Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas – What Does It Mean?

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas – What Does It Mean?

One of the worst situations to be in is waking up in the morning ready to start your day only to find that the car won’t start after getting gas.

The last thing anyone wants is to have their car failing to start especially in moments when you most need it to work. For your car to start, there are plenty of components inside your car, and all need to work together.

If one of the components isn’t working as it should then you may find that your car fails to start. However, if you have put enough gas inside your car and it will not start, then several reasons could cause this.

How Does Car Ignition Work

Car ignition

Before we look into why the car won’t start after getting gas, it is important to understand exactly what is happening inside your car when you turn the ignition key.

First off there are a couple of parts that will be engaged and will work together to get the engine running.

The first component that reacts is the starter motor. This one helps to turn the crankshaft which then moves the pistons moving inside the vehicle. This sucks in air and fuel. The spark plugs will then release a spark and ignite the air-fuel mixture resulting in combustion.

The result is the car engine working with its power. One thing though to note is that the power to turn the crank first comes from the starter motor.

The fuel that is sucked into the combustion chamber that then burns will have traveled to the fuel tank. It passes through the fuel pump. That said the starter motor will then power from the car’s battery.

Now let’s find out exactly what is causing your car to fail to start even with sufficient levels of gas.

Filling Up With Gas

This one is also known as bad purging. This comes down to how you’ve filled your gas tank. Often it occurs when you have overfilled the gas tank. It is never a good idea to fill your gas tank to the brim.

One thing you should note is that the fuel systems that are located inside the vehicle are complex and complicated parts. They may have faulty vents and valves.

By overfilling your gas tank in your Acura for example, you increase the chances of getting the fuel into the vacuum lines as well as the air pockets. This will impair the vehicle for starting.

If you know that you have recently filled the gas tank and the car won’t start after getting gas there is a chance of a bad purge valve.

The majority of vehicles feature anywhere from there to eight solenoids and sensors whose purpose is to control the gas pressure in the car and the fuel system. Overfilling the gas tank could cause the fuel to get into the sensors and to parts that should not get the fuel.

When the fuel solenoids and the fuel sensors come into contact with the fuel, they thus could cause damage and their seals to dry off. This results in spluttering of fuel whenever you are starting your vehicle.

Furthermore, you may find that the car’s acceleration is affected and the power has significantly gone down.

Having a bad purge valve is the main and most frequent reason why your car will not start even while having gas. This is therefore the first place you want to check if your car doesn’t start while having fuel.

Let’s find out the other factors being why your car won’t start after getting gas.

Why Won’t My Car Start

Why car wont start

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #1 – Faulty Alternator

Another major cause of why the car won’t start after getting gas is a damaged alternator. This, therefore, means that you should consider testing the alternator in such a case.

It is not surprising that the alternator could cause the car to fail to start while having gas. After all, it is one component that generates charge while also storing the excess charge in your battery.

This is to ensure that there is enough charge in your car battery to fire up the engine the next time you want to drive your car.

How To Start A Car With A Bad Alternator

Furthermore, the alternator ensures that there is enough charge to fire up the car’s electrical system including contests such as the car stereo, the wipers, the widows, and even the headlights.

Think of the alternator and the battery as your car’s charging system.

If you find that the car battery lacks charge then there is a chance that you could have a faulty alternator. However, it is never a good idea to jump to conclusions as other factors could cause the battery to lose charge.

That said in case the alternator is not behaving normally and the battery also lacks charge then start by checking the accessory drive belt.

You can tell that you have an issue with the alternator if the starter is cranking slowly or if the headlights are dimming. You could also get a warning light on the dashboard.

Whether the car’s dashboard or instrument panel features an alternator warning light will come down to the make and model of your car.

Either way, it is a good idea to test the alternator using the right gauge and find out if it can give off among 14 volts.

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #2 – Dead Battery

Another reason why the car won’t start after getting gas could be because of a dead or loosely connected battery.

This is because if there is a loose connection there will not be enough charge running through the electrical system and will not be enough to power the alternator and starter.

If you are suspecting that you could be having an issue with the battery start by turning on the headlights and seeing if they are bright. You also want to inspect the car’s electronics and see if they are functioning well.

In case of dim headlights then you will be dealing with a dead battery or the connection could be loose.

Check the terminal connection. In case they are loose, tighten them and see if this fixes the problem. If the problem persists you may want to replace or even charge the car battery.

