How To Start A Car With A Bad Starter
How to Start a Car with a Bad Starter: 9 Solutions & More Bypass your vehicle’s starter to get back on the road safely There’s nothing worse than hopping into your vehicle to take a trip or run some errands only to turn that key and nothing happens. Luckily, there are a few tried-and-true solutions if your starter has gone bad.

  • First, we’ve got to make sure your battery isn’t to blame since it’s very easy to mistake battery issues for starter problems.
  • Then, we’ll break down everything you can try to get the vehicle started before resorting to a mechanic.
  • Read on to learn everything you’ll ever need to know about troubleshooting your vehicle’s starter and getting your engine running.

This article is based on an interview with our auto technician, Tom Eisenberg, owner of West Coast Tires & Service.

  • Jump the battery first before you presume the starter has gone bad—the odds are very high your battery simply lost its charge.
  • If you have a manual transmission, push-start your car to bypass the starter and get the engine started.
  • If you have an automatic transmission, gently tap on the starter repeatedly with a hammer or piece of scrap wood. This should knock debris or corrosion loose so you can start the car.
  1. The starter pulls charge from the battery and sends it to the engine. You’ve got a battery full of electrical energy, and then you’ve got an engine that needs that energy to start. How does the energy get from point A to point B? The starter! Symptoms your starter is bad include:
    • No noise coming from your engine when you turn the key.
    • Intermittent problems starting the engine.
    • Clinking, grinding, or whirring noises coming from the engine bay.
    • Smoke appears when you crank the engine repeatedly.
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  1. 1 Tap the starter with a hammer or piece of wood to loosen it up. Pop the hood and look between the transmission and the engine on the driver’s side of the engine bay. The starter is the small device that looks like two cylinders stacked on top of one another (it kind of resembles a fishing pole reel). Gently tap the starter from multiple angles with a tiny hammer or scrap block of wood. Then, try starting the vehicle.
    • If your starter is just corroded or there’s debris inside keeping the starter from functioning correctly, tapping on the starter may knock the corrosion/debris loose and let you start your car.
  2. 2 Push-start the vehicle if you have a manual transmission. Enlist a friend to help you, Turn the key to the “on” position and press the clutch. Yell out to your friend to push the car. Once you’ve got some speed going, release the clutch and your car should start. Press the clutch back in and give your engine some gas and you’re good to go!
    • This will definitely work with a bad starter, but it could also work with a bad battery. Remember, a car won’t make normal cranking noises if the starter is bad!
    • You need a good bit of speed to start-push a car. Don’t release the clutch until you estimate you’re going 8–10 miles per hour (13–16 km/h).
  3. 3 Jump the battery first if you aren’t 100% positive it’s the starter. If your vehicle cranks (meaning it makes noise) when you turn the key, it’s probably your battery—not the starter. Ask a friend or neighbor to help you, Connect the negative and positive terminals from the working car’s battery to your battery. Wait a minute for the battery to charge and then try starting it.
    • If the car starts after jumping it, the problem is your battery. You either left a light on when the vehicle was off or you,
    • Pro tip: Try to turn your headlights on while you crank the engine. If the lights turn on and the vehicle still won’t start, you 100% have a bad starter. If the lights don’t turn on, the problem is your battery.
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  1. See a mechanic to get your starter repaired or replaced. The starter itself is actually a fairly complicated component. There are temporary solutions you may be able to use, but permanently fixing the starter is likely to involve messing with some electrical wiring. A full replacement the starter involves jacking the vehicle up, sliding underneath, and replacing a sensitive, hard-to-reach component, so you’ll likely need to see a mechanic.
    • If the battery is the problem and it’s not acting up because you left a light on, you’ll likely need to soon.
    • If you’re an experienced gearhead and you’re comfortable working on sensitive engine components, feel free to order a replacement and,
  1. 1 Bad battery connections If your battery terminals aren’t property connected, your vehicle won’t get the charge it needs to start the engine. Terminals can corrode over time as the battery goes bad, or a cable may come lose over time as your vehicle bounces and vibrates on the road over time.
    • Solution: Check your battery. If you notice any dried fluid on the terminals, with a toothbrush and baking soda. If any cables are loose, reattach and tighten them.
  2. 2 Faulty transmission or engine ground wires Ground wires give excess electrical charge a path to exit a circuit. If your engine or transmission has a bad ground wire, your starter may end up transferring an asymmetrical charge when you try to crank the engine. This can damage the starter or keep your car from starting properly.
    • Solution: Take your car to a mechanic and ask them to take a look inside the wiring of your engine and transmission. They’ll catch any wayward or damaged ground wires.
  3. 3 Starter solenoid damage The starter solenoid is an electromagnet that actuates a coil using the energy from your battery when you crank the engine. If the solenoid is damaged or malfunctioning, the energy from the battery won’t properly reach your engine.
    • Solution: See a mechanic if you aren’t comfortable disassembling your solenoid. If you are, remove the starter and unscrew the solenoid from the component. Purchase a before putting it back in the engine bay.
    • If your engine smokes when you try turning the key, it’s probably the solenoid getting too hot for the starter.
  4. 4 Engine flywheel damage Damaged or missing teeth in the transmission flywheel will make it difficult for your engine to start correctly. Your vehicle may start if the flywheel is damaged, but you’ll smell something burning and you’ll run into intermittent engine problems.
    • Solution: Ask your mechanic to take a closer look at your transmission flywheel. They’ll realign or replace it for you.
  5. 5 Corrosion in the starter If you can tap on the starter with a hammer or block of wood and the vehicle is fine, you had corrosion. This happens naturally over the years as your starter turns on and off. So long as this doesn’t keep happening, it’s probably not a big deal.
    • Solution: You don’t necessarily need to replace the starter right now. However, you should change starters roughly every 100,000 miles (160,000 km), so it may be time to replace it.
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Ask a Question Advertisement This article was written by and by wikiHow staff writer,, Tom Eisenberg is the Owner and General Manager of West Coast Tires & Service in Los Angeles, California, a family-owned AAA-approved and certified auto shop. Tom has over 10 years of experience in the auto industry.

