Bad starter system issues are more common than you may think. One of the reasons is that system troubles can easily develop out of poor vehicle maintenance.
But starting systems face more problems than simple neglect. The different system components take a lot of use during their service life and are bound to start having some problems.
To see the original version together with other other images or video, head on over to link previously mentionedThese may show up as a no-crank or slow-cranking condition caused by a worn out
component, a bad electrical connection, or an undercharged or failed battery.
Unfortunately, a problem in the system can catch you unprepared, leave you stranded and with a huge repair bill.
If you have some mechanical experience, you may find troubleshooting the starting system relatively easy compared to other electrical systems in your vehicle.
But, without much car repair experience, you may feel tempted to rush and start buying and swapping components, trying to fix your car unsuccessfully. This may lead you to waste money, waste time and
However, even without much repair experience, you may find diagnosing your car's starting system relatively easy. This is one of those systems that can give you some clues about the type of problem
you are facing. And, armed with your car repair manual, you may be able to make the necessary fixes to get your car going again.
So here are some of the most common symptoms you may notice when having troubles with the starting system in your car.
Starter motor components:
1. Main Housing (yoke)
2. Overrunning clutch
4. Field coils
Bad starter symptoms
"All I hear is a whirring sound":
Car starter motors use a small device called overrunning, or one-way, clutch. When you turn the ignition key to the run position, the starter solenoid interlocks the starter's pinion gear with the
flywheel on the engine to rotate the engine. Once the engine starts and overcomes cranking speed, the overrunning clutch releases the pinion gear from the flywheel.
However, if the solenoid mechanism is too worn to engage the flywheel, all you'll hear is a swishing sound as the armature in the starter spins all by itself, unable to crank the engine to a
Starting system electrical problems are common too. They usually manifest as no sound, a series of rapid clicks, a loud click, or a grinding noise. There are several reasons for this. Some of the
most common are corroded electrical connections, an undercharged or bad battery, or a malfunctioning component:
* bad neutral safety switch (automatic transmission)
* bad clutch safety switch (manual transmission)
* bad starter relay
* bad starter solenoid
* corroded electrical connections in the starting circuit
* worn out starter motor part or some other system component
"I don't hear anything":
Electrical problems can show up in several ways. For example, you may hear nothing of the usual cranking sound.
This may occur when you end up with a discharged or failed battery, a failed system component (e.g. relay or safety switch), or corroded electrical connections (including battery terminals) that
prevent electrical current from reaching the starter motor.
"I can hear a buzzing sound":
Other times, electrical current may make it to the starter solenoid. But all it'll do is repeatedly try to activate the solenoid's plunger to engage the pinion gear and flywheel without success. This
is usually caused by poor current flow due to low battery charge or poor electrical connections along the starting circuit, including corroded battery terminals.
"I can hear a loud click sound":
On the other hand, if you can hear a single, solid click, there might be enough current in the circuit, but you may have a bad starting motor, solenoid, or even an engine mechanical problem.
"It's more like a grinding noise":
If you hear a harsh or grinding noise as you try to crank up the engine, you may have a loose starter motor (mounting bolts), or a flywheel or pinion gear with broken or worn out teeth. Since the
pinion's and flywheel's gear are unable to mesh properly, all you hear is the sound of metal teeth clashing loudly.
These are the most common symptoms you'll notice when facing problems with your car's starting system. Thus, if your engine is cranking as usual and still refuses to start, more likely you're dealing
with an ignition or fuel system issue.
Using your headlights as a diagnostic tool
OK, so now you have an idea about what may be the cause of your starting system problem. But, is there a way you can confirm your suspicions?
Actually there is. And you don't need special equipment either. Let's use your car's headlights to confirm you diagnostic so far.
"My headlights don't work":
First, have a friend--or a willing assistant--turn on the headlights and try to start the engine, as you stand in front, but to one side, of your car (just in case your car decides to start and lurch
If you hear no sounds and the headlights don't come on, you're on the right track. Either your battery is dead, there's an open in the starting circuit, or corroded terminals (most commonly battery
terminals) are preventing electrical current from reaching the starter motor and other systems.
"My Headlights go out":
What if the headlights turn on OK, but, as soon as your car starts cranking they go out?
There are several possibilities. First, your battery may be undercharged. But, if your battery is properly charged, you could have a short in the starting motor that is causing it to draw too much
current. Another possibility is that you may not be dealing with a starting system problem at all but an engine problem.
"My headlights don't change":
Still, there's the possibility that your headlights remain bright while your engine cranks poorly. Then, it's likely you have an open or too much resistance in the circuit.
Check for a failing component or corrosion at one or more of the system circuit connections, including the battery terminals.
Starting system problems can be hard to diagnose sometimes, but paying attention to the system symptoms will help you repair your car faster than you could otherwise. And not only that, it can help
you save money in the process.
And if you are the DIY type or are mechanically inclined, having the repair manual for your particular car make and model can greatly help you zero in on the root cause of the problem and get it
fixed, even if you don't have much car repair experience.