Putting key in ignition to start car.

Signs that your starter is going bad

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Click. Click. Click.

It’s a dreaded sound for many drivers, especially when they are trying — unsuccessfully — to start their car. This is also a telltale sign that a vehicle’s starter is going bad.

A bad starter is one reason why a car won’t start. Having a dead battery or the alternator going bad are other possibilities.

What are the symptoms of a bad starter?

Aside from a clicking noise, drivers may notice some other indicators when the starter needs to be replaced.

You may also hear a slight grinding noise. When you turn your key in the ignition, the bendex shoots out and spins at a high rate, starting the flywheel. This is what starts your car. A grinding sound could mean the bendex is wearing down. 

Another giveaway is if your vehicle won’t start, even when a jumper box or a jumper cable are attached to it. If this is the case, try to jump start your car and turn it over a few times to see if you can hit it just right.

Once you get it started, drive the vehicle directly to a mechanic or auto repair shop, and don’t turn it off until you arrive. If you do, you will have to redo the process of starting your car (and this time, you may need to have it towed).

Keep in mind that sometimes a starter doesn’t show any signs of going bad. It just stops working.

What can cause it to go bad?

There are three culprits behind a starter going bad: corrosion, time and overuse.

Corrosion can build up wherever there is copper. For example, there are copper bindings in this component.

Time is your biggest factor. It’s hard to say how long a starter will last. The lifespan varies, but you can usually make it around 100,000 to 150,000 miles before needing a new one. However, we’ve seen some cars reach 300,000 miles with the original starter.

The longevity is impacted by how often you turn a vehicle on. Do you start it twice a day because you are commuting, or is it more like 6, 7, or 8 times?

Starter replacement cost

Starter replacement cost isn’t set in stone. There are quite a few variables that affect the price tag. Starters themselves can range from $200 to $1,400.

It depends, in part, on where you buy it and the type of vehicle. You will be spending a little more money on a starter for a European car or a vehicle equipped with auto start, which has more features and is a bit heavier duty.

Whether the part is new, used or remanufactured also plays a role in the cost. Remanufactured starters are typically cheaper, and sometimes that’s all you can get for some of these older vehicles.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.