How to Start a Car with a Bad Starter

We all have been there where you turn on the ignition but the engine doesn’t do anything. When it happens, chances are your starter might be the culprit. Well don’t panic. Fixing a faulty starter is no rocket science and a series of simple tricks might be enough to fix the problem.

What is a starter?

First of all, let’s start by knowing the root cause of your frustration. A starter is a device car that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. In simpler words, it is a powerful electric motor that cranks up your engine in order to start.

Of course, even if the starter isn’t faulty, your battery needs to have enough juice to power up the starter.

However, things might go south even with a fully charged or deep cycle battery.

Most common faulty starter symptoms

Your vehicle does not start even with a fully charged battery

The most common symptom of having a bad starter is your vehicle’s inability to start even with a fully charged battery. If the battery seems fine, the starter might be to blame. You can further make sure whether the headlights and other electrical components are functioning properly, ultimately narrowing down the cause of the problem.

Strange clicking sounds

Another regular feature accompanying a malfunctioning starter is a distinct clicking sound. You might hear these whenever you try to start the engine. However, the clicking sounds might be caused due to a dead battery. Test your battery first to make sure a quick boost wouldn’t fix the whole thing.

Slow starting speed

If your car takes multiple attempts and more time to start you might have a problem with the starter. Even though the starting time varies from vehicle to vehicle it is easy to tell whether your vehicle is taking a long time to start than usual.

An oil-soaked starter

You might have to pop your hood for this one. Oil leaks from the engine are a major cause of a malfunctioning starter and you might find your starter drenched in it. Cleaning the starter might become a hectic task in this case and might need professional help.

Problematic Freewheel

Another sign of having a faulty starter is a distinct whining noise produced by your car instead of starting. This might be caused by a freewheel being unable to connect with the electric motor.

5 Different Methods to start a car with a bad starter

While totally fixing the starter might need the help of a mechanic, these simple troubleshooting tips might be enough to start your car so you can get it to the nearest auto repair shop.

 1. Watch out for improper connections

Often at times, a loose wire or a dirty connection turns out to be the problem. Make sure each and every component of the starter is properly connected. And if not, consider tightening them with the help of a ratchet. Apart from that, do not forget to check out for corrosion.

Battery corrosion is yet another reason behind a faulty starter. Frequent inspection of the vehicle can help in averting these problems.

2. Go old school, tap the starter

Perhaps one of the most old fashioned ways of bringing a starter back to life is tapping it. In fact, tapping the starter gently with a hammer is quite effective and is backed by a very scientific reason.

As the starter starts to wear out over the years it develops some dead spots between the armature and field coils. Tapping the starter will help move over the dead spots and help the armature to spin, ultimately bringing the starter back to life. However, remember to be gentle with the hammer as mechanical damage on a starter will turn out to be quite expensive.

3. Consider jump-starting the vehicle

Supplying the starter with a powerful surge of current from a bigger and more powerful battery might help in mitigating the problem. This added power could help in getting over any dead spots in the armature ultimately allowing to spin faster and start.

4. Bypassing the relay

Another classic yet effective way to start a car with a bad starter is to send 12 volts directly to the solenoidal coil. All you need is a screwdriver or a wire. Use the wire to connect the starter’s positive terminal to the solenoid terminal, ultimately bypassing the relay switch and sending 12 volts directly to the solenoid. That sudden burst of power might be enough to start your car.

In some cases, you might be able to just touch the two terminals with a long screwdriver.

5. Bumpstart the engine

If your car has a manual transmission, you can always bumpstart your car. Get someone to push your car and attain a minimum speed of 5-10 miles per hour. Make sure your ignition key is turned ON and the car is in first or second gear. After you have achieved the desired speed let go of the clutch, the speed attained should be enough to cause the engine to rotate and start the car.

Wrapping it up

All in all the above methods are temporary fixes and help you get over a faulty starter for the time being. With that being said, it is still better to get your starting system checked by a mechanic as soons as possible.