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Car Starter Problems? Five Starting-System Inspection Tips

Dan Ferrell writes about do-it-yourself car maintenance and repair. He has certifications in automation and control technology.

Car starter problems arise unexpectedly and for more than one reason. Whenever there's corroded terminals, loose connections, a bad, worn out or damaged system component, you'll notice. Starting your car becomes more difficult or it simply refuses to start.

Unfortunately, you won't see the source of the problem when all of a sudden the system fails. And repeatedly turning the ignition key, hoping that eventually the engine will fire up when it refuses to start, doesn't always help. Most often, it creates more problems.

Fortunately, common starter system problems happen in predictable places. And you have at your disposal more than one strategy to help you check the system in your car. Whether it is lack of power, a bad electrical connection, or a bad starter component, use these five troubleshooting tips to fire up your engine again.

Begin with one of the most common sources of engine starting problems.

Checking the Battery Voltage

You need to know whether you have enough juice to operate the starter motor by measuring the amount of voltage in your battery using a voltmeter.

  1. Set your voltmeter to a range higher than battery voltage, like 20 volts on the DC (direct current) voltage scale.
  2. Turn on the meter and connect the test leads across the battery terminals. Touch the negative lead to the negative (-) post on the battery and the positive lead to the positive (+) post on the battery.
  3. Turn on your car's headlights.
  4. Read the display on your meter. Your battery should have between 12.4V (75% charge) and 12.6V (100% charge) to properly operate the starter motor. If there's less than 12.4V, recharge the battery and try to start the engine again.

With a reading of 12.4V or less on a three to four years old battery, it's a good idea to hydrometer-check your battery. The hydrometer is a simple tool that lets you know the state of charge and health of your battery. So you'll know whether one or more cells have failed. Buy an inexpensive hydrometer online or at most auto parts stores. Then check this article on troubleshooting a car battery using a hydrometer.

Common Sources of Starter System Problems

  • Loose electrical connections in the starting system
  • Dirty connections
  • Corroded battery terminals
  • Worn out or failed starter system parts

Inspecting Cables and Wires

Corrosion around battery terminals prevents electrical flow. This is a common problem on a battery or starter system that hasn't received much attention. If you notice a layer of corrosion around one or both battery terminals, clean them with a solution of baking soda and warm water.

  • Mix 8 ounces of warm water for 1 tablespoon of baking soda in a small container.
  • Thoroughly mix the solution.
  • Disconnect the terminals from the battery and apply the solution to the terminals and battery posts using a soft brush.
  • Clean the battery top with the solution as well to remove dirt and acid, which drains battery power, but don't let the cleaning solution seep under the filler caps.
  • Remove the caps from the top of the battery and check the electrolyte level. The electrolyte should reach the bottom of the filler rings. If necessary, add distilled water to bring the electrolyte to the correct level.
  • Check the tray where the battery sits and clean it as well.
  • Reconnect the terminals and try starting the engine again.

Inspecting the Starter Solenoid

Check the connections at the starter solenoid (the small cylinder on top of the starter) or starter relay. Most Ford vehicles use a remote starter relay instead of a solenoid. The positive (red) battery cable connects directly to the solenoid or starter relay. Can't find the relay? Consult the vehicle repair manual for your particular car make and model.

If the solenoid or relay fails, the car won't start:

  • To quickly check the solenoid, disable the starting system by disconnecting the thick wire from the center of the distributor cap or by removing the fuel pump fuse — consult your vehicle repair manual to locate the fuse, if necessary. This will prevent the engine from accidentally starting as you check the solenoid or starter relay.
  • If you disconnected the wire from the distributor, ground it to a bolt or unpainted metal bracket on the engine block using a jumper wire.
  • Ask an assistant to try starting the engine as you listen for any sounds coming from the starter solenoid or relay. If you hear a solid and loud click, it means the electrical current is reaching the solenoid and it's properly working. If you hear a weak click or chattering sound, check the wires connected to the starter solenoid or relay.
  • Check for dirty, loose, disconnected or broken wires that will prevent electrical current from reaching the motor. If the wires and connections are in good condition, the starter motor, solenoid or relay have failed, and you need to replace it.

Starter Motor Components

  1. Main Housing (yoke)
  2. Overrunning clutch
  3. Armature
  4. Field coils
  5. Brushes
  6. Solenoid

Checking the Starter Motor

Depending on your particular vehicle model you may need to raise the front of the car or remove the intake manifold or some other component to reach the starter motor. Consult the car repair manual for your particular model, if necessary.

If you need to raise your car, safely support it on jack stands, engage the parking brake and block the wheels to prevent the car from rolling.

  • Make sure the starter mounting bolts are tight. Loose mounting bolts will keep the starter drive from properly engaging the flywheel. When this happens, you'll hear a grinding noise as you try to fire up the engine, since the ring gear on the flywheel and the pinion gear on the starter clash, unable to mesh properly.
  • If the mounting bolts are tight, remove the starter motor from the vehicle and check the pinion gear — this is the small gear at the front of the starter that engages the flywheel to crank the engine. Check the condition of the pinion gear's teeth. Worn or damaged gear teeth will prevent you from cranking the engine as well.
  • Using a standard screwdriver, try to rotate the pinion gear in both directions. The gear should only rotate in one direction. If it moves in both directions or doesn't move at all, replace the starter.

Make sure to watch the following video to get a visual reference of the trouble points you want to pay attention to.

