Bad Starter Symptoms and 9 sure ways to start a car with a bad starter


Bad Starter Symptom and how to start a car with a bad starter

Nine sure ways to start a car with a bad starter


7 Bad Starter Symptoms

Bad Starter Symptoms
Bad Starter Symptoms

As time goes by, your starter will eventually wear out. The two components in the starter that will most likely get faulty are the starter motor or the solenoid.  When either of the two gets faulty, the starter will be non-functional. But before the starter causes a terrible breakdown, certain bad starter symptoms will appear —

In this Guide, I will highlight  bad starter symptoms and how to start a car with a bad starter.

1. Engine won’t start

This is one of the most common symptoms when you have a bad starter. You’ll turn your key in the ignition, but nothing will happen. This happens because the starter motor or solenoid is experiencing an electrical issue or it has burnt out.
There is also the possibility that this problem is caused by a dead battery. If this is the case, you’ll need the help of a mechanic to inspect the ignition, starter, and other electrical components because it might be multiple issues affecting your car.

2. Smoke or smell when starting the motor

For the starter to work, it has to be powered by electricity. Sometimes, the starter will overheat because power is supplied continuously to it, or it could be that the starter motor won’t shut off. The smoke will be coming from underneath the engine, and it’s easily visible, and the smell will be perceivable too. This issue might be caused by a blown fuse, a short circuit, or ignition. Whichever it may be, you’ll need to contact your mechanic the moment you notice this problem.

3. Oil has soaked the starter

You’ll usually find the starter on the driver’s side of the vehicle. It’s just below the cylinders on the left. If you open your vehicle’s hood and notice that engine oil has drenched your starter, it could mean that the oil is already leaking. Leaking oil will start pouring slowly with a few drops, which can be unnoticeable until it has drenched the starter, and this is usually an expensive problem. So make sure you always check for oil leaks before it turns into a big issue.

4 Continuous issues when starting the vehicle

If you turn the ignition and it doesn’t start, you turn it once again, and it works; that might be the starter relay causing this issue. Starter relays either work full, or they don’t, so it will either send full electrical current to the starter, or it sends nothing at all.
If the relay is damaged, you might notice the starter making a clicking sound when you turn the ignition. However, this doesn’t happen on all occasions. Just because your car starts the second time you turned the ignition doesn’t mean you won’t solve the issue; you still need to fix it.

5. Noise when starting the motor

There are four different sounds you might hear if you have a bad starter —

• Grinding sound

This is the most common noise. If you hear this when starting your vehicle, it’s a bad starter symptom indicating that the gears that connect the flywheel and starter have worn out. This noise might also occur in the starter motor. No matter the cause, it’s something you can’t fix yourself, so get the help of a mechanic to help you out. If you don’t repair what is causing this noise, it could damage your engine’s flywheel, which is more expensive than solving the initial grinding sound.

• Loud clicking

If you’re hearing an individual or series of loud clicks when you start your car, then that is a symptom of a bad starter. This clicking sound means that the necessary electricity to start the car is reaching the starter, but the electric motor is not responding properly because it’s malfunctioning.

• Buzzing noise

If your car’s engine isn’t cranking, but it’s making a buzzing sound whenever you turn the key, it means that electricity is flowing to the starter, but the motor is not responding to it. This means there is electricity, but it’s not enough to get the starter to do its job perfectly. The cause of this is either corrosion on the electrical connections of the starter or a poorly charged battery.

• Whirring noise

The part of the starter that connects to the flywheel is known as the pinion gear. If the pinion gear isn’t engaging with the flywheel, it will spin on its own, so the whirring noise you hear is caused by the spinning. This is an indicator that the solenoid of the started has failed.

6. Starter works, but the motor doesn’t spin

If you turn the ignition switch and hear the starter working but the motor doesn’t crank, this issue is not mechanical. Instead, it’s an issue that deals with connections. What this means is that the gears that are connected to the flywheel are not well connected. It could be that the gear has been dislodged or stripped against the flywheel. Once the engine doesn’t turn over, you’ll have to replace the starter.

