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Can You Start a Car with a Bad Starter?

Can You Start a Car with a Bad Starter?

You push your keys into the ignition, looking forward to a comfortable drive. Y

ou turn the keys, but the car doesn’t start. 

Well, what are you going to do now? What could the issue be, and can it be solved? 

The reason behind your car not starting probably lies with the starter, but can it be solved?

You can start a car with a bad starter motor in a few ways ranging from old school pushing the car to more technical solutions like repairing or replacing broken or incorrect connections in the wiring. However, none of these are effective long-term solutions, and you’ll eventually need to replace the starter.

This article will talk about the different symptoms that can indicate a bad starter, along with a walkthrough of how to start your car if the starter fails to do its job.

So, make sure to read this article till the end to make the most of it!

What is the starter?

The starter is an electric motor that is attached to the side of the engine, and its main job is to rotate the crankshaft and start the engine. 

This is not to be confused with the alternator, which uses the battery to generate and supply electrical power to the rest of the car.

Starters have begun playing a much heavier role as newer technology has begun rolling out. Many hybrid cars use starters to preserve fuel and energy by shutting off the engine when it’s running idle.

Since the starter plays an important role in well, starting the car, it’s naturally an alarming thing when the car doesn’t start when you want it to. 

The best advice would be to get it checked by a professional mechanic for a long-term solution, but we’ll tell you the symptoms and temporary solutions that you can utilize if you’re in a hurry.

Symptoms of a bad starter

So when can you tell whether your starter’s failing or has died completely? Well, we’ve compiled a list of symptoms that can indicate whether your starter is faulty or not.

The car won’t start

One of the main telltale signs of a failing starter is your car’s inability to start, even if your battery is perfectly fine. 

You can make sure that the battery isn’t to blame by checking the other electrical components of the car.

For example, if your dashboard lights and the headlights are working correctly, but the car won’t start, then the starter might be to blame.


Ever turn the ignition key after the car has been started, and hear an awful grinding sound? If you turn the ignition on to start the car and hear this sound, this may mean that your starter is failing.

Clicking noise

If you turn the ignition and hear a click, but no starting of the engine, this can either mean a dead battery or a faulty starter. 

Like we mentioned before, narrow the cause down by checking the other electrical components to see whether the cause lies with the battery or the starter.

Reasons behind a bad car starter

Why does a starter malfunction? We’ve identified some major causes behind it.

Oil leakage

Sometimes an oil leak can lead to the starter malfunctioning as well. 

You can check under the hood, and locate the starter on the passenger’s side of the engine, or on the driver’s side if the automobile is FWD (Front-wheel-drive). 

You can further check your vehicle’s manual in order to locate the starter more accurately.

If the starter is drenched in oil, this may also mean that your car has an oil leak. Your best option would be to get it checked immediately.

Broken freewheel

If your car is making a whining sound and not starting, then the cause can be a freewheel that is unable to properly connect with the motor. 

When the current is unable to pass, the starter won’t be able to start the engine.

Blown fuse

It is possible that a high voltage could’ve blown out the starter’s fuse. 

You can check this by disconnecting the battery from the car, and then opening the car’s fuse box. 

After locating the starter fuse (which can be checked from the manual), you can check whether the thin wire in the fuse is broken or not.

If it is broken, then you need to replace the fuse with another with the same ampere rating and reconnect the battery.

How to start a car with a bad starter

While there’s no guarantee that these will definitely start your car, there’s a good chance these methods will force the car to start up.

Tapping the starter

Lightly tapping the starter can sometimes reconnect any internal components that may have become loose, and make the starter be able to run again. 

This is only a temporary fix, and you should have your car checked immediately after that.

Bypass the starter relay

If your car isn’t starting from the ignition, and the battery is working fine, then you can attempt to bypass the starter, and connect the battery directly with the solenoid.

You’ll need a screwdriver with an insulated grip, and you’ll need to touch the shaft of the screwdriver on the S terminal of the solenoid. 

Once that’s done, you’ll need to touch the tip of the screwdriver to the solenoid’s battery terminal.

Once the two points are connected, ask someone to start the car. 

This should get your car started.

Push and start

Place the car in 1st or 2nd gear, and push it until you’re getting around 5-10 miles per hour. Then proceed to start the car, and the speed should make the engine start up.

Jumpstart the car

In some cases, you might need a bigger battery, especially if your battery is failing. The additional power might help bridge the gap and start your car.

Final thoughts

While there’s no guaranteed solution, some of the methods mentioned above can get a car started. But there is no long-term solution, and it’s best to get your car checked as soon as possible.

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!