The Garage Car Parts

This Is Why Your Car Is Clicking and Won’t Start

Is your ride a one-click pony and won't start? Here's how to replace your car's starter.
how to replace starter
Peter Nelson

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An automobile is like an intertwined nation of unique voices. Listen closely, and you’ll notice every mechanical part has two tones, normal and upset. Sometimes the cry for help is a squeak, occasionally it’s a knock, and other times it’s a clicking noise.

Although a clicking sound can come from other sources such as the suspension, another more frequent and familiar clicking is ignition related, and happens after turning the key or pressing the ignition button. There might be a sluggish single click or there might be a jarring spray of clicking. If it’s the latter, it’s most likely a bad starter.

Everything You’ll Need To Replace Your Starter

We’re not psychic, nor are we snooping through your toolbox or garage, so here’s exactly what you’ll need to get the job done. Changing your starter is an easy project that should take approximately 60-90 minutes to finish.

Tools and Parts List

This isn’t an exhaustive tools and parts list. You might need different tools depending on the fasteners that are present under the hood of your car.

Organizing your tools and gear to change your starter so everything is easily reachable will save precious minutes. You’ll also need a flat workspace, such as a garage floor, driveway, or street parking. Just be sure to check your local laws to make sure you’re not violating any codes.

how to replace a starter

How to Replace Your Starter, Step by Step

Let’s do this! 

Lift the car if necessary. You can read The Drive’s How To Lift a Car

Step 1: Pop the hood and disconnect the battery terminals

This is the first step for many jobs, and in this instance, it’s important to completely cut off any flow of electricity.

Step 2: Locate the engine’s starter motor

It’s usually at the back of the engine (or side of it, if it’s in there transverse) attached to the transmission bell housing.

Step 3: Remove any parts necessary to access the starter motor

Many manufacturers make this really easy, however, you might have to remove things like air intake piping, or even the intake manifold. It’s a good idea to take pictures along the way in such cases, as well as read up on their proper removal and installation procedures.

Step 4: Disconnect any connections running to the starter motor

This is not only necessary for removing the starter, but also avoiding any potential light shock.

Step 5: Remove the starter

Carefully remove all hardware keeping it bolted into place.

car battery

Step 6: Replace the old starter with the new unit 

Now slide the new one in, and be sure to include any necessary gaskets, o-rings, or copper washers.

Step 7: Reconnect any connections

This is typical installation-is-the-reverse-of-removal stuff.

Step 8: Lower the vehicle, reconnect the battery terminals, and fire it up

Again, do the opposite of what you did before, but this time fire it up to test and see if the problem is solved. It might take a crank or two, just be patient. If it continues to not start, however, double-check and make sure everything under the hood is where it’s supposed to be.

Congratulations, you’re now done!

Video

Even if we swear we follow written directions to a T, every time, it’s still a good idea to get a thorough demonstration of how a job goes, or how to troubleshoot something. AutoZone is a leading auto parts retailer with plenty of knowledge on all things spark delivery: Check out what it’s put together here when it comes to diagnosing starter issues.

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Tony Markovich Avatar

Tony Markovich

Contributor

Tony Markovich is a former Senior Editor at The Drive, departing in 2022.