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Courtesy of Wikihow.com (https://www.wikihow.com/Test-a-Car-Starter)
A car that won’t start is definitely frustrating. If your car won't start, it might be a sign that something is wrong with your car's starter, which is responsible for kicking over the engine. If you have some experience working with automobiles, however, you can perform several tests to determine what’s wrong with the starter. Checking the pinion can be the quickest fix if the problem is not serious. The next level involves checking the electrical circuits to make sure everything is powering properly. If that still doesn’t work, you can remove and bench test the starter to see if it needs to be replaced.
1. Turn on the headlights and try to start the car.
A couple of things might happen when you do this. If the car makes a noise like it’s going to start, but the headlights dim, then the starter pinion is probably jammed.
2. Turn the pinion stub with an adjustable wrench (spanner).
The starter is a large electrical motor in a cylindrical housing, and it's usually bolted to one side of the engine block. If you see a small, square stub (the pinion stub) sticking out of the end of the cylinder, turn it with your wrench until it moves freely in place. Try starting the car again once the pinion can move freely.
3. Rock the car if you see no stub and have a manual transmission.
Turn the car off and put it in second gear. Release the emergency brake and rock the car back and forth. This can loosen the pinion.
1. Visually inspect the battery terminals.
Pop the hood of your car and check the positive and negative terminals of the battery. If there is any dirt or corrosion, it can cause a bad connection and a lack of power to the starter.
2. Test the battery's voltage with a multimeter.
Set your multimeter to its "DC" setting and its dial to 20 (to test from 0-20 volts). Place the red probe on the battery's positive (+) terminal, and the black probe on the negative (-) terminal. You'll get a reading above 12V if the battery is working properly.
3. Visually inspect the solenoid.
If you try to start the car and nothing happens, and the battery seems to be powering properly, then there is likely a connection problem with the solenoid. This device is a small cylinder usually attached to the top of the starter. Visually inspect it to make sure all of the wires running to it are connected properly.
4. Use a circuit tester to see if the current is getting to the solenoid.
Place one lead of the circuit tester (test lamp) to the feed terminal of the solenoid. Attach the other lead to bare bodywork metal. If the tester lights up, then the problem is with the solenoid or the starter itself, not the current getting to it.
5. Check the solenoid output current.
Place one connector of a test lamp on the output of the solenoid and the other on the battery's ground (earth) terminal. The lamp should light. If not, you will need to take the starter/solenoid assembly off and bench test it.
1. Remove your starter.
If you hear nothing when you try to start the car, and the electrical circuits seem to be OK, then there is probably a problem with the starter itself. You'll need to carefully disconnect the starter's wiring, unbolt it, and remove it from the engine block to do further testing.
2. Attach jumper cables to your starter.
Take the red jumper cable and connect one end to the positive terminal of a car battery. Connect the other end to the thick positive post on the starter’s solenoid. Attach one end of the black jumper cable to one of the starter’s ears (the fin-like parts sticking up off of the main cylinder) and its other end to the negative battery terminal.
3. Connect a wire to the starter’s small terminal.
Take a few feet of insulated 16-gauge wire. Strip one end and crimp it onto the small terminal on the starter. Go ahead and strip the other end as well, but don’t do anything with it yet.
4. Hold the starter down with one foot.
When you bench test the starter, it may move around and shoot some sparks. Holding it down with your foot prevents it from jumping around and causing injury.
5. Touch the other end of the wire to the positive battery post.
When you do this, the starter pinion should move and spin. If it doesn’t, then the starter is bad and will need to be replaced.