How To Fix A Starter Without Replacing It?

If your car can’t start and has a clicking sound inside, the cause is a faulty starter system. And replacing a starter is a piece of advice that some mechanics will give you in this situation. However, can we bring the starter back to life without a replacement? This question will be answered in this topic. Let’s find out how to fix a starter without replacing it. 

What Causes A Starter To Go Bad?

As we all know, the internal combustion engine cannot run independently. Therefore, the starter was developed and plays a vital role in helping your car start and operate. This system operates based on the principle of converting the chemical energy stored in the battery into electricity and then into mechanical energy in the motor. The structure of the starter consists of 6 parts: car battery/battery, ignition switch, starter relay, starter safety switch, starter motor, and battery cable. Each of these parts will perform a different task and when combined they form a complete system.

replacing a starter
Replacing a starter is a recommended method for a bad starter (Photo:

Having a key function in the vehicle, so when the starter has trouble, you will notice some symptoms of a bad starter below:  

  • The car engine won’t start
  • Unusual noise (clicking, grinding, or whirring sounds…) when you turn your car key
  • Warning lights to turn on the car dashboard
  • Burning smell or smoke under the hood
  • Whining sound from the engine without cranking

There are some typical signs of a bad starter that you can easily detect so what are the culprits for this problem: 

The cause of the mechanical malfunctions of the starter:

  • The battery’s positive contact is oxidized
  • Failure of the flywheel teeth or the freewheel clutch or other device parts in the car. 
  • Bad ignition switch 

Causes of electrical failure in the starter:

There are several reasons for a broken starter which can come from the electrical system in your car:

  • Dead battery
  • Malfunctions of the anti-theft system, especially the immobilizer.
  • Blown fuse
  • Open circuit or inter-turn short circuit
  • Keyless start system failure

Note: If you see the immobilizer and/or the engine check lights come on, contact a garage for troubleshooting and repair. 

After sorting and diagnosing the reasons, we will find a way to know how to fix a starter in a car without replacing it: 

How To Fix A Starter Without Replacing It? 

You will need to prepare some tools before starting this process:

  • A power cable
  • Hammer
  • A multimeter

The starter relay 

When the car is issued starting, the first thing you should check is a starter relay. The purpose of this part is to provide power to the electric motor. When the starter relay is going bad, it will have some obvious symptoms including the slow engine crank whining and a clicking noise accompanied by no response from your engine. To fix this problem you can try to clean the terminal of the starter relay. If this method doesn’t handle the issue completely, you will need to have a new relay. 

Fixing the fuse and wiring

The starter fuse is always found in the main fuse box, you can find its exact position in the manual guide. If you notice the signs of melting, it will indicate that the starter fuse is defective. In this situation, you need to replace the fuse with a new one. 

Another way you can apply to test the fuse is by using the multimeter to check the fuse. To do this, switch the device to the voltmeter mode. Ground the negative probe to the metal on the vehicle body and the positive first one-to-one, then the second contact with the fuse. If only one contact shows the voltage, it means that the part is faulty. 

Remove the fuse and test it in the resistance mode. If you detect the resistance is at a high level, it’s a sign that your starter fuse is blown away and you need to change it. 

Over time, the wiring or the contacts can be damaged due to oxidation, so when you find any symptom of corrosion or mechanical damage on the wiring system, you need to fix it by cleaning it with sandpaper or a soft brush. In some cases, the wire is beyond repair so you will have to cut off and strip them to connect the new wire. 

Repair ignition switch

can you replace a starter yourself
Can you replace a starter yourself (Photo:

As a part of the starter system and considered the “gateway” to all circuits, the ignition switch has the function of distributing current to the necessary places on the car’s starting system. If you turn your key but nothing happens, the culprit can be a faulty ignition switch. A defective switch can cut the power from going into the control modules. The best way to test the ignition switch is to try wiggling the key back and forth while the car is in parking. If your engine doesn’t start, the problem will be the switch. Replacing the switch is the best method you can do in this situation. It will cost about $135 to $250 (including the part cost and labor cost) to replace this part.

Besides these methods we shared in the above parts if your engine doesn’t start due to the starter system when starting the car, you can gently tap the housing of the defective starter a few times with a hammer. The vibration produced may help to restore the lost contact between the starter solenoid and the electric motor brush.

Watch this video to know how to test the starter without replacing it:

Wrapping Up

The starter is one of the most important and indispensable parts of the car. However, when this part is defective, for some reason you don’t need to remove or replace it, you can apply the methods we shared. These methods are not too complicated to make so you can do it by yourself if you have a basic knowledge of mechanics. If not, we recommend you take your car to the garage for a timely diagnosis. Hopefully, you will find this topic useful for the driving process. If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to comment in the box below.