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 Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...


Related questions

Q: Car does not start

This may potentially be related to a faulty starter relay. The starter relay directs power from the battery to the starter solenoid which then engages the starter when you turn the key. When this is not working properly, you may...

Q: An inconsistent starter motor that occasionally works perfectly now will not work. Then engine will not crank at all.

Hi there. It is possible for the starter to fail. But before replacing the starter, make sure that the battery cables are tight and clean. Then check the starter relay and make sure that the relay is clicking. If the...

Q: What is the best car starter to get for my moms car? (this is her car by The way i just want to get her one for christmas

There are many brands of starters on the market. I would only recommend the dealer starter as the best. You may find aftermarket starters to be rebuilt and the dealer new would be better in most cases. The aftermarket ones...