Uh-oh. You are trying to drive to work in the morning, and all of a sudden, your car won’t start. Not only is it not starting, but you hear a clicking noise while trying to turn the ignition. What does this mean?
This is a common occurrence for most drivers that requires some troubleshooting and diagnosing to fix the issue. There are a certain number of probable causes as to why your car won’t start clicking noise, and they depend on what you hear when you turn the ignition.
The “car won’t start clicking noise” can differ from rapid-clicking to a single click when you turn the ignition key, or nothing happening and no sound when you turn the ignition. Here are the most common causes of your “car won’t start clicking noise” in your vehicle.
Car Won’t Start Clicking Noise Causes
If there is a really fast clicking noise when you begin turning the ignition key, then low voltage or a high resistance is the problem. These issues have to deal with the electrical system, indicating an issue with the car battery that needs to be addressed.
A 12.45 volts reading is about 75% charge and it will be good to last your car a while longer. Anything less than 12.45 volts means that your battery is too low to function correctly. On the other end of the spectrum, high resistance causes the battery to heat up and the voltage to drop under the load, which negatively affects the battery and causes it to wear down quicker.
Let’s see how this fast clicking can hurt your vehicle, and the “car won’t start clicking noise” in your car symptoms.
If your battery is dead, then you will be experiencing an extremely fast clicking noise while turning the ignition to start your vehicle. This could be due to a malfunctioning alternator or a low battery charge. Check your battery output voltage with a simple diagnostic tool – the voltmeter.
If your battery reads less than 12.45 voltage, you need to get your damaged battery checked by a technician to prevent the “car won’t start clicking noise” condition. Your battery could not be transmitting power due to electrolyte levels as a second reason – the solution for this issue is to recharge your electrolytes. You need to decide if you want to repair or replace the battery depending on the “car won’t start clicking noise” severity.
What does it mean if you still have the “car won’t start clicking noise” condition? Well, unfortunately, this could mean a damaged alternator. The car won’t be able to start if the alternator can’t provide enough voltage output necessary, with the only solution being to fix or replace the alternator.
Alternator Replacement Price
The average price to replace an alternator with a remanufactured part is approximately $400. A remanufactured alternator on a domestic car ranges from $300-$500, including the parts and labor/time required to install it. A new alternator’s price can be a lot pricier, ranging from about $500-$1,000, including the labor to install.
Slow Parasitic Power Drain
If your “car won’t start clicking noise” situation does not fix itself over time, but you have determined the battery is functioning well, the problem could be the parasitic drain. A battery drain is when there is an abnormal discharge of power after shutting off the engine.
This slow and steady drain of battery and electrical power can be caused by a short circuit or an electrical device that stays working even when it should be in the ‘off’ position. You should try to jumpstart your vehicle and bring it to a mechanic where a knowledgeable technician can diagnose the problem and figure out a solution for the “car won’t start clicking” noise.
Corrosion of Terminals
If your car is still doing the “car won’t start clicking noise” issue while you turn the key in the ignition, the main problem could be terminals’ corrosion. The clicking sound can happen when the starter motor isn’t receiving enough power.
Check the battery under the hood and ensure that the terminals don’t have any contaminants or buildup on them. Also, check for any rust accumulation on the battery terminals. If there is any type of dirt and debris that has stayed on the battery terminals, you will need to clean your terminals to restore the power supply and prevent the “car won’t start clicking noise” from your car.
The “car won’t start clicking noise” could also be due to a frayed wire or loose battery cable ends. Loose battery ends can interfere with the connection, preventing the vehicle from starting. If the corroded or loose battery terminals are not allowing the car to start, creating a slow cranking or making a rapid clicking, you need to fix this issue so you can safely drive your vehicle.
Dead Starter Motor
The starter utilizes a trigger mechanism that can turn on the vehicle – if this part becomes damaged, it can result in the “car won’t start clicking noise.” The triggering mechanism is composed of the vehicle’s engine management system. Most ignition triggers operate as a magnetic sensor. When the mechanism is triggered, it sends a signal to the ignition module to properly time the ignition, but a damaged signal will throw off the entire engine system.
The triggering mechanism could be responsible for the “car won’t start clicking noise” situation in your vehicle. Some engine systems use the ignition trigger to start the entire engine system, which will be disabled if there is no base signal for the computer. If the car’s triggering mechanism is faulty, it won’t be able to trigger the starter motor.
Loose Starter Connection
If the trigger mechanism isn’t the cause of the “car won’t start clicking noise,” a loose starter connection could cause starter problems. Fixing the motor will require you to seek a technician’s help, but you can also repair the loose connection with some D-I-Y methods. Find the faulty wiring circuit and check it with a voltmeter before getting started.
Damaged Starter Solenoid
The starter solenoid is an electromagnet responsible for turning on the starter motor of an internal combustion engine. Most modern cars use the starter solenoid to move the starter pinion into a position of engagement with the engine’s ring gear. If the starter solenoid is not working correctly, your car won’t start and will make a repeated clicking noise.
Another reason for the “car won’t start clicking noise” is due to a locked up engine. An engine can seize if your car’s internal components get locked up, and the crankshaft isn’t able to turn on the bearings. If the pistons, rod bearings, or piston rings overheat and become fused, the crankshaft won’t be able to turn on the bearings.
Sometimes your engine can become locked due to hydrolocking. If water enters the combustion chamber, the water doesn’t compress in the same way air does, making it virtually impossible for the piston to get to the top and stopping the engine.
Damaged Starter Motor Contactors
As you know, the starter solenoid works with the contactor in the starter motor – this is the part that relays the information that is specified for a large electric current. Most modern cars use the starter solenoid to move the starter pinion into a position of engagement with the ring gear of the engine. If the starter solenoid is not working correctly, you will have a “car won’t start clicking noise.”
However, if your alternator contacts develop a high resistance, this means they are damaged and need fixing. If you turn the ignition and try to start the car, the high resistance absorbs the voltage that should go towards the starter. By eating up the voltage, the starter loses its power supply. Without any power supply, the starter isn’t able to crank up the engine, thereby, not being able to start your car.
Replacing the starter assembly will cost you an average of around $344-$562. The labor costs an average of $128-$163, while the parts will cost you $216-$399. The total for a new car starter is around $180, and $130 for labor costs to fix the “car won’t start clicking noise” situation.
When figuring out why you are experiencing a “car won’t start clicking noise” that doesn't seem to go away in your vehicle, there are certain causes to be aware of and symptoms to look out for when determining why this is happening.
By looking at the top 10 causes as to the clicking noise in your vehicle and why your car will not start or run properly, you can quickly diagnose the root cause of the issue and prevent it from getting any worse over time. If you ignore the “car won’t start clicking noise,” it can severely damage your vehicle and cause expensive repairs and replacements.