If you have a corroded battery terminal then this could prevent a certain amount of charge from reaching the electrical system.

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #3 – Clogged Fuel Filter

The role of the fuel filter is to sieve out any particles and dirt in the fuel before it reaches the fuel pump.

Depending on the car model and make, there could also be another fuel filter that is located outside of the fuel tank. This one will filter the fuel before it reaches the injectors.

If you often drive off-road, it is no surprise that the fuel injectors could end up getting clogged by all the dirt and debris. This could cause the fuel filters to fail.

If you have a clogged fuel filter, then this could affect your car’s performance and eventually result in a total failure of the engine to start.

The easiest way to tell that your fuel filter is clogged is by getting a hard start. Furthermore, this will affect how fuel is delivered within the fuel system which then means that the car’s performance and power will go down.

In such instances, the fuel is unable to reach the fuel injectors.

The best way to determine that you have a clogged or faulty fuel filter is to also combine other bits of information such as a reduction of the fuel economy, issues with the acceleration, a check engine light, or even misfiring.

When there is a combination of the factors we’ve mentioned above then there is a good chance of a clogged fuel filter. You should change your fuel filter every 10,000 miles. You may also want to do an annual cleaning of your car’s entire fuel system.

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #4 – Faulty Fuel Pump

The fuel pump remains cool thanks to the fact that it is dipped inside the fuel in the tank. This then could mean that the fuel pump could overheat if the fuel in the tank is extremely low.

If the fuel pump has already overheated due to low fuel, then adding in cold fuel could end up causing it to malfunction.

If the fuel pump is damaged then there could be serious issues with the drivability and the performance of your vehicle. This is because the car depleted the fuel pump to deliver the fuel to the engine.

Bad Fuel Pump Symptoms

One way to tell that you have a damaged fuel pump, therefore, is the car won’t start after getting gas. However, if you also find that the engine splutters when driving at high speeds then this could also be a sign.

Furthermore, you may notice a whining noise coming from the fuel tank when driving at high speeds. There could also be a loss of performance as well as significantly low gas mileage.

When checking if the fuel pump has an issue, the first thing is to check the pressure of the fuel. This will give you insight into if the fuel pump is working as it should.

If you notice that the pump isn’t working, then there could be a problem with the level of voltage that is getting to the pump.

If however there is sufficient voltage then this is a sure sign that the pump is damaged. The good thing is that it is not difficult to replace the fuel pump. You simply need to get a fuel pump that is compatible with your car’s make and model.

It is also possible for you to replace the fuel pump yourself without having to take your vehicle to a mechanic and incur costs. You can get the instruction so the car owner’s manual.

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #5 – Damaged Starter Motor

The role of the starter motor in the car is to get your engine to move and ignite. It is one of the ways that you can tell that you are buying a good used car.

Diagnosing a bad starter motor isn’t all that difficult. It is one of the easiest ways to explain why your vehicle isn’t starting which has enough gas.

If the starter motor is damaged, you will hear a clicking sound whenever you turn on the ignition key.

The starter motor gets its power and charge from the car’s battery. This could cause you to think that the car battery has the issue.

A starter that false to naive or turn could be a result of the solenoid, short relay, or even an issue with the ignition switch.

When the starter motor fails to engage the flywheel then you will hear clicks. This could be a result of a loss of teeth on the starter’s drive gear or even on the flywheel.

This means that if the vehicle has a broken starter motor, your car will not start. At this point, you will need to replace the starter. This can cost you upwards of $350.

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #6 – No Spark

It is the spark plug that provides the spark needed to ignite the air-fuel mixture resulting in combusting. If the timing of the spark plug is off then you may experience the engine misfiring.

That said, keep in mind that several factors could cause a lack of spark. This may not be just an issue with the spark plug. For instance, a flooded engine, an issue with the circuit and ignition module, and cracked insulators. These are just some of the things that could cause a lack of spark.

Furthermore, you may find that the plugs have themselves degraded which tends to happen with age.

To find out where the issue could be coming from, you may want to make use of an adjustable spark tester. Ensure it can test 30kV, 40kV, and 10kV sparks. This will ensure that you can find the right arc in each spark plug or each ignition coil.

You also want to check if the distributor cap is loose or has cracked. Check if it has moisture, or has sustained any type of damage.

