Starter Motor Symptoms and Replacement

 Diagnosis :- These are the symptoms to look for, for a problem with the Starter Motor On turning the key in the ignition :

     1.) there is a light click sound from the Relay.

     2.) there is a light click sound from the Starter Motor itself

     3.) starter motor cranks  and slows down as if it is weakening out

Symptom 1 is an Electrical issue with the RELAY and symptom 3 is of battery going end of life,where by you need a new battery In that scenario , best is to try to Jump Start the car, after which take it to an auto store and have them test the battery for you for FREE. Most stores usually test the battery for FREE. See the section on Battery Replacement.

 Symptom 2 , when a click-click sound comes from the starter motor , it means that , the motor is going bad. Inside the motor there are carbon brushes that supply current to the rotor. These brushes may wear out. There is a also a mechanism called the solenoid that pushes the starter gear to the crank gear to spin it around. It is supplied current by copper points that can wear out. I have seen starter motors go out at 90K and some even last till 150K and more. Instead of repairing a starter , it is easier to buy a re-built one from the store. You take your old starter to the store and they will give you a rebuilt one with warranty.  See below for what a starter looks like :

The famous TAP Method :- You can try the famous tapping method if the click seems to come from the motor. For this you should have access to the starter motor body either from over or under the hood. With a solid object (small hammer, wrench, wooden log etc) give  few light taps to the body of the starter. You can even use your cars wheel spanner wrench.  So give 3-4 nice but firm taps on the body of the starter and get back inside and start the car. If the starter cranks , it will confirm a worn out starter in need of a replacement. See example of where to tap the starter motor.

Starter Motor Replacement :  Starter is mounted to the engine usually by 2 bolts. Disconnect the battery first. Then you disconnect the wires going to the starter and remove the bolts , the starter should just wiggle out. The trouble is accessing the area can be hard . Some times you will have to remove parts around the motor , or  you may have to reach it from the bottom of the car. Instructions are different for each cars and will usually take 2-3 hours on the average, and makes a great DIY if you are up for it.

Now that I have described what a starter motor replacement involves , you can get an idea how much a repair shop should charge you :-   Cost of starter + Labor.  If they are asking more , they are probably ripping you.