal to the starter motor. If the ignition key is damaged, it can prevent the car from starting.
One of the most common symptoms of a bad ignition key is that the car won’t start when you turn the key. Another symptom is that you hear a clicking sound from the ignition system.
If you think your ignition key is damaged, you should take it to a mechanic to have it checked. They will be able to test the ignition key and determine if it needs to be replaced.
Faulty Ignition Cylinder:
The ignition cylinder is the part of the car that you insert your key into to start the engine. It is usually located on the steering column or near the gear shift. The cylinder contains a series of tumblers that need to be aligned for the key to fit properly and turn the engine over. When you put the key in, it turns the tumblers and allows the current to flow from the battery to the starter motor. If even one of the tumblers is not in the correct position, the engine will not start.
An ignition key that won’t turn, or a key that gets stuck in the ignition. Other symptoms include a clicking noise when the key is turned.
A mechanic will be able to test the ignition cylinder and determine if it needs to be replaced.
5. Problems With Miscellaneous Parts
Slipping Timing Belt:
The timing belt is responsible for synchronizing the engine’s valves with the pistons. If the timing belt slips, it can cause the engine to stall or not start at all.
Car owners must look for:
1. Difficulty starting your engine
2. Engine misfires
3. Reduced engine power
4. Engine stalls or dies while idling
5. Check engine light is on
If the timing belt is not damaged, you can try to adjust the tension on the belt. This can be done by loosening the bolts that hold the timing belt in place. However, If the timing belt is damaged, you will need to replace it.
Choked Intake Manifold:
The intake manifold is responsible for delivering air to the engine. If the intake manifold becomes choked, it can prevent the engine from starting.
- Reduced power output
- Lack of acceleration
- Engine stalling
- Rough idling
One of the most common causes of a choked intake manifold is a clogged air filter or bad throttle body. Over time, the air filter can become clogged with dirt and debris, restricting airflow to the engine. You can try replacing it.
Security System Problems:
If your car has an aftermarket security system, it is possible for the system to malfunction and prevent the car from starting.
The most common symptom is that the alarm system may go off unexpectedly.
If your security system is preventing your car from starting, you should take it to a mechanic to have it checked. They will be able to test the system and determine if it needs any alteration.
Defective Spark Plugs:
Spark plugs are responsible for igniting the air/fuel mixture in the engine. If the spark plugs are defective, it can prevent the engine from starting.
Sparks plugs that are defective will usually cause the engine to misfire. Other symptoms include difficulty starting your engine, reduced power output, and decreased fuel economy.
The only solution, in this case, is to replace the spark plugs.
Low Engine Compression:
If the engine compression is low, it can prevent the engine from starting.
There are a few telltale signs that your engine’s compression is low. First, you’ll notice a decrease in power and acceleration. Your car will feel sluggish and may have trouble starting.
You can solve this problem by replacing head gaskets, spark plugs, wires, and seals. If the problem is still not solved, then you have to take your car to a mechanic and let him check it out.
If your car doesn’t start after getting gas, there are a few possible explanations. The most common reasons are battery, starter motor, or ignition system problems. Other potential causes include a slipping timing belt, choked intake manifold, or security system problem. Defective spark plugs or low engine compression can also prevent a car from starting.
If your car won’t start after you’ve gotten gas, the first thing you should do is check your car’s battery. It is possible that your car’s battery may be dead or dying. If this is the case, you’ll need to jump-start your car or replace the battery.
Another possibility is that there may be something wrong with your car’s ignition system. This could be a problem with the starter, spark plugs, or other components. If you’re having trouble getting your car started, it’s important to diagnose the problem so you can find the best solution.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it normal for the car engine to sputter after getting gas?
There are a few reasons why your car engine might sputter after getting gas. One possibility is water or some other impurity in the gas. If this is the case, you should drain the gas tank and refill it with fresh gas. Another possibility is that the fuel filter is dirty or clogged. This can be fixed by replacing the fuel filter.
Finally, it’s also possible that the spark plugs are dirty or need to be replaced. You can clean or replace the spark plugs yourself or take the car to a mechanic to have this done.
Why is it necessary to switch off the car while filling the fuel tank?
It is necessary to switch off the car while filling the fuel tank to avoid any potential sparks that could cause a fire. Additionally, it is important to be aware of your surroundings while fueling your vehicle and not leave the car unattended while the pump runs.
How can you remove the air in the fuel pump & fuel lines?
If you notice your car is starting to run a little rough or the engine is sputtering, it might be time to prime the fuel pump. Priming the fuel pump will remove any air from the fuel lines and help get your car running smoothly again. It is a very simple and straightforward procedure.
To prime, the fuel pump in a car, start by turning on the ignition. Then, turn the ignition off. After a while, turn the ignition back on and let the engine run for a few seconds. Remove the gas cap and repeat the above procedure a few times. You’ve now successfully primed your fuel pump!
Can low-quality fuel affect the performance of your engine?
Yes, using low-quality fuel can have a negative impact on your engine’s performance. Your engine needs clean, high-quality fuel to run efficiently. When you use lower quality fuel, your engine has to work harder to burn it, leading to reduced performance and fuel economy. Additionally, low-quality fuel can cause deposits to build upon your engine’s components, leading to wear and tear.
What are the consequences of overfilling the fuel tank?
Overfilling the fuel tank can cause several problems, including:
1. Fuel leaks: If too much fuel is put into the tank, it can leak out from various seals and gaskets. This not only wastes fuel but can also be dangerous if the leaking fuel comes into contact with ignition sources such as cigarettes or open flames.
2. Engine damage: Overfilling the fuel tank can force gasoline into the engine, where it can damage sensitive parts.
3. Fire hazard: Gasoline is highly flammable, so overfilling the tank increases the risk of fire in the event of a spill or leak.
4. Environmental pollution: Fuel leaks can contaminate soil and water and cause air pollution.
Can a fuel filter counter the negative effects of bad fuel?
Many people believe that a fuel filter can help improve the quality of their fuel, but this is not always the case. If your fuel is already contaminated, then a fuel filter may not be able to do much to improve its quality. In some cases, a fuel filter can actually make the problem worse by allowing small particles of dirt and debris to pass through into your engine. Therefore it is best to avoid bad gas.
What happens when you press the gas pedal in your car?
The gas pedal is nothing but a throttle. The more you depress it, the more fuel you send to the engine. The engine, in turn, produces more power, and your car moves faster.
When you depress the gas pedal, a valve opens up and allows more fuel to enter the engine. The amount of fuel that enters the engine is controlled by how far you depress the gas pedal. If you depress the gas pedal all the way down, more fuel will enter the engine, producing more power.