What’s more frustrating than an old, worn out starter that just won’t turn over? How about a brand new starter that won’t crank over…or engage properly…or fit correctly?
We don’t wish that on anyone, especially after you’ve spent part of your weekend installing the new starter. That’s why we’ve worked with the tech advisors at Summit Racing to put together this quick guide to troubleshooting starters. You’ll find that you can diagnose and fix many new starter-related issues right in your home garage. Start with these common problems:
Problem: Starter does not turn or turns over slowly when key is turned.
Solution #1: Check the rest of the electrical system for the correct voltage, grounds, and wiring. Often, the starter is misdiagnosed as the culprit for electrical system problems when the problem really lies in some other area of the system.
Solution #2: Check your battery voltage and make sure it is sufficient to turn your new starter. Most starters require at least 9.6 volts to turn over correctly.
Solution #3: Check your battery cables and make sure they are in good shape. Bad cables will not deliver the full current flow needed operate the starter.
Solution #4: Clean the starter mounting surface. Most starters are grounded through the mounting block, and if there is excessive oil or paint on the block, the starter will have a faulty ground.
Solution #5: If your vehicle has a neutral safety switch, make sure it is operational. If this switch is bad or not properly wired, the starter will not operate correctly. You can check by attaching a jumper wire between the safety switch terminal and the main terminal on the starter. If it turns over with the key, the switch is either bad or wired incorrectly.
Solution #6: Confirm that you purchased a starter designed to work with your engine’s compression ratio. Engines with 11:1 or higher compression generally require a high-torque, gear-reduction starter. Otherwise, the engine will turn over slowly.
Problem: Starter does not engage or disengage properly.
Solution #1: Due to variances in design between manufacturers, you may need to install or remove starter shims between the starter mounting block and engine. If the starter is engaging too hard, install shims at the mounting point. If there’s not enough engagement, the starter is not catching enough teeth on the flexplate, and you’ll need to remove the shims.
Solution #2 (Ford only): Confirm that your starter was designed to work with your transmission. Ford uses two different offset starters, depending on the transmission being used.
Solution #3 (Chevy only): Confirm that your starter was made for your flexplate or flywheel. Chevy engines uses two different tooth count flexplate/flywheels—the 153-tooth and the 168-tooth.
Monday Mailbag: Tracking Down Causes of Starter Failure
Video: How to Troubleshoot Starter Problems
Problem: Starter failed shortly after installation.
Solution #1: Confirm that you purchased a starter designed to work with your engine’s compression ratio. Engines with 11:1 or higher compression generally require a high-torque, gear-reduction starter. Otherwise, the engine will turn over slowly.
Solution #2: Check the position of your starter in relation to your headers. If your starter is continuously heat soaked from exhaust heat, chances are it will fail early. You’ll either need a different starter design, or you’ll have to install a starter heat shield with your next starter.
Solution #3: Clean the starter mounting surface. Most starters are grounded through the mounting block, and if there is excessive oil or paint on the block, the starter will have a faulty ground. This will cause the starter to pull excessive amps, making it overheat and wear out.
Problem: Starter does not bolt up correctly.
Solution: General Motors used two different mounting patterns on Chevy blocks: inline and staggered. If you have a Chevy engine block, make sure your starter has the correct bolt pattern for your engine.
Problem: Starter does not fit with my headers.
Solution #1: For starters with “clockable” mounting blocks, you’ll need to experiment with the different mounting positions. If this doesn’t work, you may need to swap your starter for an adjustable mounting block starter.
Solution #2 (Chevy applications): Confirm the mounting block of the starter is attached to the engine correctly. Often, these blocks are installed upside down, making it impossible to achieve the correct starter position.
