Almost everyone doesn’t want to experience inconvenience, especially when driving or starting a car. And one of the most common inconvenience a driver might or already experienced is a failing or bad starter. It is when you are having trouble starting the engine even if the battery is in great shape.
But before your starter totally gives up on you, it is important that you’ve addressed the problems beforehand. To help you determine if you already have a bad or failing starter, Philkotse.com gathered the most common symptoms and signs you should look out for.
1. How the starter works
Before we head over to the signs of a malfunctioning starter, let's first understand and identify its parts. A starter is made up of two main parts namely, the primary motor which is responsible for turning the car's crankshaft and starting the engine.
The second part is the solenoid which is responsible for simultaneously engaging the drive gear of the starter and the closing of the electrical contacts of the main motor.
The problem in the starting system might be the result of poor maintenance. It can also be caused by wear and tear because even when you have proper car maintenance, lots of components from different systems of the car get worn. This is because of their service life that they are bound to have issues eventually.
2. 8 symptoms of a failing starter
If you notice the following signs, make sure to contact your local auto repair shop or trusted mechanic for a complete inspection of your car.
#1: The car does not start
One of the most obvious symptoms of a failing or bad starter is when the car doesn’t start when engaging the ignition process. Electronic keys don’t have a manual ignition switch, but, if it is powered, it sends a signal to be delivered to the starter relay when the driver pressed the starter button or turned the key.
If the driver turns the key or presses the button, on the manual ignition switch, but the car doesn’t turn over, it can be a result of a problem with the starter relay. In this case, you should call a professional mechanic to inspect the warning signs and symptoms to correctly diagnose the problem and have it repaired immediately.
One of the most obvious symptoms of a failing starter is the car doesn’t start when engaging the ignition process
>>> Check out more reasons and how to deal with the not-starting cars.
#2: Grinding noise
The grinding noise is often produced if the starter drive gear is not engaging properly or is already worn out. The noise is actually similar to the sound created when you accidentally hit the starter again after starting the engine. This grinding noise should not be ignored because it can lead to the damage of the engine flywheel.
The freewheeling happens when you crank the car's engine and you hear a whining sound coming from the starter without cranking the engine. If this happens, the main cause might be starter gear not engaging properly with the flywheel.
These cases are often severe that a starter replacement might be needed. If you ever experience freewheeling, it is best to have it serviced as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
The freewheeling happens when you crank the car's engine and you hear a whining sound coming from the starter without cranking the engine
If you notice any presence of smoke, it is already a call for immediate concern. It can actually indicate several different starting circuits or starter problems. Smoke is actually an indication that there is too much power delivered through the electric supply to the starter. This happens because of several reasons.
First is because the starter might be shorted, or it is operated non-stop for too long. It can also be because of a connection problem.
Aside from the smoke, a burning smell might also come with it. If there is a presence of smoke, immediately seek assistance from a professional to have your car serviced. If you're driving and this situation happened, we highly recommend having your car towed.
If you notice any presence of smoke, it is already a call for immediate concern
#5: Oil soak
Most often, the starter is located around the bottom of the car’s engine which makes it more vulnerable to get soaked from the engine oil and/or other drivetrain fluids.
If your starter is oil-soaked, it’s remaining life will more likely be short. Before you replace the starter, you should first consider correcting and fixing the leak. Do this immediately before a malfunction happens.
#6: Malfunctioning solenoid
The solenoid is one of the main parts of the starter. It is responsible for the transmitting electrical current coming from the battery to be delivered to the starter motor. This occurs every time you turn the key in the car’s ignition.
To allow cranking the solenoid also pushes the starter drive into the flywheel. Without it, your starter will not work. If nothing happens when you’re turning the key to the crank position, you should first try to jiggle the gear shift lever of the transmission.
If nothing happens or the engine is still not cranking, then the problem might be coming from the solenoid.
The solenoid is responsible for the transmitting electrical current coming from the battery to be delivered to the starter motor
>>> Read top 9 common mistakes to avoid when jump starting your car for further car protection.
#7: Intermittent issues when starting the car
If the engine does not instantly ignite when you try to start the car, but you once again activate the switch and then it works, most probably the problem might be because of the starter relay.
It’s an all or nothing device which means that the starter relay either sends nothing or full electrical current to the starter. The damaged relay, in some cases, causes the starter to create a clicking noise when turning the key.
#8: The starter stays on after the engine started
If you start the engine and stop pressing the starter button (of a new car), or you release the key, the circuit (that will stop the power on the starter motor) should be closed. But if it stays on even after the engine already ignited, its main contact in the solenoid has most probably welded together in a closed position.
This problem should be addressed as soon as possible to avoid the relay to be stuck in the “on” position. If the problem is not solved immediately, it will constantly result in serious damage to the entire starter system as well as the transmission flywheel.
If it stays on even after the engine already ignited, its main contact in the solenoid has most probably welded together in a closed position
Take note of the given symptoms and warning signs of a failing starter to avoid any further damage to the starter systems. Immediately taking actions to address the problem will also save you from any inconvenience.
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