Say you need to be at an important event at a particular time or better still, be at work and you are relying solely on your car to take you to your destination seamlessly and comfortably as usual. You can already envisage how smooth the ride will be while listening to your favourite playlist or radio station with your AC turned on.  Then, you open the door and you sit in your driver seat. Like a thousand times before, you turn the keys (or hit the ‘start’ button) nothing happens.What could be the problem??(Hopefully, you aren’t already running late) All your lights are on and there are no signs of low power supply – it can’t be the battery. Then a sudden realisation. You are dealing with a failing or bad starter motor. Have you ignored any signs? Did you know what signs to look for?

Bad starter issues are relatively frequent and we at AutoGirl try as much as possible to enlighten our clientele on issues like this,as we deal with those more often than not.

First we need to understand what a starter is, and how it functions. A starter is composed of two main parts: the primary motor that turns your crankshaft and starts your engine, and the solenoid that simultaneously engages the starter’s drive gear and closes the main motor’s electrical contacts. 

Issues with your starter  may be caused by poor maintenance, or just by wear and tear. Even with decent maintenance, the different system components get a lot of wear during their service life and they are bound to have problems eventually. With more and more vehicles being fitted with stop/start technology the strain on starter motors and batteries has greatly increased.


  • STARTER ENGAGES BUT MOTOR WONT START: You may turn the ignition switch or push start and hear the starter activate, but the motor doesn’t crank over. Sometimes the issue with the starter is mechanical. In this case, a gear that is connected to the flywheel has stripped or become dislodged against the flywheel. Either way, the engine won’t turn over. When this happens, you will need to have the starter replaced.
  • OVERHEATING AND SMOKING: Leading to a strong smell of smoke in and around the vehicle. This means that your motor is drawing excess of current which could be caused by connection problems causing a short circuit, issues with the the ignition switch, or you’ve been running the starter motor for too long and your vehicle won’t start due to other mechanical issues.
  • BATTERY: You may have lights on your dashboard and your headlights are working, so you think you have power to the starting system, but the engine isn’t turning over. This actually can be an issue with your battery because a lot of power is required to crank your engine. Try starting it with a jumper or starter pack. If it starts, this indicates a weak battery is the source of the problem. Many times, especially during the winter months, starting problems are related to the battery.


  • INTERMITTENT PROBLEMS STARTING THE ENGINE: Sometimes, the engine starts easily and some other times, it takes longer time to start. This is most likely a problem with the starter relay. The starter relay either sends full electrical current or sends nothing to the starter. Sometimes a damaged relay can cause the starter to make a clicking sound when you turn the ignition. So if you experience both, take your car to an experienced mechanic.


  • STARTER DOESN’T STOP: The starting circuit should close after starting the engine and then either releasing the key or letting go of the start button, If you hear a continuous grinding noise coming from under  the vehicle after the engine is up and running, it may be that the starter relay has become stuck.When this happens, the relay will continue to run as though you are trying to start the car. The starter relays sticks when it has become welded together. You need to address this problem immediately. If the issue persists, the relay will be stuck in the “on” position, which ultimately causes serious damage to the entire starter system and the transmission flywheel.


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