Dashboard Lights Flickering, Car Won’t Start

Dashboard Lights Flickering, Car Won’t Start

Dashboard Lights Flickering, Car Won't Start Causes

Failure to properly care for a car can result in numerous technical problems. One of them is dashboard lights flickering. Car refusing to start is another common technical problem.

In this post, we’ll focus on these two, particularly when these two happen simultaneously.

Why Are My Dashboard Lights Flickering And My Car Won’t Start?

While there are many causes of this problem, most of them are related to the battery.

Below is a list of causes why your dashboard lights are flickering and your car won’t start:

  1. Dead/Dying Car Battery
  2. Won Out/Faulty Alternator
  3. Loose/Faulty Battery Cables
  4. Faulty Ignition Switch
  5. Burned Fuse/Terminal
  6. Faulty Solenoid Coil
  7. Loose Fuse/Connection
  8. Dead Spark Plug

Dead/Dying Car Battery

A dead or dying car battery is the number one cause of dashboard lights flickering and car not starting.

With just about every car, the dashboard lights and the car rely heavily on the car’s battery. If the car battery is dead, dying, or faulty, chances are that the car will not function properly.

These include car problems like a car not starting or dashboard lights dimming, failing, or flickering.


If the dashboard lights are flickering and the car won’t start, the problem is often caused by a dead or dying battery. You might need to do away with the battery completely.

Remember that you’ll first need to inspect your battery to confirm its problem. Ideally, it would help if you considered replacing your car battery after two years.

Furthermore, proper maintenance of a car battery helps prevent such problems.

Proper maintenance involves not leaving a car parked for long periods or exposing the battery to extreme cold or hot conditions.

Worn Out/Faulty Alternator

A faulty alternator is another cause: dashboard lights are flickering, and the car is failing to start. The alternator plays a big part in a car’s electrical system.

The alternator is responsible for charging the battery of the car. A faulty alternator means that the car won’t charge a car’s battery.

In other words, the car’s battery will be empty.

An empty car battery or a car battery that is not correctly charged will result in dashboard lights flickering and the car refusing to start.


To fix a faulty alternator, you’ll need first to confirm that it has a problem. For this, you’ll need a digital volt ohmmeter or DVOM (aka voltmeter).

This tool helps you know the amount of voltage your alternator is putting out. If the voltage is below 12.65 volts, then your alternator is faulty.

Ideally, you want your alternator checked by a professional because different cars require different attention when dealing with an alternator.

Loose/Faulty Battery Cables

Faulty or loose battery cable may cause dashboard lights to flicker and your car not to start. Loose or faulty battery cables result in poor battery connections.

With poor battery connections, a car’s dashboard lights are bound to flicker, dim, or fail altogether. The same also applies to the car’s ignition.

Remember, a car will only properly function if it has power, which can only be achieved with a good connection. A good connection cannot be achieved through loose or faulty battery cables.


If you deal with loose or faulty battery cables, disconnect every battery cable and reconnect them.

There are specific tools or equipment for this: an electrical tape, screwdriver, wire brush, terminal cleaner, and some work gloves.

The electrical tape will come in handy when securing battery cables in place in hard to maneuver areas.

Faulty Ignition Switch

The ignition switch of a car plays a significant role in the car’s overall performance.

Unfortunately, they can and will be faulty with time, especially if they’ve been in use for some time and left unattended.

A faulty ignition switch results in a car not starting in most cases. The same is also the case with the car’s dashboard lights flickering.

It is more so if the dashboard lights continuously flicker or dim but don’t completely go off.


A faulty ignition switch you must replace. Replacing a faulty ignition switch helps solve the problem if your car won’t start.

Although a simple task, some instances might require you to dig deep into the car’s electrical or computer system to fix a faulty ignition switch.

In such instances, seeking professional help is ideal, given you’ll work on fuses, switches, relay, and much more.

Dashboard Lights Flickering, Car Won't Start

Burned Fuse/Terminal

Burned fuse or terminal is another cause of dashboard lights flickering accompanied by the car not starting. With cars, the fuse and terminal tend to get burned.

When this happens, they might fail to work entirely or be faulty. A fuse or a terminal can and will get burned when it overheats.

When overheated, they’ll get burned, and in most cases, this results in dashboard lights flickering and the car not starting depending on the relevance of the fuse or terminal.


With burned fuses, you want to replace the affected fuses. It is not a complicated process, given that burnt fuses are easy to spot.

Furthermore, getting to the burnt fuses is simple. A significant number of DIY videos online like How To Replace Car Fuses perfectly detail this process in the video below.

Important to note when dealing with burnt fuses, you might have to completely replace the panel terminals or fuse boxes to avoid similar problems in the future.

Faulty Solenoid Coil

The solenoid coil is tasked with sending electrical currents to the car’s starter, responsible for causing the engine to turn over when cranking.

If the solenoid coil of a car is faulty, a car will not start even when given gas. The solenoid coil will not send off the electricity needed for the car to start.

Keep in mind that faulty solenoid coils result from dirt or soil.


If you are looking at repairing a faulty solenoid coil, you’ll need first to inspect it.

The inspection involves confirming if dirt, oil, or soil is the reason for it not functioning correctly.

A thorough cleaning job should do the trick if any of these is present. You can as well replace your car’s solenoid coil completely.

Loose Fuse/Connection

In some instances, dashboard lights flickering and cars refusing to start may result from a loose fuse or connections.

Yes, your car battery might be in a good state, but a loose connection means the power it’s meant to supply for the car to function properly is not there.

Unfortunately, finding a loose fuse or connection can be tricky. Ideally, it would help to note when dashboard lights flicker or when your car fails to start.

If this happens on rough surfaces, then chances are your car has a loose fuse or connection.


Loose fuses and connections are easy to fix. Please point out the loose fuses or connections and reconnect them.

However, it would be best to look at the fuse and the panel terminals. Damaged panel terminals are known to be the reason for most loose fuses.

Therefore, you might also have to replace your car’s panel terminals.

Dead Spark Plug

Similar to a loose connection, a dead spark plug can cause dashboard lights to flicker and, at the same time, cause a car not to start.

Similar to causes already listed, understanding the part a spark plug plays helps understand why their failure causes dashboard lights flickering and a car not to start.

The spark plug supplies the spark that ignites the air/fuel mixture.

If they are dead, fail, or are faulty, then the intended ignition will not happen; hence a car will start experiencing problems like a car not starting or having challenges starting a car.


While spark plugs are known to last, they can and will die at some point. When this happens, you can either fix/revive it or replace it entirely.

It is highly recommended to replace it because fixing or reviving a dead spark plug is temporary. The process of replacing dead spark plugs is simple.

Start by removing the ignition coils or cables and locate the spark plugs (usually on top of the cylinder).

Please remove them and fit in the new plugs properly. Remember to make sure that they are the same length.

Dashboard Lights Flickering, Car Won’t Start – Conclusion

While it is possible to fix the dashboard lights flickering and car not starting through a DIY project, it is best to seek the services of a professional.

With a professional, you are guaranteed quality repair services and much-needed advice on what not to do to avoid such cases in the future.

However, if you are not in a position to seek professional help, these DIY solutions will do the trick.