  • Co-authors: 6
  • Updated: May 22, 2023
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Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 4,448 times. : How to Start a Car with a Bad Starter: 9 Solutions & More

Can you start a vehicle with a bad starter?

How To Start A Car With A Bad Starter – When you have a bad starter motor, there are two ways to crank up your engine:

  • Jump-start your car
  • Push-start your engine

However, before you begin working on a starter problem, you must have the following tools in place.

  • Jumper cables
  • A hammer
  • Gloves
  • A screwdriver

If you don’t have these, it’s best to call a mechanic to look into the fault. If you do have the tools, you can try starting your car with either of these two methods:

How do you force start a car with a bad starter?

Push Start Your Manual Transmission Vehicle – This trick only works for manual transmission cars. It’s a way of bypassing your bad starter to get your vehicle running. Sit inside your vehicle with the key held in the start position and the clutch held in.

Will a jump help a bad starter?

A car’s engine won’t start if you jump-start it with a damaged starter motor. Jump-starting just increases the power of the battery. An auto transmission automobile cannot be pushed or towed started. However, a manual transmission car with a broken starter may.

Why does tapping a starter make it work?

Temporarily Fixing Your Starter – One trick that could be a temporary fix for starting your vehicle is tapping on the rear of the starter. If you turn the key and the engine does not try to turn over and instead is silent, you can sometimes make it start one more time by taking a regular hammer and gently tapping on the side of the starter towards the rear, while someone else is holding the key in the “start” position.

  • This can help it turn over the engine one more time.
  • It is important to remember that this is in no way a permanent fix and you will still need to have the work done to get the part rebuilt or replaced.
  • This works because the brushes wear out which results in an inadequate electrical contact.
  • By gently tapping on the back of the starter with the hammer, the brushes are knocked back into place so they can make contact one more time.

