Nothing is worse than turning the ignition key and hearing a sullen silence. It’s a frustrating experience that could be telltale signs of a bad starter. From a grinding noise to a freewheeling condition, or just a simple no-crank situation, these indicators should never be ignored. 

Hence, scroll down with DriveRevolve, and brace yourself for a journey through the complexities of automobile starters, which will leave you better equipped to handle potential car trouble. Head for such epic Fun-auto part articles!

Sure Signs Of A Bad Starter

Your car’s heart, the starter, is a petite engine energized by a battery to get your vehicle humming. Acting as a messenger, the starter relay delivers power from the battery to the starter motor. 

The absence of a functioning starter relay and motor spells car trouble, possibly landing you in a tow truck.

Sure Signs Of A Bad Starter
Track the best ways to recover the lousy starter. Source: Unsplash

Kick-off discovering 5 common signs of a lousy starter:

Oil Soaked The Starter

Here’s the twist: if you raise the hood and find the starter swimming in engine oil, you’ve got a plot twist—an oil leak. 

Sadly, a small oil leak when parked can stealthily morph into a costly problem. So, make it a habit to scout for oil leaks to dodge starter issues that can sneak up on you!


Experiencing freewheeling? It’s like trying to rev the engine, but all your starter gives you is a high-pitched whine.

What’s up?

Typically, this occurs when a faulty car starter fails to connect with the flywheel. This isn’t just a minor hiccup – it’s a significant problem, and if you don’t act quickly, you might be looking at replacing the whole starter or even the engine.

Grinding Noise When You Start the Engine

A grinding noise may be associated with the starter’s potential mishaps:

First, your starter’s pinion teeth could have a few dings and scratches. Second, your faulty starter might retract slowly after your engine cranks up. Also, your flywheel or flexplate’s teeth could be damaged and meshed with your starter gear.

Smoke From The Auto

Your car’s starter, a crucial component of its electrical framework, is vulnerable to issues like busted fuses and short circuits. 

Frustrated attempts to ignite your car can render the starter to heat up excessively and create electrical complications or even smoke emissions. 

If you spot or sniff any smoke, ring up for assistance rather than giving the ignition key another forceful twist!

The Engine Won’t Start

Another clear indicator of a faulty starter is the vehicle refuses to crank. 

Numerous problems like a defective alternator, a drained car battery, or a failing ignition switch could halt the engine from cranking. Yet, these usually come with other symptoms, like fast clicking for a drained battery.

For a defective starter, the most common sound is a lone click. This could happen because your solenoid, found within the starter motor, attempts to activate, but the internal parts are jammed and fail to function correctly.

Get worries about the engine shaking and loss of power, yet have no ways to address them? Click on this link!

The Engine Won't Start
The auto gets hard to crank up due to the dead starter. Source: Unsplash

What Triggers The Starter’s Failure

There’s a multitude of culprits behind a faulty starter, such as:

  • Wiring that’s not securely fastened to and from the starter
  • Starter connections become grimy or rust over time
  • Battery corrosion
  • Parts within the starter system get damaged
  • Leaky oil
  • Malfunctioning relay or fuse

How To Start Car With Bad Starter?

How To Start Car With Bad Starter?
Bad starters need fixing timely. Source:

Inspect the Solenoid Cables if Your Starter Boasts an Outside Solenoid

The solenoid acts as a magnetic switch, taking the small current charge from the ignition and amplifying it for the starter’s demand.

Solenoids can be integrated into starters or detached and wired up separately. A loose or grungy connection could be an issue for vehicles with an external solenoid. 

A quick check, reconnection, and a clean-up using a wire brush should do the trick. If that was the glitch, your vehicle should be ready to roar back to life.

Push Start The Manual Transmission Vehicle

This neat trick applies solely to manual transmission vehicles. It’s a clever workaround for a malfunctioning starter to get your car on the move.

Settle into your car with the key ready at the start position and a fully engaged clutch. Shift it to second gear, and seek the help of strong buddies to push your car. 

The aim is to get the car moving at a decent speed, then let go of the clutch while still turning the key. If executed correctly, your car will fire up, even with a defective starter motor.

Spruce Up The Car’s Negative Battery Connection

The negative terminal of your vehicle’s battery links to the car’s metal frame or, potentially the engine block. Track down the negative cable to its connection point and give it a look-over.

Spot any corrosion? Remove it using a wrench and scrub it clean with a wire brush. This grimy connection could be the culprit behind your non-starting starter. After cleaning, reconnect it and give starting your car another shot. 


How Long Does It Take To Fix A Starter?

Anticipate the swap to span from 2 to 4 hours. Due to the tricky placement of some starter motors, the procedure might take longer, bumping up the final expense.

How Long Can You Drive With A Bad Starter?

Predicting the faulty starter’s lifespan is not that feasible. It might hang on for several months before completely giving up or failing suddenly. 
Recognizing the early warning signals of a starter on its last legs and replacing it promptly is recommended.


A car’s starter is a vital part of setting the engine in motion. When it fails, along with some sure signs of a bad starter, it can manifest through easily overlooked or misinterpreted symptoms. 

Unraveling the mystery of a bad starter can be a daunting task at large. Nonetheless, knowing all the potential risks can save you from unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs. 

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