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Warning Signs of a Failing Starter

A vehicle's starter or starter motor is the electrical source of power that turns over to crank the engine and begin ignition. The starter works with the battery and other electrical components such as wiring to start the vehicle. The battery is the number one voltage or power source in a vehicle and consists of Direct Current (DC). The battery supplies the vehicle with 12 volts of power and the starter relies on this energy to initiate. When a vehicle is turned over, the starter motor must have a high electric current and sufficient power to start, or else the starting process will fail. The starter is made up of two different parts: the crankshaft and the solenoid. The two components work together with the support of the battery during the cranking process. 

What are the signs a Starter has failed?

When a starter has failed, the engine will not have the power that it needs to run. Often a vehicle will indicate that its energy supply from the starter is insufficient through various signals. Some of the most common signals of a bad starter include:

  • The engine not turning over or cranking
  • Clicking, grinding, or whirring noises
  • Irregular issues when starting the vehicle 
  • The starter stays on after the vehicle is started
  • Smoke comes from the vehicle
  • The starter engages but the motor fails to start
  • The battery is dead

Starter issues can present themselves if proper maintenance is not a priority. Often, the reasons for a failing starter are simple and can be avoided when the vehicle is inspected during maintenance appointments regularly. A technician typically monitors the components of a vehicle during scheduled maintenance service and lack of routine can inhibit the vehicle owner from knowing what is going on under the hood. When a driver is aware of their vehicle's parts and the functionality of the components therein, then it permits the opportunity to catch and alleviate minor issues before they turn into costly repairs down the line. 

What Causes Starter Issues?

Starter issues can be caused by lack of maintenance, but they can also be the result of normal wear and tear. All vehicle components aren't designed to live forever and will fail and need to be replaced eventually. The most common reasons that a starter begins to have issues and needs to be replaced are as follows:

  • There are loose wires to and from the starter
  • The started connections are dirty and corroded
  • The battery is corroded
  • The parts of the starter system are damaged or worn
  • There is an oil leak
  • The relay or fuses are bad

A bad starter can be the result of overlooking its components over time. Corrosion is normal but should be monitored and as soon as it is identified on any of the vehicle parts even when it is minimal, it should be rectified. Oil leaks happen and usually start small but with a proper maintenance schedule can be caught early. Worn-out or damaged parts are a part of normal wear and tear. Your vehicle is being started every day to get you to and from where you need to go. The parts that make up the starter system like the wiring can only las so long before attention is needed. It is highly recommended to place your vehicle on a maintenance schedule to remain proactive when unnoticeable issues occur under the hood of a vehicle.