6 Signs Of A Bad Starter & Replacement Cost

symptoms of a bad starter

​The starter motor is a device used to start the engine in a vehicle. The starter works by base on DC current from the battery. Generally, starters operate on the basis of 12 volts and 24 volts. But sometimes, due to a malfunction of any part of the motor, being out of service for a long time, or some other rough problem, the starter is unable to start the engine or starts with difficulty.

In this article, we will learn about some of the main symptoms of a bad starter in detail so that you can identify a bad starter based on the symptoms of a bad starter.

What Is A Engine Starter?

An engine starter, also known as a starter motor, is an electric motor used to start an internal combustion engine. When you turn the ignition key or press the ignition button, the starter motor’s gear engages with the engine’s flywheel to begin cranking, and this rotation starts the engine’s combustion process, allowing the engine to start smoothly. .

Once the engine starts, the starter stops working when the ignition key or button is released. It is a vital component in vehicles with internal combustion engines, ensuring efficient engine startup. Typically, starters are manufactured and operated based on battery voltage. 12 DC-volt starters are typically used for light vehicles such as cars and tractors, and 24 DC-volt starters are used for larger vehicle engines.

Signs of A Bad Starter

Signs of a bad starter include clicking sounds, slow engine cranking, an unresponsive starter, smoke appearing, or the engine being completely unresponsive. Additionally, the lights may dim significantly when attempting to start the engine.

If you notice these symptoms, they are indicative of a problem with a bad starter motor, requiring replacement or repair of the starter.

1. An Unresponsive Starter

ignition ISSUE

The most common sign of a starter motor failure is the starter not responding at all. Whenever you turn the ignition key of the vehicle or push the start button. Then the starter motor does not react at all. In a starter motor, these types of symptoms can usually be caused by a faulty starter motor relay, a blown starter motor fuse, a malfunction in the ignition system, a blowout of the starter motor, or a damaged power supply wire.

These types of starter motor failure symptoms can be caused by the failure of individual components. for which it is absolutely necessary to have the starter motor inspected by an experienced vehicle electrician. Because this starter motor not responding can be a sign of many issues. However, these symptoms of a starter motor can also be caused by a dead or inactive battery.

2. Smoke Appearance

Whenever you try to start the engine continuously with any major engine failure. And the engine still does not start and yet you keep trying to start the engine. The starter motor can then overheat due to the constant flow of electricity, or the power supply connector wire of the starter motor can get burned due to overheating.

In this case, you may see smoke coming out around the starter motor. The reason for the fumes can generally be a malfunction in the ignition system, blown starter motor fuse, etc. You need to contact a vehicle electrician (mechanic) if you see smoke coming out around the starter motor or its components.

3. Starter Running Continuously After Engine Start

The starter motor used in vehicles is an electronic motor. Whenever you turn the ignition key, or push the start button, the starter motor is activated and turns the crank of the engine. When the ignition key or start button is released back. Then the starter motor stops working. because the power supply to the starter motor is cut off. But sometimes the starter motor remains active even after the engine is started.

And the starter motor will make the sound of something grinding. This happens when the ignition system of your vehicle fails or else the ignition system starts passing the current directly and one of the main reasons for this happening is the direct current or sticking of the starter motor’s current relay. Because a bad current relay continues to supply current to the starter motor even when the ignition is off, this allows the starter motor to remain active continuously.

This could prove to be a serious problem with the starter motor. Because if this happens, serious damage can be done to the gear of the starter motor and the flywheel of the engine. If this happens, immediately disconnect the mains wire from one of the battery terminals. After this, if this happens, get it inspected by an experienced vehicle electrician.

4. Bad Starter Sound

The starter motor of a vehicle has a small gear mounted on one end of the rotation shaft. This gear is pushed out through the solenoid clutch. And this gear connects with the big gear on the flywheel of the rotating engine. and turns the crank of the engine, which starts the engine.

But sometimes the teeth of the starter motor or flywheel gear are not able to connect properly due to wear or damage, due to which the gear of the starter motor slips and starts rotating freely and from the starter motor of the vehicle, there is a sound like a rapid spin or the sound of a whistling sound.

And the engine does not start because the engine crank is not rotating. In this type of problem, sometimes the engine can start intermittently. If such a problem occurs in the starter motor, it is necessary to get the starter motor inspected by an expert mechanic of a vehicle.

5. Engine Starting Difficulty

Often times, you must have seen that the ignition key is turned or the start button is pushed to start the engine of a vehicle. Then the starter motor cannot make a proper rotation of the engine crank. Due to this, the engine’s starting process gets delayed. This usually happens when the battery power is low or the wire connector is loose.