I have a 96 ford truck with a three hundred six cylender it keeps teiring the beerings out of the nose of the starter causing it to kick over to the side and not ingage properly and causes it to eat the teath off of it I went threw eight starters and can’t figuree it out even put a new flywheel on it would u have any ideal what it could be
Alison, thanks for reading! It sounds like your starter may be turning a bit slow, and there can be a few possible causes for this: The reserve capacity of your battery may be insufficient, so make sure it is sized correctly to the needs of your vehicle or at least sized to industry recommendation. There could also be high resistance in your starting system, causing your starter to turn a bit slow. Resistance is often caused by old battery cables or poor connections at the battery, starter, or engine block (grounds). Bottom line is if the starter motor can’t turn the engine fast enough, it has to endure the loading and unloading of each compression stroke.
I have a 89 ford f- 250 with a 5.8 LTR V-8 with a automatic trans. problem is when I start it and release the key the starter will not disengage. So I have to restart it and wiggle the wires on relay for it to stop running. How do I fix this problem?
I have a 1969 camaro ss with 5 he stock engine with headers, my starter seems to work good when starting a cold engin3, but after it hearts up and I turn off the car, the starter seems to turn very slow,any ideas
Tony, this appears to be the typical heat soak of the stock starter due to the headers. You could try wrapping a starter blanket around the starter to reduce heat soak or go with a gear reduction starter. They do not seem to suffer the heat soak issues the factory starters do!
I have the same problem with a ’76 Ford F250 with a 460 big block. I removed the headers and put stock manifolds back on thinking it was heat soak. The problem persists. The engine starts perfectly when cold, starter turns over really hard mimicking a dead battery after running just a few minutes.
I had the same problem on a grandmarquis and I finally figured it out after a lot of frustration. I found that when it was hot, the starter was drawing over 600 amps while cranking. This was because the ignition timing was too advanced. I turned it back to 10° BTC and FIXED! It now only drew just over 100 Amps and worked perfectly even when hot. If the timing is too advanced then it ignites too soon and tries pushing the piston down before it gets to the top of the stroke. The best part is that it is free to fix if you have your own timing gun.
Just replaced the starter in my 2000 GMC Jimmy, it had intermittent problems where it wouldnt catch, would grind, shifting to neutral and rocking the car, then starting would often get it going again. New starter works great, old starter had the half of each tooth on the gear worn off, and the gear was loose, could slide back and forth freely on the pin. (what on earth would have caused this, and why would the old one have worked for so long?) Glad I replaced it, just wish I knew what caused it, and why it even worked the way it was.
I have a 1985 Ford ranger with a 2.8l v6 . When I try to start my truck all I hear is the starter make a whizzing sound . Any advice ?
Thanks for reading, Geoffrey. There are a lists of tests you can do, but it is too lengthy to share here. Call the Summit tech line at 330-630-0240 as we have shared you issue with them.
So if the starter isn’t touching the block that means its not grounded and that will keep it from turning over right? I installed a brand new high torque starter on my sbc and after I tried to start it with no luck, I notices it still had space in between the starter and the black and that I need to install some shims…
My starter will not disengage without disconnect of battery. How do I fix a grounded out starter. Or do I need to replace it?
Thats a stuck solenoid
So I have a 94 Chevy 1/2 ton pickup and I recently replaced the starter but when I start it up it sounds like the engine is running way too hard to just be idling any ideas?
Jake, you’ll need to provide a few more specifics. We’d suggest you call our partners at Summit on the tech line: 330-630-0240. They can get your questions answered quickly and help you narrow down your focus.
I have a 92 Chevy 1500 stepside I tried 3 starters still getting same issue when you go to start it don’t makes like a clank noise like it wants to but don’t like on the 3 or 4 th turn then it will start not sure if I’m getting right starter for that vech some one said there’s a small open end and large open end on starters can’t find help fig witch one goes on my veh
Have a 89 camaro 350 motor sound like my starter is just turning want turn motor over need help bad been having problem for to long
Derrick, we recommend a call to the Summit tech line at 330-630-0240. They’ll have more specific questions about the starter and how it’s behaving.
