Car starters can be extremely reliable and last for many years.
If you accidentally drive through high water levels with water splashing all over, there is always a risk that your car may stall or fail to start afterward even though the battery has enough charge.
Is it that the car’s starter is damaged? Can the starter even get wet?
What is the solution? Should you let it dry out, rebuild or replace it?
These are probably some of the questions you might have going through your mind.
If you’re stuck, frustrated, and not sure if the car’s starter is faulty and what you can do about it, I have compiled this post to help you.
You’ll learn about what signs you can look out for to tell if it is the starter, and what options for fixing it are available to you.
Quick answer: Yes, when the car’s starter is wet, the car can fail to crank and start the engine. The penetration of water in the solenoid can affect its ability to engage the starter motor with the flywheel and start the engine.
Take care when driving through high water levels or washing the car engine as jets of water can get into the starter and affect your car engine’s ability to start.
Can Water Damage a Car Starter?
Yes, water or moisture buildup can short out and damage the starter solenoid if it is exposed to water or moisture.
When this happens, the car may fail to crank as the solenoid can no longer engage the pinion gear of the starter motor with the flywheel to start the engine.
Additionally, moisture buildup in the starter can damage the contacts and wiring leading to poor contacts at the points where the cables connect to the starter terminals.
The loose connection points are potential causes of voltage drops that then lead to lower than the expected voltage that is not enough to engage the solenoid and get the car started.
Signs that the Car Starter is Wet
Perhaps, the most likely sign that the car’s starter is wet is, if after driving through puddles or washing the engine your car is not able to start yet it was working well before being exposed to the water.
Also, when you turn the ignition to the “START” position or press the push button, you’ll usually only hear a click of the solenoid – followed by silence with no cranking of the engine yet the battery has enough charge to start the vehicle.
What happens When a Car Starter is Exposed to Water?
The car may stall or if parked may not be able to start even though the battery has enough charge.
You can confirm that the battery has enough charge to start the car by measuring the battery voltage using a good-quality multimeter.
Should you Attempt to Start the Car if the Starter is Wet? Is it Dangerous?
If the car starter is wet, chances are that the car is not able to start.
You can park it to let it dry out overnight and attempt to start it afterward. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t.
You can also try blowing it with compressed air to push out any water that might be stuck in the starter.
If any of these do not work, call for assistance from a qualified mechanic.
How to Dry out a wet starter?
How to Get to Your Car’s Starter
You are likely to access the starter from the underside of the engine bay.
The starter is located between the engine and the transmission. Its actual position on the underside can vary depending on the type and model of the car.
So, you’ll need to consult your vehicle’s repair manual to confirm the actual starter position.
How to Dry out the Starter
Try leaving the car parked overnight to let any water or moisture than may have built into the starter or solenoid drip out so the starter is dry and try starting the car afterward.
If this does not work, you may have to remove the starter (or get a qualified mechanic) to assist you and conduct a visual inspection of the starter.
It may need to be disassembled, and cleaned out to remove any dust or water that may have built up.
Thee are no guarantees – this may work or not.
You can also get the starter tested out at an auto repair shop that can advise you whether to rebuild or replace it with a new one.
Driving through high water levels risks getting your car starter wet. This can stop your car engine from starting.
If you have access to compressed air, you can try blowing it dry for some time and attempt to start it.
You can also park the car overnight for it to dry out and try starting.
If none of these work, or you need urgent assistance then contact a qualified auto mechanic for help.