Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How Long Does a Starter Last?

Starter

You turn the key in the ignition of your car and the engine cranks – that’s about as far as most drivers get in considering how the engine actually starts. What really happens is that when you turn the key in the ignition, a complex series of actions occurs. Voltage is sent to the starter, which pushes a large gear forward to connect with the engine’s flywheel. The starter motor then turns the gear, which turns the flywheel. When combined with spark, air and fuel, the engine cranks.

Your car’s starter motor is used only when you crank the engine. In theory, it’s possible that your original starter will last for most of the vehicle’s life, but there’s really no set lifespan. They can fail at almost any point. The primary culprit of early starter failure is user error – holding the key in the start position for too long actually creates dead spots on the starter.

The starter motor can fail due to a number of different things, but wear and tear is the primary cause. Another potential issue is that the problem isn’t the starter at all. It’s controlled by a relay and if the relay fails, the starter won’t work. The starter may also not work if the battery’s charge is too low (the starter turns very slowly), or if the battery is dead (the starter won’t turn at all).

If your starter does fail, you’ll be stuck until you get it fixed. Obviously, it’s important to know a few signs and symptoms to watch for that might indicate the starter is headed for an eventual failure. These include the following:

  • Starter is slow to crank the engine (this could also be a battery problem)
  • Starter doesn’t engage at all (failed starter, or possibly a failed relay)
  • The engine won’t turn over
  • Turning the key creates one loud click but does not turn the engine over
  • The starter makes a lot of noise when cranking the engine
  • The starter remains engaged at all times (creates a grinding sound)
  • The engine only starts intermittently

If you are having any problems starting your car, the culprit could be an ailing starter. Have a certified mechanic come diagnose why your car is not starting including the starter and replace the starter if needed.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...


Related questions

Q: Truck won't turn over

The battery should be load tested by a professional. Load testing can only be reliably performed on a fully charged battery. If the battery passes a load test be sure it is NOT a marginal pass in which case you...

Q: My jeep will sometimes start and sometimes it wont.

Hello. Even though your lights and radio are still working, the battery may still not have enough voltage to engage the starter. Use a multi meter to ensure your battery is testing at least 12.6 volts. Next, test your alternator...

Q: Truck is dead

Hi, do any lights come on in the dash? Which cables were changed as well? If there is nothing lighting up I would suspect a ground connection somewhere is loose. These can be easy to miss on a first inspection...