How to Start a Car with a Bad Starter

car won't start

Many car owners face the challenge of having a bad starter in their car. 

If you are wondering how to start a car if it has a bad starter, don’t worry since there are many ways of starting your car. 

Such a problem doesn’t require a mechanic to fix it since you can easily diagnose all the problems and get your car running. 

Below are 10 different ways of starting your car with a bad starter.

  1. Inspect the Wiring Connections

For your car starter to work properly, it requires adequate power. 

Wear and tear, faulty connections, and weak batteries can lead to the failure of your car starter. 

One place to start is to check all the wire connections to be sure that they are tight. If the battery connection is loose, there won’t be enough power supplied to the battery which means there won’t be enough power for the starter. Tightening the loose connection will solve your problem.

If this does not solve your problem, use a jumper cable to bypass the connection from the battery to the starter and see if this will help.

  1. Turn on the Ignition

Diagnosing the car allows you to know about the common causes for the starting problem. It ensures that you can understand the various reasons why the car might not start. 

To start the diagnosing process, you should turn on the car. It may not start but listening to the sounds it makes tells you whether you have more problems than just a faulty starter.

If you can’t hear a clicking sound, this means that your car isn’t cranking. Some of the things that can lead to such a problem include a defective starter motor, a faulty circuit, or a dead battery.

But the clicking sound is an indicator that the starter solenoid isn’t getting enough power.

  1. Push to Start

If you have a faulty battery or a bad starter, push to start is another way of starting your car.

The method, however, only works for manual vehicles. 

For push-to-start to work, you need someone else to push the car while someone is in the driver’s seat. Put the car in the drive position, in either first or second gear. Push it up to 10mph and then release the clutch.

Upon releasing the clutch, the engine should fire on, and if it doesn’t, repeat the process until you are successful.

  1. Jump Start the Car

If you are certain that your battery is not the problem, consider jump-starting the car because although it doesn’t seem obvious, it might actually work.

The process works by supplying your starter with more current, and giving it enough current to actually get your starter working.

If you have a faulty starter, you might need a bigger source of power. When using another car to jump-start yours, consider a car with a bigger battery so that the additional power can bypass any faulty areas. 

Even if this solution isn’t what you want, it might help if you try it since it might work to your advantage.

  1. Check for Corrosion

Corrosion is one problem that can prevent your car from starting. 

If you have a bad starter, corrosion can cause poor electrical conductivity, leading to more problems. 

Cleaning out the battery terminals ensures that your starter gets enough power to start the car. 

One way of cleaning these battery terminals is by soaking them up in a mixture of water and sodium bicarbonate.

Besides assessing the battery, you should also check for corrosion in other areas like the solenoid connectors and the starter’s positive. Clean out these areas and ensure that there isn’t any rust, dust, or debris on other engine connections.

  1. Tap on the Starter

Tapping on the starter might sound weird at first, but it’s one of the easiest ways of starting your vehicle. 

It should be one of the first tricks to try out if your car isn’t starting. Over time, the starter will age and wear out, creating some dead spots between the field coils and armature. Using a hammer to tap over the frame assists the armature in spinning up to start the car.

The trick works flawlessly in older cars because they have lots of space for you to hit the starter with a hammer. For modern cars, you should consider using a ratchet extension bar.

  1. Bypass the Relay

Bypassing the relay is another effective trick like the hammer tap. It’s only ideal if your car has a faulty starter relay. 

Using a big screwdriver, you can touch the solenoid terminal and the starter’s positive terminal to create an electric connection. 

The connection sends 12V of power to the solenoid, thus being able to start your car.

  1. Test Run the Starter Motor

After assessing your starter and made some of the necessary changes, you should consider a test run. 

Go to the nearest repair shop and have them conduct a test run. 

It’s a simple and quick process, and some of these shops might not charge you a dime for it. Some of the features that will indicate an old starter motor include:

  • No cranking
  • Old and haggard shaft
  • Sluggish armature and brushes
  • Bac current transmission

Conducting a test run ensures that all of these problems can be found easily. It also ensures that you learn about the state of the starter motor, thus determining whether you need a replacement.

  1. Assess the Engine Flywheel

The engine flywheel can be another cause for a bad start. 

The flywheel connects the transmission to the engine by attaching the starter gear whenever you want to crank the engine. That’s why if you want to leave the car running, you leave it in neutral since it will detach the starter motor. 

Spinning the crankshaft’s center bolt allows you to assess it and know whether this might be the cause of your problems.

  1. Assess the Solenoid Cable

The solenoid connects the starter with the transmission. It can also function as the ground and positive connection. 

If you hear a cranking sound, it can be an indicator that your solenoid is faulty. When assessing the solenoid, you should be on the lookout for rust and grime. 

Bypassing a cable over the solenoid provides you with a better way of starting the car. If you hear a click sound, you did everything correctly.

5 Signs That Your Starter Isn’t Working

Your car starter consists of the solenoid, the electric motor, and the flywheel. For your car to start without any problems, all these components must work properly. Here are a few signs of a faulty starter.

Clicking Sound

You should always expect your car to roar to life every time you turn on the ignition. However, this might not happen, and instead, you hear a clicking sound. The clicking sound might be due to a faulty battery. To rule out any battery problems, turn on the headlights, and if they turn on, the only remaining problem is the starter.

Burning Smell

One of the things that most people dread is a burning smell in their car. However, if the starter is getting too much power, it can overheat and cause a burning smell or smoke. Blown fuses, short-circuiting, and lose connections can also cause the smoke or burning smell. Therefore, if you notice this when you start the car, don’t assume it.


If your car produces a whining sound rather than starting when you turn on the ignition, that’s freewheeling. It indicates that the flywheel and the electric motor aren’t able to connect. Freewheeling is one of the issues where you might need a professional to resolve it.

Dim Interior Lights

If you start your vehicle and your interior lights dim, you might have a short-circuited starter wiring. Short circuited starter wiring means that your starter consumes more power, thus reducing the amount of power available for all the other components of your vehicle.

Vehicle Doesn’t Start

If your vehicle doesn’t start, it can be one common indication that you have a starter issue. However, you only get to make this conclusion if you are certain that your battery is fully charged and in good shape. Before getting to a point where your vehicle won’t start, you should have faced either of the other signs listed above.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can you start a car without a starter?

A: Yes, you can. Its, however, possible in manual cars since you can push to start the car. To achieve this, you need a minimum of two people. One in the car and the other one pushes the car.

Q: Can you hit a starter to make it work?

A: Yes, you can. You can tap using a hammer on older cars or using a ratchet extension on modern cars. Tapping on the starter frame allows the armature to spin up, thus starting the car.

Q: Is it bad to drive a car with a bad starter?

A: No, it’s not. However, you should test your starter to understand better the different options you might have. These can include fixing it or repairing it if it’s too old.

Q: What is the cost to replace a car starter?

A: A car starter costs between $216 to $399. If you opt to take it to a professional, you can incur an additional charge of between $128 to $163.

Q: How do you tell if it’s your starter or battery?

A: You can know whether it’s the starter when you are sure that the battery is full. More so, turning on the lights can be another indicator because the lights will turn on when you have a good battery.