Inspecting the Engine Flywheel

If you removed the starter motor for inspection, this is a good chance to check the flywheel as well. The flywheel is the large, heavy wheel between the engine and transmission. This is the wheel that the starter pinion gear engages to crank the engine.

  • Once you've removed the starter motor, set your transmission to Neutral.
  • Have an assistant rotate the crankshaft by turning the center bolt on the crankshaft pulley using a ratchet or breaker bar and a socket. You'll find this pulley at the front and bottom of the engine block. This pulley rotates the drive or serpentine belt to run the alternator, steering pump and other components. Depending on your vehicle model, you may need to remove a wheel to gain access to the pulley center bolt.
  • Watch the flywheel as it rotates and make sure the teeth are in good condition. Missing or damaged teeth will prevent the starter motor from cranking the engine. Replace the flywheel, if necessary.

Testing the Starter Motor for Proper Operation

If you suspect the starter motor, take it to an auto parts store for testing. Many auto parts outlets will test your starter for free. An aged starter motor may have worn out brushes, armature, shaft, or burned field winding that may cause unusual noises, excessive current draw, slow cranking or no cranking at all.

A quick inspection at an auto parts store will reveal the drive mechanism and motor general condition, whether the starter draws enough current to operate, and the general state of the internal components.

If the previous checks did not turn out anything wrong with the starting system, you still have other simple troubleshooting strategies to further test the starter motor. Check the tips outlined in the article "Bad Starter Symptoms: Why Won't My Car Start?"

When you face car starter problems, remember that lack of proper battery maintenance, faulty electrical connections and components will prevent your starting system from working properly. Whatever the source of the problem, these troubleshooting tips will help you when your car won't start. They'll provide you with a relatively quick way to solve your starter problems.

Test Your Knowledge of Faulty Starter Motors

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Which starting system fault does not produce a metallic grinding noise?
    • Worn out pinion gear teeth
    • Clashing gears
    • A bad starting circuit wire
    • Dragging starter armature
    • Dry starter bushings

Answer Key

  1. A bad starting circuit wire

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: My car is having trouble starting when I turn the key, and then after about an hour, it starts back up again. What’s going on?

Answer: You need to make sure you have good spark and fuel pressure. Another issue is poor compression, but this usually happens on high mileage engines. Match the symptoms to the descriptions on the headings. Also, follow the procedures described in the post. This could give you a clue about the problem.

Question: What happens if the wires that connect to the starter from the engine touch?

Answer: Those wires come from the power side of the battery. You can produced a bad electric shortcut if those wires touch the engine block itself, for example.

Question: The solenoid on my Ford truck is reading voltage on both sides of the solenoid. This isn't correct, is it? If not, what am I looking at?

Answer: The plunger in the solenoid may be stuck. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Check-a-...

Question: I have a brand new starter motor. After using it for some time, it worked well. But then again, before replacing the old starter with a new one, while turning the ignition switch key, it had a whirring/grinding sound with a loud hard click. What should I do?

Answer: Voltage is probably not properly reaching the starter motor. You need to check the circuit for the fault. The tests described in this post may help you locate the fault. If your vehicle has a remote starter relay, check that one too.

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: We were driving our 1994 Ford Ranger 4.0 and rounded a curve. The truck turned off and has not started since. The coil pack has been changed and there is no spark when trying to start the truck. Can you please help me?

Answer: Have the ignition module and related circuit and connectors (loose or damaged wiring), checked. Some auto parts stores will test the module for you.

Question: I am driving a Honda civic 2007 model. I had recently replaced the starter motor because my car wouldn't start. It was working fine for a couple of months but now the battery indicator is on again. The battery power is fine. Any idea what could be the reason for this?

Answer: Check the alternator, charging system and battery. Any of these components can trigger the battery light if there's a problem with the charging system.

Question: I have a 2001 Ford F150. I replaced the starter and solenoid. Battery is good. Get one start, starts up great. Shut it down, won't restart. I'm still getting power to the lights, radio etc., and when trying to start it again, I hear a popping from the solenoid, like it is engaging but won't start. Could the ignition switch be the problem?

Answer: If the starter motor only works when the engine is cool, maybe one of the starter solenoid connections is getting hot when the engine is running and causing too much resistance. Make sure the connections are solid and clean. Also, maybe the motor is missing a heat shield.

Question: My car won't start when I turn the key. The lights come on in the dashboard, so that means the battery is working (I changed it a few months back). There is no sign of cranking either. I leave it for an hour or two and come back, it starts easily as if nothing had gone wrong. Please advise?

Answer: If there are no cranking or click(s) sounds when trying to fire up the engine, the problem could be in the starting circuit. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

If necessary, have the starter motor checked.

Also, make sure the charging system is working properly and charging your battery. You might want to have the battery checked, to see what condition it's in. Another potential problem is with the shift selector. The safety lockout will not engage until it feels the correct gear has been selected (Park or Neutral should make good contact). Move the shifter through the different gears and try starting again.

Question: My Kia Sedona van was stalling quite a bit; I could only start it up fifteen minutes later. I have a crank position sensor code, and my van won't start now, its just a click. Do you think it's from the sensor finally going out?

Answer: It could be. You may want to troubleshoot the sensor.

Question: My starter won't disengage, but I put a new solenoid on. When you turn the key off, it won't shut off. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Check the wiring between the starter and the ignition switch. One of the wires may have a short to ground or the ignition switch may be the problem.

Question: Can having too many keys on the key ring that starts the car cause damage to the starter?

Answer: Too many keys can wear out the tumbler in the ignition. You are putting extra weight until the tumbler can't make proper contact and is unable to unlock the ignition, hence you won't be able to start the engine.

