5 Symptoms Of A Bad Starter (& Replacement Cost)

A functional starter motor is essential. It's annoying if your car fails to start when you rush to get to work or to an important meeting.

It is unfortunate that the starter motor lives a hard life. Therefore, it sometimes fails.

However, how can you determine if the starter motor is at risk of failing so you can have it repaired before it occurs? We will be discussing the symptoms, locations, and methods of testing a starter motor that is failing. Let’s begin with a quick look at the signs.

Are there any signs that a starter is not doing well?

  • None
  • Whirring sound
  • Do you grind or claatter?
  • Bad smell during cranking
  • Smoke Rising From The Starter

These are the only ways to tell if your starter has failed. This is a detailed listing of some of the signs that a starter motor may be failing.

Índice de Contenido
  1. Bad Starter Symptoms
    1. 1. No activity
    2. 2. Whirring noise
    3. 3. Do you grind or claatter?
    4. 4. Poor smell when you're craneing
    5. 5. Smoke Rising From The Starter
  2. Starter Motor Location
  3. The Starter
  4. Starter Motor Replacement Cost
  5. Starter Motor FAQ
    1. Is it possible to jump-start a vehicle with bad starters?
    2. Is it possible to get around a terrible starter?
    3. It is difficult to determine if it's the starter battery or the main one.
    4. Why does a starter fail?

Bad Starter Symptoms

1. No activity

Starting Car

The starter should turn the engine immediately after you press the ignition button. If the engine is still not turning after the ignition try, it could be that either the starter motor or starter solenoid has failed.

This could be caused by bad wiring or a dead batteries. It is important to diagnose the problem before you replace any parts.

2. Whirring noise

Hard Starting

You may hear the engine whirring when you start it, but the problem could be due to a defective starter solenoid, or a damaged pinion gear.

It should turn the ignition to send power to starter motor, and send signal to starter solenoid for engagement. The starter solenoid will engage a gear when it receives the signal. This allows the flywheel to turn the engine.

If the starter solenoid fails to engage the gear or a problem with the flywheel gear – you may experience a whirring noise.

MORE INFORMATION: 5 Causes of a Car Engine That Cranks But Won’t Start

3. Do you grind or claatter?

Diagnose Car Engine

The same principle that a whirring sound, you might also hear a grinding or clattering sound from your starter motor when it turns the ignition.

Broken internal components, such as bearings and axles can cause this. For a better look at the problem, disassemble the starter motor.

If the start-up noise is unusual and the engine does not respond, it is likely that the problem is internal.

4. Poor smell when you're craneing

Bad Smell In Car

A starter motor is an electric motor that has a solenoid working as a “clutch.” If you have any previous experience with electric motors, you may know that they can start to smell bad if they are about to fail.

This is also true for the starter motor. The starter motor could be at risk if there's a strong burnt smell when you try to turn it on.

The smell can also come from a poor connection of the starter's power wires.

5. Smoke Rising From The Starter

White Smoke Engine

It can also cause unpleasant odours. A bad starter motor can cause it to start smoking.

Smoke can also come from a lot of different parts of your engine, but if the smoke is only coming when you crank the engine from a location near the starter – there is a huge risk that the smoke is coming from the starter.

Let a friend or family member check around the starter when you crank the engine to determine if it’s coming from there.

RELATED: Does Auto-Start/Stop Wear Out Engine Components?

Starter Motor Location

Starter Motor Location

You will find the starter motor at the rear of the block, near the flywheel that connects the engine to the transmission.

It can be difficult to reach through because it needs to be located on the engine’s rear.

Most often, you will find it attached to the block of the engine. In some cases it can be placed on the gearbox facing the engine.

The Starter

Test Starter Motor

To make certain it works before replacing it, you can test the starter.

Unfortunately – to test it properly, you need to remove it from the vehicle.

You can test the device on the vehicle, however, it is not advised. The engine will be turned, making it a safety risk if your arms are in the bay.

This video shows you how to test the starter motor. Test a solenoid and starter motor.

Starter Motor Replacement Cost

Dependent on car make and labor cost, the average replacement price for a starter vehicle is $250 to $900.. You can replace your starter for $150 to $400 and labor will run you 100$-500$.

The starter’s cost also depends on the car model and the availability of the starter on the market.

Some starter motors require only 10 minutes to repair, while others can take up several hours.

It is difficult to find a job that you can replace an experienced starter.

Starter Motor FAQ

Is it possible to jump-start a vehicle with bad starters?

The starter will not work if it is defective. The starter is already powered so it isn't a problem. However, if your car battery is dead, causing the starter to be dead – it will help.

Is it possible to get around a terrible starter?

The easiest way to “bypass” a starter is to run a wire between the starter solenoid and the positive cable on the starter motor. Installing this wire on your vehicle will make the engine turn.

It is difficult to determine if it's the starter battery or the main one.

The easiest way to determine if there is a problem with the starter or the car battery is to measure the battery’s voltage with a multimeter. Have a friend drive the car while you test the voltage. Your car's battery will be fine if it reads between 11-13 volts.

Why does a starter fail?

Normal wear and tear is the most likely reason a starter fails. A starter can be found angled towards the clutch which may cause debris and dirt to build up. In order to be reliable, the starter must make many starts over its lifetime.

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