How to Test a Starter Solenoid: Comprehensive Guide

The substance responsible for feeding the car starter with electrical current from the battery is called a solenoid. It is a fundamental part that is necessary to run the engine. Solenoid activation takes place once the driver turns the key. Once activated, the solenoid then moves ahead to activate the electric motor based in the car starter, which, too, activates the engine.

This means that the failure of the starter will make the car not start at all. Also, if there is a problem with the solenoid, then starter activation does not occur, and the engine too won’t start.

In case starting your car has turned into a nightmare, you should uncover the problem. That is to say, it is essential to check whether the problem is the starter, the battery, or the solenoid so you can fix it early enough to avoid having to use a lot of money to repair it. Fluctuating horsepower could also be caused by the starter failure.

Many vehicle owners are skeptical when it comes to the issue of the starter solenoid. It is nothing complex. You just need a couple of ideas; the right equipment and you are good to go.

A Comprehensive Guide to Test a Starter Solenoid

Testing the starter solenoid is not a complicated procedure and does not require to be handled by a professional. You can do it by yourself in the comfort of your home and get the problem fixed. Below is a step by step guide on testing your cars starter solenoid.

If you are stuck and are looking for a solution, then this guide will enable you to do it. On the contrary, you may be looking for information on how to fix starter solenoid issues, so that you are not caught off guard, which is the right thing to do. This article will be of great help to you.

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Here are the steps to testing the starter solenoid of your car.

Step 1: Find the Location of the Solenoid

  •  Open the car hood. The engine compartment houses the solenoid and the starter, meaning you have to get your eyes on the engine before you can see them. Thumbing the release latch opens up the hood. And before you start, you may have to jack up the car so that it can be in a secure position for you to carry out the necessary tasks. Once the hood is open, support it with the safety latch.
  • Some vehicles do not have a hood release or a safety latch. If that is the case with your car, you may have to confirm the location of the solenoid and the starter from the user guide. Their position may be different because different vehicles come in different designs. Then proceed to find the solenoid.
  • The starter is cylindrical and has another cylindrical component attached to it, which is the solenoid. The smaller cylindrical part features a terminal on each end. Note that there are different sizes of starters. However, their shape is the same.
  • You can even identify a wire connecting the starter to the positive terminal of the battery. By this far, you should have seen the starter. But if that is not the case, you can check the location from the manufacturer’s guide. The guide will give you the shape and exact location of the starter.
  • Locate the solenoid (which is the smaller cylindrical component). Typically, it is found on the starter’s top side.
  • As the starter, there is a wire joining one of the solenoid’s terminal to the battery. In the next step, you need assistance from either a friend or a relative. Ask them to ignite the car by turning in the key.
  • Now the car is ignited, listen for any clicks in the solenoid. In case there are no clicks, there is a problem with the solenoid. But before you conclude that the solenoid is faulty, check the battery because if the battery is dead, then even if the solenoid is not damaged, you will hear no clicks.
  •  In case clicks can be heard, but the car is not starting, the starter solenoid is partially damaged. Its engagement is not adequate to start the car, but you will need to be sure about this by testing whether the battery is charged.
  • Attach the voltmeter to the battery’s negative and positive terminal then observe the reading. If the voltage reading is low, it means the battery needs to be charged.
  •  On the other hand, if the voltage reading is thirteen or more volts, the battery is working correctly, and the car should start usually. Battery check helps to know at least whether the problem is the battery or the starter solenoid. If the battery is functioning correctly, then you can suspect the starter solenoid.
A Comprehensive Guide to Test a Starter Solenoid