Furthermore, you also want to ensure that the cylinder hall has the right timing.  You can do this with a timing light.

That said, if you are suspecting that the engine flooding causes that problem and that the issue isn’t the spark plugs then all you need to do is to take out the spark plugs, dry them, have them replaced and then start the engine.

If this doesn’t solve the issue, then you should have your vehicle checked by a qualified mechanic. They will be in a better position to diagnose the problem and solve the problem.

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #7 – A Faulty Key Fob

Proximity keys are a more modern feature. While they can be a convenient way to start your vehicle they are also one of the main reasons why your car is failing to start even with enough gas.

Moreover, owners have experienced difficult situations due to the key fob especially when they die out without any warning. This could be a tricky situation having driven your Subaru Outback off-road in the middle of nowhere.

The great thing is that anyone can replace the key fob battery.

That said, when the key fob goes missing this can cause a lot of inconveniences. This could call for a car locksmith and even dealing with computer trouble codes.

Speaking of…

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #8 – Trouble Codes

Modern car vehicles will have a computer. It controls various sensors and actuators which then control the proper functioning of your car.

In case the sensors get false information or insufficient input then they could easily cause the car to file to start.

This is why you must scan for trouble codes. This is even while the engine checklist still hasn’t turned on. If you find them you must solve them fast.

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #9 – A Skipped Timing Belt

The role of the timing belt is to ensure properly synchronized turning of the crankshaft and the camshaft. Just like with all other car components and parts it is also prone to wear and tear.

If the timing belt skips, it can skip a cog which will then cause air to leak. This could cause a lack of combustion, or at best the combustion will be poor. At worse a broken timing belt could end up causing complete engine damage.

This would demand that you replace the entire engine which can be overly expensive.

When it comes to replacing your car’s timing belt, then there is a fair bit of work to do. Such may include doing a leak-down test, checking the pistons, and doing a compression pressure check.

This is why it is best to leave the more complex tasks to a professional mechanic.

How To Troubleshoot This

car won't start

It can be annoying not to mention a bit embarrassing trying to start your car at the gas station only to have it fail. That said, you should ensure that you remain calm and level-headed. This will help you make the right choices.

Here are a few things that you can do in case your vehicle fails to start after refueling.

The first and easiest thing that you need to do is to start the engine and find out if it is going to work. Who knows you might get lucky.

Pop the hood and take a look at the battery. If the terminal has a loose connection, then you may want to reconnect them and see if this fixes the problem.

If the battery is dead and has no charge, ask for help and push the vehicle out of the gas station. Then see if you can jump-start it.

You may also want to make another diagnosis that is if you are capable. That said, always ensure that you are not in the way of other motorists.

You may also want to get the vehicle towed. This is if you can’t find the problem and get the vehicle to move.

At this point, you may want to have the vehicle towed to an auto mechanic shop. This will allow for proper diagnosis and repair.

Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas #10 – Bad Gas

One other reason that isn’t so obvious but could be the culprit behind why the car isn’t starting, is that you filled the fuel tank with bad gas.

Having bad gas means that there will be an issue with fuel combustion. In this case, you may notice stalling of the engine, some rough idling, or even pinging sounds.

You may also notice that the check engine light has turned on. Furthermore, you may also have a hard time starting your vehicle.

All these are signs of bad fuel. But where do gas contaminations come from?

This can occur at the refinery or even during transportation to the fuel station. You may also have high water constant in the fuel due to a lack of proper storage.

If the tank in which the fuel is stored is corroded, then water can infiltrate the fuel. A cap that is not sealed could also cause this.

If you notice that you have bad gas in your engine, it is paramount that you have it drained and replaced with good gas.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Put Gas In A Car

Start by finding the gas tank, then pay for the gas, choose the gas grade, insert the gas nozzle inside the gas tank, add the gas and then screw the gas tank back in.

Can You Pump Gas With Your Car On

While there are minimal safety risks to pumping your gas with the car still running, it is however not permitted by law and is illegal. It is illegal to pump gas with the car still running in all 50 states. Before you can refuel therefore you must always turn off the car.

What Happens If You Overfill Your Gas Tank

Overfilling the fuel tank will cause the vapor intake hole to get covered with gas. This gas will then be sucked inside the charcoal canister. This will result in damage to the system. It will also cause a check engine light. Fixing the problem can also prove quite expensive.

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