My Car Will Not Start Sometimes – How Much Will it Cost to Fix This?

by | Dec 18, 2014 | Auto Questions, Auto Tips, Car Problems & Repairs

Ever had this happen?  You drive your car, park it for a few minutes to run an errand — then when you return your car won’t start.

Recently a customer dropped by our auto shop with his son.  They were having this same issue.

“Our car used to not start if I had to leave it for five minutes, but now it has gotten even worse,”  he shared. “It’s not even starting first thing in the morning after leaving it overnight.” 

Well, the first thing we did was to complete a diagnostic form.  After finishing this the customer suggested that I go and start the car.

“Go and try it now,” he offered.  “I bet it won’t start.”

Well, I went out and tried to start the car, and to his surprise, the car started right up.  This is one of the most frustrating of issues — intermittent problems.  What do you do?  How much will it cost to fix?

Well, to start, you should be prepared to pay for checking the basics — in other words, checking for known problems that might match the symptoms. From our end this includes things like calling a hot line and checking data bases. Additionally, if there are any issues we identify like a weak or incorrectly sized battery then that work should be performed.

The next step is to hook the car up to a data collector and test the car. You’ll need to give permission for the technician to drive the car with his equipment hooked up and ready. We typically have customers authorize from two to four hours of labor to identify and fix the basics associated with an intermittent start problem. So if the hourly rate for your shop is $100/hour you could expect to pay $200 to $400 for this service.

But…you should be aware that getting to the bottom of intermittent problems isn’t easy and can be very frustrating for both the service facility and the customer. Think about it, even Toyota, with all their resources, took months to pin down the issues related to sudden acceleration!

So, if there is some difficulty getting to the root of the problem, get angry at the car — not the technician. Concentrate on thinking about the circumstances that occurred at the time when the car would not start. Fixing an intermittent problem requires a partnership between the car owner/driver and the auto repair shop. Ultimately, the problem can be identified, but it may require patience and tenacity.

One final point — if you search the internet for a solution, make sure the solution matches the symptoms EXACTLY. Don’t call the technician with a list.  If you do he will have to respond to everything on your list, and this could increase the price of the repair.

If you ever notice an intermittent start problem, get a electrical diagnostic form immediately.  It will give you an idea of some of the things to look for.  Keep it in your car so that you can record the conditions when the problem occurs.  That way, the chances of figuring out the problem faster increases substantially.

And remember, the holidays are coming up.  The last thing you want to happen is to not have your car start right before you are set to take off for a holiday celebration.  So if you are experiencing this problem, and your car will not start sometimes, get it checked out as soon as you can.


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About the Author

About Brian England

Brian England, the current president of BA Auto Care (formerly British American Auto Care), got his start with an auto apprenticeship in a small town in northwest of London. He came to the U.S. in 1972 to work for a Land Rover dealer in Rockville, MD. A few years later, he started British American Auto Care with his wife, Jennifer. Brian is a big believe in preventative maintenance, and his philosophy is to encourage and educate drivers on the benefits of a regular maintenance plan.