7. Starter stays on after engine starts

When you release the key after starting the engine (for new cars, it will be after you stop pressing the starter button), the circuit that will stop the power to the starter motor is supposed to close; however, if it stays on after the engine has started, that means the main solenoid contacts might have welded together in the closed position. If this is the issue, you’ll have to address it immediately because the relay will stay stuck in the ‘on’ position. If this goes on for a long time, your whole starter system will be facing a serious problem as well as the flywheel.

It’s impossible to avoid the problems that occur with the starter because there isn’t any recommended or predetermined guide given by the vehicle manufacturer. So you’ll have to keep your eyes open for the symptoms, and as soon as you notice any of the issues mentioned above, you’ll have to visit an auto repair shop or contact a professional mechanic; you can leave the rest to the mechanic to figure out the issue and solve it.

With the introduction of electric cars in the market, there will be a decrease in bad starters, but for now, this is a challenge faced by many, including you. 

If you’re wondering how to start a car with a bad starter, you can start with traditional methods, including push-starting and hitting the starter, then you can move to more advanced methods like fixing the solenoid cable and ground connection. 

Try The Steps Below to start a car with a bad starter:

Bad Starter Symptom and how to start a car with a bad starter (2)
Bad Starter Symptom and how to start a car with a bad starter (2)


 9 sure ways to start a car with a bad starter

With the introduction of electrically powered cars in the market, there will be a decrease in bad starters, but for now, this is a challenge faced by many, including you. 

If you’re wondering how to start a car with a bad starter, you can start with traditional methods, including push-starting and hitting the starter, then you can move to more advanced methods like fixing the solenoid cable and ground connection. 

Simpler methods 

1. Jump start the car

To jumpstart a car, you need a tool called the jump starter. However, it will only function if your car battery is still functional. You can get this tool online or offline. You’ll need another vehicle to use in powering up your car. All you’ll do is attach a part of the jump starter to your car and then to the other car and start jumpstarting your car. It will take only a few minutes. 

2. Push the car

This is an old way of starting a car with a bad starter, and it still works perfectly today. The only downside is that this traditional method only works with vehicles that have a manual gearbox transmission. 

You can use this method to start your car to start your dead battery. You’ll need about 2 to 4 people. These people will position themselves behind the car and help you push it. Make sure your car is in moving gear. The car must be pushed with a force to move fast, or at about 10mph. 

While they are pushing and the speed increases, you’ll be inside your car, then you’ll remove your leg from the clutch and turn the ignition. After turning the ignition, your engine should power up. 

The first turning of the ignition might not work, so have them re-push the car, then repeat the process about 5 times. If it still doesn’t work, then the issue is beyond your capability. Visit your mechanic. 

3. Hit the starter

This is another traditional way and quick fix to solve the issue of a bad starter. Use a hammer to hit the starter softly. 

When hitting the starter, it helps if you simultaneously crank the car. This works because your starter may have started having inactive spots between the amateur and field coils. When you tap the starter, it will give life to it, and it should start rolling. 

If your car is new, that means it will be using a transversal engine instead of the regular longitudinal engine, so tapping on the starter won’t work because the starter is placed in a spot you can’t reach easily, except you’re willing to loosen some things to be able to get there. 

4. Check For Corrosion

Corrosion may be already occurring, and that is why the engine is unable to conduct electrically. 

To solve this issue, you’ll pour sodium bicarbonate and water of the same measure in a bowl, then use it to wash the terminal head. Clean it for some time, then use hot water to rinse out the terminals and the connectors around it. 

When cleaning it, make sure you check around the engine box for corrosion or grime, then wash it off too. Also, check the ground cable and any other cables, and wipe them too. 

