What could be the cause of my car not starting?

In my attempts to start my car this morning it did not start until 15 minutes into my morning. It is not the battery for sure because everything is on including the radio. When I turn the key it sounds as if it starts, but then the engine "lurches" and does not enter into its cycling. I tried to give it gas, but then there is a noticeable "pop" as if air is leaving a pressured area or valve. It started eventually, but then upon shutting it back down and trying to start it again it would not start.

My car has 115000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Experienced mechanics share their insights in answering this question :
Hello there, thank you for asking about your 1999 Pontiac Grand Am. This car’s engine is known to have a problem with engine speed sensors like the crankshaft and camshaft sensors. The fuel pump is also known to have issues with not giving fuel pressure. Before anything can be isolated, the engine fuel pressure should be tested and the computer scanned to see if there are codes that could help diagnose the no start. If you have good fuel pressure and no codes then disconnect the mass airflow sensor and try to start it. I have seen this sensor cause problems and not even set a code. If the vehicle starts and runs halfway decent, then have a certified technician from YourMechanic replace the mass airflow sensor.

How to Identify and Fix Common car Problems ?

Our sources include academic articles, blog posts, and personal essays from experienced mechanics :

Starting Trouble

A malfunctioning mass airflow sensor can also make it difficult to start your automobile. This can be due to the air and fuel in balance in the combustion chamber or because the main computer chip has received an error code from the sensor and does not want to start your car.

Bad Sensors

One common culprit for this problem is the crankshaft position sensor, which measures the position and speed of the crankshaft. The computer uses the information from this sensor to know when to fire the spark plugs. If the sensor isn`t working, the spark plugs won`t fire, keeping the engine from starting.

A faulty mass airflow sensor will cause problems similar to low compression or low vacuum, and will also show symptoms similar to when your vehicle has low fuel pressure from a faulty fuel pump. Here are some of the most common symptoms of a faulty mass airflow sensor: The engine is very hard to start or turn over.
No your mass airflow sensor has nothing to do with your fuel pump.
A bad MAF sensor can cause your vehicle to experience poor drivability issues such as engine stalling, jerking or hesitation during acceleration. This could happen while speeding up on the highway on-ramp or cruising down a city street. These issues can create dangerous situations causing accidents and injury.
A bad MAF sensor can cause too much fuel to be left in the combustion chamber, creating untimed detonations. You`ll experience this as poor drivability such as hesitations or sudden jerking motions, particularly during acceleration.
In fact, most sensors are responsible for actually making the changes to critical systems such as ignition and fuel systems. Since any engine requires the correct air to fuel ratio and ignition timing to start, having a faulty sensor that can`t adjust these symptoms on the fly can cause the engine to not start.
your car fails to start: the engine`s computer uses the map sensor to gauge atmospheric pressure before the engine is started. a false reading could cause too much or too little fuel to be delivered to the engine. both conditions could keep it from firing up.
As the engine is cranked, the crankshaft position sensor indicates to the PCM that the engine has reached a minimum cranking speed of about 250-300 rpm. At that point, the PCM re-activates the fuel pump.
A crankshaft position sensor (crank sensor) is an important device measuring the engine RPM and tracing the crankshaft position. The car won`t start if the crankshaft position sensor doesn`t work properly. The crank sensor can fail, or its wiring can get damaged. This may cause the car to stall or not start.
Fortunately (spoiler alert) the root cause of a no-crank is almost always simple. Most of the time it`s simply due to a low or dead battery, or voltage drop through a corroded connection. Rule those out before you suspect the starter itself.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

My car will not start Intermittently. I purchased a new battery 2 weeks ago and yesterday the car wouldn’t start. Got a jump and
ANSWER : The issue you are having is probably due to an intermittent fault in the starter motor itself or a deficiency in the starter electrical circuit, for example a large voltage drop due to a poor ground or a high resistance connection. These issues can be readily diagnosed and resolved on a mobile basis if you request a hard starting diagnostic. If you request that diagnostic, the responding certified mechanic will get this resolved for you promptly. Based on Toyota’s Factory Service Manual, the battery should not be disconnected if the vehicle engine is running. The battery acts as a large resistive voltage sink and consequently taking the battery out of the circuit, while the alternator is still running, can create a voltage spike on the car’s electrical system which is not good for voltage sensitive components such as the engine computer. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

My car stutter starts, but only after driving it for a few minutes.
ANSWER : Hey there. This may also be caused by what is called the fuel pressure regulator. This is a unit that helps to maintain the fuel pressure at the proper level. When this is not working properly, the fuel pump may be pumping properly, but the fuel may not arrive at the fuel injectors at the proper psi. When this happens, this can cause a lean fuel condition which may cause the car to hesitate, misfire, or stall. If you would like to have an expert pinpoint the issue, a certified professional from YourMechanic can come to your car’s location to inspect the hard start problem and confirm which repairs are needed.