Even if you are able to start your car more than once by using this method, it is important that you seek repair or replacement quickly as this method will not work for an indefinite amount of time. It is best to use this opportunity to get your vehicle to a location in which it can be repaired.

Can a bad starter destroy a battery?

Can a Bad Starter Drain Your Battery? – So can a bad starter drain your battery? The short answer is: Yes, it can. It could also drain the battery even faster if you repeatedly try to start your car with a faulty starter. A faulty starter is also one of the leading causes of battery overcharging,

What usually fails on a starter?

Most often, starters fail from wear and tear — naturally or induced by operator (or installer) error. Inside the starter is an armature, and the magnetic ‘brushes’ that ride around it can wear out over time.

How much does it cost to fix a starter?

How Much Does A Starter Replacement Cost? – A brand new starter could cost you around $50 – $350, while labor costs from a qualified mechanic could range between $150 – $1,100, In total, replacing a bad starter motor could amount to between $200 – $1450,

However, these figures could be lower if you’re able to identify car starter issues early. You could also save a lot by buying a rebuilt starter instead of a new one. If your vehicle’s starter fails unexpectedly, you might also need to pay for your vehicle to be towed to a repair shop — unless you get a hold of a mobile mechanic who can come over instead.

Now that you have a rough estimate of the average starter replacement cost, let’s look at factors that affect these price estimates.

When I turn the key I hear clicking?

B. Single Click – If you only hear a single click as you try to start the car, it could be an electrical problem with the starter solenoid or starter relay, A faulty or corroded starter solenoid tends to absorb the electrical current meant for the starter motor,

  1. When the starter motor doesn’t get the power it needs, your car won’t start, and you’ll hear a single click.
  2. Note: A bad starter may also produce a grinding noise when trying to start the cars engine.
  3. Additionally, a damaged or locked engine can produce a clicking noise and prevent the car from starting.

Engine lock up or damage to your engine compartment can happen due to:

Insufficient engine oil causes the engine components to generate high amounts of friction and heat, causing parts of your engine to weld together.

Lack of engine use can result in rust build-up, which in turn causes your engine to get stuck and prevents the engine from starting.

Extreme heat in the engine can cause the liquid fuel to vaporize while inside the fuel delivery system, resulting in low fuel pressure from the fuel pump and engine stalling.

Alternatively, a damaged spark plug or a faulty fuel pump can be the reason for the clicking sounds. But in such a scenario, you’d be able to hear the engine crank. Now, if you notice a clicking noise and your car doesn’t start, what should you do? Let’s find out.

Is a starter bad if it just clicks?

It might be a faulty starter. – Unlike an electrical problem, an issue with the starter or starter relay (a switch-like device that transmits power to the starter) will trigger a single loud clicking sound rather than rapid clicking sounds. One of the symptoms of a bad starter is a single clicking noise when you turn the key or push the start button.

  • Tapping the starter can sometimes get it going again, but no guarantees.
  • Most likely, you’ll need to get your starter repaired or replaced.
  • If you can jumpstart your car, drive to your nearest repair shop to get the problem diagnosed.
  • Don’t assume you can hit the road without the clicking noise returning.

If your engine doesn’t turn over despite a jumpstart or tapping on the starter, you’ll probably need to arrange for a tow and then have the vehicle diagnosed by a qualified technician. Starters can last anywhere from 30,000 miles to 200,000 miles. It depends on the vehicle and the driver.

Will a dead starter click?

Often times if the source of the problem is electrical, the starter will not have enough power to stay on and will rapidly turn itself on and off, resulting in the mysterious clicking sound.

Will a bad starter click once?

4. You hear a single click – Starter motor issues can manifest as a single, loud click emanating from the starter. Usually, this points to a faulty relay or solenoid, or a bad or jammed starter motor. Solution : Rock your car back and forth or tap the starter motor with a hammer and try starting the engine again.

