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Starter Problems in an Automatic Car

Updated March 23, 2017

A starter motor is an electric motor to start an engine. If you turn the key and your car doesn't start or you hear grinding noises when you turn on your ignition, you may have a problem with your starter. Before you take a trip to an auto shop to get your car repaired, you can troubleshoot your car with a couple of steps. You may be able to save time and money by performing a diagnosis on your vehicle yourself.

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  1. Test your lights to diagnose the problem. Turn the key in the ignition. If the lights fail to light up on the dashboard, this indicates that the battery is the problem. If the engine does not turn over, then the problem still lies with the battery. If the engine cranks up and your engine still doesn't start, test the spark plugs.

  2. Check the car's battery. Check to see if the battery's current is flowing correctly. To do this, check the battery cables, terminals and posts. To check and measure the voltage, the current and resistance of the battery, use a multimeter device, which is an electronic measuring instrument. If there is dirt or corrosion on the battery terminals, clean the battery terminals with baking soda and water.

  3. Check your engine oil for your car. First, look at the date when the engine oil was last changed in the upper left corner of your car window. If the time to change the engine oil is overdue, get an oil change. A lack of engine oil can cause problems with the starter.

  4. Check the spark plugs. If your spark plugs do not spark, you need to have them replaced.

  5. Tip

    Go to an auto part store to have them run a test for your starter.


    Be cautious when working with wires as it could be dangerous. Be careful when using jacks to lift the car. Make sure the car is secure and stable before working or going underneath the car.

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Things You'll Need

  • Jack
  • Masking tape
  • Ratchet set
  • Wrench set
  • Car repair manual

About the Author

Kahlea Pendleton

Kahlea Pendleton has worked as a freelance editor since 2008. She has edited content for ChaCha.com a well-known, fast-moving texting company as an expeditor and has served as a homeschool teacher assistant for the past two years. She also has her degree in music education.

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