When you turn your ignition key on, a jolt of electricity flows from your battery to a starter motor to begin the first revolution of the engine. The two devices are connected by a relay to complete the circuit, turning your vehicle’s engine over and starting it.
There are several things that can cause a starter to fail, but there are also some easy ways to test the starter and find out whether it needs replacement or not. These tips will help you determine what your problem is and get the repair done quickly.
1. Starter Switch Failure
If your vehicle doesn’t start after you push the starter button, this is a common problem that can be fixed easily with a few tools. You can also have your local mechanic check it out to make sure everything is working properly.
2. Solenoid Fault
If you hear a clicking sound while trying to start the car, this is an indication that the solenoid is faulty. This can happen for a number of reasons, including the solenoid not receiving enough power from the starter relay.
3. Relay Fault
The starter relay is an important part of the starting system, helping the starter get enough current to turn over the engine. The relay is designed to either send the full current or to send no current, depending on its condition.
It is best to have it checked by a professional mechanic because it can be difficult to repair yourself and you might end up damaging other parts of the vehicle.
4. Battery Fault
The battery has to be charged and maintained so that it can supply enough current to operate the starter motor. You can find out if the battery is charging properly by connecting a voltmeter to the negative (battery) lead and the positive (starter-motor feed) lead. If the readings are above 12 volts when you push the starter button, this indicates that the battery is charging correctly.
5. Solenoid Fault and a Stiff or Clumsy Click
If the headlights dim while you push the starter button, this can be caused by a faulty solenoid. Use a test lamp to test the terminals that connect to the solenoid.
For modern cars, this will usually be the live terminal on the battery. On older vehicles, it will be the solenoid feed terminal. If you don’t see this terminal, it may be connected to a fuse or relay in the fuse box.
6. Solenoid Fault and a Scratchy or Cracking Noise
If you hear a clicking sound while you try to start the car, this can be caused by a crooked wire inside the starter. This is a very common symptom of the starter, especially in older vehicles.
7. Solenoid Fault and a Grinding Noise
If your vehicle is equipped with a flywheel-connected starter, this sound is often an indication that the flywheel itself is worn out. This can be a costly repair if you don’t take action before the pinion grinds or breaks off completely.