Your car’s starter is an important mechanism in charge of starting your vehicle – just as the name would imply. This electric motor cranks your engine to give power to your car physically. The starting system comprises the motor and the attached solenoids. If anyone of these parts goes bad, you will experience the faulty starter symptoms that can plague your car’s performance levels and safety.
One of the worst things that can happen when you are in your car when you need to get somewhere on time is that your car won't start. You put your key in the ignition, and it might turn. Or, you put your key in the ignition, and it can turn, but then the engine will rev but not turn on. All your heart is the starter clicking – what now?
Top 10 Starter Clicking Causes
Besides realizing you might have a faulty starter in your vehicle, there are other reasons why your car is hard to start. When you begin to drive your car and realize that it will not turn on, this is a big problem that needs to be solved immediately. If you can’t turn the ignition key in your car, you can’t move forward or backward, leaving you stuck in the same spot with the starter clicking.
If this happens, most drivers will blame a few parts they believe to be the culprit – like a faulty starter, dead battery, or broken engine. But what if this is not the case? What if your car has not been sitting idle for a few hours, and the dead battery just can’t possibly be the cause? If you realize that there might be something else going in your car besides a faulty starter, you need to consider the alternatives of the cause of the starter clicking.
When you turn the steering wheel in your vehicle and the key is removed, and the engine is off, the steering wheel will lock in a place where you turn it. This wheel lock can also prevent the key from being turned in the ignition as a self-made anti-theft tool in your vehicle. To release this wheel lock, you will have to turn the steering wheel to release the tension on the wheel and release the ignition tension that has made your car hard to start, instead of a faulty starter causing the starter clicking.
Damaged Anti-Theft Immobilizer
Another anti-theft mechanism that your car can have to protect you and your valuables is that it might feature an anti-theft immobilizer. This anti-theft system is in charge of detecting a chip in your key and allowing it to start and the key to turn on the ignition. If the key is inserted in your car’s ignition without this chip, the key will not turn.
If this system is not working correctly and has become damaged over time, the ignition might not detect the key and will prevent you from starting the car by turning it in the ignition. Instead of blaming a faulty starter for your car being difficult to turn on, in this case, the anti-theft immobilizer is your culprit for the starter clicking.
Low Battery Voltage
The most common problem when it comes to the starter clicking is due to low voltage from the car battery. The car battery voltage lowers when there is not enough of a current battery cell system. If the car battery voltage gets to a certain point and is too low, then there could be discharge that can appear the battery to be dead.
Causes of Low Battery Voltage
There are many reasons for a low battery voltage as the cause of the starter clicking. One cause of the low battery voltage can be too many applications, too little downtime, and not enough voltage. Many people forget that a battery can be affected by things being on all the time, like the radio, the music devices, and the other electrical components.
In addition, the low battery voltage and starter clicking can occur due to the alternator being out of commission and the battery following. Since most car batteries do not have a dual purpose, where they have a starting power transfer to the alternator and the smaller devices, they might rely on the alternator only. Relying solely on the alternator can drain the battery, causing the starter clicking noise.
The last reason the battery voltage can be drained is that the charger could not work correctly. Depending on the type of battery and the vehicle, the chargers are responsible for delivering enough amperes to charge the car. If the charger is not working correctly, this can damage the battery and cause the beginning of the starter clicking.
Faulty Starter Motor
The next most common problem is a faulty starter motor that can cause the starter clicking. The starter motor contains a solenoid inside of the mechanism that is supposed to be pushed out at the exact same moment that you are turning the starter to turn on the car. If the solenoid does not function correctly or get stuck during use, you can hear the starter clicking from your engine without the engine being able to turn over.
Faulty Starter Motor Causes
The faulty starter motor that can cause a poor wiring connection can cause the starter clicking, your trigger wire might have come loose, or there could be a poor earth connection, meaning what if the solenoid can operate. Still, the starter absorbs all of the current flow, this can shut off the solenoid. In addition, there can be a defective solenoid that can cause the starter clicking. If the solenoids get overheated, this could mean that your starter motor is unfortunately broken beyond repair.
Furthermore, a defective starter motor can cause overheating in the starter and cause the starter clicking. The starter clicking noise can be from the electromagnet inside the starter motor. Lastly, a defective ignition switch can cause the starter motor failure, the ignition switch failure, and the starter clicking.
