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

Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.

ASK A QUESTION

More related articles

P0222 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input
P0222 code definition Throttle/Pedal Position Switch/Sensor B Circuit Low Input What the P0222 code means The manufacturer specifies a range of acceptable voltage to be produced from the throttle position...
P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...


Related questions

Q: No crank no start at witts end

This sounds like potentially a faulty starter solenoid. Try checking for power to the solenoid. The clicking sound is common sometimes when the battery is weak, but is also a common sign of a faulty starter solenoid. Have a qualified...

Q: Starter not engaging when vehicle hot

You likely require a starter, wiring, battery, or wiring. Hopefully it will be a simple starter repair. Without diagnosis, it is hard to determine. A qualified technician, such as one from YourMechanic can inspect your vehicle and provide the necessary...

Q: Starting Issue

Although you've replaced the battery, it should still be tested. The battery is the heart of the starting and charging systems. However, with a known good battery, suspect the starter or fuel delivery next. A certified mechanic, such as one...