How to Test a Starter Solenoid

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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 2: 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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YourMechanic Car Starter Repair Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

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Rating Summary
4,647
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4,647
148
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66

Chris

18 years of experience
394 reviews
Chris
18 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra - Car Starter Repair - Beaverton, Oregon
Chris did an amazing job and went above and beyond. Would definitely have him work on my car any day!
Subaru Outback - Starter - Portland, Oregon
Turns out the previous Your Mechanic had incorrectly installed a replacement starter. Chris ID’d the problem ASAP and had me up & running quickly.

Keith

16 years of experience
278 reviews
Keith
16 years of experience
Toyota Corolla - Starter - Citrus Ridge, Florida
Keith demonstrated knowledge and experience. He took every step necessary to solve the issue. Which he did. He clearly explained the problem and the solution. Would hire him again in a heartbeat.
Jeep Grand Cherokee - Starter - Lake Alfred, Florida
Keith knows what he is doing got the job done as fast as possible I have some more work for him soon honest, reliable,trustworthy Thanks again Sandra

CJ

3 years of experience
9 reviews
CJ
3 years of experience
Honda Civic - Starter - Seattle, Washington
CJ nailed it! The service was great. Starters can be finicky when they are on their way to failing. CJ went through his checks and diagnostics more than once to determine the issue and solution. We're a one car family so it was vital that his visit was successful. I hovered over the job but tried not to distract him and he patiently walked me through his progressions and answered my questions. Honda of Burien tried to charge me $1050 or 3x more than what I paid CJ and Your Mechanic charged for the fix. Gave me some preventive maintenance tips for other issues as well. Thanks Bro!
Buick Rendezvous - Car Starter Repair - Kent, Washington
Such a sweetheart his explained everything to us. He really tried to troubleshoot and see what was wrong with the car, I would refer him again.

Andrew

9 years of experience
238 reviews
Andrew
9 years of experience
Subaru Legacy - Starter - Severna Park, Maryland
Andrew did a great job replacing my starter and also pointed out some other issues for future attention. He was prompt, courteous and knowledgeable.

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