The noise of grinding while trying to start your car is like fingernails on a chalkboard for any car owner. You know something isn’t right and you know your wallet is about to take a hit. While you may be wondering what caused your starter to fail, the more important question you need to ask yourself is- how much will replace your starter cost and is your car worth the hefty investment? The average starter replacement cost ranges from $430 – $700.
During the course of this article we will cover the following topics:
- What Is a Starter?
- What Causes a Starter To Fail?
- How To Tell Your Starter Is Failing
- How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Starter?
- Why Are Starter Replacements So Expensive?
- Is It Worth Replacing Your Starter?
- You Can Sell Your Car As-Is
What Is a Starter?
For such a relatively small part, the starter is an integral part of your vehicle. If the starter doesn’t work you are not going to be leaving your driveway. In some cases, this gives a fantastic and legitimate reason to play hooky from work. While this may sound like a welcomed vacation from sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, for most of us this is a giant headache that was not welcomed with open arms.
A starter is a small but powerful electric motor that cranks your engine which therefore allows you to start your car. The starter consists of the motor itself and the solenoid. The solenoid takes the juice from the battery and sends it to the starter, pushing the starter gear forward and allowing it to mesh with the teeth of the engine’s flywheel. Since the starter system needs such a high current to start your car, it will obviously need a fully charged battery for it to do its job.
What Causes a Starter To Fail?
There are five common reasons that cause starters to fail which include the following:
- Battery corrosion
Battery corrosion is an inevitability and the older the battery the more likely you are to experience corrosion. If there is corrosion present it restricts the amount current needed to reach the solenoid.
- Oil leaks
Oil leaks start as a slow leak from the engine’s rear main seal. It happens over time and is common with older cars due to heat and mileage. Once the starter is soaked with oil, it shortens its overall life.
- Loose wiring to and from the starter
Loose wiring causes a short which then leads to surges of power which will in turn damage the starter motor. This typically happens over a period of time.
- Dirty connections
When a battery cable goes bad, or a connection gets dirty, cables can't pass electricity fast enough to power the starter motor. When this takes place and you try to start your engine you will hear a loud click but there is not enough current to crank the engine.
- Damage and/or worn out parts in the starter system
Over time starters can just go bad. Starters are heavily used and it creates worn brushes and bad bearings. It is just part of owning a car.
How To Tell Your Starter is Failing
Now that you know what can cause a starter to fail, let’s explore the symptoms of a failed starter so that you can better diagnose what is wrong with your vehicle.
- Engine won’t turn over
If nothing happens when you try to start your car, you may be looking at a bad starter.
This is one of the most common telltale signs that your starter is failing.
- You see smoke
If after multiple failed attempts to start your car you start to see smoke, it’s not a good sign. First and foremost stop trying to turn over the engine, your starter is likely overheating which will cause electrical problems like blown fuses and short circuits.
- The dreaded clicking noise
A clicking noise is one of the most common symptoms of a failed starter when trying to start your car but sometimes no noise may be present at all. Other not so pleasant noises can accompany a failed starter like grinding or whirring noise so always pay attention to what your car may be trying to tell you!
- The lights are on but no one is home
If the lights within the cabin of the car are working but nothing happens when you try to start your vehicle – this is more than likely an issue with your starter.
All of the symptoms listed above will need a diagnosis from a skilled mechanic. Get your pocketbook ready.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Starter?
Listed below are rough estimates found on RepairPal on common cars so that you can have an idea of what this repair will cost you.
Keep in mind that the make, model, and the amount of damage done will make the cost fluctuate drastically.
Why Are Starter Replacements So Expensive?
The cost to replace a starter depends on the amount of damage that has been done. Did you notice a grinding noise but chose to ignore the sound? That grinding noise may have caused more damage than you think, not just to your car but to your wallet as well.
The grinding noise is due to the damage being done to the ring gear. The ring gear is attached to the flywheel and the flywheel is a large disc attached to the back end of the engine’s crankshaft. When you turn your key to start the vehicle, the small gear inside your starter sticks out an inch or so to connect with the ring gear and spin the crankshaft. If the ring gear suffers too much damage because of a bad starter, it will also need to be replaced. In the event that this happens, the engine and transmission must be separated in order to gain access to the flywheel. This can drastically run up the costs of this repair.