If this works, you are good to go! However, if this happens again, then there’s a problem with your starter motor and you’ll likely need to replace it. A will also be helpful here. If you suspect a bad starter motor, run through these checks before you look to get a new one. If you think that your starter motor is broken, you should take it in for service.

The professionals at are experts at automotive repair. They have been servicing the Kitchener area at for almost 30 years. The friendly and knowledgeable at Hansma Automotive can correctly diagnose your car’s problem and fix it for you quickly and efficiently.

Can a starter drain a battery overnight?

A bad starter (more like bad solenoid on a starter) can drain a battery, but it would be in a matter of minutes and not over night. A starter doesn’t pull power from the battery unless the solenoid is engaged. The solenoid doesn’t engage unless it gets a signal from the ignition system.

How long do starters last?

Average car starter lifespan – A car starter can give you around 80,000 starts before you should expect it to struggle, regardless of the mileage you drive. This is around 150,000 miles for some cars, while some starters can last the vehicle’s life. Just answer a few questions to get personalized results from our lending partners.

  1. Like all car parts, starters are affected by factors such as time and climate.
  2. As a result, they’re susceptible to wear and tear, and you place a demand on the part every time you start your car.
  3. Car starters also tend to last longer in warmer climates, so driving in harsh winters could shorten a car starter’s lifespan.

A quick search of a retailer’s inventory shows you can purchase a car starter on your own for anywhere from $70 to $425. Of course, the average cost depends on your car model, but most car starters will be in the middle of that range for non-luxury cars.

Why won’t my car start but the battery is fine?

How do you tell if it’s your starter or your battery? – If your car won’t start and you want to diagnose whether it’s a starter or battery problem, try listening to the engine when you attempt to start the car. If the dashboard lights come on but you hear awkward engine noises like clicking or whirring, then it’s most likely a starter problem, as the battery is providing enough current for certain parts of the car to work.

Is there a fuse for starter?

Other issues that presen t a bad solenoid – Problems that might cause your car to act like it has a bad starter solenoid can include: Blown fuse – Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best one. A blown fuse in the starter circuit could be the cause of a no-start problem.

  1. Broken or corroded wiring – Damaged or dirty wires to the battery or to the starter solenoid (or wires that are loose) can prevent sufficient power from reaching the starter.
  2. Alternator -The is designed to power all of your car’s when the vehicle is running.
  3. It also recharges the battery.
  4. If the alternator is bad, the battery may not be capable of starting the engine.

Starter – Some solenoids are mounted to the starter, but some are located directly inside the starter housing. When this is the case, it may be necessary to replace the entire starter when the solenoid goes bad. Sometimes the starter itself is the problem.

Electrical issues can be annoying and inconvenient. They can also be hazardous and can cause damage. If you run into symptoms of a bad starter relay or solenoid with your car, truck, or SUV, make sure to have a trusted technician to diagnose the specific problem. Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright This article is intended only as a general guidance document and relying on its material is at your sole risk.

By using this general guidance document, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto and its affiliates from and against any and all claims, damages, costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising from or related to your use of this guidance document.

To the extent fully permissible under applicable law, Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the information, content, or materials included in this document. This reservation of rights is intended to be only as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the laws of your State of residence.

: Signs of a Bad Starter Relay or Struggling Solenoid

Will an engine still crank with a bad starter?

A defective starter drive can allow the pinion gear to freewheel during engine cranking, resulting in a whirring or whining noise. In most cases, because the pinion gear isn’t engaging the flywheel properly, the engine will also fail to crank.

How long will a bad car starter last?

No two starters will last the same length of time and there is usually no way to know that your starter is dying until the day your car doesn’t start and you have to call for service. They could last as long as 200,000 miles or as little as 30,000.

Will a bad starter drain a battery?

Can a Bad Starter Drain Your Battery? – So can a bad starter drain your battery? The short answer is: Yes, it can. It could also drain the battery even faster if you repeatedly try to start your car with a faulty starter. A faulty starter is also one of the leading causes of battery overcharging,