[…] Read More […]
I have a 1999 chevy suburban and my was making a clicking sound when i turn the key. Went got a starter and its still doing the same thing could it be the starter is bad?
that doesn’t sound like a starter at all.. that sounds like a dying battery
My cuz has a Chevy blazer and it will only stay running for bout 5 to 10 seconds and when she put her blazer in park to restart it the blazer made a high pitch grinding whining sound and it was very load and it did this while trying to start it for bout 5 to 7 seconds i had thought she had it in drive still while trying to restart it and told her to put it in park or neutral when trying to start her blazer but she said it was in park and it kept dying every 5 seconds going down the road so what could be the problem?
I replaced starter twice in 2005 expedition when I finished it started just fine but after running a little I shut it of went back to start it and the starter spins but doesn’t engage not pushing the gear out just spinning. why?
I was testing my starter for BMW 1 series. It does turn and kick out. But when you test Solenoid alone the starter does not only kick out but also turn. What could be the problem
I have a 78 Chevy 350 this starter will not engage when it’s cold once I get it to engage and it warms up it works every time
do the teeth from starter have to fully engage teeth from flywheel.
its grinding but i noticed the teeth not engageing totally do i add another shim
I have a 73 z28, not sure about year model of motor, its a 400 smallblock fours speed car, 400 flywheel 168 tooth, I would like to get a mini starter because of headers, not sure what to get 10 to one compression.
I have a 1990 Honda CRX 1.6 liter VTech engine with a turbo installed. I pulled the starter out and noticed that the bottom bolt (longer one) was missing/not intalled. I took the starter to advance Auto and they conducted a bench tesrand it worked. Got some boots and went back and installed the starter bolted the. Bolts andddddddddd nothing. Can anyone help please
Did the starter work before you removed it to discover the missing bolt? If it tested OK at the shop and worked before, then double-check your electrical connection lugs. Can you hear the solenoid click? A couple of gentle whacks with a rubber mallet may help it if the solenoid is stuck.
I have a 95 chevy 350 and the starter motor wont turn, i put new solenoid and it works fine bench testing but starter wont turn,i check for voltage on starter side of solenoud and get no voltage coming out of new solenoid so thought new solenoid was bad? Put another new one and get same thing? If i put 12 v directly to the starter motor post on solenoid sarter turns fine? It just wont when i put 12 volts on solenoid and jump to s terminal? Solenoid kicks bendix out but never sends voltage to starter motor? Help! Please
So you’re saying if you bypass the starter solenoid and run your battery lead right to the starter motor, it works fine–the engine is able to crank and presumably start–but when you install the solenoid back in, it doesn’t appear to have enough energy to engage the starter motor? Have you checked the health of your battery? Have you check the main battery ground strap? Have you cleaned the terminals in and out of the solenoid? Is there any damage to the wiring harness? Check those first and you might want to try jump stating your engine from another vehicle to ensure it’s not a dying battery.
2004 Nissan Xterra. Starter usually works fine, but at times does nothing. I pushed the car a little bit and tried is again and it started fine. This has happened twice.
Hey Ben, it could be a myriad of issues, but there a few that you should investigate initially.
First things first, check and clean each terminal connection, including at the battery and at the grounds. Second, make sure your battery is healthy.
You say that the starter “does nothing,” so we’ll assume you don’t hear a solenoid click/engage. That could be an ignition (or neutral) switch issue, or a bad solenoid. If the switch is easily accessible you can check continuity via the switch with a circuit tester/multi-meter.
As for the solenoid, we checked–it looks like most (all?) 2004 Xterra starters are sold with the solenoid as a single unit and may not be individually serviceable–but it’s worth a look to see if there’s any corrosion or gunk preventing the solenoid to properly engage.
It could also be a “bad spot” on the starter, which is a colloquial term for worn brushes on the starter commutator.
Again, there could be several other issues at play here, but this should hopefully give you some initial troubleshooting direction.
I have a 1977 Corvette and I replaced my starter with a Mini Starter for my 502 engine. I only disconnected and dismounted the old starter and replaced it with the new one and put all wires back as they came off. I’m having an issue with it going to ground and smoking at the battery terminals as I’m trying to put them back on. I’ve retraced the wiring and there is no wires touching thy could make it ground out. What else could be causing this problem?
