Car Won’t Start, Gauges Flutter: 4 Reasons Why This Happens

If you car won’t start, gauges flutter, and you randomly find needles moving in the dashboard, don’t worry – its not a ghost inhabiting your car! Read on to find out why this might be happening!

Sometimes, when trying to start your car, you will see that the gauges start fluttering randomly before it starts up. 

Most of the time, it is an indicator of the ignition system or another issue with the car’s wiring. If not looked into soon, it could cause a major problem with the ignition or bigger damage.

Today, we will discuss the gauge flickering issue in your car and what you can do about it. Read on to find out! 

Car Won't Start Gauges Flutter

What Does Fluttering Gauges Indicate?

Many drivers and car owners complain about the speedometer in their car fluttering when they start the engine. 

While this can be due to a faulty sensor or a specific fault in the gauge, it may indicate other problems in the car’s electrical system. 

Since there are a number of gauges in your car, you need to point out the problem first to figure out how it can be solved. 

In most cases, you can notice the gauges flickering when you start the car or just after you start driving. 

When gauges are flickering simultaneously, it means that there is a possible loose battery connection or the electrical system has been affected. 

As a driver, you must be careful to notice the gauge fluttering. 

While some may be a simple gauge needle flick, others can be the light going on and off for a few seconds and then becomes normal. 

Once you have pinpointed the problem with the gauge, you can start thinking about what can be done. 

Reasons For The Gauges To Flicker

#1. Faulty electrical system

If there is an overload of power in your car, it starts affecting the car’s gauges. 

When you are starting your car and see that the gauges are flickering for a few seconds, it means that the car needs more power to run all of them. 

Any kind of faulty system can also result in this problem. 

#2. Alternator is broken

Any of the gauges in your vehicle can start fluttering when there is a problem with the alternator. 

If the alternator breaks, there is low voltage in your car or an issue with the battery; the alternator will be directly affected. 

This can also lead to electrical problems or the spark plugs misfiring. 

#3. Issues with grounding

When the grounding of the car has any kind of issues going on, this leads to bad connections or electrical malfunctions that can affect the gauges. 

The electrical connections going haywire are basically what causes the gauges to start flickering when you try to start the car. 

#4. Gauges are out of calibration

If you are using a comparatively old model, the gauge needles start going out of calibration. This could be due to a weak battery system or the gauges wearing out over time. 

At this point, the gauges should be checked by a professional to recalibrate them according to the manufacturer’s manual. 

What Signs To Look Out For?

Any kind of electrical fault in the car can seem like a huge problem and should not be ignored. 

But fortunately, there are a few things you can do as part of your daily car maintenance to avoid running into a major problem. 

Here are some things you can do to check the gauge flickering situation in your car:

  • Check for a weak or dead battery that might be overloading your car and causing the gauges to start flickering when you start your car. 
  • You should also check the alternator and any kind of loose connection which could be causing the lights to flicker. The alternator of a car supplies power to the gauges, battery, and all the components of the car. So checking the alternator for any kind of damage can be a reason for the gauge lights flickering when you are starting the car. 
  • Checking the installation and connection of your car battery and battery terminals should be the next step to figure out the gauge issue. If there is any kind of damage to the battery cables and connectors, it will affect the power of your car.
  • Check out for the warning lights on the dashboard, which might be showing an overload or gauge malfunction. The erratic behavior that shows up on dash lights can indicate that there is a problem with the gauges due to a bad connection somewhere in the car’s wiring. 

These are a few things you can do to try and figure out the cause of the problem before you consult a mechanic or try to solve it at home. 

How To Fix The Problem?

Disconnect all the connectors of the battery to check for damage and corrosion. Corrosion can occur due to the battery not being installed properly. 

Start by cleaning all the connectors with a brush to remove rust and metal debris. 

Once you have cleaned it out, recharge the battery till it is fully charged. Most of the time, cleaning out the connectors and charging will clear out the gauge light flickering problem. 

If that does not happen, you may consider replacing the battery if it nears its expiry date. 

Rust and corrosion are one of the main reasons for the wiring to start getting damaged and cause a full-fledged electrical problem in the car

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the instrument cluster cause a car not to start?

A missing instrument cluster or a faulty one will not prevent the car from starting. 
Any damage to the instrument cluster can, however, cause the gauge lights to start flickering and result in wrong readings of the gauges. 

Why do my gauges move when a car is off?

If you notice the gauges in your car moving when the car is stationary, it could be due to the installation of another component that has affected the electrical system of the car. 
The gauges moving when the car is off is a sign that it is drawing power from some kind of source, usually the alarm system of the car. 

Why did all my gauges stop working while driving?

If the gauges of the car stop working when you are driving, it is usually due to a fuse or wiring problem. 
The fuse has to be connected on both sides when the car is on the ignition and the gauges turning off can mean that it has somehow been disconnected. 

Why does my car have power but won’t turn over?

The main cause of a car not turning over when it has power is a dead or dying battery. 
It can also be caused by a faulty alternator or battery cable, rusting connectors and terminals, or a starter. 
The source of the problem can be difficult to determine and has to be checked by a professional. 


Gauges in your car are a very crucial component of the car that helps to keep track of all the readings in the car. 

When these gauges start malfunctioning, it could cause a problem not just when you are driving but also indicate an electrical problem in the car. 

It is the best idea to get the issue fixed before you have to go for more expensive repairs or replacements. 

Thank you for reading! We hope this article helps you when you see the lights flickering on your dashboard next time.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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