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

6 years of experience
82 reviews
Michael
6 years of experience
Saturn SL2 - Car is not starting - Seattle, Washington
Michael zeroed in on the problem and its root cause IMMEDIATELY and explained how it would be repaired in a simple and straightforward manner. After years of encountering surly mechanics, Michael restored my faith in people who love what they do and do good work!
Lexus ES330 - Car is not starting - Seattle, Washington
Michael, was right on top of the problem with my vehicle. He was able to determine and fix the problem. Good mechanic!

William

34 years of experience
338 reviews
William
34 years of experience
Fiat 500 - Car is not starting - Peoria, Arizona
William was great. Came in on time, tested my vehicle, diagnosed that the battery need to be replaced. Tested my vehicle with another battery, and workd good. Tested the alternator, which was working well. Very professional, knowledgeable, explained that in Arizona the batteries won't last more than 2-3 due to high heat. Great service, thanks a lot. Liviu Sipiceanu
Chrysler 300 - Car is not starting - Phoenix, Arizona
William was great he diagnosed the issue with my car. The previous mechanic didn't connect the connector all the way to seal it onto the starter. Because of that it slipped off and my car wouldn't start. I'm just glad he fixed it and that it will be covered under warranty.

Luis

18 years of experience
272 reviews
Luis
18 years of experience
Honda Civic - Car is not starting - Fort Lee, New Jersey
Very fast and efficient. Came in, diagnosed the issue, went to get the parts and then was back to fix it very quickly. Friendly person, definitely recommend.
Mini Cooper - Car is not starting - Paramus, New Jersey
Luis was punctual, professional, and a true automotive expert. He was able to diagnose my car troubles (no start) in a matter of minutes. He explained what the issue was in a courteous manner and saved me the headache of having it towed. Very fair and highly recommended!

John

27 years of experience
808 reviews
John
27 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz C300 - Car is not starting - Pearland, Texas
John did a great job checking out our Mercedes electrical problem and explained things well so I could follow. Gave me good advise. Thanks
Honda Accord - Car is not starting - Houston, Texas
John Explain everything that was going on with my Honda. And what was need from the complete car diagnosis . Starter needed to be replaced. John has great knowledge of vehicle mechanics. What outstanding job..

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