So you’re saying the terminals are shorting before you even attempt to start the Vette? Did you try to re-install the original starter to see if the problem is directly related to the new starter? That would eliminate the question of bad wiring upstream of the starter.
there may be a wire pinched between the starter and the block..?
I have a 1980 c20 350 5.7l that will not start. When the key is turned to “run” it’s like the switch is reading off. You can hear the fan shut off when you turn the key to run. It’s a new ignition switch, new neutral safety switch and even a new ignition tumbler and key. Both switches have been replaced 3x and I even attempted to bypass the neutral safety switch with the same issue. I tried to install a push button starter with the same issue. I even ran a wire directly from the hot side of the battery to the push button and still nothing. I’ve replaced everything at this point but the entire harness. I’m tired of fighting this ghost in my system.
We just replaced the starter and Simon in our 1993 ford explorer and for some reason it still won’t turn over. We’ve cleaned the fuses, checked the spark plugs and still nothing but a lot of loud clicking now what should we do?
I have a 1989 Chevy blazer.. was driving it down the road and all of a sudden the starter turned on and wouldn’t stop. Had to disconnect wire to stop. What would cause this and what can I do to fix it? Currently need one person to hold wire to starter and other to turn Key. Then other person lets go of wire..
Nick, you’ve got us stumped on that one. I’d suggest a quick call over to our partners at Summit Racing’s tech department: 330-630-0240.
Do you still have a help line?
Hey! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give
a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through
your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums
that cover the same subjects? Thanks!
I have a 82 chevy c10 pickup i took off one day and made it a block and she died and replaced starter now it wont crank over no power and i have tried diffrent starters and ended up buying this new one to have the same problems
I have a 1998 kia saphia recently I had to keep turning the key to get it to start eventually wouldn’t start it all so I replaced the starter it still won’t start I unbolted the starter and tried to crank it to see if the starter would crank or turn it all and it still doesn’t do anything but I can hear voltage going to the starter
I have a 1998 kia saphia recently I had to keep turning the key to get it to start eventually wouldn’t start at all so I replaced the starter it still won’t start I unbolted the starter and tried to crank it to see if the starter would crank or turn at all and it still doesn’t do anything but I can hear voltage going to the starter
77 Blazer, new starter, old one drug a lot. Installed in driveway, started it x 20 o make sure no shims needed. Started everytime perfectly. Drove to restarted twice and on third time nothing. After work crawled under, dropped starter 2inches , reset it and started just fine. Drive to destination, shut off x 5 Min, tried to restart, nothing, dad silence, battery good. Dropped startereinstalled nothing. Had starter checked and it was good. Reinstalled, nothing
I have a 1998 GMC Suburban. When I turn the it over the Starter continues to spin until I put it into any other gear than park. Any ideas of what the issue could be?
It was my ignition switch
I’ve replaced my starter 3 times already it’ll work for a week then it won’t engage with the flywheel anymore it’ll just keep rotating but not connecting. My starter won’t stop rotating unless I remove the negative cable
It’s all so a standard
I have a 2000 infinite i30 are you suppose to move the solenoid (the black cicrle) when you tightne the wires
I have a 2004 ford escape wouldnt turn on or jump bought new battery nothing got a new starter put it in it wont do anything unless i by pass the battery and even then it wont start the car it just tries to start have all lights and radio when turn the key over but nothing else so lost any ideas
I have a question, what could be the problem if I gotta turn my engine a little (manually) for my starter to catch sometimes.
Have a 95 Chevy 5.7 pick up an when I go to start the starter stays engaged until remove the wire an at one time it the starter itself seem hot any suggestions
I have a dodge Dakota I would pull up to get gas jump back in the truck go to start it and it would just click I hit the starter with a hammer and it would start right up I went through this about three times then it was finally done I purchased a new starter from oriely put it in and all I’m getting is a slight click sound do you have any suggestions
I set up my new hi torque starter to the specs and turned my 1976 C3 L48 Corvette. After a few turns it started to grind again. I noticed that even though the bolts were tight, it appeared to have moved out of alignment.
