Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How Long Does a Starter Relay Last?

Starter Relay

Most people are familiar with fuses – they allow your car’s electronics to work while protecting them from over-voltage situations. Relays are similar, but much larger and more powerful. There’s a relay for most of the major components on your car, including the fuel pump, the air conditioner compressor and the starter.

Your starter relay is engaged every time you turn the ignition to run. Voltage is sent through the relay and if it has failed, it stops there. With a dead relay, the starter won’t work and your engine won’t crank. The relay is subjected to very high voltage when you turn the ignition, and this will eventually cause the contact circuit to burn out. It’s also possible for the relay’s energizing circuit to fail.

In terms of lifespan, your starter relay should last a very long time. Many drivers never have to replace theirs, but this isn’t true across the board. Relays can and do fail at any point, including when the car is new. With that being said, starter motor failure is actually more common than a failed relay, and other problems can present similar symptoms, including a dead or dying car battery.

If the starter relay fails, it’s the same as if your starter motor fails in terms of what you can expect – you’ll be stuck where you are until the relay can be replaced. However, there are signs and symptoms that can warn you of an impending failure and knowing these might save you some serious hassle. They include:

  • Starter will not engage at all
  • Starter stays engaged (creating a grinding noise)
  • Starter only works intermittently (usually when the engine is cold)

If you’re experiencing intermittent starts, or the engine won’t crank, there’s a significant possibility that the relay is bad, or that there is something wrong with the starter. Have a mechanic diagnose why your car is not starting, and replace the starter relay or anything else needed to get you back on the road again.

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

P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem What the P0121 code means P0121 is a generic OBD-II code which indicates that the Engine Control...
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...
P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance Related Trouble Codes: P2158: Vehicle Speed Sensor B P2160: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Circuit Low P2161:...


Related questions

Q: My car doesn't want to turn over at times unless I get a jump. Now when I try to turn it over it makes a clicking noise.

This is a common symptom of a faulty starter solenoid. The starter solenoid is located on the starter and has internal electrical contacts that transmit electricity to the starter. When this fails, it may cause a clicking sound and will...

Q: Ignition makes clicking sound

This can be caused by either a low battery charge level, or a loose connection in the starter circuit. The battery needs to be fully-charged, and load-tested, to ensure it is not the issue. All starter wires need to be...

Q: Car shuts off - will start sometimes, but mostly not

A common cause for an intermittent no start on the Volvo 850 and stalling is a failing main fuel relay. The contacts in this relay over time can burn, causing no fuel delivery and ultimately a stall and subsequent no...