My Car Won’t Start but the Radio and Lights Work – 12 Causes

Written by Ryley Gislason

Fact Checked by Charles Bolte

my car won't start but the radio and lights work

Feeling confused when hitting the ignition yet the car won’t start but the radio works just fine and the car lights turn on? Then, what could be the problem why my car won’t start but the radio and lights work?

There are many reasons for this, including a drained car battery, faulty ignition system, problems with the starter solenoid, blown fuse, or your car may be running out of gas.

List of Reasons

1. If You Hear Nothing

So what does it mean if you hear nothing once you turn on the car but the lights come on and the radio works perfectly?

 01 Faulty Ignition System

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Your car may have a faulty or damaged ignition system. Make sure to check that its components are not defective, like the ignition coil, ignition switch, and fuse.

A defective or worn-out ignition coil can cause problems when it comes to transmitting low-voltage power and then converting it to higher-voltage power, which is vital to the ignition system.

A faulty ignition switch may also be why your car won’t start but the lights come on, and you hear nothing from the starter. It can also cause your dashboard lights to stay on and flicker.

It is important to check its fuse since a blown fuse might be the problem with a faulty ignition switch.

 02 Malfunctioning Starter Solenoid

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The starter solenoid is responsible for transmitting the electrical energy to mechanical energy by means of power to the starter motor. This means it activates the starter of the vehicle so that the car engine will crank.

Your car won’t crank if you have a bad starter solenoid. Moreover, a faulty solenoid can cause damage to your car. It may produce clicking noises in the future, which can be a nuisance.

 03 Bad Wiring and Faulty Electrical Components

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You might want to check all the wiring connections and electrical components to the starter solenoid and circuits connected to your car’s battery.

Make sure there are no signs of dirty, defective wires or corroded electrical components that can cause malfunction to the car’s mechanisms.

Also, check for any loose wiring or misconnections since this could be another reason why your car won’t turn over but the lights work.

 04 Engine Immobilizer Issue

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Modern cars nowadays have this kind of anti-theft and security feature to prevent intruders from stealing your car.

Check your key fob for any defects in the battery or its wiring. Since this could be the reason why your car’s immobilizer is having difficulty recognizing your key fob, thus your engine won’t start.

2. If You Hear a Click

So you have tried to start the engine but hear a click instead. This means that the starter motor does not have enough electrical power to operate and to spin the gears for the engine to start.

 01 Battery Issues

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Many problems can stem from your car’s battery, such as a drained battery and/or corroded battery terminals and cables.

Your battery may need more power to turn on your engine but it can supply very limited power to your lights and radio.

It is important to monitor your car’s battery voltage since 12.6 volts is the customary voltage needed in order for your car to start. Your engine won’t start if your car battery’s voltage is below 10.8 volts.

Battery terminals and their cables should also be working in good condition. If there are any loose wires or cables, make sure to secure them firmly.

 02 Worn-Out Solenoid and Starter Motor

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The solenoid and starter motor are crucial when turning on your engine since the solenoid charges the starter motor by relaying its electrical currents through its coil upon hitting the ignition switch.

Any kind of damage, rust, or dirt obstacles in these devices may hinder the solenoid and starter motor to work properly.

 03 Locked Up Engine

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A locked-up or seized engine may also be the root of your problem. Your car won’t start because of a locked-up engine, but you will only hear a click if you attempt to start it, although the lights and radio will work.

This is due to many reasons, such as low engine oil, which adds friction to its components and eventually leads to overheating or seizing up, water being present in the engine, and poor condition of engine components.

Remember to monitor your car’s oil levels using a dipstick so that proper circulation can occur within the oil pump and gas tank. If the oil level is within the two labeled lines usually marked as “safe,” then your car still has a good amount of oil in it.

3. If the Car Turns Over But Does Not Start

There are many root causes as to why your car turns over but does not seem to start. Here are the possible reasons:

 01 Faulty Spark Plugs

nissan

Spark Plugs play an important role to make your car engine function as it should. Check to see if you have faulty spark plugs, and encounter symptoms such as engine misfiring and surging, feeling of roughness while idle, and car acceleration problems.

 02 Compression Loss

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A worn-out engine can cause leaks in the cylinder, which can result in low compression that would make it difficult for the engine to operate.

Check for its components and make sure they are properly installed such as the timing chain. There could be leaks from the head gasket, or one of its valves got stuck.

 03 Fuel Leakage or Empty Fuel

turn-key-and-nothing-happens

It is best to confirm whether or not your fuel is compromised. One reason is that you may run out of fuel or experience a leakage that causes your engine to malfunction.

Check for any kind of blockages in the filters or damages in the fuel pumps. It is important to clear any kind of obstacles in the filters, and replace fuel pumps if it is already worn out.

 04 Failing Sensors

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If the powertrain control module sensors’ are broken or fail to transmit the needed information, it will negatively impact your engine and driving performance.

 05 Malfunctioning Ignition Components

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Your engine may shut down when you have a faulty ignition coil, as they tend to misfire and affect the performance of other engine components.

A blown fuse can also affect its connected components, such as the fuel pumps and fuel injectors. It can also damage your nearby circuits.

How to Fix It?

Once you have identified the real cause of when you turn the key and nothing happens or why your car won’t start and has no clicking noise, you can easily fix and solve your problem.

  • If the main reason for the “no crank no start” issue but lights work is a faulty ignition system, it is best to have its parts and components replaced or fixed by a car maintenance repair shop.
  • Have a visual check or run through if all electrical components in the ignition system are in good condition and are still intact such as its ignition coils, relays, and fuse. These components have to be replaced or cleaned, as the case may be.
  • Also, ensure that all wirings and components are free from any dirt or obstacles that may affect their efficiency and performance. Devices like the solenoid and its terminals can be cleaned if it’s dirty upon disconnecting the starter motor.
  • The same goes for malfunctioning solenoids or starter motors, as you can have them replaced or repaired by a professional mechanic.
  • If it is an issue with your immobilizer, you may have to replace the battery of your car’s key fob or request a new key fob from your manufacturer in case of serious damage.
  • When it comes to battery issues, you can jumpstart your car’s- battery by using jumper cables and giving it a power-up. You can also opt to recharge your car battery to avoid sulfation, or if it is damaged, you can have it replaced.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the Car Battery Be Dead and Radio Still Work?

This can be a case-to-case basis since a battery that is 100% drained won’t make your radio function. However, if it does not start the engine then there may be a chance that limited power has been supplied to its radio.

Cost to Replace a Car Battery

Replacing car batteries can cost around $50 – $200, depending on the brand and where you reside. There are instances that it can go more than $250 depending on the car dealership.

Does Nissan Have a Warranty in Terms of Engine Parts?

The Nissan brand has a Powertrain Warranty Coverage which encompasses a wide scope of internal parts for the engine, transmission, drivetrain, and your car’s restraint system.

Conclusion

Now you have learned about the many reasons why your car won’t start but lights come on a clicking noise or even when you hear nothing at all, troubleshooting its source will help you pinpoint and give you a head start on how to fix it.

We have mentioned how to solve this issue above, particularly if it’s about the battery, ignition system, solenoids, or faulty electrical components.

We hope that we have provided useful information and answered the question about why my car won’t start but the radio and lights work.

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