Car Clicking When Trying To Start? (Reasons + Fix)

What does it mean when you hear a click and your car won’t start? It can be frustrating when your vehicle lets you down, so what is causing the problem and what are the solutions? Don’t worry; we have compiled a list of the possible causes and how to fix them so you can be back up and running in no time.

What Is the Clicking Sound When Trying to Start a Car?

The clicking noise could mean you have a dead battery, a problem with the alternator, or an issue with the electrical system. It could also be bad wiring or a faulty starter motor. You may be able to jump-start your car and take it to a garage to get it checked out.

What About the Rapid Clicking When Trying to Start a Car?

Rapid clicking could mean a dead battery or an alternator issue. It could also be corrosion of the terminals causing the problem.

There may not be enough power to crank the engine. That would cause the starter motor to turn on and off. When the flywheel gets knocked by the starter pinion gear, it makes a click which is the sound you hear.

What Causes a Clicking Sound When Trying to Start a Car?

1. The battery is dead

This is possibly the most common cause of a rapid clicking noise. If it is a dead battery, it may be that the battery terminals are corroded. If this is the case, it will stop the current passing through.

Your car battery may not have enough voltage; you can test it to see if it has dropped lower than the normal 12.6 volts. If it has, then it is likely that the battery power is too low. You can jump-start it to get it to a garage and recharge the car battery back to the normal battery voltage range.

However, you must be aware that this will not be a long-term solution, and it may need further investigation as the source of the battery issue may be to do with the alternator.

2. Problems with the alternator

A faulty alternator may be the cause of the clicking noise. It can also cause problems with the battery and prevent it from fully charging. If you try to jump-start your car and manage to get it going, only for it to shut off again, this could be a problem with the alternator.

The alternator is critical to other car functions but is a relatively simple component. It may be that you need to have your alternator reconditioned. This means any parts can be replaced or cleaned up to get it functioning again.

3. Incorrect battery connection

It could be that you have some loose wires or corrosion on the cables. It may be that the wires need tightening. The connections are crucial to enable the batteries to function properly.

An incorrect connection with the starter relay will cause the voltage in the battery to become lower, preventing it from working properly.

4. A faulty battery

A failing battery could be due to several things. It could have loose cable ends or disconnected or frayed wires. It may be that there is an accumulation of dust and dirt that needs cleaning off the connections; this can be done with a wire brush.

A faulty battery is usually due to an issue with the connections and wires, as any break in the circuit will mean it doesn’t work.

5. Starter motor or the solenoid

If you have a problem with the starter motor, you may hear a single loud click when you turn the key in the ignition. A bad starter could be due to debris and dirt getting into it and causing a problem. There may be loose connections or damage.

This may be able to be tested by seeing if the starter solenoid reacts to external power. This is an electromagnet that engages the starter motor. If this is not working, your car won’t start.

6. Corrosion build-up

Corrosion can cause a fault in the electrical system. This can mean that the current is unable to get through. They can be cleaned with a battery cleaning agent. Getting your vehicle regularly serviced will help to reduce the amount of corrosion, meaning less chance of it causing an electrical problem.

Possible Fixes to the Problem

1. Jump-start the car

You could use jumper cables and try jump-starting your vehicle. This is a short-term fix to get it to a garage for a diagnostic check.

2. Check the wiring and battery cables

You can check the wiring and cables for dirt or fraying, but take safety precautions when investigating your car engine.

3. Check the battery cable connections

You can check the battery cable connections for any loose or broken ones. Again, be careful and seek professional advice before trying to fix any electrical component.

4. Clean battery terminals

You can clean the battery terminals with a battery cleaning agent, but take the necessary precautions and seek advice if you are unsure.

Car Won’t Start One Click Then Nothing

If the car clicks as you turn the ignition key or press the start button, but nothing happens, this is a sign of a defective starter motor. If you hear it making a clicking noise once, just a single click, then it is a sure sign the car starter engine is faulty.

Rapid Clicks When Trying to Start Car But Lights Work

If you hear fast repetitive clicking but the lights still work, it means the battery is weak; it has the power to turn on the lights but not enough to start your car engine.

Should You See a Mechanic?

There are some simple things you can do at home. For example, you can check for dirt and debris, clean the cable ends, check for loose connections, and jump your car to get it going.

However, you must be careful when tinkering with electrical things, so it is advisable to have a trained mechanic work on it. They can also make sure the problem is resolved long term, get to the root cause and restore or replace components to ensure you are back on the road once more.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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