Bad Starter Solenoid Symptoms | The Definitive Guide

This article will explore in detail all the bad starter solenoid symptoms that you should keep an eye out for. We will cover all the bases, starting from its definitions, uses, location, mechanism, etc.

Before any further ado, let us get into all the symptoms of a bad starter solenoid!

Bad Starter Solenoid Symptoms

Inside your car’s hood can seem scary, confusing, and impossible to understand. But it does not need to be that way. You can easily tackle your engine using one component at a time. We are here to help you!

This article will take a principal part of your car’s engine and explore it in depth. The starter solenoid is highly crucial for the car to not only run smoothly but even start in the first place.

This is why one should always watch for starter solenoid bad symptoms. 

So, what are these bad solenoid starter symptoms? Let us find out!

Bad Starter Solenoid Symptoms: Definition

Before objectively discussing the symptoms of a bad starter solenoid, we should first talk about the starter solenoid itself! What exactly is this starter solenoid?

A starter solenoid can be defined as an electrically operated switch in control of an engine’s starter motor. It is responsible for closing the starter circuit every time the ignition key is turned to start and opens it when it is further turned to the run position.

To understand bad solenoid starter symptoms well, let us discuss them further in detail. 

This little wonder uses electromagnetic principles to transfer your battery’s current to the starter motor. But why is it so important to keep an eye out for signs of a bad solenoid? Well, let’s take a closer look at its three vital functions.

First off, it connects your battery to the starter motor based on the position of your ignition key.

Next, it helps drive the pinion – a critical component that meshes with the flywheel to get your engine purring. And let’s not forget, the solenoid acts as a switch, bridging the gap between your starter motor and battery when your key hits that sweet spot.

So if you want to keep your engine revving like a champ, give your starter solenoid the TLC it deserves!

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Bad Starter Solenoid Symptoms: Location

Before getting to the symptoms of a bad starter solenoid, let us talk about the location of this component.

The location of your starter solenoid can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Generally, it can be found close to or even on top of the starter motor, as it is responsible for sending power to it.

Sometimes, the starter solenoid may be mounted on the firewall or fender well. Locating this component is easier in older vehicles, but newer engines may have it tucked away in the confusing engine bay.

If you’re trying to identify potential issues with your starter solenoid, keeping its physical appearance in mind is essential.

Typically, it’s a cylindrical device that comes in black or silver. Look for the wires connected to the solenoid – a large wire will run from it to the battery’s positive terminal, while a separate large wire will connect it to the starter motor.

Keep your eyes peeled for this little device, and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your engine running like a dream!

Bad Starter Solenoid Symptoms

Let us finally talk about the symptoms of a bad starter solenoid. When you turn on your key, look out for the following starter solenoid bad symptoms:

  1. Is your car giving you the silent treatment when you turn the ignition key? If so, your starter solenoid might be the culprit – though there are other possible causes.
  2. To diagnose the issue, listen carefully for a single click from under the hood or beneath your car. But what does that click mean?

Like many defective starter solenoid symptoms, the starter solenoid is trying to engage and perform its function. Still, the internal components are stuck or damaged, and it cannot work well.

  1. Don’t let a dead battery leave you stranded – or worse! If you’re experiencing issues with your starter solenoid, it’s essential to recognize the various warning signs. For example, if your battery is dead, you may hear rapid clicks when you start your car.
  2. Alternatively, a faulty starter solenoid may allow your engine to start even when the key is not in the ignition – a serious safety hazard! And if your starter motor appears to be functioning correctly, but the engine won’t engage, you may have intermittent operation issues.
  3. Don’t wait until you’re stuck on the side of the road – pay attention to these symptoms and get your starter solenoid checked out ASAP.

Other Commons Symptoms

Now that we have listed bad solenoid starter symptoms let us talk about other problems that show similar warning signs.

  1. First up: a blown fuse. It may seem simple, but this tiny component can significantly impact whether or not your car starts.
  2. Another issue to watch out for is worn or broken wiring.
  3. If the power supply to your starter engine is insufficient, you may have loose connections to blame. And speaking of power, don’t forget about the alternator. This crucial component keeps all your car’s electrical systems up and running, including the starter solenoid.
  4. Now, if you suspect a bad starter solenoid, be aware that it may be tricky to locate. Depending on your car’s make and model, it could be mounted on the starter motor or hidden inside the starter housing. And if it does turn out to be the solenoid causing the problem, you’re in for a complete starter replacement. But don’t worry, you’ve got this!

It is important to note that various bad solenoid starter symptoms are due to problems with the starter itself.

If you face any of these discussed symptoms, immediately get your car to a trusted mechanic. 

It is advised not to ignore this starter solenoid bad symptoms or think of them as not-important or ordinary, as they can give rise to more significant problems with the engine. They can also lead to fatal accidents!

What Should You Do If You Notice Your Car Exhibiting These Symptoms?

