Symptoms of a Bad Starter

When your car struggles to start up, your first thought is probably “What could this be?” followed by “How much is this going to cost?”. Pinpointing exactly what is causing a no-start condition is tricky. Turning your key to the “on” position begins a complex process behind the scenes, with various components working to instantly provide your vehicle with the necessary fuel, air, and power to begin and sustain combustion. 

While each component has the potential to fail, there are a few that are more likely to cause trouble than the others. One of these is the starter, which as the name implies, is vital to the initial process of starting the car. In this article, we’ll cover what the starter does, the symptoms of starter failure, and what causes one to fail. 

Push-to-start engine button

What Does The Starter Do?

Before the engine can begin to create its self-sustaining cycle of combustion, it first has to create the necessary suction to begin pulling in air. Without a consistent flow of air, the fuel will be unable to combust and the engine will not start.

This is the responsibility of the starter, a small electric motor used to spin the flywheel, “turning over” the engine and allowing the intake of air and fuel within the cylinders. Once the engine has begun this process, the starter motor will disengage and let the engine take it from there.

Symptoms of a Bad Starter

While the obvious symptom of a bad starter is, well, the car not starting, there are some more specific signs of impending starter failure that you should be aware of.

Unusual Sounds

One of the most common symptoms of a failing starter motor is a clicking noise while attempting to start the vehicle. However, it’s important to note that even if there is no noticeable sound when turning the key, it could still be an issue with the starter.

Alternatively, a starter on the verge of failure may produce a worrying grinding noise when starting the vehicle. This likely means your starter is on its way out, and should be inspected by a trusted automotive professional to see if replacement is necessary.

Engine Won’t Crank

Of course, without a working starter motor to crank the engine, the vehicle will be unable to fire up even with the assistance of a jumpstart. If a jumpstart does not solve your issue, the issue likely goes beyond a simple dead battery.

Lights Turn On, But The Car Won’t

Another sign that your issue stems from something like a starter or ignition switch, as opposed to your electrical system, is all of the lights on your dash turning on properly when starting the vehicle despite the engine not turning over. If it were to be something like a dead battery, the vehicle would most likely not be able to power the lights completely, causing them to be dim or inoperable. 

Illuminated dashboard lights and gauge

Smoke From The Vehicle

As you attempt to turn on the vehicle with a failed starter many times, the starter could potentially overheat and cause or worsen electrical failures around it. In serious cases, it could cause a shorted fuse or wire to smoke.

If you see or smell smoke anywhere from your vehicle, avoid attempting to turn the key again and instead have your vehicle towed to an automotive professional for inspection and service. Desperately turning the key over and over is only more likely to lead to these electrical issues.

Your Starter is Oil Soaked

While many starter problems are caused by their internal failures, another issue can damage your starter, such as an oil leak. 

If your starter is caked in oil, your vehicle likely has an active leak that is allowing oil to drip onto or around the starter. This oil can leak into the sensitive internals of the starter and cause a component to fail, leading to a faulty starter motor. What might have started as a slow and unnoticeable leak can quickly turn into some bad news if given time to cause damage. 

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your oil levels, as leaks can cause major problems that go beyond a simple starter failure. 

Starter & Electrical Services in Riverton, Utah

If you’re experiencing trouble starting your vehicle, or any other signs of a failing starter, trust the experts at Matson Point S in Riverton to square your issue away and get your vehicle starting like new! Our experienced technicians have decades of experience working on electrical systems in all makes and models. Give Riverton’s trusted option for auto repair a try and give us a call or schedule online today!

Copyright 2022 | Matson Auto

Website By Automatic Digital Marketing