Also, it needed a little more than a few shims, about a 1/2″ of washers.
I also noticed that there was some slack between the bolts and the starter mount. Is it common for the starter to move like this?
I hope someone can give me advice to resolve this issue.
I have a high torque starter on my 1975 AUTO C3 stingray. The car starts first time every time BUT if I am in neutral and engage park there is a starter crash going through the reverse position to reach park .Do you have any ideas ?
i have a 1985 ford f250 with a 1975 460 bigblock and ive done put over 30 starters on it in the past year it keeps eating the teeth off the starter i put new fly wheel and ring gear on it two months ago with a new starter and now its done the same thing and ive noticed that when the engen gets hot the starter drags when i crank it any ideas would be very appreciated im at ends with this thing
I have a 64 ford f100 pickup with a 292 engine. Having problems with starter. Flywheel..flexwheel teeth are partly worn out and bendix on starter as well. 2nd time in 10 months. Is bendix not engaging correctly?
I have a 502 in my 73 Corvette and the aftermarket starter just failed after 10 years of use. It was just going “wizz” and not engaging so I took it off and had it rebuilt. I put it back on and it started right up and then I drove it to the gas station and when I went to start it again it did the “wizz” again. I was told by the shop that rebuilt it that this is very uncommon and could be a timing issue causing the starter to strip. Thoughts???
My silverado 1500 2014 runs good and start when it was cold,but after run a while(30 Min) if you tried to start it again it won’t start. it will start again after cool it down.please tell me what happen with this.
My 1988 Chev. Cheyane truck runs good, after it
runs about 30 min. it won’t start until it sits
for a while then it will start.I Have installed a
rebuilt Alternator and battery. it charges @ 14 volts. what could be the problem?
My 2007 Denali I replace the starter and now it’s blowing white smoke out the exhaust and just not having enough power what could be the problem
HAVE A 1954 cHEVY CORVETTE WHICH HAS THE ORIGINAL INLINE 6 ENGINE. SUPPOSEDLY THE STRATER WAS REBUILT. hOWEER WHEN THE ENGINE IS HOT THE STARTER WILL DRAG AND SOMETINE WILL ACTUALLY TURN THE ENGINE FAST ENOUGH TO START. WHAT OPTIONS ARE THERE TO CORRECT THIS
Hi Dave, I have a 1998 GMC 3500 pickup. My started is locked up. I replaced the flexplate a year ago and put on a new Delco starter. This worked for awhile. It jumps, grinds and sounded bad to start it. I tried shimming the starters and after 5 starters and a week of evenings replacing the flexplate I’m spent! I don’t know where to go now? It cranked plenty fast and the faceplate I put in had correct amount of teeth. Any help would be very appreciated.Thanks
When I stop the car and attempt to put it in park the starter sounds like it’s engaging so I have to turn the car off and then put the car in park. And this doesn’t happen always I’ve had the car for two years and has never done it until recently.
Starter doesn’t engage and it’s new not rebuild, mini chrome starter for 88 Ford Mustang gt- 302 motor 5 speed , would like help before I send it back thank you.
I have a 400 small block in a 55 chevy truck and for some reason I can not get the starter to work properly. There is a 168 tooth flywheel and a 3510 starter on it. And it’s just continue to grind the flywheel everytime you try and crank the motor and the starter is brand new. Any suggestions to this problem?
I have a 03 Acura TL type S that turns over but won’t start. I replace the starter and it still does the same thin. Any suggestions?
I have a 99 Ford ranger 3.0 v6 automatic tried 4 different starters and they are all staying engaged but will turn off with the key
I changed the starter on my 99 dodge ram 1500. It’s still not turning over just keeps making a clicking noise. My old starter started doing the same thing and I had it tested and nothing was wrong with it but I got a new one anyway. Any idea of what it could be.
