Why a New Car Starter may not be Working (+What to Do)

Even though the basic function of a starter is fairly straightforward, you can still have trouble getting the new replacement starter to turn the car engine over and start it.

What causes this? Can a new starter be defective? What can you do?

Read on to find out why this can happen, what checks you can do, and if a new starter can be defective.

Note: This post is only intended as a guide. Always check and follow the installation guidelines for the car starter.

Likely Reasons Why a New Starter Can Fail to Work (What Checks to Do)

If the replacement starter fails to work, check the following:

#1. Confirm that the replacement starter is wired correctly. Take note of the wire connections before removing the old starter (can take a photo!)

Confirm that the new starter is wired correctly as this can stop it from working.

Make sure the connectors do not have any corrosion. Confirm too that they make firm contact with the respective connectors or pins.

#2. Check the car starter ground strap. Confirm that the ground strap is firmly connected, and not damaged or corroded.

A proper ground connection is necessary for sufficient current flow to the starter for it to turn the engine and start it.

#3. Is the Car battery sufficiently charged? If the car battery voltage is low, there’ll not be enough power available to the starter to start the car.

A sufficiently charged car battery should have a voltage of 12.5- 12.6V.

If the battery voltage is low, use an external charger to charge it first. You may have to have the car battery health tested at a reputable auto parts store or use a good quality battery tester.

Also, inspect and confirm that the car battery cables are clean with no corrosion and make firm contact with the battery.

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Can a New Starter be Defective?

As much as it may not be common, there are incidents where new starters are defective right out of the box.

Make sure you test the starter before the return period indicated by the supplier. Be wary of starter rebuilds as they can be problematic.

Purchasing a Car Starter? What to Look for

At a minimum, check the following to minimize the likelihood of your replacement starter not working:

#1. Dimensions of the replacement starter

While the replacement starter does not have to look like the original starter, make sure its dimensions match those of the original starter.

This includes the location of the mounting holes, their diameter, and the location of the car starter terminals.

#2. Power Output (kW)

Confirm that the starter power output meets the car’s needs. A starter with a lower power output capacity may fail to start the car or fail prematurely.

#3. Pinion teeth and Direction of Rotation

Confirm that the car starter has the correct number of pinion teeth and they rotate in the expected direction.

Above all, confirm that the replacement car starter part number is designed for your car make and model.

Closing Thoughts

A new starter can be defective too. You’ll need to perform additional checks such as making sure the wire connections are correct, the starter is properly grounded, the battery is sufficiently charged to rule out any external factors that may mistakenly be attributed to the starter.

Do not hesitate to contact a reputable auto mechanic.

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