Skip to Content

Dashboard Lights Flickering Car Won’t Start – What Could Be Wrong?

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

If your car doesn't start then it can put you in a bad situation. However, what does it mean if the car won't start, but the dashboard lights are flickering? We have done the research on your behalf to help troubleshoot this problem!

If your dashboard lights are flicking and your car won't start, it could be due to the following:

  1. Dead Car Battery
  2. Faulty Alternator  
  3. Faulty Connection  
  4. Fuse Blown  
  5. Faulty Headlamp Switch  
  6. Bad Starter
  7. Faulty Ignition Switch
  8. Loose or Dirty Batter Cables
  9. Corroded Battery Terminals
  10. Worn Spark Plugs

We get it; that's a long list of possible culprits to your problem. However, there is no need to worry because we will discuss each in detail in this article. In addition, we will discuss what it means if your car won't start and there aren't any lights coming on at all, so read on!

A modern car illuminated dashboard, Dashboard Lights Flickering Car Won't Start - What Could Be Wrong?

Dashboard Lights Flickering Car Won't Start - What Could Be Wrong?

When your car doesn't start, it can make it challenging to get to your destination in a timely manner. You could be late for work, or worse. You could even be stranded in a parking lot far from home.

Close up on a cluster with the check engine warning light on indicating a car failure

However, what does it mean if your lights flicker on your dashboard, but the car still won't start? If this is going on, then it could be due to one of these common issues:

Dead Car Battery

A dead car battery can happen due to many reasons. The most common reason is that it just needs to be charged. If you find that your dashboard lights are flickering, but your car won't start, then the first thing you need to do is check the battery level with a multimeter. A multimeter will let you know if the battery is in good working order.

If you don't have a multimeter, then try to jumpstart the car. If you can get the car started after jumping it, it is vital to have the battery tested by a mechanic. These mechanics will run a full diagnostic on the battery to make sure it isn't going bad.

Faulty Alternator

If the battery is in good working order, this could mean a problem with the alternator. The alternator charges up your car's battery, so you will experience problems starting your car if it isn't charging up. Likewise, if your car won't start and the dashboard is flickering, then this could mean that you need to replace the alternator.

Faulty Connection

This means that something is loose or disconnected in between your battery and starter. It could be one of the wires going from the battery to the spark plugs, or it could even be the starter itself.

If you are having trouble starting your car, it is essential to check all of these wires and make sure they are connected tightly together. If none of this works, then you might have a faulty connection somewhere in your engine bay.

Can a Fuse Make your Car Not Start?

Sometimes, when troubleshooting the connections in your engine bay, it could be a blown fuse. But, most of the time causes your dashboard lights to flicker. Most of the time, but there is always the chance that it could affect more than that.

If this is happening, try replacing that fuse with another one of the same amperages. If the new fuse blows, this could mean that there is a problem with your car's wiring or electrical components.

Can a bad starter cause dashboard lights to flicker?

Modern car start stop button

If your car doesn't start, it could mean that you have a bad starter. The starter has the job of turning over the engine, so if it is weak or broken, then you might have problems getting your car started.

This is usually because of either physical damage to the starter itself or just light wear and tear on the part.

Faulty Ignition Switch

A faulty ignition switch can sometimes cause your car not to start. Usually, this type of issue will cause the lights on your dashboard to flicker, but they won't go off completely.

The ignition switch is usually responsible for powering up all of the electrical components in your vehicle, so if it isn't working correctly, you will have problems starting your engine.

Faulty Headlamp Switch

If the dashboard lights are flickering, but your car still won't start, it could be due to a faulty headlamp switch. You should also check this if none of the lights on your dashboard are coming on at all.

Check the fuses first to make sure they are all in working order. If they are okay, then you should have this switch replaced by a mechanic.

Loose or Dirty Batter Cables

If your car doesn't start, then it could be due to loose or dirty battery cables. However, the reason why the car won't start is because of a poor connection.

If this is the case, you must clean up all of these terminals and replace any old corroded cables with new ones.

Corroded Battery Terminals

If your car won't start and the dashboard is flickering, this could mean that there is a problem with the battery's terminals. If they are corrupted, then it won't be easy to get your car started.

Not only will you have problems starting your car, but you might have issues with lights on the dashboard flicking on and off.

These terminals need to be cleaned up with a wire brush and baking soda.

Worn Spark Plugs

Sometimes your engine won't start because a spark plug is just worn down and not firing. If this is the case, then you might have issues with dashboard lights flickering too.

This means that if one of your spark plugs isn't putting out a good enough fire, then it will be challenging to start your car. When replacing these spark plugs, they must be the same type as those that you remove.

Dash Lights Flicker When Idling - What Does it Mean?

Car dashboard display with blue light

If your car is idling and the dashboard lights are flickering, then this is a sign that your alternator is failing. When the lights are flickering but not turning off, this could mean a short in your wiring or that your alternator isn't charging up properly. If they go off when you rev the engine, then it might be an issue with the connection of the wires to your alternator.

In addition, there could be an issue with the battery itself. As mentioned above, check the battery cables to make sure they are appropriately connected. If they are, you might need to replace your battery or have it tested for possible issues.

Lastly, you could be having electrical problems somewhere within the vehicle. Check for any loose or broken wiring and have these replaced by a professional.

 

Does Auto Zone check alternators?

Yes, Auto Zone will check your alternator! You can go to any Auto Zone in the United States, and they will check your alternator for you. In addition, Auto Zone will check your battery and starter to help you pinpoint your issue.

What does it mean when your car won't start and no lights come on?

If your car won't start and there are no lights coming on, then this could mean that you have a problem with your battery. It might be as simple as a loose cable or something as serious as an alternator issue.

In addition, if the engine turns over but doesn't start, it might be due to a bad starter. Within the starter, you could also be having issues with:

Starter Relay

The starter relay is responsible for sending electrical currents to the starter. This will allow the engine to start by engaging metal contacts. The relay also makes it so that the current is only sent through when turning your key. If you have issues with the starter relay, then your car could not start at all.

Faulty Solenoid Coil

The starter solenoid coil sends electrical currents to the starter that causes the engine to turn over when cranking the engine. If there is an issue, it won't send off any electricity, and your car won't start.

Starter Motor

If all of these components are in working order, there might be an issue with the starter motor. In this case, the starter may make a clicking or grinding noise when you try to turn it over.

Final Thoughts

If you run into the problem where your car won't start, but the dashboard lights will flicker, then start with the basics. Check your battery first and make sure the battery cables are tight and the terminals aren't corroded. Next, try jumpstarting the battery to see if you can get the car to start. If those don't work, you may have a deeper issue such as a faulty alternator, failed starter, or worse.

For more vehicle maintenance guides, check these out:

My car Won't Start But It Clicks [5 Potential Causes]

Do Modern Car Engines Have Spark Plugs?

Loud Popping Noise From Rear Of Car—What Could Be Wrong?