How Long Does a Starter Last?

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.


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Michael

3 years of experience
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Michael
3 years of experience
Ford Mustang - Car is not starting - Indianapolis, Indiana
This guys is hands down the best! He showed up last minute after the other guy they sent didn't. He figured out what was up and knocked out the job like a boss. He's going to be my go to guy from now on.
Mitsubishi Mirage - Car is not starting - Fishers, Indiana
Very knowledgeable and personable. Was able to address issues with my car that others said were beyond possibility of fixing.

Joel

29 years of experience
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Joel
29 years of experience
Hyundai Sonata - Car is not starting - Phoenix, Arizona
Great! Joel arrived early. He is very knowledgeable. He did a thorough inspection and told me what the issue was. I was unsure about booking online, but I can say the service was great and the mechanic knew his stuff! I would recommend Joel he is very polite and professional.

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22 years of experience
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22 years of experience
Nissan Frontier - Car is not starting - Orange Park, Florida
Brian was very professional and he took the time to show me what look for and he found the problem a very good technician Thanks Joey B Smith

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31 years of experience
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Manuel
31 years of experience
Mercury Mariner - Car is not starting - Irvine, California
Manual arrived as scheduled. He was able to diagnose the problem with my hybrid car. By providing me with the failure codes, he has enabled me to arrange for battery replacement under warranty. This fully met my need and expectations.

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