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
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.
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.
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:
Cloth (preferably microfiber)
Electrical Cleaner Spray
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.
Hello I’m Magnus, the owner and the writer of this website. I have been working with cars since I was 16 and I’m specialized with in-depth Automotive diagnostics. Also been driving drifting for the last 6 years. I’m here to give you answers to all your automotive questions and I hope that you enjoy our content.