Starter Symptoms, Function & Replacement Cost

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Every day, when you set off for work, you expect your car to start in no time. Because who wants to have car trouble early in the day? Your car’s battery, the starter relay and especially the starter motor are responsible for starting the engine.

If one of them fails, you will have problems starting your car. Of these three, the starter is the most important, as it is the only component that is directly connected to the engine. Its healthy functionality ensures that you can start quickly every time.

What is a Starter motor?


The starter is usually located at the rear end of the engine, where a gear wheel on the starter is positioned with the engine flywheel to start the ignition process. As soon as the starter starts working and the flywheel moves, the fuel pump starts and the injectors send fuel into the cylinders and the engine comes to life. If this process does not work correctly, the engine will not start and this means that you must book a visit to the mechanic and have the starter checked.

Signs of a Bad Starter motor

A poorly functioning starter will destroy your mood in the early morning. Therefore it is better to have the starter checked before you have to experience this disappointment. However, to do this, you must be able to recognize the signs of a faulty starter and know how to repair it if possible. Here we go through the symptoms that accompany a defective starter.

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1. No Activity in the Engine

Ideally the starter should turn on the engine, but if it is working poorly, it is possible that you turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens. If there is absolutely no activity in the engine after your ignition attempt, this probably means that the starter solenoid or starter motor has gone wrong. This could also be possible if there is an electrical malfunction in the starter or your battery is flat. Due to a number of possibilities, it is best to have the final diagnosis done by a mechanic.

2. The Starter Works but the Engine Doesn’t Start

When you turn the key in the ignition, you can hear a clicking sound in the engine compartment. This noise is the starter motor solenoid that comes to life. Sometimes you hear a clicking sound, but the engine still won’t start. This means that the starter motor has some mechanical problems, probably with its gears, which are connected to the engine flywheel. It is possible that the gear wheel has not aligned with the flywheel or that the gear wheel itself is worn out due to intensive use. In this case you should consult your mechanic and have the starter of your car replaced. It can also be caused by a dead car battery.

3. Cranking Noise in The Engine

If the starter’s gears wear out from constant use, your starter must work harder to drive the flywheel and you will hear a grinding noise. However, this can also happen if the starter motor is defective on the inside. In either case, a starting noise means that you will have to replace your old starter with a new one.

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4. Smoke Rising from The Starter

The starter needs a proper current flow to function. If the battery’s amperage or voltage fluctuates, the starter may short circuit. In other cases, the starter may emit smoke if it is overloaded, even after the car has been started. You may also have a blown fuse in the system, which causes the smell. It is best to leave the technical work to a mechanic who is well acquainted with this type of problem.

Cleaning a Dirty Starter

The starter motor is a mechanical and electrical part of the car, so like any other part of the car out there, it needs to be properly cleaned and maintained. Here we will give you a good idea of how to clean the starter and the connections. Sometimes it can be enough to clean the gears and the connections. But in most cases, you will need to replace the starter.

Things You Will Need:

Screw Driver
Electrical Cleaner SprayIr?t=Askamastermec 20&l=Am2&o=1&a=B00Af0Ofvu

Remove & Disassemble the Starter

Remove the car battery before performing any work on the starter. The starter motor is usually attached to the engine with two screws. Loosen them with the screwdriver and you have the starter in your hand. Now comes the tricky part, namely dismantling the starter. Since this is beyond the scope of this article, you can help yourself with guides elsewhere on our site. Now it is time to clean the inside.

Cleaning the Starter with Electric Cleaner

There are many cleaning products on the market, but if you do not have them available, you can always use alcohol to clean the insides. Also clean the connections with an electrical cleaner. After cleaning, let the starter dry so that all the remaining alcohol evaporates. Finally, apply grease all over the inside. Use the syringe as a means to reach tight and awkward places in the starter.

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Reinstall the Starter

Reassemble the starter to its original state and use the screwdriver again to put it back in place. Make sure that there is no more alcohol anywhere.

Testing and Repair

After you have cleaned the starter, it is time to check if it works. The easiest way to do this is to start your car. If you have the same problems as before, when the engine still doesn’t start, you must have the starter repaired anyway. And for this you will have to see the mechanic. The mechanic may be able to repair the starter if there has been an electrical defect, but if the mechanical function of the starter is affected, there is no other way than to get a replacement.

You can also test it on the bench by giving power to the starter and the solenoid. Check this out:

Starter Replacement Cost

A replacement starter can cost you between $150 and $400 depending on the vehicle and model. The cost of the starter also depends on the availability of the starter on the market. If you have an old car, you may have trouble getting a used starter, let alone a new one. You would also have to pay the labor costs, which can be around 70 to 150 dollars.

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