My Car Makes a Clicking Sound & Won't Start

by Jackie Michael

A vehicle that won't start is inconvenient and can be very expensive to fix. If you know how to troubleshoot engines, you can conduct your own repairs and save money on labor charges. There are many things that can affect the running of a car engine, and you will need to know enough about the causes of why it is not starting. Symptoms vary but if the engine is clicking and refusing to start there are two possibilities to explore.

Open the hood and check the battery terminals. They need to be tightly fitted and clean for a perfect connection. It is possible the battery has drained and that will result in zero power reaching the starter motor. In this instance you will hear nothing but the clicking sound. If your car has central locking you may also find that the locking system is not fully operational.

Charge the battery overnight and put it back in the car. If the engine still fails to start and you hear the same clicking sound you must then look toward the starter motor as the main fault.

Test the starter motor by removing it from the car. Disconnect the negative battery terminal and detach the terminal wire from the starter. Remove the three holding bolts and take the starter off. Bench test the starter using a spare battery and jumper cables.

Attach the positive jumper cable to the positive battery terminal. Attach the other end of the positive cable to the body of the motor. You might note a protruding part of the body, depending on the model. Attach the negative lead to the negative battery terminal.

Touch the black lead to the main body of the starter motor. What should happen is the motor will spin and try to move forward. You also will notice sparks coming from the black cable's crocodile teeth as the metal touches the body, creating a charge. The pinion within the starter will rotate, letting you know the starter is responding and does work.

Testing the starter in this fashion also will indicate whether the starter motor is faulty. If the opposite occurs and you find you get no sparks and no rotation, you will need a new starter motor.


  • close When bench testing a starter motor, do not touch it with your hands while the jumper cables are touching it. The sparks are signs that electricity is flowing and can be dangerous. Wear rubber soled shoes or trainers and press your foot on the starter to hold it still.

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About the Author

Jackie Michael has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her work has appeared on various websites, including and CarsDirect. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociology from East London University.

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