Question: My car won't stat unless the battery is replaced. Alternator and starter doing OK. Could there be something in the ignition system that drains the battery? Or a gear shift lever not completely in the 'park' position causing a drain on the battery?

Answer: The most common reasons for a battery drain are short circuits and accessories that remain drawing current when they shouldn’t. This other post may help you locate the drain-source:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/car-batterydrai...

Question: I have a new battery, new starter and new relay and my car still will not start what is going on?

Answer: If the engine turns over, make sure you have good spark and fuel pressure. Otherwise, check the starting circuit. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: My car wouldn't start, but then I noticed my A/C switch was on. So I turned it to the off position and then my car started up! What's going on?

Answer: Usually this happens when the AC pulley seizes. There might be a problem with the compressor. Have it checked and see if this is the problem.

Question: My car has a new battery after I experienced this starting problem. I would go to start the car in the morning cold, and it would slow crank and have a blank no crank. Then slowly crank some more and finally, it would start. But sometimes it would not. I would then have to jump-start the battery to get it to start. Is the starter drawing too much voltage to start my car cold? The engine starts fine AFTER that first morning cold start-up, and the rest of the day it starts fine. What could be the problem with my car's starter?

Answer: If the battery is brand new, the problem could be in the starting circuit or engine grounds. You may want to check the circuit voltage drops. These other posts may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Automotive-Volt...

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: My Mercedes 560SEC has a new starter but no crank. What can be the problem?

Answer: Make sure there's voltage reaching the starter solenoid. If there's voltage at the starter solenoid, check the ground. Also check engine grounds and make sure the battery is fully charged and good.

Question: Can a car starter work one minute and then not work and then work again a day later? I had it tested and it came back good but now my car won't start. It won't even try.

Answer: Check the starting circuit, there could be a bad connection or corrosion on a terminal. This other post may help you check for voltage drop:

https://hubpages.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Voltag...

Question: What causes the starter to click rather than start up?

Answer: If you hear a solid click, it means voltage is reaching the starter but a fault in the mechanism or electrical circuit is keeping it from operating. The problem may be in the solenoid or starting relay, depending on your particular model. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: What if the car on starting cuts fire or backfires?

Answer: This other post might help you:

https://hubpages.com/auto-repair/Engine-Backfires-...

Question: My car does not want to start. But when I turn the key, the starter works but the engine does not start. What could be the cause?

Answer: If the engine turns over but won't start, make sure you got good spark and fuel pressure. These are the most common sources of trouble. This post may help you here:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/My-Engine-Crank...

If the engine doesn't turn over, these other posts can help you:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/bad_starter_sym...

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: I have a 2017 Nissan Sentra. The first start in the morning is fine. But, if I drive it for more than 30 minutes and kill it, it doesn’t want to restart. It just continues to turn over and over. I can play with the gear shifter and finally get it to start. When it does this, I can smell something that smells like plastic burning. If the engine is cold, it starts fine. It seems to be getting worse. The dealership suggested replacing the wiring harness and ECM at $4000. What is your advice?

Answer: You may want to try this first. A circuit with a lot of unwanted resistance is preventing the engine from starting, and probably it’s the starting system. After driving for a few minutes something in the circuit gets too hot-- possibly a wire or connection-- because current can’t flow properly and it’s starting to burn the insulation or a connector. These other two posts may help you locate the fault.

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Automotive-Volt...

Question: The parking sensor of my car is faulty, what might have caused it?

Answer: They can just become faulty over time, including the wiring or module. An accident can also cause the sensor to malfunction.

Question: I have just serviced my kick-starter, changed my battery, changed my alternator, yet my car won't start because the battery cant carry. What is draining the battery?

Answer: If this didn't happen before replacing the alternator, probably the fault is in the circuit.

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Automotive-Volt...

If you had this problem before, you may have a parasitic draw on the battery:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/car-batterydrai...

Question: My ford falcon 2001 won't crank when I turn the key all the lights are on and at the same time, the word Base flashes on the dashboard, also the Central locking buttons in the car and on the remote, won't let me lock or unlock the car or the boot?. I've got a new battery and starter motor and a new remote for the car alarm and checked the terminals.

Answer: If this began happening soon after installing the battery and starter or using the new car alarm remote, check for blown fuses. If you don't hear any click or clicking sounds when trying to start the engine, the problem could be with the alarm system or the computer itself, if it is trying to do some calibration after reconnecting the battery and failing to complete. In this case, the computer may need, possibly, to be reset. The repair manual for your particular model may tell how to do it, but I'm not sure. Also (less likely), the new remote for the car alarm may have interfered with the system and locked it. If you can hear a click or clicking sound, the problem may be in the starting system. This other post may help in this case:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: My starter won't start my Ford Ranger, and I push started the vehicle and drove it home. I noticed there was low current and the battery light was blinking on and off. The needles were going crazy in the dash also, but it didn't stop. I reached home safe. I want to know if it was a safe thing to do and if it could cause any other problems?

Answer: Probably you got a problem with the charging system or the battery. I don't think you caused any more damaged that it already had. Have the battery and the charging system checked.

Question: Does the key have to be in the ignition switch when tapping the starter on a 2007 Honda Accord?

Answer: Lightly tap the starter as a helper tries to fire up the engine.

Question: Why does my car turn off on the freeway?

Answer: There could be several reasons for this. The problem could be in the ignition system or a particular sensor. This other post can give you an idea about how to diagnose the problem. Hope this helps.

