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Car Clicks When Trying to Start: Causes and Solutions

It’s quite frustrating when you turn on the car ignition but it only makes a clicking sound instead of kicking the engine off. No matter how annoying the problem is, it’s not uncommon. Luckily, fixing this issue also does not warrant much money. You need to know the basics to solve the problem of car clicks when trying to start.

Car Clicks When Trying to Start: Causes and Troubleshooting

A clicking sound when trying to start car indicates an internal issue. There could be several reasons and a few of them are quite common. You could face the trouble of clicking sound when starting car because of:

A Drained Battery

Parasitic drainage is a valid reason to have a dead battery in the morning and a dead battery means the car won’t start when turning on the ignition key.

If you leave the headlights, an interior light, or the radio on when leaving the car in the parking during the night, the battery will be completely drained out in the morning.

The only solution is to jump start the car for which you will need jumper cables and another car with a functioning battery.

Low Battery Voltage

The problem of clicking noise when trying to start car could happen when the battery has low voltage. Battery voltage could be low when you forget to recharge the battery on time or the battery loses its functionality for some reason.

Cold weather could be another cause too. The battery needs a high amount of power to kick off the engine in extremely cold conditions.

clicking sound when trying to start car
Battery’s low voltage is another common reason. (Source: Santeri Viinamäki/ Wikimedia Commons)

In the case of a bad battery, you may need to replace it. To find out the actual condition, use a multimeter or a car battery analyzer.

Loose Battery Terminals

Another battery-related issue that could be responsible for car clicks when trying to start. Loose terminals occur when they are not properly tightened after repair work. Deterioration of the contact between the terminals and connectors is another reason. Bad contacts mean the battery cannot supply enough power needed for the engine to start.

Check the terminals to see if any of the connecting components is corroded. If you find anything, repair the damage or change the terminals.

Bad Starter Motor and/or Solenoid

If you hear the clicking sound despite the battery being fully charged, you should look into the solenoid or the starter motor. This motor rotates the flywheel that is necessary for kicking off the engine and the solenoid is the switch that engages this motor. If the solenoid is bad, it will lead to car won’t start clicking noise.

If the problem is a stuck solenoid and you can access it easily, try to make it loose by lightly tapping with a hammer. When doing this, ask a friend to turn the ignition on. Be careful not to touch the starter’s rotating parts. If the starter motor turns over during the tapping process, you may need to replace both the starter and solenoid.

Diagnosing the starter motor and its solenoid requires professional skills. If you are not experienced in car mechanics, take your car to an auto repair shop.

Ground Cable Problem

There is a ground cable between the car body and the battery or the engine. If it’s bad or frayed for some reason, the power supply to the battery gets restricted, causing the engine to not respond to the ignition command.

This is a common issue regarding car clicks but won’t start. However, you can solve it without taking professional service. All you need is an external jumper cable.

Attach the cable to the battery’s negative terminal and the engine’s one of the clean ground points. If the engine starts by doing this, check the wire between the engine and car body for any damage. Sometimes, cleaning the contact surfaces will make the related components function normally.

If this ground wire does not show any visible corrosion, move on to the one between the car body and the battery. Clean its contact surfaces that will hopefully make it work again.

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Broken Power Cable

There is a power cable that goes between the starter motor and the ignition lock. If it’s faulty or fails for any reason, the starter cannot send enough power for the engine to crank.

This issue is not as common as the others mentioned here. However, if all other parts are functional, you should examine this cable. Get the wiring diagram of the car and find out if everything is working normally.

Conclusion

Battery issues are the main causes of car clicks when trying to start. The reasons mentioned above are the most common ones and you can solve them by following the suggestions. If you cannot pinpoint the cause, take professional help to avoid further complications.

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