Here’s why the car won’t start after driving a short distance

Even though the answer to this question may be different based on specific situations, you may want to consider the serious complications of short-distance driving first.

Because short-distance driving may eventually have a devastating effect on the life span of your vehicle, you need to become familiar with the top reasons why and how.

First off, the engine in your car is built to run long distances. So, driving a lot of small quick trips to your destination and back is not good at all for the overall health of your vehicle.

For instance, whenever you start your vehicle, it needs enough time to perform its normal functions, including the following:

  • A sufficient amount of driving time is needed for the alternator to fully charge the battery.
  • Longer travel time will give the engine enough time to reach optimum operating temperature.
  • Driving for longer distances helps to keep the oil less dense and each essential component of your engine lubricated properly.
  • The temperature of the engine must be hot enough to get rid of excess moisture, dirt debris, and other contaminants.
  • Water in the tailpipe will just sit there. This is because the emissions will not have not enough time to burn up the moisture.

With that being said, here are some of the common problems that can occur, and the associated cost of paying for these repairs. Specifically, as it relates to why your car won’t start after driving a short distance.

The battery is Bad or too weak for start-up

As mentioned above, driving short distances can have a huge impact on the life span of your vehicle, including the life of your battery.

For instance, because the battery is not fully charged by the alternator, the battery can easily be drained by other power-hungry components of your vehicle (i.e. heated seats, power windows, air conditioning systems, etc.).

Therefore, even when you drive a short distance, your battery may not have enough power to crank up again after it is shut off completely.

Cost of Fixing a Weak or Dead Battery

The cost of these types of repairs can vary greatly based on the actual problem. For instance, your battery may only need an electrical charge to restore it. In this case, the cost may be minimal to no cost depending on the assistance that you receive.

On the other hand, if your battery is completely dead, you will need to purchase another battery. The average cost of replacing a battery today can range from $45 to $250 depending on several different factors.

  • The dealership that supplies and installs the new battery
  • Price of the battery from an auto parts store
  • Cost of the purchase and the installation from local retail stores that carry different types of brand name batteries

Engine Performance Suffers or Damaged Caused to Engine Block

Even though most people may not realize it, short-distance driving can also cause a certain amount of damage to the engine. This is because the engine of the car is built to run long distances, particularly when people are driving a diesel engine.

Therefore, whenever you do not run your engine to its optimum capacity, the performance of the engine can be damaged in one way or another.

For instance, when the engine gets hot enough it automatically dries up water that is left in the cylinder of the motor. Without this process, the moisture in the cylinders can damage the engine block.

Cost of Repairing or Replacing an Engine

The average cost of repairing or replacing an engine is as follows:

  • Repairing an engine can range from $ 2,500 to $4,000
  • Replacing an engine can range from $4000 to $7,000

These prices are usually based on the brand and model of the vehicle and the engine size (i.e. 4-cylinder, V6, V8)


As you can see, there are many different reasons why a car won’t start. Some of the more commonly known, however, are related to short-distance driving.

Because taking short trips does not give the engine and alternator a chance to work at their full capacity, the lifespan of the car may be reduced dramatically over time.

Therefore, if you want to protect your car’s performance and how long it will last, you need to increase the length of the trips that you take.

Based on the situation and the needs of the car owner, the recommended time for driving properly is at least 20 minutes or more for each trip that you take.

To find out more on this topic, you should visit sites that discuss short-distance driving and the impact that it has on vehicle performance.

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