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How to Fix a Car Starter

Before you look under the hood, check out these tips for fixing a faulty car starter.

Instructions

  • : Working with jacks and electrical motors can be dangerous. To avoid injury, use caution and make sure the vehicle is stable before you work on it.
  • Step 1: Rule out other causes Rule out other possible causes of the problem first, such as a faulty battery, gears, or the key connection.
  • TIP: If you hear the starter motor working well when you turn the key, the problem probably lies elsewhere. But a click, grind, silence, or weak sound may indicate a faulty starter.
  • Step 2: Get to the starter Locate the starter either under the hood or from underneath. If you need to jack up the car to get to it, secure the car high up enough to slide under it and work.
  • Step 3: Tap it Gently tap the starter cylinder with a wrench and test the ignition system to see if that solves the problem.
  • Step 4: Label wires Label both sides of the wires connecting to the starter with masking tape, so you can put it back together properly later.
  • TIP: Consult the detailed repair manual for your car for tips on getting to and removing the starter.
  • Step 5: Remove starter Remove the starter motor by unhooking the cables that connect to the battery and removing the bolts from the top and bottom with a ratchet and wrench set.
  • TIP: Most auto parts stores can test the starter at little or no cost to confirm your diagnosis.
  • Step 6: Inspect the starter Inspect the starter for obvious damage to help determine whether the problem is in the motor or with the piece that is supposed to engage the flywheel.
  • Step 7: Clean and reattach Fix any apparent problems, such as a jam or loose cable; then reattach the starter. If it still does not work, you probably need to buy a new one to replace it with. Either way, your vehicle will thank you.
  • FACT: The first electrical starter system for cars was invented in 1911 by Charles Kettering.

You Will Need

  • Jack
  • Masking tape
  • Ratchet and wrench set
  • Car repair manual (optional)
  • Auto parts store (optional)

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