All Drivers Should Know These 7 Symptoms Of Bad Starter

Without starting the car, you aren't going to get to the place you want or need. Starter is an extremely important part of any vehicle with internal combustion engine under the hood. This thing rotates the engine and starts it so that you could just turn the key or push the button in your car and start driving.

Today we'll tell you about the symptoms of bad starter in order you could predict when this thing is going to break.

1. Lights on, but engine doesn't start

When you have lights on after you turn on your car, but there is no action under the hood, the starter is to blame. The dashboard lights up, so it's not about the battery. If the starter is completely dead, it might be due to electrical wires. But to check them thoroughly you'll still need to go to the service station.

2. Clicking noise and engine doesn't start

One more symptom is when the starter clicks when you try to start the engine. In this case you may be sure that all the electrical wires are OK. The trouble probably occurred because the starter might be stuck or the relay is broken. When the relay is broken, you may continue trying to start the car, and one time it will probably work. But it will only happen if you hear the clicking noise. If the starter is completely dead, you'll need to check wires or change the relay.

3. Grinding noise from under the hood

In this case, the engine may or may not start. When you hear the grinding noise, it means that some metal parts are contacting with each other not the way the producer meant it to happen. The problem might be with starter bendix which is worn out and doesn't suit the engine flywheel gear.

If you continue starting your car and listening to those grinding sounds, the bendix gear will be worn out soon, and the engine flywheel can also be damaged. One more option is that your starter may get stuck one day. So make sure you repair the starter as soon as possible after you hear grinding noise.

4. Smoke comes out or you smell it

When the starter is about to die, it can also produce some smoke. The wire connections may start burning. Also, the inner part of the starter may start burning. Unless you see the fire, it's not extremely dangerous. But trying to start the engine when you see the smoke is a highly bad idea.

Don't pour water on the starter if you see smoke. The best decision will be to take off the wires from battery terminals and call for assistance. If the electrical part of the starter is broken, it can start burning and you will have more troubles to cope with. Always check if you have a fire extinguisher ready to use.

5. Starter keeps rotating after the engine is on

One more popular problem with a starter is when the unit keeps rotating after the engine is on. You hear the noise, and the starter itself is extremely hot if you check it after a short drive. In this case, some relay or electrical connection might be lost.

It's recommended to turn off the engine and call for assistance because driving your car with starter rotating is a bad idea. You can break not only starter but also engine flywheel.

6. Starter keeps rotating after engine is off

Sometimes you don't hear that the starter rotates after the engine is on. But when you park your car and turn off the engine, you keep hearing the noise from under the hood. It means that the starter turned on, started the engine and didn't turn off. Usually, it may happen when the battery is nearly flat. In some old starter constructions flat batteries could cause starter electronics to go mad and keep the unit on all the time.

What you need to do is to take off the wires from battery terminals to stop starter rotation. After some time, you can even try to put on the wires again and start your car to go to the battery shop or to the service station to change the battery.

7. Starter works, but the motor doesn't start

In this case you will hear the starter buzzing on high revolutions but the engine won't start. It means that somehow the starter bendix doesn't come into contact with engine flywheel. The problem occurs because of the bendix gear or because of some relay in the starter construction.

What to do when the starter is broken?


  1. You may try to start your car by asking someone to push it. But it's only possible with a manual transmission as you'll need a clutch pedal.
  2. You may call for roadside assistance or for a tow truck to deliver your car to the service station.
  3. You may change the starter or its parts if you have enough skills and instruments to do that.
  4. You may ask someone to tow your vehicle to the nearest service station.


The worst idea is to keep driving when you aren't sure that it's safe for you and your car.



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