A car that won’t start is definitely frustrating. If you have some experience working with automobiles, however, you can perform several tests to determine what’s wrong with the starter. Checking the pinion can be the quickest fix if the problem is not serious. The next level involves checking the electrical circuits to make sure everything is powering properly. If that still doesn’t work, you can remove and bench test the starter to see if it needs to be replaced.
Common Symptoms Of A BAD Starter
The starter on your vehicle (car, pick-up, van, mini-van, etc.) may not resemble the starter motor on the photo. This is no cause for concern. Your starter motor will be similar and IS tested in the way described in this article.
Checking the solenoid
Modern cars have a pre-engaged starter, which has the solenoid mounted on the casing. Many older cars have an inertia starter, which has a separate solenoid mounted elsewhere in the engine compartment.
Car Starter Problems? Five Starting-System Inspection Tips
If you suspect the starter motor, take it to an auto parts store for testing. Many auto parts outlets will test your starter for free. An aged starter motor may have worn out brushes, armature, shaft, or burned field winding that may cause unusual noises, excessive current draw, slow cranking or no cranking at all.
A quick inspection at an auto parts store will reveal the drive mechanism and motor general condition, whether the starter draws enough current to operate, and the general state of the internal components.
Use Your Ears and Your Headlights to Help Diagnose Your Starter System
Funny sounds, or no sound, upon the turn of the key may indicate electrical problems in the starter or elsewhere in the starting system. Some of the most common electrical problems are corroded electrical connections, an undercharged or bad battery, or a malfunctioning component:
Is Your Car’s Starter Stopping?
The first indication your starter may be going bad is at the moment you try to start your car. If you turn the key and simply hear a clicking sound, or nothing at all, then it may be the starter. Given the fact that it also could be a problem with the battery, car mechanics recommend trying to turn on the headlights or interior lights. If they light up properly, then the problem is not with the battery and is likely the starter.
Car Battery Testing & Voltage
To pass a load test, the battery must maintain 9.6 volts at 15 seconds when tested at one-half the CCA rating and 70°F (or above). This test must be done with a true load (carbon pile) and not one of the hand-held testers that work off a conductance algorithm. The test must be run with the battery in a high state of charge. Be sure to read and follow all safety and handling instructions on the battery, this website and your battery tester. If you would like your battery tested, use our Find a Retailer for a location near you.
Short Video: How to Start a Car
Listen to your car. Even though it has betrayed you by not starting, it’s still considerate enough to give you hints as to why. If you turn the key and the engine doesn’t crank at all, things may not be all that bad (believe it or not).