Truck Won’t Turn Over – Why? What To Do?

Turning the ignition key or pressing the button to start your truck did little to nothing for the vehicle. Now, you're sitting in the driver's seat, thinking about why your truck won't turn over. How can you do to fix this problem? We researched these concerns for your convenience, and here's what we found.

A truck that fails to turn over may have a problem with one (or more) of its parts. Check components like the battery, alternator, and timing belt to verify if these parts are the cause of the issue. Then, repair or replace the faulty components to allow your truck to turn over.

Take note that you should learn as much as you can about why your truck won’t turn over. So continue reading as we talk about these possible causes in greater detail. We’ll also discuss some potential solutions that may help you restore your vehicle’s ability to turn over.

Reasons Why Truck Won’t Turn Over

Diesel engine pickup truck is waiting for maintenance, Truck Won't Turn Over - Why? What To Do?

Low Or Discharged Battery

Your truck’s battery is responsible for providing the burst of energy needed to start the engine. If the battery doesn’t have sufficient charge, it can’t supply the necessary power to start your car.

Aside from your truck not turning over, other possible signs that the vehicle needs a new battery are:

  • Dimming headlights
  • Clicking noise upon turning the key in the ignition switch
  • Persistent warning light in the instrument cluster
  • Visible signs of corrosion and other kinds of harm to the battery

Bad Alternator

Mechanic man holding alternator of the car on working table in repair and maintenance garage

An alternator provides power to the engine’s serpentine belt. If this component is faulty, it may not supply the necessary energy to turn the serpentine belt, preventing your truck from turning over.

Other potential symptoms to watch out for if you think your truck has a bad alternator are:

  • Electronic accessories are slow to start or don’t function at all
  • Frequent engine stalls
  • Persistent burning smell
  • Persistent battery warning light in the instrument cluster

Worn Timing Belt

Take note that the timing belt needs to work for your truck to turn over and start the engine. A worn timing belt may move incorrectly, preventing it from coordinating with the camshaft and crankshaft’s rotation.

A timing belt that needs replacing may also cause your truck to shake when it’s idle. Check out our post on that subject matter to know other reasons for that problem and the ways you can fix it.

How Do I Change The Battery In My Truck?

Pickup truck battery

Changing a vehicle's battery should be similar in most automobile models, including various trucks. So if you think your vehicle needs a new battery for it to turn over, continue by following these general steps:

What You’ll Need

  • Replacement truck battery
  • Wrench
  • Ratchet and socket

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Ensure that the engine is off and cold or at normal room temperature. Open the hood when ready.
  2. Loosen and remove the bolts from the bracket that’s securing the battery.
  3. Disconnect or set the bracket aside.
  4. Disconnect the negative cable from its terminal.
  5. Disconnect the positive cable from its terminal.
  6. Pull out the old battery from its mount and install the new unit.
  7. Connect the positive cable to the positive terminal of the new battery.
  8. Connect the negative cable to the negative terminal of the new battery.
  9. Reinstall the bracket and secure the assembly by turning its bolts.
  10. Turn on the ignition of your truck to check if it can now turn over.

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Note: Some electronic devices, such as your truck's clock and radio, may reset after replacing their battery.

You can also watch the video below for a visual guide to the steps mentioned above:

Also, read our post about the average lifespan of a factory truck battery to help you identify the right time to replace your vehicle’s battery.

What Are The Steps To Follow When Replacing A Truck’s Alternator?

Auto mechanic checking alternators on the engine

Replacing a vehicle’s alternator may require more steps than changing a truck’s battery. However, this process should still be reasonably straightforward, even for automotive DIY beginners. So follow these steps to replace your truck’s alternator to make the vehicle turn over:

What You’ll Need

  • Voltmeter
  • Ratchet and socket
  • Wrench set
  • Extension bar
  • Replacement alternator

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Make sure that the engine is off and engage the hand or parking brake.
  2. Open the hood once it feels ready to touch.
  3. Test the battery with a voltmeter if it has sufficient charge.
  4. If the battery doesn’t have enough charge, charge it first or replace it. Otherwise, skip this step and move forward.
  5. If the battery has sufficient charge, disconnect the negative cable from its terminal.
  6. Disconnect the cables attached to the alternator.
  7. Slide the drive belt off of the alternator’s pulley and remove the assembly’s mounting bolts.
  8. Pull the old alternator from its mount and place the new assembly in the same location.
  9. Secure the new alternator by screwing in its mounting bolts.
  10. Return the drive belt to its original position and attach the cables to the alternator.
  11. Reconnect the negative battery cable to its terminal.
  12. Attempt to start the truck’s engine to check if the problem disappeared.

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Watch the following video for a visual representation of this procedure:

How Do You Change A Timing Belt On A Truck?

Diesel engine timing belt

Like replacing an automotive battery, changing a timing belt should be similar across many vehicles, including various trucks. But remember to replace your truck’s timing belt with the correct model. Don’t attempt to install a timing belt that’s not for your truck’s specific model, or you may run into issues.

After purchasing the correct timing belt, continue this procedure by following these steps:

What You’ll Need

  • Timing belt kit
  • Socket and ratchet
  • Breaker bar
  • Extension bar

Step-By-Step Guide

  1. Ensure that the engine is off and engage the hand or parking brake.
  2. Open the hood and find the worn timing belt.
  3. Loosen the nuts attached to the alternator and push down that assembly.
  4. Remove the fan belt from the alternator assembly.
  5. Unscrew the bolts from the top and bottom timing covers. Take out those covers afterward.
  6. Apply a white marker on the cogs connected to the timing belt for you to know their orientations for the reinstallation later.
  7. Loosen the bolt on the tensioner pulley.
  8. Push down the tensioner pulley with the pliers and maintain pressure on it.
  9. Remove the bad timing belt from its mount.
  10. Install the new timing belt in the same location as the old unit.
  11. Turn the timing belt’s cogs to ensure that the white marks line up.
  12. Return and secure the timing covers and reinstall the fan belt.
  13. Return the alternator to its original location and secure that assembly.
  14. Try to start your truck to check if it can now turn over.

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Check out this video to gain additional insights into this procedure:

Final Thoughts

Troubleshoot your truck to find the reason why it’s not turning over. Then, you can use the appropriate solution based on your findings. Avoid tinkering with other parts of your vehicle more than you should. That way, you can prevent further harm to it.