Advanced methods

1. Examine The Flywheel Of The Engine

The flywheel can also be a culprit in situations like this. To spot the flywheel, search for the giant wheel that connects the transmission and engine. If the starter gear cranks the engine, it will attach to the flywheel. 

So if you disconnect the starter motor, make sure the car is left in neutral transmission. 

You’ll need a helping hand to do this. First, find someone who will help you hold the crankshaft. Next, check the underside of the front engine; you’ll find the crankshaft pulley there. To reach the centre bolt of the pulley, you’ll have to detach the wheel. 

This will be done by turning the crankshaft’s centre bolt with a breaker bar or ratchet to solve the lousy starter issue.

2. Check the whole connections

Some people start with this when they have a bad starter, while others do it as a last option; it all depends on your choice. However, it’s preferable to start with this first because these connections are the electric current that makes the ignition function. 

Check for any loose connections in the battery and starter pathway because this is usually the leading cause of bad starting. If you notice a loose connection, this means the current of your starter is not enough to power your car.  

Get a ratchet. You can buy one, then you’ll use it on the battery’s terminals by fastening it. 

If the battery-starter connection is okay, check the positive cables that connect the battery. This cable is divided into two different chords (one goes to the starter and the other to the alternator). 

Hold the cable, then try to find where there is slack in connection. If you don’t find any issue, then try the other two connections talked about below. 

How to jumpstart a car

When thinking about how to jumpstart a car, you should know that you’ll need jumper cables attached to your vehicle and another vehicle. Make sure the battery in the other vehicle has enough voltage. However, if any of the two vehicles have an alternatively fueled vehicle or an electronic ignition system, do not use jumper cables because they might damage it. 


1. Turn off your car 

Both vehicles should be in neutral or park. Make sure you shut the ignition in both cars and engage the parking brake of both cars. 

2. Attach a set of jumper cables 

As a car owner, it’s a perfect thing to have a set of jumper cables around in your car. You can get it online or in traditional electronic stores. 

After getting it, you’ll put the cable on the positive terminal of your battery; that is where you’ll attach the red jumper cables clip. You’ll see “+” or “POS” on it; in some cases, it’s bigger than the negative terminal. Next, attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car battery. 

Pick one out of the black clips, then connect it to the negative terminal of the other car’s battery. Then the other black clip will connect to a metal surface (preferably an unpainted surface) on the other car. Make sure the spot you place the other clip is a bit far from the battery (it could be on any car’s metal surface. 

Note: do not place the second black clip on your car’s battery negative terminal because there is a possibility it will start or cause an explosion. 

3. Start the jumping, and your vehicle

Make sure the cables are connected correctly, then start the working vehicle. Leave the engine to run for at least 5 minutes. 

Start your vehicle; if it doesn’t start, check to verify if the cables are well connected. Then, start the jumping again for 5 minutes; if it still doesn’t start, the battery might be faulty. 

4. Don’t turn the engine off 

If the jumping works and your engine starts, don’t yet turn off the engine. Remove the clips and make sure they do not touch. Put the cables away. 

Drive the car around for a minimum of 15 mins so it will recharge your battery. Then turn it off. 

The next time you start your car, if it doesn’t start, that means the battery needs to be replaced because it isn’t holding a charge. 

How to jumpstart a car without another car 

Bad Starter Symptom and how to start a car with a bad starter (1)
Bad Starter Symptom and how to start a car with a bad starter (1)

If you’re wondering how to jumpstart a car without another car, you don’t have to worry because you can use a jumpstart pack. You’ll use its added energy to start your car when stuck in certain places with no cars to help you out.  

Two dangerous situations could occur when you jumpstart a car with a jumpstart pack — 

• You could blow up the battery 

• You could damage the electrical system components

However, you can avoid these two situations by making the connection of the cables correctly. Check below to see the steps to follow — 

1. Position the jumpstart pack 

Before you start any connection, you need to place your jumpstart pack in a place where it won’t fall. For example, you can put it on the ground or in the engine compartment but make sure it won’t disturb the fan or engine pulleys. 