Is It Worth Replacing Your Starter?
Above all else, you need to determine the value of your vehicle. Thanks to the internet, estimating the value of your car is much easier than it was for grandpa back in the day. Useful websites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds make it quick and easy to receive a rough estimate on your vehicle. Once you know the value of your vehicle it will make it more straightforward for you to determine whether or not you want to invest not only your money but your valuable time into salvaging your car.
Next, you need to examine whether or not you are experiencing any other problems with your vehicle. Are other things failing on your car beside the starter? Maybe it is time to move on and stop putting money into a vehicle that isn’t reliable. A car is the heart of most people’s livelihoods. It takes you to and from work and without a trustworthy mode of transportation you run the risk of putting your livelihood in jeopardy. Is it worth it to continuously worry about your car? Don’t we all have enough to worry about already?
You Can Sell Your Car As-Is
For those that know how to properly recycle and resell automotive parts, your car still has value. Your vehicle is a wonderland of valuable and useful parts to the right buyer. In our hustle and bustle society, the value of a car to the average consumer is based on the amount of MPGs and reliability.
Thankfully, nowadays, your car can be sold in any condition. Is your car is no longer operable? That does not matter. Your car can be sold and you can receive cash in your hand no matter the condition. Options like dealerships, Craigslist or junkyards are good options; but be prepared for the onslaught of what might come.
When you think of selling your vehicle one of the first things that may run across your mind is a dealership which is the all too obvious answer. While a dealership may seem like the most convenient of all your options, it also comes with its faults. Dealerships have one goal and one goal only, making money. A dealership will never offer you what your car is actually worth, you will be low balled and nine times out of ten you’ll take the low offer to avoid any further hassle and they know that. A dealership is also only going to buy something that is desirable to the public, so kiss the idea of selling your non-operable car to a dealership goodbye.
Craigslist, while it can be a very helpful and easy tool to use can also open pandora’s box, leaving you vulnerable to spam emails, texts and phone calls during all times of the day. It is unfortunate the reputation of Craigslist has become so tarnished as it is a free service that does not do the work of weeding out the scammers or keep tabs on the people using it. Check scams are also far too common of an occurrence on Craigslist.
Your last and probably most inconvenient of all your options is the junkyard. A junkyard is basically a less flashy version of a dealership as their goal is similar- profit. Now, unlike a dealership, you can sell a non-operable car to a junkyard but at your expense. You will have to pay to have your vehicle towed to the junkyard. When offered too low of a price are you really going to bleed out more money for the tow back home? Again, they know that this tactic will work and you will not receive top dollar for your car.
With these options laid out, you need to consider what your time is worth. Time is a valuable thing and in some cases more valuable than actual cash. We deal with time-sucking events daily, why add selling your car to your laundry list of headache-inducing stresses in your life? There has to be an easier way to do this, right?
Stop Wondering How Much It Costs To Replace Your Starter. Sell Your Car to Us Instead.
If you are trying to avoid the expensive repair costs associated with a starter replacement and don’t want to deal with the troubles of selling your car, truck or SUV through Craigslist, a junkyard or dealership Cash Cars Buyer can help. Your time is valuable and we know that.
Given our knowledge and expertise, we know how to sell refurbished cars and how to sell parts. This is our business and because of that, we can then pass those profits onto you. You get a better deal on your car, even if the starter has failed. It’s a win-win.
The process is simple, all you have to do is request a quote for your vehicle in ‘as is’ condition and depending on your vehicle's condition and other information, we will offer you a fair price. Once you accept the offer, we will schedule a time convenient for you, it will be picked up and towed away for free and we will pay you in cash. It is literally that simple. There are no hidden charges and no surprises to use this service.
Instead of laying in bed at night wondering how you will be able to afford to replace your starter or dealing with the massive headache of selling your vehicle, make your life easy and let someone else do the work.