Chevrolet Silverado 1500 won’t start – how to fix it?

The fear that an expensive defect is responsible for the starting problems of Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra is mostly unfounded. Often there is a comparatively easy to remedy cause.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ – (photo by Chevrolet)

However, there is a wide range of possible reasons why a Chevy Silverado 1500 does not start. It ranges from a simple lack of fuel to an empty battery to a broken starter. Defects in the electrical system, the fuel pump or the ignition lock can also paralyze a vehicle.


The starting problems of a vehicle can be different. In some cases the truck starts at least sporadically and allows its owner to drive independently to the nearest specialist workshop. In other cases, the truck won’t start until the underlying problem is solved. The nature of the starting problems depends on their cause. The behavior of the vehicle when turning the ignition key is therefore a first indication of the defect that caused the problems.

It is therefore advisable to describe the nature of the start-up problems as precisely as possible when calling the breakdown service or calling the workshop.

Battery empty

Freezing temperatures clog vehicle batteries and reduce their capacity. The result: you no longer fully charge while driving. This is why most start-up problems occur on cold days in winter.

Typical signs of an empty or even defective battery are the starter barely turning and the fluctuating current in the interior. If the vehicle battery is completely empty, it is also possible that nothing happens when the ignition key is turned.

Silverado 1500 battery location

Corroded connections – for example between the battery and the body – can also be a cause of insufficient battery charging.

  • Tip: An empty power storage can be easily recognized by switching on the interior lighting. If the light dims significantly when trying to start the truck, this is mostly due to a flat battery. However, the charge level of the battery can only be checked reliably using a voltage measuring device.

How to fix it

In order for the truck to start again when the battery is empty, it needs jump start. You should always have a suitable jumper cable in the trunk.


With its help, the battery receives a current pulse from another vehicle that is sufficient to start the vehicle. The battery can then recover and recharge while the engine is running.

Another option is to connect a battery charger. However, if the battery is defective, only an exchange in the workshop helps.

Important: A defective alternator can result in the battery no longer being charged while driving. If the battery is empty shortly after charging, the alternator should therefore be checked for a defect.

Defective starter motor

If the battery is OK, a defect in the starter can be the cause of a non-starting vehicle. Age-related wear or a material defect can damage the starter. This is often noticeable by a clicking sound when trying to start.

The component, which is driven by an electric motor, has the task of using the current from the battery to get the engine running. A defective magnetic switch on the starter can also prevent the truck from starting.

How to fix it

Repairing the starter is rarely possible. Its position deep in the engine compartment also makes it difficult to reach. If the vehicle is on a lift anyway for examination, the part should be replaced as a precaution. This is especially true for older vehicles.

Ignition lock defective

Modern trucks are equipped with a start button and no longer have a classic ignition lock. However, another defect can occur in vehicles that still have an ignition lock. This can usually be seen in the fact that nothing happens when the ignition key is turned.

Neither a lamp lights up, nor does the starter make any noise. In modern cars, a defect in the chip card or the chip installed in the key can lead to similar problems.

You can recognize immobilizer errors by the fact that the engine starts for a short time, but then goes out again immediately.

How to fix it

So that the car starts again, only the replacement of the broken ignition lock or the defective chip card / the defective key helps.

Fuel tank empty

In the hectic pace of everyday life, it can happen that you forget to fill up. Often with the result that the engine stalls while driving and can no longer be started.

A typical sign of an empty tank (next to the fuel gauge) is an engine that ignites briefly but then goes out again immediately. This is due to fuel residues that still get into the engine.

How to fix it

With a gasoline engine, it is usually sufficient to refill the fuel and start the car. In diesel engines, it is necessary to bleed the fuel system.

Bleeding is possible manually in older vehicles, whereas this process is initiated in modern vehicles via on-board diagnosis (OBD) in combination with the corresponding diagnostic software.

Fuel system problems

If there is sufficient fuel in the tank, it may still not get into the cylinders and the engine cannot be started. Possible causes are a defective fuel pump or injection system. An incorrect setting of these components can also lead to starting problems.

How to fix it

Defective parts of the fuel system must be replaced by a workshop. Repairs are rarely possible. With an incorrect setting, however, the start-up problems can be solved relatively easily.

Marten bite, lack of ignition spark and other causes

Another cause of starting problems with the vehicle is the marten damage. The animals prefer to bite cables and wires in cars. These can affect the electrical circuit or the fuel and oil supply.

If the car doesn’t start, a look into the engine compartment and the search for obvious damage will help. If these can be found, towing to the next workshop is inevitable.

Defective spark plugs or glow plugs as well as loose plug connections on the ignition cables can result in the car no longer starting. While loose plugs are easy to fix, broken candles are difficult to detect by laypeople.

The breakdown service or the workshop of trust helps in an emergency . It can replace the defective parts directly so that the vehicle starts again.

Other possible causes of a non-starting vehicle:

  • Foreign bodies in the fuel filter
  • Defective crankshaft sensor (then the control unit does not know when to inject or ignite)
  • Moisture in the engine
  • Clogged fuel line
  • Engine damage / fixed engine
  • Flooded carburetor (older models)
  • Defective ignition coil

Conclusion

There are many reasons why the vehicle does not start. When looking for the trigger, it is advisable to use the exclusion principle and only start with the most obvious cause, the empty battery.

In any case, it is advisable for laypersons to call a breakdown service or a workshop. In the event of a defect, the latter can directly initiate the repair.

Contact the author: kurtmckinney@wheelsjoint.com


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