Hyundai Tucson won’t start – causes and how to fix it

If your Hyundai doesn’t start, it can have various causes. Some problems can be solved quickly, others require a visit to the workshop. Find out why your car won’t start and what you can do about this problem.

Hyundai Tucson 3rd generation – (photo by Hyundai)

A Hyundai that doesn’t start can have a range of causes including dead battery, poor battery connection, dead key fob, broken starter, blown fuse, fuel pump failure, clogged fuel filter, empty fuel tank, defective spark plugs or any other electronics failure. Sometimes, especially if its an older model, the problem can be more serious, like engine failure, but those are very rare if the vehicle had periodic maintenance.

Dead Battery

In winter, car batteries have to deliver maximum performance. The cold puts a strain on the charging capacity, which means that the battery cannot store as much electricity as usual, and the voltage required to start the car can no longer be generated.

The empty battery is announced by the clattering noises of the starter. Then it should be recharged urgently, either on the charger or by driving around.

If the starter only clicks, it is too late. Then you will need to jump start the vehicle.

12V battery location on 2020 Hyundai Tucson (3rd generation)

To save batteries in winter, unnecessary consumers should not be switched on at all. In addition, you should only activate the heated rear window and heated seats after a certain driving time.

Short driving distances should be avoided. The removed charge capacity cannot be restored and the battery is then too weak to start the car.

To increase the service life of the battery, it should be cleaned regularly. Leakage currents flow through damp dirt and discharge the battery.

By the way, pushing the car in second gear only works if the battery still has residual voltage and of course only if the car has a manual transmission. Vehicles with automatic transmission cannot be pushed. If the car does not start for the first few meters, unburned fuel can get into the catalytic converter and damage it.

How to test car battery yourself

So, how do you know whether your battery just needs to be charged or whether it completely dead and needs to be replaced? We show you how.

Even a layperson can recognize a weak battery in good time because there are some signs. While driving, pay attention to whether you recognize any of these typical symptoms:

  • The engine does not start immediately when it is started, but rotates a little longer.
  • The car radio and other electrical loads have a few dropouts after a cold start.

These are all typical signs of a weak battery. After a few minutes of driving, the problems usually disappear as the battery recharges. You think everyone is all right now? Unfortunately it is false! The problems are only getting worse every day. You should rather check your starter battery.

Simple battery test

First, we’ll tell you the simplest trick to test whether your battery is giving up: Park your car in the dark in front of a wall. Then turn on the low beam and turn off the engine. Now it’s time to observe: does the light get weaker after a short time? Then the battery is weak!

Accurate battery test

If you want to know for sure, a multimeter will help you. With this you can measure the voltage of the battery yourself. Connect the red wire of the multimeter to the positive terminal of your car battery. The black cable goes to the negative pole. The voltage should be between 12.4 and 12.7 volts at best. If it is below 12V, something is wrong.

Testing car battery with multimeter

If you notice that the problems keep recurring even after charging the battery, you’d better treat yourself to fresh energy in the form of a new starter battery.

Out of gas

When the gasoline runs out, the engine that powers the car stops and the car does not move. If the petrol meter needle is in the “E” position, which means empty, you should suspect you are out of fuel. Check for fuel level warning light. If you run out of gasoline, try to refuel as soon as possible.

Hyundai Tucson instrument cluster – If the needle is on “E”, then it means that the gas tank is empty

Gear not in “P”

One thing that is often overlooked is that the gear is not in the “P” range when the engine is started. In the case of an automatic car, the engine will not start unless the gear is in the P position. If you turn off the engine in N or D, the car may move even on a slight slope unless you apply the foot brake the moment you release the parking brake, which is dangerous. The engine will not start either, so be sure to put it in the P range when you turn off the engine.

Automatic gear shifter on Hyundai Tucson – the shifter must be on P for the vehicle to start

Dead key fob

For models that use smart keys, the smart keys may prevent the engine from starting. The most common reason is that its battery is dead. If the battery is dead, pressing the engine push start will not respond.

In that case, hold the smart key over the push start button and then press the button to start the engine. This works for Hyundai Tucson built in 2013 and onwards. For older models you may have to insert key in a designed slot and then push the start button, check the instruction manual of your car for its location.

Engine Start/Stop button on Hyundai Tucson, 3rd gen

If the smart key battery runs out, the door cannot be opened. Use the mechanical key that came with your smart key to open the door.

Defective electronics

Extreme cold stresses the electrical components in the car. If there is a strong alternation between heat and cold, condensation can form inside. The water can damage the components or cause a short circuit.

Cables can become brittle and the current flows incorrectly. Rodents may also like to make themselves comfortable in the warm engine compartment and gnaw on the cables.

With older cars, the end often comes in winter. Brittle, oxidized, dirty ignition cables fail.

