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Diagnosing a Bad Starter

If you suspect your starter needs some repair, you may be able to check it out yourself. Keep in mind, however, that if the car wouldn’t start after a drop in outside temperatures, it may actually be something with your ignition or fuel system.

If the car won’t start, you also don’t want to go straight to jumping it. If the engine is tight or seized, or if the crankcase oil is too thick, jump starting it with external energy can damage the starter. If you are sure it is the battery, read the owner’s manual to follow specific instructions before attempting a jump start.

To diagnose a starter system failure, there are a few tests you can run yourself. Try cranking it up with the headlights on. If the lights go out, it could be a bad battery connection.

Examine battery posts and cables for corrosion. Even a very thin layer of oxidization between the terminal and cable clamp can prevent starting. Clean off the posts and terminals just to be sure.
Now you can check the starter connections for tightness. Then, follow up by looking at cables from the engine to the chassis as well as connections to the solenoid.

If the headlights did not go off or dim, you probably aren’t getting electricity to the starter. This could be a problem with the ignition circuit switch or the park/neutral switch. If, however, the lights dim and the cranking is slow, it may be the battery.

There are more sophisticated tests to determine if it is the starter or something else. But, if you do not have the expertise and equipment, you may want to consider contacting a Utah auto repair shop to help you diagnose your starting problem.

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10 Jun, 2011

Automotive Info

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