Main Signs Your Car's Starter Is Failing

A starter motor is essential to our vehicles – its market demand totaled $6 billion in 2021. Ideally, these components would survive throughout your car’s lifespan, but they aren’t invincible and can break down prematurely.

An entirely malfunctioning car is one way to tell there’s been a starter issue, but you can typically notice and diagnose problems before you require extensive repairs.

Let’s discuss which issues may not be one-offs but an early sign of starter problems and when it’s time to visit an auto electrical shop.

Car's Starter Is Failing

Grinding Noise

A loud grinding noise whenever you start your car indicates that you may be dealing with a mechanical issue. This can happen when the pinion gear is worn out or isn’t correctly engaging with the flywheel. 


If you attempt to start your vehicle, but the engine won’t crank and produces a whining noise, you may have a problem known as freewheeling. The starter doesn’t engage with the flywheel, spinning on its own. 

If unaddressed, this could considerably impact your car’s mechanical parts and lead to expensive replacements.

Intermittent Issues While Starting

If you cannot start your car at first, but on the second attempt, all seems to be working fine, the issue is likely the starter relay. 

Aside from intermittent issues, a damaged relay can also produce a clicking sound when you turn on the ignition. These two are the most apparent indicators you need to have the component checked out.

The Starter Stays On

If your starter keeps going even after the engine’s been started, it could point to a problem in the system’s electrical circuitry. Get this fixed immediately to avoid damage to other areas.

Burning Smell or Smoke

Detecting a burning smell or seeing smoke usually means the electrical supply is continuously or excessively drawing power. This is either because the starter has operated too long or because of a connection issue.

Lights Dim When Your Car Starts

Another common sign of starter failure is the dim interior or dashboard lighting as you start the vehicle. A short circuit causes this within the system, resulting in the motor drawing excess power and draining the lighting systems.

Oil On the Starter

A starter drenched in oil is a possible symptom of an oil leak. A few drops won’t impact the part, but over time, this can become a more significant problem requiring costly repairs.

What to Do Next?

Before you can repair any of the above problems, you need to know if the starter motor is the root issue and rule out your battery or charging systems as probable culprits. We recommend taking your car to a mechanic with the expertise to detect the exact problem and proceed with appropriate repairs.

Depending on the severity of the damage, your starter might need individual components repaired or to be replaced with a new system. A reputable auto body shop will be able to make the right call and give you an estimated cost of the necessary repairs.

Get the Help You Need

With Auto Works of Brandon, you can get an expert opinion from a dedicated and fix minor issues at a great price before they become a disaster for your vehicle. 

Read more about our services and contact us to book an appointment today!


Car Maintenance
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