If you have tried to start your vehicle and all you get is a clicking sound, the issue could be with the starter motor or the starter solenoid. The clicking sound is the starter solenoid trying to force the starter gear to engage the engine. However, the solenoid could be too weak to force the gear to engage or the bearings inside the starter motor could be frozen. To determine which component is defective, you can bypass the starter solenoid.
- Skill level:
Locate the starter motor under the vehicle. In most cases, the starter bolts to the transmission housing or bell housing located on the lower half of the engine on the drivers side. Typically, the starter is approximately 20 cm (8 inches) in length and tubular in design. The solenoid bolts to the side of the starter motor and has two wires connected to it.
Locate the two metal contacts on the back of the starter solenoid. One starter has a wire that goes up into the engine bay. This is the starter wire and it connects to the ignition switch. The wire connected to the other metal contact goes to the starter motor and is called the jumper wire or generator wire.
Place the metal blade of an insulated screwdriver across both metal contacts. This bypasses the solenoid and creates a direct connection between the starter motor and the ignition switch.
Get a friend to help you by turning on the ignition with the key. The engine will not start because you bypassed the solenoid.
Listen to the starter motor. If you hear a consistent humming sound coming from the starter motor, the bearings inside the motor are fine and the solenoid is defective. If the motor sounds choppy or fails to start, the starter motor is defective.
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