Triaging a no-crank condition and testing a starter motor
Whether you’re a hobbyist on a road trip in a precious classic or a parent chauffeuring the kids around in a daily driver, it’s the moment that many of us dread. You stop for gas, hop back into the car, turn the key, and hear nothing … or just that awful “click” … or a click followed by a sluggish RRrrrrr-RRrrrrr.
How to Test a Starter Motor (Step-By-Step Case Study)
Starter motors are a common component in the majority of cars and their main function is to help start the engine. Due to this key role in the ignition process, if the starter motor breaks then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to operate the vehicle.
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.
The starter solenoid is a fairly simple mechanism that transmits electrical current from the battery to the starter. When you turn the key, the solenoid engages, using the electrical motor in the starter to get your engine running. If the solenoid is not functioning properly, the vehicle may not start. Determining whether the issue is the starter solenoid, the battery or the starter itself can save you time and money when repairing it yourself and seeking to have the repair work done. Start by locating the starter and work to narrow down the cause of the issue.
Basic Bench Testing Of a Starter Motor
If you are having trouble starting your car, it may be that the starter motor has some problems. To be sure, you can have it tested at an autoparts store or by your mechanic. However, testing a starter motor by yourself is not that difficult and you can follow the procedure below. The hardest thing in the whole procedure is to get the motor out of the vehicle and on to a test bench, as this is an off car test.
Checking and replacing the starter motor
Damage to the electrical windings is usually too difficult to deal with at home. An auto-electrician can cure a minor short circuit in the field coils, but anything else calls for fitting a new or exchange motor.
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.
How to Troubleshoot a Faulty Starter Motor
Either the power going into the ignition switch, the ignition switch itself, or the wire between the ignition switch and solenoid may have an extra switching device which can be relating to neutral safety switch, clutch switch, or some type of anti theft feature. If it’s an anti theft issue, then most likely you will have some type of light flashing on the dash relating to a security feature.