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Why-My-Car-Stal...

Question: My vehicle is having trouble. I checked stater motor, fuel pressure and battery. Everything is OK. What’s going on?

Answer: If the starter motor doesn’t run, check the circuit connections, including the ignition system. Also, make sure you have good spark. This post may help you check the circuit:

https://hubpages.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Voltag...

Question: 2007 Civic Auto. When the ignition switch is in the start position, I hear one click, then all power is killed. I release the key and power comes back as if nothing happened. I checked the fuse, fuel pump prime, larger battery, and the same thing happens. Jumping it doesn't work. I have my metal wand at the ready. Any suggestions?

Answer: The problem could be with the ignition switch. You may be able to test the outgoing voltage from the switch using a test light. It seems the contacts are either worn or damaged. It may be easier first to check voltage to the starter solenoid with the ignition key held to the Start position. If there's power to the solenoid, the relay itself or the motor is bad; then follow with the test to the ignition switch, if necessary.

Question: I just had my battery replaced, yet my car periodically has trouble starting, and it sometimes takes a couple of attempts. What's going on?

Answer: Usually the problem is in the ignition (for example, bad ignition coil) or fuel system (for example a weak fuel pressure regulator or fuel pump). If the car runs with no issues once it starts, you may want to check the starting circuit and have the starter motor checked. There could be too much resistance. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: We have a 2014 Dodge Journey and we recently put in a new starter. However, it has started sparking and smoking when started. I took it to a shop and they said it was grounded wrong. How do we fix that?

Answer: If the starter is working properly, check for voltage drop in the starting circuit. This post will give you an idea how to to about it. Probably you'll need the diagram for your model, depending on how well you know the circuit. First check between the battery and starter and grounds.

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Automotive-Volt...

Question: Why there is no spark at the leads in my car?

Answer: Depending on your particular model, there could be a problem with the ignition coil (single coil models), distributor, rotor, or ignition control module. You may be able to use your vehicle repair manual to trace the fault in the ignition system.

Question: My jetta 3 is swinging. When it's about to start, the coil sparks back, what is a problem?

Answer: The three most common reasons for a crank no-start problem are ignition, fuel and compression issues. Start by checking the ignition coil and the rest of the system, if necessary. Then make sure there is enough fuel pressure and good compression. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/My-Engine-Crank...

Question: I have a 2000 Ford Ranger. When I come to turn the key to start it, it will make a weird grinding zuuuuuummm sound and won’t start unless I push start my truck, since it’s a 5 speed! What can it be?

Answer: You may have a faulty starter motor. Have the starter tested in your local auto parts store.

Question: My van turns over but the engine won't start. I checked the fuel pump, gas filter, also gas pressure regulator, spark plugs, coils, and wires; even injectors pressure. The battery is not the one the van is supposed to have. Do you think a wrong battery can be the reason my van won't start?

Answer: If the battery doesn't produce enough amperage for the starter, the engine may not start. Check your car owner's manual, vehicle repair manual or your local auto parts store and see what's the correct amperage for your particular model.

Question: My car is cranking but not starting. I checked the spark. It doesn't have any spark. What's the problem?

Answer: Depending on your particular model, check for a faulty crankshaft position sensor, ignition coil or module, distributor (including cap, rotor) and distributor to the coil wire. You might want to download trouble codes, even if your check engine light is not on. There could be a pending code for a sensor, (if applicable).

Question: I have just replaced the battery, alternator, and starter but every time I turn my key, all the power is killed, what is wrong?

Answer: If your battery is good, check the wiring going to the starter, between the starter and battery and the ignition. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: I Haven't moved my car in a while, I went to start it, but it just ticks. Is the starter motor completely broke? Also fitted a new battery so it's not that.

Answer: There could be corrosion in the circuit, a loose or damaged wire. Check the circuit's voltage drop, it can help you locate the faulty part of the system:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: My Hyundai Atos doesn't want to start. It makes a sound but when I turn my headlights they are working. What could be the problem?

Answer: Make sure the fuel pump is working. Can you here the pump priming the lines when you turn the ignition key On? Also, make sure you got a good spark and fuel pressure. These two systems are usually the primary suspects.

Question: I drive a 2005 Opel Astra H. I was driving and while standing on the robot it just shut down. It sound as if my car isn't cranking. I did replace the whole starter. It doesn't seem to solve my problem. Still doesn't want to start. What can it be and what to do?

Answer: Possibly the problem is in the circuit. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: I just had my starter motor replaced and most of the time it’s fine but every week or so it just won’t start, do you know what this could be?

Answer: If you mean the starter motor doesn't run sometimes, there could be a problem in the circuit. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Make sure to check engine grounds as well:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Automotive-Volt...

If you mean the engine turns over (rotates) but won't start, then the problem could be in the ignition or fuel system or an intermittent issue with a sensor. This other post may help in this case:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/My-Engine-Crank...

Question: I have to jumpstart my Nissan Navara D22 but the engine cranks and spins very slowly. And the starter solenoid gets hot when cranking. What's the problem there?

Answer: There seems to be too much resistance in the starter solenoid. Check the connections for loose wires, corrosion and damage. This other post can help locate the part with the fault in the circuit:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: I have a 1992 Ford Explorer with a starter that grinds after starting. If I remove the three-wire voltage regulator connector it stops grinding. The starter, alternator and ignition switch are all new. What can cause this?

Answer: Check the wiring to the starter solenoid -- starter relay. The relay may be getting stuck.

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Check-a-...