Contaminated Intake Sensors
If the mass airflow sensor or the oxygen sensor is not working properly and functioning correctly, the throttle body is clogged with too much carbon. In addition, your engine’s e air filter might become clogged and full of debris. If this is the case, a faulty alternator is not your problem – you might not be getting enough air into the engine and can hear the starter clicking.
A faulty alternator or debris-filled lines can make it difficult to turn the key or get the engine running, but once you start driving and the car is moving, the car’s forward momentum can allow your car to move normally and prevent the starter clicking.
Damaged Spark Plugs
Inside the engine cylinders in your car, a spark is necessarily fired to ignite the air and fuel mixture, creating the resulting explosions to move your car. However, if your spark plugs are damaged or old and worn out after prolonged damage, meaning they have been fouled with carbon build-up or engine oil, a spark might not fire consistently, causing the starter to click.
Fuel in your car can become thick from your engine having a too low temperature or your mechanic or you not doing a recommended oil change. If the liquid is too thick, it will become very condensed and hard to move. As you know, a liquid can’t flow if it is condensed.
In the case that the liquid has become condensed, the engine has to push around a lot and work harder to spin. Thicker liquid or oil also requires the engine to need more energy to start since not enough fuel and oil can get into the fuel line and be directed to the engine to power the car, causing the starter clicking.
Loose Battery Terminals
Loose battery terminals on the car battery are another common problem that causes the starter motor to become damaged and cause the starter clicking. Someone could drive the loose battery terminals by forgetting to tighten the terminals after a repair, causing the connectors and terminals to corrode or rust after use. When the car is turning over and trying to start, it can require a lot of power from the battery. If the contact is low and bad, it can cause the starter clicking sound.
Symptoms of Loose Battery Terminals
Some symptoms of loose battery terminals can cause the starter clicking in valve problems starting the vehicle. Suppose any corrosion happens along with the battery terminals. In that case, this can interfere with the connection, and the vehicle might have trouble starting, followed by the starter clicking sound when the key turns.
The following sign of loose battery terminals is the visible corrosion since the terminals are in direct contact with the battery and exposed to acid fumes. Corrosion can interfere with the battery terminal’s function to conduct power and can even block the flow.
In addition, a loss of electrical power can be a symptom of a loose battery terminal, which usually happens when the terminal is severely corroded or has broken and causes the starter clicking. A severely corroded terminal does not make a good electrical connection and can cause a loss of power.
Ground Cable Malfunction
Another cause of the starter clicking can be the ground cable problem. If the ground cable between the body and the engine, or between the battery in the car and the car body is bad, then the power flow will be cut off and restricted. The lack of flow means that the engine power will not be able to crank the engine. A lack of engine power flow is a common problem that is worth checking and can be known by local mechanics and auto body shops.
Faulty Ground Cable Symptoms
Signs of a ground cable problem in your engine include dim lights, flickering lights, electrical devices turning on and off, a faulty fuel pump, or a slipping clutch in the AC compressor. Further ground cable symptoms can come from an intermittent sensor failure, damaged throttle or damaged cables, hard starting, loss of ability to start, and a dead battery.
Loose, rusted, or damaged ground terminals or wires, a loose or damaged ground battery terminal, or a poor component installation or repairs can cause the starter clicking noise in your car.
Broken Power Cable
If the large power cable to the starter has failed or has become damaged over time, then not enough power can go through the cable to the starter, causing the starter to click. If not enough power is able to pass to the starter, then the engine will not be able to crank and power the car. This problem is not as common as other issues and the starter clicking but still needs to be addressed.
Symptoms of a Broken Power Cable
Some symptoms of a broken or failing battery cable can help you determine the real cause as to why the starter clicking is happening in your car. Problems with starting the vehicle can deal with a failing battery cable since the battery cables are in charge of transferring the battery’s power to the vehicle’s entire electrical system. If the cables have any issue, this can interfere with the ability to conduct power and cause the starter clicking.
Starting a vehicle takes a huge amount of cranking power, so the cables’ problems can hinder the ability to conduct power and start the engine, causing clicking sounds during cranking.
In addition to problems with starting the vehicle, there can be corrosion on battery terminals that can cause the brake power cable. Battery terminal corrosion can cause the starter clicking since corrosion can develop due to the battery’s acidic vapor when it becomes too hot for exposure as a result of being exposed to the engine overheating.
Luckily for most drivers, the starter clicking is widespread and is pretty easy to diagnose, easy to fix, and relatively inexpensive for the complete solution. Since this problem is quite common and many drivers have issues with the starter clicking, this can mean that the problem and solution are easier to find.