Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Starter

starter

Bad or Failing Starter Inspection

by a top-rated mechanic at your home or office

Every memorable drive you've experienced in your life begins with the successful operation of the starter on your vehicle. The starter on today's cars, trucks and SUVs is attached in the rear of the motor, where a gear on the starter aligns with the vehicle's flywheel to begin the ignition process. Once the engine turns over, fuel is introduced to the combustion chamber and is ignited thanks to the ignition system being activated. When this process works correctly, your engine comes to life. However, when the starter begins to wear out or break, it will impact your ability to drive the car.

Over a period of time, the starter motor will eventually runs its course and wear out. The two components inside the starter that commonly fail are the solenoid (which sends an electrical signal to the starter motor to activate) or the starter motor itself. When this occurs, the starter will be rendered useless and needs to be replaced by a certified mechanic. Although many of the internal components inside the starter can be fixed, it's recommended by most automotive manufacturers to replace the starter, so as to avoid future breakdowns.

Like any other mechanical device, when the starter fails or is beginning to wear out, it will display a few warning signs. Noted below are a few of the indicators that will let you know that a problem with the starter motor is likely.

HAVE SYMPTOMS OF CAR TROUBLE?
Get an $80 diagnostic
by a top-rated mechanic at your home or office.

Get a quote · Book an Appointment · Our expert mechanics come to you.

1. Engine won't turn over

The most common indicator that a problem with your starter exists is when you turn your key and nothing happens. This is often caused by the starter solenoid or motor that has burnt out, or is experiencing an electrical issue. However, this problem may be caused by a dead battery as well. If this occurs, you'll have to contact a mechanic to inspect the starter, ignition system and other electrical components, as it may be a sign of multiple issues.

2. Starter engages but doesn't spin the motor

There are times when you'll turn the ignition switch and hear the starter activate but will not hear the motor crank over. Issues with the starter are sometimes mechanical in nature. In this case, the problem may be due to the gears that are connected to the flywheel. Either the gear has stripped or has become dislodged against the flywheel. In either case, the engine won't turn over and will require that you have the starter replaced by a certified mechanic.

HAVE SYMPTOMS OF CAR TROUBLE?
Get your car fixed at your home or office.

Get a quote · Book an Appointment · Our expert mechanics come to you.

3. Grinding noise when trying to start the motor

Similar to the issue above, this warning sign often occurs when the gears that connect the starter to the flywheel are worn out. However, grinding may also happen inside the starter motor. In either case, it's something that can't be fixed on the car. If you notice this symptom, a call to a mechanic is the best logical step. If this noise continues without being replaced, it can cause damage to the engine's flywheel, which is a rather expensive repair to have completed.

4. Smell or see smoke when starting the motor

The starter is a mechanical system that is powered by electricity. Sometimes the starter will overheat because of continued power being supplied to the starter or the starter motor will not shut off after the car's engine has ignited. If this occurs, you'll most likely see or smell smoke coming from underneath the engine. This problem may be caused by a short circuit, blown fuse or might be due to a problem with the ignition switch. In any case, it's important to contact a certified mechanic as soon as you notice this problem.

Problems with the starter are virtually impossible to avoid, as there really isn't a predetermined or recommended replacement by the automotive manufacturer. As soon as you notice your vehicle freewheeling, grinding noises, smoke, or your vehicle does not start at all, contact a professional mechanic to further assist you in figuring out the problem.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Still not sure about your car's issue?
Diagnose your car
What kind of issue are you experiencing?
Brakes are squeaking
Car is not starting
Car is overheating
Car is shaking (vibrating)
Fluids are leaking
Heating and A/C
Smoke or steam is coming out of the car
Warning light is on
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

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
How to Transfer a Car Title in Idaho
In order to prove ownership of a car, you must have the title. However, when a car is sold, given away or inherited, the title needs...


Related questions

Q: White smoke while idling

White smoke while idling is normally reason to believe that your BMW may need the valve stems replaced, however this can also be the sign of bad Crankcase Ventilation (CCV) gaskets. On top of those possibilities, there are many things...

Q: car will not start

The fuel injectors, EGR solenoid and TCL solenoids are all supplied power by the PCM and each of the injectors are sequentially ground actuated by the PCM. Power needs to be checked to all of these components to see if...

Q: Will a 2016 lancer auto lock the doors with the key still in the ignition?

Hi there. A new Lancer should not be locking the driver door with the key in the ignition, however that is only when the key is in the ON or ACCESSORY position. When you have the key out of the...