Also, insufficient voltage or bad connection may be causing trouble in the starting system. You might want to check the starting circuit and engine grounds voltage drop. These other posts may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Automotive-Volt...

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: I've installed a new starter, but every time I start the truck, I have to push the starter back up and tighten it. I've used pressure washers, loctite, etc., to keep it from loosening but still does it. Why would that be?

Answer: Make sure you have the correct starter bolts. Contact your dealer and see if they can tell you the correct size for your application. You can test the bolts outside with the starter removed. If the bolts have any play when put through the starter holes, they are not the correct ones.

Usually, this may not apply all the time, if your starter doesn't have gear reduction, use shims and support bracket as needed. If you don't have the shims but need to install them, you can find starter shim kits in case you need them. You can find videos only about starting shimming as well. Hope this helps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJob1VsUsic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucG-yh4oiLU

Question: I have a 2006 Mazda Tribute and the radiator blew, so I replaced it. Now it won't start. Then I replaced the starter and it still doesn't start. What could it be?

Answer: If the engine cranks but won't start (and assuming you got good spark and fuel pressure), check for something that might've been left unplugged. There could be a problem with a sensor not sending the appropriate signal to the computer. Download trouble codes, even if the check engine light is not on. There could be a pending code that can guide you here. Make sure the battery was not affected when the radiator blew. If engine doesn't crank, check the starting circuit:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Question: Why won't my starter shut off after my vehicle starts?

Answer: When the starter gets stuck, disconnect the battery negative terminal. Then unplug the ignition wire from the solenoid (small wire) on top of the starter. Reconnect the battery. If the starter runs, the solenoid may be stuck or another starter problem. You may need to replace the starter. If the starter doesn't run, there's probably voltage at the small wire. Check the ignition side of the circuit for the problem.

Question: I have 06 Ford Expedition. I had a misfiring in cylinders 5 and 8. I changed the spark plugs for 5 and 8. Now it won't crank over. Could this be caused by not changing all the spark plugs?

Answer: If the engine is not turning over, the problem is in the starting system. Make sure the battery is good, then check the starting circuit. This other post can help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

If necessary, have the starter checked.

Question: Why is the starter motor is blowing smoke? What I do first?

Answer: Probably the starter motor is still running after the engine has started. This will cause the starter motor to overheat and smoke. There could be an internal problem with the motor itself, or a problem in the circuit going to the ignition switch (short circuit) that is keeping the motor running. In the latter case, you'll need to find the short before replacing the motor or you'll ruin the new replacement. First, you may try removing the starter motor and have it checked at your local auto parts store.

Question: We must push start my car, what is the problem?

Answer: You can push-start your car with a manual transmission when there's a problem with the starter motor. But check the battery to make sure it's still in good condition.

Question: I have a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500. The other day, I had a headlamp switch go bad and drain the battery. It took forever to get it up to charge on a jump to start the truck. When it finally started cranking the engine, it took a long time for it to finally fire over. The rest of the day the truck took many many tries to start before it finally would. I had just driven it the day before. What could be areas to check? It cranks hard, could it be a firing issue?

Answer: If the faulty switch drained the battery, it's better to trickle charge the battery. This will improve the chemical reaction and cell plates. If necessary, check the starter system voltage drop:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Comments

Dan Ferrell (author) on August 21, 2020:

Download diagnostic trouble codes from the computer memory, even if you don't see the check engine light. Sometimes a faulty sensor can prevent the car from starting. Also, check the ignition system for spark and the fuel system for fuel pressure. Hope this helps.

Anshuman saini on August 21, 2020:

My car name is datsun go plus 2016 model

My car is cranking but not staring

Dan Ferrell (author) on August 20, 2020:

You can turn the engine manually using the crankshaft pulley bolt. Set the manual transmission to Neutral and turn the bolt clockwise and try starting the engine. If there're some good teeth on the flywheel, this might work. Hope this helps.

Thomas Bliss on August 20, 2020:

My Hyundai excel has a worn flywheel. The starter is brand new but the teeth on the flywheel are worn, just wondering is there any way I can re engaged the flywheel by turning manually?

Dan Ferrell (author) on August 04, 2020:

If the problem appeared right after removing the ramps, something might've been disconnected. Check the wires around the work area. A sensor might be unplugged. Hope this helps.

Lbiv on August 01, 2020:

1993 Z28 engine cranks but doesn't start. Replaced plugs, has brand new battery. Took car off of ramps and now won't start.

Dan Ferrell (author) on July 27, 2020:

There's a short in the circuit. You need the wiring diagram for your particular model. Then trace the voltage with a test light. You may find a relatively cheap aftermarket manual at your local auto parts store. Hope this helps.

Noreen Cruz on July 25, 2020:

I have problem starting my 2002 320i bmw. It cranks no start. I checked the fuse for fuel pump it keeps blowing. I tested the line for the fuel pump, no power.

Dan Ferrell (author) on July 15, 2020:

Check for trouble codes, no matter if the check engine light is off. I'm assuming the engine cranks (turns over) but fails to start. If there's no spark, there could be a faulty sensor. A bad crankshaft sensor is a good guess but there could be other issues. Maybe this other post can help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/My-Engine-Crank...