I have a 1976 350 Chevy engine out of a K20 4×4 installed in a 1966 Chevy K20 4×4, had the starter bolted to the block, took it off because I was having problems installing the motor ( Only 2nd motor swap) starter will not fit in Bell housing, any ideas? Thank you for your time. Tony
Hello! I have a 2017 Chevy Impala. When I turn off the ignition I will sometimes here a buzzing sound coming from the front end. Also, When I try to turn the car back on and then off to see if I can get the buzzing noise to stop it will then sometimes turn over once I’ve turned the key in the off position???
Hello, I have a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle and I tried to start my custom built 2140cc EMPI 44 dual carb, with EFI, and 12 volt conversion. I got a brand new starter that everyone says works completely fine, but after trying to turn on the motor the starter was smoking. Could it be that it couldn’t handle the engine? We tried to start the engine stand-alone correctly on the restored frame, the engine wanted to go but the starter was slower than the engine itself, it overheated hotter than the exhaust.
Are you running a 12V starter that’s compatible? IE, you’re not using an OE-style 6V starter?
Have you bench tested it to ensure the pinion retracts and doesn’t stay engaged with the flywheel?
It could be a few things. But that’s where I’d check first.
I have changed the starter on my 1988 Chevy 3500 5.7 350 is there anyone who can help me? I’m up to my neck with this.
I changed my starter seven times
You forgot to mention about solenoid coppers making poor/uneven contact internally. I’ve filed them flat, replaced the plunger with a solenoid kit and still have issues. Crank wire is a #10 wire also.
94,CHEVY NEW STARTER , STARTS FINE UNTIL TEMP GETS DOWN TO
10 ABOVE, THAN JUST SPINS AND DOES NOT ENGAGE.
WHEN TEMP RAISES TO 25 ABOVE IT STARTS FINE .
WHAT TO DO ?
THANKS IN ADVANCE
can i bench test a gear reduction starter
So I installed a speed master high torque starter in my 1970 Chevy with a 454 and a turbo 400 tranny.. when motors cold starter does not engage the flex plate. Eventually after several attempts the starter eventually catches and turns over the engine. After engine is warmed up the starter catches every time? Also, noticed that the flex plate is too far back from the starter pain gear/be six. It’s as if the starter either needs to be closer to the tranny or the flex plate needs to come forward towards the radiator so that the starter can line up when the bendix shoots out at ignition? Any help I. This matter would be greatly appreciated!
Have same problem, would love answer
I just finished putting a remanufactured starter on my 2007 Ford F-150 and went to start it and it just clicks but I’ve had the battery disconnected for two days to so I’ve checked everything the connections and all are good but really don’t know what it could be.
I own alot of cars, trucks and equipment and if seems that in the last few years, I can’t seem to get a quality starter. I’ve had many bad right out of the box, and many fail after a very short amount of time. Often less than a year or just a few thousand miles. I’ve had similar luck but maybe not quite so bad with alternators too. Any advice or specific brand you would recommend?
Have 2004 Chevy blazer..starter was going out..replaced it..had no shims on old one..new one makes a repeated chirping like sound on startup..Turn engine over a few times it goes away .. put shims on..still not helping..any thoughts??
Yea hello I have a 1988 rv motorhome and my starter let me turn my engine on once and now it won’t start up again. What should I do
I have a 1994 S10 2.2 liter engine, 5 speed 2 wheel drive. The starter went out and I went to pull-a-part and got one off a 2001 I think S10, 5 speed, but the starter was on other side of the truck on passenger side, where mine is on the driver side. It had a heat shield on it when I took it off, but since mine didn’t have one I didn’t grab it. Well now when truck is cold, it will crank right up, every time when cold. When it’s hot, it won’t do anything, no sound, not even a click, no buzzing. NOTHING!!! So I’m guessing it is that heat something where it’s to close to headers or whatever. I bought some heat sheath protective sleeve. Am I wasting my time or should I go ahead and do it??