Because the starter motor does not get enough power supply. But this can also happen due to the failure of the metal bushing on the rotation shaft of the starter motor. because the armature of the starter motor starts rubbing. Due to this, the rotation shaft cannot rotate easily. And the starter motor demands more power from the battery. Or it could be due to the overheating of the starter motor’s armature.

Because the ends of the windings of copper wire in an armature are soldered with aluminum, due to rubbing or overheating of the armature, these stitches become loose or disconnected. Due to this, the power supply going to the armature starts getting lost. Due to this, the armature of the starter motor does not rotate at the correct speed. If this happens, get the vehicle inspected by an expert mechanic. By which it can be found that the fault is in the starter motor or the battery is weak.

6. Starter Not Spinning

Many times you must have seen that whenever you turn the ignition key of the vehicle, or push the start button.Then the starter motor shaft does not spin, even though the power supply to the starter motor is gone. and the armature shaft of the starter motor gets stuck completely. That’s when it happens.

When the metal bush or bearing of the starter motor wears out and breaks or the commutator or carbon bush of the starter motor is damaged. If this happens, get the starter motor repaired immediately and replace the defective parts with new ones. If this happens, the entire starter motor can be damaged. Changing it for a new one can be more expensive than repairing it.

What Does A Bad Starter Sound Like?

A bad starter often produces a distinct clicking sound when you turn the ignition key. This clicking noise may be caused by the starter solenoid attempting to connect the starter motor to the engine flywheel; in rare cases, this fails due to worn-out components or inadequate electrical connections.

Because if the starter motor does not get enough power to turn the engine, it will not turn and will just make a clicking noise repeatedly. If you hear this sound, have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem.

Main Parts Of Starter Motor

  • Armature
  • Commutator
  • Bushes
  • Solenoid
  • Level Fork
  • Plunger
  • Pinion 
  • Field Coils

How To Fix Starter Motor Issue

If you see symptoms related to starter motor failure, then you will need to have the starter motor inspected by an expert vehicle electrician. so that it can detect faulty parts of the starter motor or battery power failures and replace the damaged parts of the starter motor with new ones or get the parts repaired.

You can do the following procedure to repair the starter motor:

  • Check the battery’s current charge, charge the battery when it is low, or replace it with a new one.
  • Check battery positive and negative terminals & wires, if loose, re-tighten them completely.
  • Check the ignition switch and starter motor power supply relay. Replace the bad ignition switch and power supply relay with a new one.
  • Check the starter motor’s solenoid. Replace the solenoid with a new one if it is damaged.
  • Check starter motor shaft gear, if gear teeth are bad, replace starter motor gear.
  • Check armature winding stitches and metal bush/bearing, if damaged, replace metal bush/bearing with new one. And if the armature is damaged, replace it with a new one.
  • Check the starter motor commutator and copper carbon bush; if damaged, replace it with a new one.

How Much Does A Starter

On average, you can expect the cost of a typical vehicle starter motor to range from $110 to over $400. Taxes and fees have not been included in this estimated cost. However, starter motors for larger and more expensive vehicles are more expensive.

Starter Replacement Cost

On average, starter replacement costs in typical vehicles can range from $110 to $400, and the labor cost to have a starter replaced by a certified auto professional mechanic can average from $250 to $1100.

The starter replacement cost depends on the model of the vehicle and the model and design of the starter. For larger and more expensive vehicles, the starter replacement cost is higher than that for normal vehicles.

If you have an independent mechanic replace the starter instead of a certified garage mechanic, you can save on the mechanic’s labor costs. If your vehicle is stalled on the road due to starter failure, in this case you will have to call a mechanic at the same place, for which you may be charged extra.


Q. How do I know if I have a bad starter?

If you turn the ignition key or switch and your vehicle’s engine does not turn, this is a major sign of a bad starter. Apart from this, clinking, grinding, and whirring noise, smoke coming from the starter, or slow cracking can also be symptoms of a bad starter, on the basis of which you will know that the starter of your vehicle has gone bad.

Q. Will a bad starter still crank?

Yes, a bad car starter can still crank the engine. However, a bad starter can cause the engine to crank slowly when attempting to start and may also make unusual noises while cranking.

Q. What happens if a starter is damaged?

If your vehicle’s starter is damaged, it will not cause the engine to crank. Additionally, you may anotice unusual noises, smoke, or that the starter will not respond when you turn the ignition key.

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