My car will be starting perfect and when the gas tank gets lower it will start having problems .
ANSWER : Based on the information you gave, it sounds like a possible fuel starvation issue, caused by a partially blocked, in-tank fuel filter or a crack in the fuel pump housing. The remedy would be to replace the fuel pump assembly and filter. The overheating may be caused by several things, including a stuck thermostat, faulty water pump, or even a cracked head gasket. I suggest having a certified technician, like one from YourMechanic, inspect the relevant systems to pinpoint the cause of your vehicle’s hard starting issue and overheating problem.

car hesitates when trying to start the car ,but when started then i shut car off and start again it will start right up
ANSWER : Hi there:

Sometimes when you have problems starting an engine initially it is caused by a restriction in fuel flow; caused either by clogged fuel injectors or the throttle body that needs to be cleaned. Once the fuel starts to flow and engine warms up, it’s much easier to start. However, it could also be an air filter, EGR valve or other components that causes this issue as well, which is why it’s best to have a professional mobile mechanic complete a car is hard to start inspection so they can pinpoint the source of this issue.

Map sensor car won’t start up good ?
ANSWER : Your MAP sensor is an important input for your computer. It helps determine the load on the engine to calculate the correct amount of fuel to inject. It sometimes takes a few seconds for the vehicle to realize that the sensor is not producing a good signal.

At that point, it will use other methods to determine the fuel rate, such as pre-programmed fuel maps, throttle position, etc. I would suggest replacing the MAP sensor and retesting. If you would like to have it checked first, a certified technician from YourMechanic will be able to scan your vehicle and test components to determine the root cause of your starting issue before making a repair.

Battery and oil light come on when trying to start car, take keys out try again car starts no problem and lights go away
ANSWER : Of course, don’t switch gears without being fully stopped, unless your Owner’s Manual or the manufacturer has alternative advice. However, the gear shift issue has no relation to the no-start problem you are describing. Inasmuch as you only have 6,000 miles on the car, the "constant on and off" that you believe has occurred is meaningless in comparison to the expected total vehicle service life. That is, assume what you perceive as "constant on and off", during merely 6,000 miles, might be equivalent to using the car "normally" for three years. A new car should be trouble free for at least 5 years, unless there is a defect, so your "constant on and off" is not a causal factor for any fault on the vehicle. What you might have is a defect in the ignition switch, or perhaps the immobilizer system, but if the problem is not in the switch itself, clearly there is an electrical problem.

If your vehicle is under warranty, by law the dealer MUST repair the issue you are describing within a prescribed time frame and number of "attempts", otherwise the dealer will run afoul of Federal and state Lemon Laws that give you very specific rights, and recourse (contact an Attorney; we are Mechanics, NOT attorneys). Consequently, if the vehicle is still under warranty, to save yourself money do be sure to seek a resolution from the dealer. If the vehicle is not under warranty, obviously a certified Mechanic from YourMechanic could identify the electrical fault and resolve this for you. If you want to go that route, please simply request a no start diagnostic -electrical system and the responding certified mechanic will get this taken care of for you. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

After you sit with the car running, the car starts smoking and eventually starts shaking
ANSWER : Hi, thanks for writing in. It all depends where the smoke is coming from. If it is from the exhaust then your engine be running rich and starting to foul out the spark plugs. Have the computer tested to see if any codes are present that could indicate what is causing the smoke. If you see smoke from the engine compartment then you may be running the engine hot due to low airflow over the radiator. Have the cooling fan checked to make sure it is running. If it is running and the vehicle has the AC running and the blower is on or near high then you may be using more energy than the alternator can keep up with. This can cause the radiator fan to not turn as fast as it should and let the temperature to rise if idled for long periods. If you would like help, consider having an expert automotive technician from YourMechanic come to your home or office to inspect and diagnose this issue for you, and make or suggest any repairs as needed.

Dead battery jump-started, but no causes found. 2014 Buick Verano
ANSWER : Hey there, thanks for writing in about your 2014 Buick Verano. This could potentially be a charging system problem. As you may already know, your car has an onboard charging system called an alternator which works to keep your battery charged at all times. If this is not working properly, your battery will not stay charged. The fact that your battery took a new charge and stayed charged suggests that the battery is not the problem. If the problem comes back and persists, have an expert mechanic, like one from YourMechanic, inspect your charging system to pinpoint any faults.