Signs of a Bad Starter
A starter is a very important component when it comes to owning and using a car. Whenever a start has an issue, then one will experience many problems when starting a car. A start may go bad at once and fail, or it may take some time and slowly go bad.
Many reasons may lead to a starter going bad. Some of these reasons may arise from the user or other mechanical failures. Finding the signs enables prevent misdiagnosis.
By seeing the signs of a dying or bad starter, one can take the right measures to fix the problem before it is too late. Failure to do this will get you stranded when the starter fails, and you are not able to start your car.
Knowing the signs of a bad starter will also enable a driver to take necessary maintenance or repair measures on the car to boost its performance. Here, you will learn of the main signs of a bad starter. You will also find out how to replace a starter and other related issues.
5 Common Signs of a Bad Starter
Grinding, whirring, clicking noise when starting
When you have a bad starter, you will hear a grinding or clicking noise when you start the engine. The noise may emerge, and the engine does not crank or may take long to.
This noise can be followed by a high-speed winding of the motor. It is a sign brought by worn-out components of the motor. Such components will not engage properly hence making the grinding noise.
The engine won't crank or turn
This is the most commonly experienced sign of a bad starter. It happens when one starts the engine, and it takes a long time to crank or won’t crank at all.
Whenever this sign is discovered, it shows the motor or relay is burned out. However, it is crucial to understand that sometimes this can be caused by electrical problems, and you should check. It can also be a result of a dead battery.
Starter covered by oil
This is a sign that one would see whenever they are checking the starter. The starter is found mostly at the bottom below the engine.
Although the location of the starter makes it susceptible to soaking fluids and engine oil, the soaking can be a sign of a dead starter. Make sure you check your start in case you start experiencing problems. In case it is soaked with oil, then it is time to replace it.
Normally cars are not supposed to produce huge and visible smoke. In case this happens, then it is a clear sign of a dying or dead starter.
This happens when one keeps on trying to start the engine without success. As a result of a bad starter, the systems will overheat and eventually produce a huge amount of smoke. You may also smell some smoke under the engine area.
Dashboard warning lights
One will notice a warning light on the instrument panel. At the same time, the engine will not crank. This will be a sign of a bad starter system. Make sure to carefully connect failure to crank and warning lights to avoid diagnosing the wrong cause.
How do you differentiate a bad starter from a bad car battery?
Whenever you have a car battery with low power, it is not possible to crank the engine. With a low battery, you will turn the car key on and get nothing, no start, or clicking sound, no light, or the lights go very dim. However, there is a right way to tell the difference between a bad battery and a bad starter.
The easiest way to check is by measuring the battery power or performance using a voltmeter or multimeter to check the car battery voltage. When taking this test, the voltmeter or multimeter should indicate that the car battery voltage is above 12 volts. Below that, it shows the battery is dying or weak.
Another case is when starting the car systems. When the starter is bad, and the car battery is okay, the lights will remain strong. Also, when turning the key on, although there may be a clicking sound and no start, the car lights will not dim.
Once you have realized that the lights are remaining on when cranking the engine or have measured the battery voltage and are right, then you should check the starter. Look for the above-discussed signs of a bad starter to be sure.
Replacing a starter at home. Step by step guide
7 steps to replace a starter
You do not necessarily find a mechanic to replace a starter at home. Once you have noticed you have a bad starter that needs replacement, you can follow the steps below.
- Disconnect the battery by disconnecting the negative cable and keeping it away from the battery. Secure the cable well to avoid movement.
- Locate the starter and remove the bolts retaining the starter to lower it. This will give you access to its solenoid wiring.
- Now remove the wires from the solenoid or starter and make sure to mark them using tape and number them to avoid confusion. Remember that the large positive cable going to the battery will only fit one terminal.
- Once you have removed the old starter, now bring the new starter, install it, and secure it using the original bolts.
- Now reattach the wires going to the starter solenoid and ensure during the process, the wire connectors do not touch at any point. Make sure they are tight.
- Then go back to the battery and connect back the negative cable.
- Test the starter by making a quick ignition key turn and release it. If you have installed the starter properly, it will crank the engine and release immediately.
Would a bad starter drain my car battery?
Yes. A bad starter can drain your car battery. However, this happens when you constantly keep trying to start the car yet the starter is bad.
It is a case that happens to people who do not exactly understand what is happening. Continuously trying to crank the engine sucks huge amounts of power from the battery. Since the engine is not starting, then the battery does not charge but instead keeps on losing power.
Will a jump-start fix a bad starter?
No. A bad starter is not the same as a low battery. A jump start may be able to fix a low battery and get the engine to start. However, whenever you have a bad starter, it is not caused by a low battery and will need fixing or replacement.
Getting a bad starter is disappointing. It is even more frustrating if this happens in the middle of nowhere and you are left stranded. When you get yourself in such a condition, you should be able to check and diagnose the problem quickly and get a solution.
The above-discussed signs will help you tell whether you are experiencing a bad starter. To fix a bad starter, you have to check the causes. In case it is poorly connected wiring, then it is easy to fix.
However, in cases where the starter has been soaked in oil and other complex issues, you will have to replace it. The steps are discussed above.