Symptoms of a Bad Starter Solenoid

Symptoms of a Bad Starter Solenoid

Next Gen Drivetrain Research & DevelopmentNovember 07, 2022

There are many reasons why your car won’t start, and it’s not always obvious why. Problems with the starter are high on the list and more common than some might think. The starter is a small motor powered by the battery. Its only job is to start the vehicle, and it does that by sending electrical signals from the starter to the starter relay. If the relay and starter aren’t working, then your car is a half-ton paperweight that won’t move until you repair it. Get to know the symptoms of a bad starter solenoid so you can avoid getting stranded.

Weird Noises Under the Hood

Everyone knows what their car sounds like when it’s running well, and everything is normal. When there is a problem, the car lets us know by making weird sounds. Don’t ignore those indicators. The most obvious noise is a fast, clicking sound when you turn the key. When the starter is shot, that’s what you’ll hear first. Distinctive whirring and grinding also mean the starter is done, so pay attention.

Lights on and No Action

When you turn the key, you expect the car to start immediately. When the starter is out, the lights and all systems in the car will come to life, but the engine won’t start. You might think the battery is dead, but if that were the case, the lights wouldn’t come on. If you have lights and radio, but the engine isn’t running, you need to replace the starter.

The Engine Doesn’t Crank

The starter activates the crank and starts turning the pistons and crankshaft in the engine. When you don’t hear the distinctive sound of the engine turning over, the starter is done. You might get one or two half-hearted attempts out of the starter, but it won’t be able to crank and eventually will stop turning at all.

Smoke Coming from the Car

The starter is part of the car’s electrical system and therefore is prone to blown fuses and short circuits. Trying to continuously start the car with a bad starter can overheat it. When that happens, smoke will pour out from under the hood. Seeing or smelling smoke is not good in any situation—unless you’re at home lighting the barbecue. Knowing the symptoms of a bad starter solenoid will keep your car running smoothly and out of the repair shop.

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