Step 2: Current Check in the Starter Solenoid

  • Once you have ruled out the possibility of a faulty battery, it is time to see if the starter solenoid is working correctly. To do this, you need to attach a test light to the starter solenoid. Find the starter solenoids output and input terminals. Ensure the test light is connected to the output terminal because the battery is connected to the input terminal.
  • The above process activates the starter solenoid, and so it can connect the two terminals internally. After that, grab the red lead wire located on the test light mounted to the starter solenoid’s upper terminal.
  •  Grab the black lead wire of the test lights and complete the circuit by grounding it. In grounding the black lead wire, you can use any part of the car body as long as it is made of pure metal.
  • Also, you can hold it in position on top of the battery’s negative terminal. You can only know the amount of current passing through the starter solenoid when the circuit is complete.
  • Check if there is a lighting up in the red lead wire. Lighting up of the red lead wire is an indication that the current is passing from the battery to the solenoid. The conclusion is that the battery is properly working, but the starter solenoid is faulty on the inside.
  • Now it is time to test whether the starter solenoid is passing over the current it is receiving from the battery or not. To do this, the red lead wire should be placed to the solenoid’s lower terminal. In the meantime, the black lead wire remains grounded, as previously stated. Once again, ask your friend or relative to assist you by turning in the key to ignite the car.
  • In reality, the above process should complete circuit and transfer currents to the starter solenoids lower terminal. Here you need to be extra keen to keep off from any part of the engine that is moving for your safety.
  • Again, look at the test light. Lighting up indicates that the solenoid is transferring currents to the starter from the battery. In case the starter is not activated even if the test light is lit, you should consider replacing it because it is nonfunctional.
  • On the contrary, no lighting up indicates the solenoid is faulty because it is not able to transfer currents to the starter. In such a scenario, you will have to replace the solenoid. Most car components are locally available at auto shops, which means you can get a new solenoid pretty quickly.
  •  Make sure you have the right solenoid and starter measurements before purchasing new ones to avoid buying stuff that won’t fit your car. The user manual contains all these details, and you can measure these components yourself if you know how to. A specialist can also help you get the specifics. The quality of the product also matters a lot in ensuring your car has a healthy life span. So always buy repair parts from trusted sellers.

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How to Discover a Failed Starter Solenoid

The first question you need to ask yourself before you can test a starter solenoid is, ‘what is a sign of a failed starter solenoid?’ This is because you cannot fix it until you answer that question. After all, you cannot tell what makes your car fail to start if you are not sure it is the starter. Therefore, let’s dig in and see what signs indicate a failure of the starter solenoid.

A starter’s primary function is to start your car engine, and as previously stated, it gets power from the battery for it to function. Failure of the starter can be very bothersome, and that is why you need to know how to discover that the starter solenoid is faulty.

Noise When Turning the Car on or Off

Most of the time, when there is a problem in any part of your car, you will hear abnormal sounds. In the case of the starter solenoid, it will produce noise when you turn the car on or off. Therefore, when you are turning in the key, be keen.

Abnormal Clicking Sounds

If you hear strange clicking sounds, your car solenoid or starter is faulty. But, make no mistake about it. Sometimes you may not hear any clicking sound when the solenoid or starter is defective. This is why you should watch any other sign of a faulty solenoid.

Car not Starting

This is obvious. If your vehicle does not start as usual when you turn it on, either the solenoid or the starter has an issue.

Car Fails to Jump-Start

If you are still not sure whether the problem could be a faulty starter, you can try jump-starting the car. If the vehicle does not start immediately, you can be sure the starter or the solenoid is defective. You may need to call your mechanic for assistance if your location is easily accessible if the car fails to start when you are on the roadside. Otherwise, you would have to get help from fellow drivers.


You need the following equipment before you start the job.

  • A jack and its components
  • A friend or a relative willing to assist
  • A voltmeter
  • Gloves and goggles for safety

Power and wiring systems can be hard to memorize, especially when its something to do with particular components like the solenoid. For the efficiency and smoothing running of your car, a solenoid is paramount.

However, you may have questions about whether or not your vehicle’s starter solenoid needs to be fixed.

You do not want to get frustrated after earnestly looking for what is causing your car not to start in the morning when you rush to work only to realize a small component as the solenoid is the problem. It is an experience no one wants, and that is why it is necessary to inspect or have your car inspected by a professional thoroughly and often to avoid failures that are costly in terms of time and resources.

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Testing a starter solenoid is something you can do without having to bring a mechanic to do it. This article clearly shows what you need to do. If you follow our how to test a starter solenoid steps properly, you should fix any issue with the starter solenoid of your car. Even if it is your first time to do it, you can accomplish the task. After all the procedure is not complicated.

Remember to carry a repair guide along when conducting any repairs for your car because you may not have grasped every detail. Moreover, you can always phone an auto specialist for guidance if you get stuck. This will ensure you do not make costly mistakes.

Ensure you also clean the solenoid because grease and corrosion on its surface can make it malfunction. Regular car inspections are equally important in making sure parts like starter solenoids do not fail in the middle of anywhere because issues can be detected early and corrected.

But if you find yourself in a fix, this guide will be of great help to you. Go ahead, solve the problem, and enjoy your ride.

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