Following is a complete step by step instruction guide to tackling bad starter solenoid symptoms for your convenience:

  1. Your first thought should be to check the battery. It is effortless to check. You can use your car’s manual or videos online to do so. It is advised to use a multimeter to do the same.
  2. If it’s not the battery causing the problem, let us move on to its connection to our starter solenoid. Your next step is to ensure that the required power reaches the solenoid. Ensure the wires are in good condition and all the connections are tight.
  3. Test the starter solenoid itself next. It is likely to be causing the bad starter solenoid symptoms. This step is relatively complex, so getting a mechanic involved is advised if you aren’t handy with your engine.

If you are, follow our guide to perform a test to ensure your starter solenoid works fine. You will need a digital multimeter or DMM to perform this test:

  1. Ensure you have your safety gear, i.e., glasses and gloves, on before touching your engine.
  2. Make sure that the car’s ignition switch is off.
  3. Take your DMM or digital multimeter and set it to its ohms setting.
  4. Locate your starter solenoid.
  5. Proceed to carefully disconnect the starter cable from your solenoid’s ‘M’ terminal. This is the one attached to the cable connecting to the starter motor.
  6. Connect a meter lead to the S terminal, i.e., the one that receives power from your ignition switch.
  7. The next step is to connect the other meter lead to the M terminal of the solenoid.
  8. Check your meter; if it reads out of limits, it means something is
  9. wrong with your starter solenoid, and your car needs replacement.
  10. Connected one meter lead to the S terminal of the solenoid.
  11. Carefully connect the second meter lead to the starter motor case’s ground.
  12. Recheck the reading; if your meter is out of limits, it clearly indicates something is wrong with your solenoid.

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Bad Starter Solenoid Symptoms: Causes

If you are noticing trouble with your starter solenoid, here are certain factors that are responsible for causing issues with your starter solenoid:

  • If your car is old, the plunger in your solenoid can be worn out, leading to the symptoms of a bad starter solenoid we have discussed above.
  • As discussed above, another common reason for faulty starter solenoid symptoms is the poor connection of wires or worn out the wiring.
  • Another thing which is common cause of bad solenoid starter symptoms is moisture. If your starter solenoid gets wet, it can lead to severe problems. It can cause corrosion within the cylinder and prevent it from making proper connections. It facilitates rusting and prevents smooth movement of the parts of the solenoid.
  • Even excessive heat can cause issues with the starter solenoid. Extreme heat in the engine can cause the insulation of the wires to melt, which can further cause an electrical short circuit. Heat is also responsible for the expansion and contraction of various parts inside the starter solenoid, which will prevent proper connections to the battery and the starter motor, leading to symptoms of a bad starter solenoid.
  • We have discussed the need to have proper wires connections to ensure the starter solenoid’s proper functioning. The wires should be connected tight to ensure adequate power transfer through the engine. It is crucial to note that this does not mean over-tightening the bolts. That is harmful to your engine as it can distort the housing.

Some of these factors are things you can take care of, while others are natural. They damage your starter solenoid, which further leads to bad solenoid starter symptoms that we have discussed. 

If you notice the starter solenoid bad symptoms in your car, get it checked immediately. Do not procrastinate, as it can lead to bigger problems with your vehicle and even accidents if it fails while driving.


Below are the frequently asked questions for bad solenoid symptoms. Lets dig deep to know more.

How do you start a car with a bad starter solenoid?

To start the car without a starter solenoid, use a 12V wire to directly transmit current from the car’s battery to the point where the starter and solenoid are connected. Once the connection has been made, you will hear a click sound. Now turn on your indication system. Once the engine starts, immediately take to remove the 12V wire.

Will the starter spin if the solenoid is bad?

Yes, the starter usually spins when the solenoid goes bad, but interestingly, it won’t engage. The solenoid’s main purpose is the generate enough magnetic energy to connect the starter Bendix and the flywheel.

What does a bad starter solenoid sound like?

A faulty starter solenoid will sound like loud-clicking. It can either have a fast tempo or a slower click click click click. This sound is unique; no other parts will make that noise when they go bad. Thus, you need a new starter if you hear that loud clicking sound.

How do you tell if it’s your starter or ignition switch that has gone bad?

First of all, check the starter by turning the key to the ignition and get your hands on a circuit tester or voltmeter to see if there is power to the wires transmitting to the starter. If there is power, your starter has gone bad.

Wrapping Up

If you notice any symptoms of a bad starter solenoid, do not take it lightly and get it checked immediately. If your car shows any signs of distress, it is a cry for help and should not be ignored.

You put your life in the hands of your engine every time you get into a car which is reason enough for us to try to understand how it works. 

The starter solenoid is an essential part of your engine and is essential for the car to even start in the first place. As discussed above, it can get damaged for various reasons, which will further cause bad solenoid starter symptoms. 

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