Has your starter motor gone bad? There are signs you can look for, but you cannot get a definitive answer until you give it a test. Bench testing the starter is the easiest and more reliable way to determine if the starter motor has seen better days.
Bench-testing is a procedure that any mechanic can perform for you, as well as the staff at automotive stores. However, this is a test you can quickly run at home, saving you money on at least one diagnostic test.
Signs that You Have a Bad Starter
Before you begin your test, you want to make sure that the signs you are observing do, in fact, point to a bad starter as the culprit. The last thing you want to do is go through the steps of the test only to find out that the signs you observed never indicated the starter was an issue in the first place. The best indicators that your starter is the issue are:
- When you turn the key, the engine does not crank
- When you turn the key, there is a loud click, but nothing happens
- You have checked the battery, and the connections are good
- You have tried jump starting the battery, and it did not help the issue
If this accurately describes the state of your vehicle, it is more likely than not that the starter is the problem.
Begin by Removing the Starter Motor
This test is what is called an OFF Car test, which means that the part you will be testing cannot be inside the vehicle while testing. So step number one is taking out the starter motor.
Chances are you will find this to be the most challenging part of the entire test. The beginning of this guide will explain how:
Assemble the Tools You Require
To perform this test, you need a few simple tools. They are as follows:
- A set of battery jumper cables
- A jumper wire
- A working battery removed from a vehicle; this cannot be a new battery, and you cannot use a jump box instead
- A vise or helper to hold the battery in place throughout the test
Feed Power and Ground to the Starter Motor
Attach one of the jumper cables to the negative terminal on the battery. Next, take the opposite end of the cable and attach it to the starter motor case. Now, do the same with the other cable, this time connecting it between the battery’s positive terminal and the stud on the starter motor solenoid.
Apply 12 Volts to the S Terminal
Now get your jumper wire. Attach one end to the jumper cable that is attached to the starter solenoid. If you have not already, place the starter motor in the vise or have someone hold it. Be careful not to catch their fingers in the gear. Then, you can use the other end of the jumper wire, touching it to the starter solenoid terminal where the crank wire is attached.
Understanding the Results of the Test
There are three possible results from running this test.
- The starter motor pinion gear comes out, spinning fast and freely
- The starter motor pinion gear comes out but rotates slowly
- The starter motor makes a loud click, but nothing happens
If you get the first result, all is well with the starter motor, and you need to look elsewhere for the source of your problem. If you get either the second or third result, the starter motor is bad and must be replaced.
If your starter motor is not functioning, you can always turn to Inland Alternator for the assistance you require. Call in advance or just stop by. We are happy to help you!