Louis Vergotine on July 15, 2020:

I have a 2008 ford focus st mk 2 with a Volvo turbo charged engine problem is it stalls and never again started it was 8months ago I've read your article and tested for spark there are no spark bought a new crank sensor cam sensors airflow meter but still no spark I am desperate for help please

Louis

Dan Ferrell (author) on July 04, 2020:

Check the starting circuit. There could be high resistance, not allowing full battery power to reach the starter motor. Check for loose, corroded or damaged wires. This other post may help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Raju on July 04, 2020:

Mere paas swift zxi car hai maine starter moter b new lagai hai battery b new lagai hai phir b 2 din ke baad bahut lanba self leti hai

Dan Ferrell (author) on May 11, 2020:

Probably this other post can help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Why-My-Car-Stal...

Serame Samuel on May 11, 2020:

My jeep compass after feeling patrol it starte for few sec and stop, than start again and stop till now it's start for few seconds and stop

Dan Ferrell (author) on April 20, 2020:

If the engine suddenly died, as if turning the ignition key off, you may be dealing with a bad sensor (crankshaft, camshaft sensor perhaps). But there could be other issue. The whining you hear when cranking the engine may come from the starter motor. Have the sensors checked. This other post may help as well:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/My-Engine-Crank...

Tammy on April 20, 2020:

I have a 2005 Honda Civic ex I was driving came up to a stop sign stopped then went to go and it just died no noise or nothing just died pulled over then put it in park tried to start it but it wouldn't start it cranks over but makes a spinning or whining noise pulled the oil cap and tried to crank it and the rocker arms r moving so I'm not sure what else could be wrong a single mom and I really need some sun or help on what it could be please help me thank you

Dan Ferrell (author) on April 06, 2020:

If the engine doesn't crank check the starter motor and circuit. You can have the starter motor tested at your local auto parts store. This other post can help you test the circuit:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Jimmy sharma on April 05, 2020:

Hi, I have Ford Escape 2008 . It’s not crank ,display sign works fine but it start with starter , what could be problem ?

Dan Ferrell (author) on November 20, 2019:

if the engine cranks, make sure you got good spark and fuel pressure; if it doesn't crank, check the battery and the starting circuit:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Use-Volt...

Praising Mariri on November 19, 2019:

Hy i have a hyundai atos prime and its giving me a problem it doesnt wanna start and the battery is fine the lights are on,the radio is also working.what could be the problem??

Dan Ferrell (author) on October 07, 2019:

This other post may give you some tips if the engine doesn't turn over:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/My-Engine-Wont-...

Jannielace23@gmail.com on October 07, 2019:

My key will go to ACC on ignition but will not turn over its a 99 Toyota corolla VE no noises at at just won't turn over what's the problem?

Dan Ferrell (author) on July 12, 2019:

Source of temperature related problems like this may vary. You may find a fault in the fuel injection, vapor lock (fuel system issues), faulty engine grounds or even a clogging air filter, may lead to this.

Cliff on July 11, 2019:

My Toyota dyna 15b engine, When I start my truck it cranks very well, there I go and cover some long distance, but then if I happen to stop and switch off the engine and restart the engine, it won't start it'll just be dragging up until I wait for it to cool down, then it will crank strongly, what can be the problem please help?

Dan Ferrell (author) on March 05, 2019:

If the engine was starting without problems prior to the repairs you made and now it cranks without starting, make sure you got good spark and good fuel pressure. These are the most common trouble spots. Also, make sure you have a good crankshaft sensor.

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/How-to-Test-a-C...

Help on March 05, 2019:

I replaced my fuel pump battery and crankshaft sensor and my car still won't start why is that?

Dan Ferrell (author) on February 15, 2019:

Have the starter motor checked. There could be something wrong with it.

Nesh on February 15, 2019:

My car Toyota vios NCP93 cannot start. At starter motor got sound 1second only..

Dan Ferrell (author) on February 13, 2019:

Check the ignition system, specially the coil and ignition module.

Oupa molele on February 13, 2019:

I have polo classic 1.6 2009 model i park my night ,in morning whn i starter the car doesn't wnt to starter,i take out one spark plug i found tht no spark

Dan Ferrell (author) on February 09, 2019:

A new and quality battery should stand its charge for at least a month, unless you’ve fitted your car with high power consumption gadgets. As the battery ages, you’ll see its rate of charge dropping, usually, to two weeks. Of course, you need to take into account your local climate (too hot?) and driving habits. It’s possible your car has a parasitic drain. This other post may help you locate it:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/car-batterydrai...

Juanita Walraven on February 08, 2019:

Mercury Grand Marquis 2000 battery 5 yr. life dead in 4 yrs. replacement dead in 2 mos. Vehicle not in frequent use. Alternator checked out OK. What could be draining the battery?

Dan Ferrell (author) on December 14, 2018:

Make sure the battery has a full charge. If necessary, have the battery tested. Also, test the alternator and charging system, if necessary.

Thoh on December 14, 2018:

My ford figo doesnt start it give ABS malfunction and if i may ask is it possible that because of that it wont start since it a automatic transmission. And wat i need to do. Im stuck i cant move

Dan Ferrell (author) on October 30, 2018:

Check the starter solenoid. You are probably hearing the starter armature spin.

Norbu on October 30, 2018:

My wife's car does not start but just makes zzzz sound but when you push start it works. I checked the battery it is fine and also I charged it fully but the problem is still there. What do I do with the figo 2010.

Dan Ferrell (author) on September 27, 2018:

You may need to clear the codes. If you don't have a scan tool, go to your local auto parts. They can do it for free. Hope this helps. Also, make sure your battery is charged and good, if there's no crank follow the appropriate section in the post.

Ron Pearson on September 27, 2018:

First time on here but looks really helpful.

