Causes & Diagnosis Of Car Starter Problems

Do you ever find yourself standing on the side of the road, peering into a hood, scratching your head, wondering why your car won’t turn on? You’re not alone! Trying to diagnose a starter problem in a car can be a tricky task. But with a bit of knowledge and the right tools, you can make the puzzle a lot easier to solve. Here’s what you should know about figuring out the cause of your car’s starting woes.

What Causes Car Starter Problems?

Corrosion building up on the battery terminals

The following are the common causes of a failing car starter:

  • Dead battery: If the battery is not providing enough power, the starter may not be able to turn the engine over.
  • Corrosion: Corrosion builds up on the battery terminals impeding the flow of electricity to the starter.
  • Faulty starter motor: Over time, the starter motor wears out due to worn-out components, such as the brushes or bearings.
  • Wiring issues: Problems with the wiring that connects the starter to the ignition system.
  • Ignition switch problems: The ignition switch sends a signal to the starter motor to engage, so if it’s faulty, the starter receives a signal not to start.
  • Fuel system problems: Issues with the fuel system, such as a clogged fuel filter or malfunctioning fuel pump.
  • Faulty spark plugs: Faulty spark plugs prevent the engine from starting, which can make it seem like a starter problem.
  • Faulty alternator: The battery may not be getting charged properly.

How to Diagnose A Starter Problem

Here are the steps to diagnose a starter problem:

  • Turn the key and listen for sounds: First, turn on the key and listen for any clicking noises. If you hear a clicking sound, it indicates that the starter solenoid is trying to engage, but the starter motor is not working.
  • Check the battery: Use a multimeter to check the battery voltage. A fully charged battery should read around 12.6 volts. If the battery voltage is low, try jump-starting the car or charging the battery.
  • Check the starter connections: Make sure that the connections to the starter motor are clean and tight. Loose or corroded connections can prevent the starter from receiving enough power to start the car.
  • Tap the starter: If the connections are good, try tapping the starter motor with a hammer while someone else turns the key. If the car starts, then the starter motor is faulty and needs to be replaced.
  • Check the starter relay: This is an electrical switch that controls the starter motor. If the relay is faulty, the starter motor won’t receive the necessary power to start the car. Check the relay using a multimeter.

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