car relay box

Starter Relay Symptoms, Function & Replacement Cost

In Electric by Magnus Sellén6 Comments

A vehicle contains so many components that sometimes many of them are forgotten or overlooked.

When it’s time for maintenance, these smaller and lesser known parts, such as the starter relay, are not given much thought, but in fact each part is important and vital to ensure the correct functioning of your car.

The starter relay is an electrical component that is responsible for transmitting current from the battery to the starter that ignites the car’s engine. This small part normally does not break down, but since it is an electrical component, anything can happen at any time.

To know when the starter relay is moving towards failure, you need to find out the symptoms of a starter relay failure, and we can help you with that.

Signs of a Faulty Starter Relay

ignition relay

Since the relay is an electrical component, its performance can be influenced by a number of factors. Number one on the list of problems is the accumulation of dust and deposits. Dust can interfere with the relay’s performance and cause it to malfunction. Apart from this, a current surge from the battery can destroy a starter relay, so there are many things to consider.

We will come to the solutions once we know the symptoms of a failed starter relay.

1. Problems with the Ignition

It is quite obvious that any malfunction of the starter relay inevitably leads to ignition problems. As soon as you insert the key into the ignition and turn it to trigger the engine, the relay receives the information and does its job of transmitting power to the starter, but a faulty or bad starter relay is inefficient and cannot perform this task optimally.

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So if you feel that the engine will not start even if you turn the key, it could mean that you have a bad starter relay that needs to be replaced.

2. Starter Doesn’t Go Off

It is possible that a relay successfully sends a current to the starter, but is not able to switch it off. When a relay is connected to the system, it completes a circuit. However, if the starter relay does not work properly, it can give life to the starter, but it may not shut it off when the engine has started.

This can happen because the main components inside the relay are glued together in the “closed” position. In this case, the starter, the gear shift, and the transmission flywheel are severely damaged.

3. Irregular Startups

The problem with a failed starter relay is that sometimes it works brilliantly and in other cases it does not work at all. The relay is often battered because it lies unprotected in the engine compartment, so a lot of heat, dirt and dust that accumulates on it can affect its performance.

If you start your car once and it starts without a fault, then start it again and it won’t start at all, then you are dealing with a faulty starter relay. Whenever this happens, it is advisable to look for a mechanic who can help to solve the problem.

4. Ticking Sound Coming from The Starter Relay

When you try to start a car, you sometimes hear a ticking sound coming from the engine, but the engine does not start. This sound is actually coming from the relay that tells you that the voltage and amps from the battery are not being delivered correctly to the starter.

This only happens when the relay is not able to pass current to the starter because it cannot work properly.

Cleaning A Starter Relay

As we have already mentioned, a starter relay in the engine compartment must cope with a lot by constantly having to deal with heat, dust, and debris. This torment can affect the vital function of a relay, so it is necessary to keep it clean of pollutants.

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The starter relay should be cleaned monthly, if not twice a week. Clean it more often if you are in a place where there is a lot of dust. Cleaning a starter relay is easy: here we give you a step-by-step guide to cleaning a starter relay.

Things you will need:

A blower
Cloth (preferably microfiber)
Electrical Cleaner Sprayir?t=askamastermec 20&l=am2&o=1&a=B00AF0OFVU

Locate the Starter Relay

The starter relay is located exactly in the middle near the battery of a car. In most cars, it can be found in the fuse box. It is a box-like structure that typically has a white casing. There are some wires that go in and out from the bottom. If you see an object like that, you’ve probably found the relay. However, there is more than one relay in a car, so make sure you have found the right one.

Clean the Relay

Since the relay is an electrical component, it can ignite if water is applied directly to the relay. Therefore, you must approach the relay with caution. First make sure your vehicle is completely switched off, then turn on a fan and point it at the relay. This will remove all the dirt and dust that has recently been deposited on the relay. When you are finished with the blower, take the cloth and dip it a little into the water.

Gently rub the outer part of the relay and remove the remaining dirt with an electric cleaning spray. When you are satisfied with the cleaning, use the blower one last time to make sure all the water has dried. Make sure it is really dry, because a small amount of water can short circuit the wires and destroy other parts.

Starter Relay Replacement Cost

Insert the key in the ignition and start the car. If you still have problems with starting, you must go to the mechanic to have the relay replaced. Relays are generally very cheap and easily available. Therefore your mechanic will not charge you too much. Usually you will be charged about $100 in total, including labor and the cost of the new starter relay.

6 thoughts on “ Starter Relay Symptoms, Function & Replacement Cost ”

  1. Hi I’ve recently brought a Nissan Juke 2014 diesel.

    Fully serviced & MOT’d.

    I noticed last week problems starting the car. It wouldn’t start the first time so I removed the key and tried again the second time. This time I left it in ignition for 2/4 seconds before I started and it worked. It then happened again and now it comes up with ERROR when I start if I leave the error to go off a couple of seconds then start it cranks up first time.

    I took it back to the garage today and they said it’s an issue with the replays but couldn’t say which one? An auto electrician has apparently looked at this? I suppose I need to know whether the garage is doing everything they can or whether it’s somethibg that needs looking into more?

  2. I have a 98gmc Yukon suburban with breathalyzer installed but the hot wires to it were cut and hanging down under the dash.they didn’t have tape or wire nuts on the ends.I shoved them up and the end of one hit something right near the diagnosis port.acloud of smoke came out from under the dash. Now my truck won’t start what’s the problem.

  3. Hi there, trust u well, I have a 2005 Honda cbr600 and having starting problems, in most cases after driving for a while and if the bike switches off in between, when I try to restart it, it seems like the relay contacts(that send voltage to the starter when starting) gets stuck/ sticky and eventually drains the battery power because it’s now continuously send power to the solenoid and won’t stop due to the stuck contact, my question is, can I use a separate car starter relay as an extra relay solely for the power contact to the starter, and connect it in parallel to the existing relay??

  4. Hi my name is monique and I have a2000 Toyota Camry I was driving and the car made Avery loud noise and then a whiseling sound and then it sounded like something fell out of it and stopped can you please help me

  5. Good Afternoon, I have a 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.0 petrol – J20 engine. My would work normal for a few days then it shuts down. It does not restart unless the battery is allowed to drain completely and then jump start. The transmission warning light will display on the on the dash for some time before if comes off.

    Can you please help diagnose….

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