Jennifer on September 27, 2018:

Did a diagnostic test and it said crankshaft sensor and I replaced it and did another diagnostic test and it said car was safe to drive but it still doesn't start what could be the reason

Dan Ferrell (author) on September 10, 2018:

Hi AMO

There could be too much resistance in the circuit. Check the connections and wires for corrosion or damage.

AMO on September 10, 2018:

MY STARTER WIRE GETS HOT WHEN I START THE CAR AND JUST CLICK

Dan Ferrell (author) on August 07, 2018:

There might've been trouble with the bushing but there seems to be problems with the stator and rotor.

Good luck

Dan Ferrell (author) on July 11, 2018:

Glad to hear you fixed it.

GM0917 on July 10, 2018:

Gud day, i resolved the problem, the carbon brush contact to the armature is weak, i clean the contact and try to start, the starter is back to good condition,. Thank sir for suggestion,.

Dan Ferrell (author) on July 10, 2018:

Hi G,

Go over the steps in the Checking the Starter Motor section of the article. Or you can take the starter motor to an auto parts store and have them check it for you. If the motor is OK, check the connections, to make sure the motor is getting the correct voltage.

Good luck.

Dan Ferrell (author) on July 10, 2018:

Hi Geronimo

Go over the section Checking the Starter Motor in the article. You should be able to find out whether the starter is still good or not.

Good luck

GM0917 on July 10, 2018:

Good eve.

My truck is 4hg1 engine the starter motor 'armature' malfunctioning running, and the soleniod when i turn to start the ignition key is okay, any suggestion thankz.

Geronimo Eva on July 10, 2018:

When i turn start the ignition, the armature of starter can't run and the solenoid is okay,. Any suggestion please.

Dan Ferrell (author) on July 02, 2018:

Hi jayk3

Check the ignition switch, it might have worn out contacts.

Good luck

jayk3 on July 01, 2018:

What would cause a starter to sometimes work? When I turn my key to on position, all indicator lights come on and I can hear fuel pump working. When I continue and turn to start position everything goes off until I release from start position. Eventually it will start, sometimes after many attempts, sometimes after one or two, and sometimes it starts right up the first time. Usually after sitting overnight or long periods of time, it starts right up, and when I try starting it within 30 minutes after driving it and shutting it off it seems to work fine, usually but not always.

Dan Ferrell (author) on May 14, 2018:

Hi VH

this other post might help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/Engine-Misfires...

Good luck

Dan Ferrell (author) on April 30, 2018:

Hi CT,

Make sure you have good spark, and then check fuel system pressure, there could be a bad pressure regulator or a failing fuel pump.

Good luck.

Cindy Tyler on April 30, 2018:

I have a 2001 Oldsmobile Aurora that battery died on, once battery was charged car won't start. It turns over and makes a shrill noise.if I shoot gas directly into manifold it runs.I have replaced fuel filter and injectors, starter crank sensor and cam sensor HELP! any ideas? It reads no codes when tested.

Dan Ferrell (author) on April 05, 2018:

Hi Jessica,

Try to get the trouble codes from the computer memory. Probably a friend or an auto parts store will lend you a scanner. The code will tell you where to start. Also, these other two posts might help:

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/bad_starter_sym...

https://axleaddict.com/auto-repair/My-Engine-Crank...

Jessica on April 04, 2018:

Engine light on car trying to start but wont... suggestions?

Dan Ferrell (author) on March 14, 2018:

Hi Jeremiah,

Hard to tell without some tests but a possibility is a dirty fuel filter or worn fuel pump.

You might also want to check the battery terminals --corrosion or loose terminals-- also check the charging system.

Good luck

Jeremiah on March 14, 2018:

I have a 2002 Chevy Blazer it will turn over but not fire on the first try but on the second try it will fire right up an run like a dream what could it be????? Just did the starter

Dan Ferrell (author) on February 28, 2018:

Hi Tami,

It may be possible the starter motor and flywheel are not correctly aligned or there's damage to the ring gear of the flywheel. Check the starter is properly mounted, along with shims, if any.

Good luck

Tami Turanga on February 27, 2018:

Hi I had a problem last year, my ford escape was stuck in reverse, turned out I needed a new gear cable, replaced that , now every other start makes a loud wrenching noise. Took it to a different garage, mechanic says take it back to people who replaced gear cable because it's misaligned, so I did that and they found that the starter motor is worn out because of the starting problems but said it's not because of it being in between gears(misaligned gears) confused please help

Dan Ferrell (author) on February 10, 2018:

Hi Geraldine,

If you have access to an multimeter, check that you have enough battery power: 12.4 to 12.6 Voltage is what your looking for. Otherwise charge the battery and try again. Even if you get this voltage, you may want to take the battery to an auto parts stores to have the battery checked. If the battery checks OK.

If the engine cranks and turns, check that you have spark and fuel coming in.

If the starter motor doesn't sound like it used to, probably you have a faulty starter.

Gook luck

Geraldine on February 10, 2018:

My car sounds like something running won't start now I'm told it's the self starter how do I fix it's a city golf need assistance I have disconnected the battery

Dan Ferrell (author) on January 04, 2018:

Hi phongmaran,

Don't have the schematic with me. Check the fuse to see if it is good.

If you can get hold of the diagram, whatever components (relay?, switch?,any safety swtich?) over passing can give you the clue.

Good luck.

Dan Ferrell (author) on December 21, 2017:

Hi johan

Tap on the starter while a helper try to start the engine. Did you check the condition of the ring gear on the flywheel?