Condensation and contamination on spark plugs are often the cause of the car not starting. Cleaning with a wire brush or drying the components helps here.

In general, a regular visual inspection and, if necessary, cleaning of the relevant electronics in the car is recommended in order to prevent failures. If necessary, the affected parts must be replaced.

There are some very effective methods that keep the animals away from rodent bites.

Broken starter

Sometimes the starter strikes. If the magnetic switch hangs and the main contacts do not switch because of this, a quick tap on the component with a metal object will help and it will work again.

However, this is only possible with older cars where the component is still easily accessible. With newer cars, in which everything is compact and space-saving, you have no chance.

But knocking is not a permanent solution. A repair is inevitable. Replacing the starter is cheaper than repairing the defective component. The cold can also make the power cable brittle and the starter just doesn’t get any power.

Diesel fuel

In extreme cold, diesel fuel flocculates. If the temperatures are below minus 20°C (-4°F), the paraffins in the diesel flocculate and the filter clogs. The car stops again after a few meters or it doesn’t even start.

In this case, a short breakdown assistance on the spot is not possible. The car must be parked in a heated workshop or garage until the entire fuel system is warmed up. In addition, the fuel filter usually has to be replaced.

To prevent flocculation, diesel vehicles should be parked in the garage overnight in severe winters.

Note: Incidentally, the cold start of diesel is no longer an issue with modern engines. The lengthy pre-glow is omitted. Modern diesel engines start immediately without any problems, even in winter – but not without preheating. Nowadays this happens much faster and takes place unnoticed by the driver. Thanks to direct injection, preheating is only necessary when there is frost. The pre-glow starts when the driver’s door is opened.

Iced coolant

If you don’t use anti-freeze for the coolant when there is frost, you run the risk of engine damage. The ice in the engine system expands, hoses, components, even the engine itself can burst. Then it gets really expensive.

If the cooling water is frozen, the engine should never run. It will start, but after a few kilometers it will run so hot that it is impossible to continue.

Since the icing extends to the core of the engine, the car should be left in the garage for at least 24 hours. During this time, the ice in the engine can thaw.

You should then go to a workshop to check that the engine system has not been damaged, replace the cooling water and provide it with sufficient antifreeze.

Author: Nabeel K

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8 months ago

I have a 2017 Tucson. I shut it off in the morning and after work it won’t start every now and then. Dashboard lights come on, but not enough to start car.

jeff mcgee
jeff mcgee
7 months ago

2016 Tucson, have to jump every time want to go someplace. Battery, starter, alternator all good. Any ideas?

John Corsaro
John Corsaro
1 year ago

Recently had 2020 Tucson, no power to anything. Happened a few times. Found positive battery connection nut very loose. It runs perfectly after that.

Amanda Lovejoy
Amanda Lovejoy
1 year ago
Reply to  John Corsaro

Thanks for that John. Mine was just dead today when I was heading out and same just nothing – even shifting it into neutral to roll it back to accept a jump start it wouldn’t let me.
So no sound (click) when I turned the key, cant move the gears or even release the handbrake. Fob not working. Changed the battery in that, still not working.
I thought fuse first up but I’m a bit scared to try and get it out. I’ll check that battery better tomorrow but I think I need better help.

1 year ago

We have a 2021 Tucson and at times it will not start. No lights, key won’t turn nothing. This happen only once in a while what’s going on with this??? Any ideas.

1 year ago
Reply to  Becki

Most probably a loose battery connection. Check battery terminals.

Opr Paul
Opr Paul
1 year ago

I had the same issue after replacing the spark plugs. I used NGK brand. Tucson would start fine a few times, and many others did it after a lot of tries. When successfully started, it would run just fine. The ignition part was the problem. A friend of mine suggested to use a more proper set of spark plugs. Replaced the NGK ones for Autolite Platinum ones. Problem solved and gone! Now it starts right away. I noticed though that there is a legend right there where you insert the plugs. Mine says Denso spark plugs. SO next time I will heed the manufacture’s advice and buy these ones.

Last edited 1 year ago by Opr Paul
Kaye canning
Kaye canning
8 months ago

2007 Tucson stopped at a roundabout, towed home. Have replaced fuel pump, spark plugs, coil, and sensor. Still won’t start, any ideas.

Eric Joel
Eric Joel
1 year ago

I have a 2005 Hyundai Tucson V6. Turned it off, now it wont start.

2 months ago
Reply to  Eric Joel

My 2018 Hyundai Tucson is starting to not crank on the first two try’s in the mornings, but it’s fine throughout the rest of the day. I replaced my battery a few months ago, so I know it’s not that. But I gotta figure out something, because signs come for a reason. I don’t wanna ignore the signs, and later it be a major problem.

1 month ago
Reply to  Margie

New starter

2 months ago

What is the recommended spark plug for a 2006 Tucson