Blog | Doug Yates Towing


Blog | Yates Wrecker

Car Won’t Start? Check Your Car Starter

Have you ever gotten into your vehicle and turned the ignition and nothing happened? Maybe you hear a clicking noise or nothing at all. As this can potentially be a number of things, generally it means that you have a bad car starter. If you are in such a situation, do not panic. Most starter problems occur in predictable places, and diagnostics are easy to run. When your car fails to start, it could be because of a damaged starter component. It can also be a poor electrical connection or insufficient power. Here, Doug Yates Towing & Recovery discusses your car starter and what to do if yours fails on you.

What is a Car Starter?

A car starter receives the charge from your car’s battery, which is then sent to the alternator. If your starter is dead or not functioning properly, then it will fail to accept the charge from the battery, and your car won’t be able to start. If you hear a clicking noise, DO NOT continue to turn the ignition as this can lead to worse problems.


  • Engine Won’t Turn Over – One of the first true signs is if your engine will not start. If this occurs, try jumpstarting your vehicle. If that fails, it’s time to call roadside assistance and get your car to the nearest mechanic.
  • Unusual Sounds – One of the most common symptoms of a bad starter is a clicking noise when you turn the key or push the start button. However, a starter can die without making any sound at all. Listen out for any unusual noises like a whirring and grinding noise. If you hear any, take your car in for service ASAP.
  • All Lights, No Action – If you try to start the engine only to find that the dashboard lights up, but the engine doesn’t power up, you most likely have a problem with the car starter.
  • Visible Smoke – The starter is part of your car’s electrical system and is subject to blown fuses and short circuits. When you’ve been desperately attempting to start your car, the starter can overheat making electrical issues. This can produce smoke. If you see or smell smoke, call for help ASAP.
  • Oil Leak – If you open the hood to find that your starter is drenched in engine oil, your bad starter might be a symptom of another problem, an oil leak. Unfortunately, what starts out as a few drops of oil can slowly and sometimes unnoticeably turn into an expensive problem, so keep an eye out for oil leaks to avoid car starter issues.


A variety of problems can lead to a bad starter. Those problems include:

  • Loose wiring to and from the starter
  • Bad relay or fuse
  • Dirty or corroded connections at the starter
  • Battery corrosion
  • Damaged or worn-out parts in the starter system
  • Oil leaks


First thing you should do is try to jump-start your car. Once you’ve ruled this out, try one of the following troubleshooting tips:

  • Look Under The Hood – Check the battery and battery cables to see whether everything’s in working order. A weak or dead battery, or even faulty battery cables, could be causing problems with your car, not the starter.
  • Tap The Starter – Lightly tap the starter with a mallet or hammer. DO NOT smack it hard, as you can break or cause further damage. In some instances, this light tap can help power it back up. This is a plausible and temporary solution so if the tap doesn’t work, DO NOT continue to hammer at the starter.
  • Adjust The Transmission – Try starting the car in “neutral”. If it starts in “neutral,” there may be a technical glitch that’s preventing the car from starting in “park,” like a faulty neutral safety switch. Take your car to your local mechanic to get fixed.
  • Check the Battery Voltage – Set your voltmeter to a range higher than battery voltage, like 20 volts on the DC (direct current) voltage scale. Turn on the meter and connect the test leads across the battery terminals. Touch the negative lead to the negative (-) post on the battery and the positive lead to the positive (+) post on the battery. Turn on your car’s headlights. Read the display on your meter. Your battery should have between 12.4V (75% charge) and 12.6V (100% charge) to properly operate the starter motor. If there’s less than 12.4V, recharge the battery and try to start the engine again.
Doug Yates | Yates Wrecker

Have A Broken Car Starter? Need A Tow? Call Us Today!

Doug Yates Towing and Recovery is located in the city limits of Chattanooga, one of Tennessee’s most vibrant business communities. Since 1946 it has been the company’s mission to conduct business with integrity and professionalism in all phases of day-to-day services. We offer 24/7 towing and recovery services for all motorists and vehicle types. Our team of tow truck technicians will help get your vehicle wherever it needs to be safely and securely. You can count on us for all your towing & recovery needs. 

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