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Starter Motors - Faults

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This is not a definitive list of faults, or symptoms, but it should help you to narrow down the problem. Remember that an alternator, battery, or wiring problem can give similar symptoms to a starter problem. 

FAULT

CAUSE

REMEDY

Clicks but does not turn.

Solenoid fault - normally burnt contacts.

Replace solenoid or contacts.

No life at all.

No circuit through armature.

Check link from solenoid brushes, or armature. Replace as required.

Smokes/becomes hot.

Burn out or short circuit.

Investigate or replace as required.

Appears to engage but ‘throws out’ before engaging.

Slipping drive or gear fault.

Replace drive or gear.

 

Other possible faults

The faults listed in the table are the most common ones and are frequently caused by wear and tear, however some faults occur because of other factors. 

The most common of these is ingress of oil, water or fuel, etc.

Incorrect fitting or over-cranking can cause premature failure. A starter motor should only run for a few seconds before being left for at least a minute - to allow it to cool down and the battery to recover. 

We have all heard an engine being cranked into submission. (My mum always told me that her cars wouldn’t start because they had a flat battery. I can guarantee whenever I then went to look at them the battery was indeed always flat. However in almost every case that wasn’t the problem, but she always assured me that she hadn’t tried to start for too long before contacting me. I am not that silly, mum!)

Remember that these checks will not be relevant for the very latest generation of vehicles that use a "smart starting" system.

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