2. Connect cables

You’ll connect the positive cable of the jumpstart pack to your battery positive terminal. Then the negative cable of the jumpstart pack will be attached to an engine block. 

3. Start your vehicle

Leave it for 5 minutes, then turn the ignition of your vehicle. If it doesn’t start, you can leave it alone for another 5 minutes. 

4. Disconnect carefully

If your car works, then you’ll disconnect the cables. First, disconnect the negative cable and then the positive cables. Ensure they don’t touch each other, so an explosion doesn’t occur, then secure them to the jumpstart pack. 

Remember, do not turn off your engine yet. Instead, drive it around for about 15 mins so your battery will be well recharged. 

Best jumpstart cable review 

1. Energizer Jumper Cables for Car Battery (16-Feet (6-Gauge) 

This jumper cable is heavy-duty. It has a comfortable handle and a strong spring for better placement and positioning. Its clamp has a shelled vinyl coat which prevents it from corrosion and rust. It is the ideal cable for SUVs and trucks, but you can use it for compact and mid-size cars. 

Moreover, it has a long cable that is 16ft, and it’s a copper-clad aluminum cable, so it will stay flexible even at -40°C. 


• 16 feet cables with 6 gauge. 

• Copper clad aluminum cable

• Carrying case for storage and easy transport. 

• 2 years warranty

2. Cartman Booster Cable 4 Gauge x 20Ft in carrying Bag (4AWG x 20Ft) UL-Listed 

This cable is also heavy-duty, and it works with a 12/24-volt battery. It has a T-neoprene coating. It has an ergonomic design with shielded surfaces to keep it safe. The cables also have low-temperature immunity (-25C/-13F). It’s ideal for cargo vans, freight hauling vehicles, and trucks, but you can use it for compact and mid-size cars. 


• 20ft cable with 4 gauge  

• UL listed and RoHS compliant

• 5-year warranty 

• Carrying bag for storage and easy transport. 

Best jumpstart Pack

1. NEXPOW 2000A Peak 18000mAh Car Jump Starter with USB Quick Charge 3.0  

This jumpstart pack has an upgraded QDSP technology that gives it 3-5 times enhanced current compare to the old 2nd generation, and it can balance the temperature. 

It has a 2000-amp of peak current. Therefore, you can use it in extreme temperatures (-4°F~140°F).

 It’s suitable for ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles, lawnmowers, motorcycles, trucks, yachts. It comes with heavy-duty cables and clamps. 

This jumpstart pack has over-current protection, reverse polarity protection, over-load protection, high-temperature protection, and it is spark proof. You can use it on any 12-volt car battery. In addition, it has an indicator that notifies you of incorrect use. 

It has USB ports you can use to charge your mobile devices. In addition, there are 3 modes of LED (strobe light, flashlight, and SOS light). 


• Two USB outputs ( 5V/3A)and (5V/2.1A)

• 15W adapter

• 3 modes LED 

• Carrying case 

2. NOCO Boost XL GB50 1500 Amp 12-Volt UltraSafe Lithium Jump Starter Box,

It looks compact and has a lightweight design. It is rated for gasoline engines of up to 7 litres and diesel engines of up to 4.5 litres. It’s also suitable for a 12-volt automotive car battery. 

It has reverse polarity protection and spark-proof technology. 

You can use it to charge your mobile devices, and it has an integrated 200-lumen LED flashlight. 


• Water-resistant enclosure rated at IP65

• 7 light modes 

• Micro USB Charging Cable

• Carrying case 

• 1-year warranty 


Jumpstarting a car is not as hard as you might think. Once you follow the instructions on its usage, you can give your battery power, and if you have a jump start pack, you’ll be able to charge your battery and any device you have. Also, now you know how to start a car with a bad starter, you can rest assured when next your car starter starts malfunctioning. 


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