Car Won’t Start and is Making a Clicking Noise? Here’s Why

By February 20, 2018Repair
car won't start making clicking noise

What are some potential causes of my car making a clicking noise and not starting?

Most of us have had the unfortunate experience of walking out to our car in the morning, turning the key, and all that happens is click, click, click. Your heart sinks a little. You turn the key back and try again, hoping it will start this time. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, it does. That clicking noise usually comes from the starter, and there are two reasons why a starter makes a clicking noise instead of starting your car. The most common reason is that the starter has failed. The other reason is that the battery does not have enough power to turn the starter.

Why does the car make that distinct “clicking” noise?

The starter is a small electric motor that needs a fair amount of power to start spinning your car’s engine, even more so for vehicles with bigger engines such as trucks and large SUVs.  When there is not  enough power to the starter or the starter has too much resistance the solenoid tries to activate, but can’t and it makes the distinct “clicking” noise.

How to fix the clicking noise and start your engine

A failing battery or starter will need to be identified and replaced. We strongly recommend against getting a used part because they are often in similar condition to 

Be sure to pay attention to how your car starts, especially in the hot summer and cold winter months.

your failed part. Some starters are very easy to gain access to, while others are buried under other parts of the vehicle. Most commonly the battery is under the hood, but in some vehicles, such as with BMWs, Mercedes Benz, Volvos, and Prii, the batteries are usually in the trunk under some covers. If you’re inexperienced replacing car batteries, we recommend bringing your vehicle in for a car battery replacement.

How can we prevent problems with starting the engine?

Pay attention to how well your vehicle starts, especially in the winter and summer months. If you notice a change in the way it sounds when starting, this may be an early warning sign. A good starting system should only turn over a few times very quickly before starting. If you notice the car sounds like it cranks slowly or takes many cranks before starting, this is often a sign that the battery or starter is failing.

It is nearly impossible to predict when the starter might fail, but you can be on top of your battery replacement. Have your battery checked at least once a year, more regularly if your car sits for long periods of time or you consistently only drive a few miles a day. Regardless of how your battery tests, it is recommended to replace your battery after 5 years. Average battery life in Minnesota is 3-5 years, so if your battery is older than 5 years, you are working with borrowed time.

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