How to Test a Starter Solenoid

The starter solenoid is an electromechanical device used to shift the starter motor pinion gear to mesh with the engine flexplate or flywheel. When current is supplied to the solenoid ignition terminal, the magnetic windings inside are energized. This creates a magnetic field that pulls the internal plunger, which in turn moves the linkage to engage the starter. The solenoid plunger contact disc also closes the circuit between the battery and starter motor.

Modern starter solenoids are attached directly to the starter motor. In most cases, when the solenoid fails, the entire starter is replaced.

Part 1 of 2: Locate the starter solenoid

In order to safely and efficiently replace your starter solenoid you need a couple of basic tools:

Step 1: Jack up the vehicle. Jack up the vehicle and support it with jack stands.

Step 2: Locate the starter solenoid. The starter is typically mounted to the bellhousing on the underside of the engine. The starter solenoid is mounted on top of the starter.

Part 2 of 2: Test the starter

Step 1: Locate the starter ignition terminal. Locate the starter ignition terminal. It will often have an electrical connector attached to it and will be the smallest of the starter terminals. It is often referred to as the starter “S” terminal.

Step 2: Attach the jumper wires. First, attach the jumper wire to the starter ignition terminal. Then, momentarily touch the other end of the jumper cable to the battery positive terminal of the starter battery (“B”) terminal.

If the solenoid and starter are working, the starter will engage and crank the engine over. A safer way to perform this test is by using a dedicated remote engine starter. This tool is hooked up the same way but provides a button to push for starter engagement.

  • Note: The starter battery terminal has power going to it at all times. Be sure not accidentally ground it while performing the test or injury could result.

Step 3: Lower the vehicle. Once testing is complete and you’ve performed any necessary repairs, remove the vehicle from the jack stands and lower it.

If this sounds like something you’d prefer to leave to a professional, contact a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to replace your starter for you.


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Dan

39 years of experience
856 reviews
Dan
39 years of experience
Toyota Corolla - Starter - Gainesville, Georgia
Super nice and professional! He had the car fixed quickly. I would definitely recommend to anyone and would use this service again.
Chevrolet Suburban 1500 - Starter - Duluth, Georgia
Dan personified the 4 P's of business: Punctual, professional, polite and personable. In addition to the aforementioned, he is very knowledgeable.

Johnathan

7 years of experience
12 reviews
Johnathan
7 years of experience
Infiniti I30 - Starter - Saint Louis, Missouri
John went the extra mile. Prompt and efficient. Very knowledgeable. I would absolutely recommend John.
Chevrolet Traverse - Starter - High Ridge, Missouri
He was on time and braved the 15 degree weather!! The job was done without any trouble and in a very professional manner, I would recommend Johnathan for all car repairs!

Levi

9 years of experience
38 reviews
Levi
9 years of experience
Jeep Grand Cherokee - Starter - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Showed up early, easy to deal with and got the job done quickly. Would recommend and will use again.
Chevrolet Tahoe - Starter - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Levi was very quick in making repairs and assessments for further repairs and maintenance. Very polite and professional. Definitely recommend.

Richard

19 years of experience
28 reviews
Richard
19 years of experience
GMC Yukon - Starter - Fayetteville, North Carolina
Richard was on time and he practiced social distancing he also had on a mask. He is very respectful and kind. I really appreciate the service and time he put into my vehicle.... I would highly recommend Richard.

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