If you can hear the starter clicking or a solid click, check the starting circuit, there could be a loose or bad connection.

Good luck

johan on December 21, 2017:

Hi Marco

my Renault megane is burning up starters

the car will start once with the new starter then i will go for a drive and then when is top and switch it op the car wont start up again what could this be???

Dan Ferrell (author) on October 17, 2017:

Hi CO,

Make sure your battery is actually charged:

* turn the high beams for about 30 seconds, then turn them off

* wait 2 minutes and measure base voltage again

if it is below 12.4V, you need to charge it.

Also, check all the connections in the starting system, from battery to starter motor. Look for corrosion, loose connections, or damaged.

There may be problems with the solenoid, too.

Good luck

christo ochalla on October 17, 2017:

my starter drags while starting. what wholuld be the problem ? I checked the battery and it is fine. the battery measurs 12.4 v. what is the next step I can do ?

Dan Ferrell (author) on October 09, 2017:

Hi DH,

If you hear a solid click when turning the key to start the engine, current seems to be reaching the starter motor. Check your connections and also the ignition switch. Track the current with a multimeter.

Good luck

Dennis Herl on October 08, 2017:

I am having issues with the starter bend-ex. It will not engage the flex plate. Have replaced starter, flexplate and battery. It will start up once, then when I go to start it again, it just clicks. Do you have any ideas of what I can try next? Have shimmed starter.

Dan Ferrell (author) on September 20, 2017:

Hi Marco,

Make sure the battery is actually charged. A base voltage reading from your battery above 12V doesn't necessarily means your battery is good. Have it checked at an auto parts store, make sure it is properly charged and still good. They will charge and check the battery for free.

If you got a good battery, check the starter solenoid and the connections to it - should be clean and tight. It seems voltage is not reaching the solenoid if you're not hearing anything.

Good luck

Marco on September 20, 2017:

1993 GMC Suburban. It will not start. no sound at all. good battery and starter. i thought it was the n switch.

Dan Ferrell (author) on September 08, 2017:

Hi jalal

It is normal for the pinion gear to kick in. This is to rotate the flywheel to crank the engine. If you just hear a click when trying to start the engine, make sure your battery is fully charged and all the connections are good. Then check the starter motor. An auto parts store might bench test it for you.

Good luck

Dan Ferrell (author) on September 08, 2017:

Hi Troy,

You seem to have a problem in the fuel system. Start with the fuel filter. When was the last time you changed it. Then check fuel pressure. This can point to the fuel pressure regulator or fuel pump.

Good luck

Troy on September 06, 2017:

My Chrysler starts with starting fluid but won't start what should I do

jalal on September 04, 2017:

I have issue with starter motor clicking noise I remove the starter I notice the pinion gear while rotate it going out is it normal !!

MUHAMMAD UMAR FAROOQ on July 24, 2017:

THANKS A LOT FOR SHARING KNOWLEDGE FOR LAY MAN.

Dan Ferrell (author) on June 30, 2017:

Hi bj

You may have a battery problem. Make sure the battery is fully charged, (it accepts the charge, or is being charged properly). Also check the starting circuit, including the battery terminals. All connections should be cleaned and tight.

Good luck

bj mcclure on June 30, 2017:

thanks for your advice, very helpful indeed. I replaced our starter motor with a new one and the car ran for a day, now its doing the same thing clicks over but just won't start. any ideas???

Dan Ferrell (author) on June 16, 2017:

Hi MS,

The pinion gear kicks out during cranking. If you have the right starter for your engine model, it'll be position correctly to mesh with the flywheel.

Good luck

Michael Snyder on June 16, 2017:

Hi where should the pinion gear on the top of the starter be positioned? It seems like its not out far enough.

parker on June 06, 2017:

For several weeks, my car just wouldn't start on the first try and you'd hear a click. 3 or 4 attempts later the car would finally start. Eventually, every component of the starting system was replaced, including the up sized ground cable, starter motor, alternator, and still the same problem. Finally, a mechanic who was highly rated with electrical systems found the answer. The lug terminal attached to the hot lug on the starter was oversized for the lug plus the crimp on the terminal was not a good crimp, the mechanic showed me the ratcheting crimper he used for the new connection. After 25+ starts I know that the problem has been fixed. FINALLY. This was on a 94 Olds Cutlass Ciera. Happy Motoring all.

Dan Ferrell (author) on June 02, 2017:

Hi Sippy,

Make sure the transmission in in Park,

Try putting a little pressure on the steering wheel (if locked) while trying to turn the key to see if it gets unstuck,

May be the key is too worn, wiggle the key slightly and see if this makes it turn, if so, you may need a new key,

Or maybe the tumbler/cylinder or related mechanism is broken and needs to be replaced.

Hope this helps

Good luck

Sippy on June 02, 2017:

Key would not turn. Solution?

Dan Ferrell (author) on May 22, 2017:

Hi,

Yes, misalignment may prevent the starter pinion gear to not mesh properly with the flywheel.

no name on May 22, 2017:

could the transmission not lining up properly cause the starter not to engage?

Dan Ferrell (author) on March 01, 2017:

Hi GK,

Thanks for the comment. Glad it helped.

Good luck

Gordon kerr on March 01, 2017:

You are awesome!!! Very well explained... helped me a ton... if you are not currently teaching you might want to consider it haha

Brian Wijekoon on January 04, 2017:

Thanks a lot for in detailed explanations and it is was a great support to understand the issue.

Tim Czarnecki on November 20, 2016:

Thank you for posting this great information. I appreciate it.