If you’re a car enthusiast or automotive Diy and looking for how to test a starter with a multimeter, this article is just what you need. You will find out how to do it step by step and how the process will look like, no matter what type of starter we are talking about. If you want to get more information feel free to read on.
Before checking the starter, a general battery checking test should be done to ensure that car’s battery is in good condition. Because if there’s a problem with the vehicle’s battery then you can’t check starter unless the battery is replaced. Starters will do their work efficiently only in presence of enough voltage i.e 12v dc or more which is only given them by a fully charged battery.
Easy steps to check starter
- After testing battery the first thing you’ll need to do is measure the voltage across the starter’s terminals. Before this just take a sharp look on physical condition of starter and its cable, either nut bolts are tightened or loose? If you found any looseness fix that first.
- Now check for voltage, this can be done by clamping one of your volt meter leads on one terminal and touching the other lead on the other terminal. If there is no voltage, it means that either your battery or starter are dead or have a broken connection. If there is power, then you should check for resistance between each wire and ground.
- To check starter’s resistance connect black probe of multimeter to ground and red to positive terminal of starter. It should give near 4 to 6 ohms if starter solenoid is working well. If there is an open circuit, this could mean that either your wires are broken or shorted together somewhere in-between their connections to the starter solenoid. This is how you know that there are no short circuits or breaks in the wires.
- If, however, your multimeter starts reading at a very low resistance when measuring between each wire and ground (near to zero ohm), this means that either one of your wires has lost its insulation somewhere along the way or they have been connected together. In this case, you should find the two wires that are shorted and either repair them or replace them entirely as a pair.
Checking Starter’s solenoid
In another case, if your starter’s solenoid clicks but does not turn over at all, it means there is no voltage going to the motor inside of it which usually happens when the main engine control relay has failed. If the starter solenoid gets power but doesn’t click, it could mean that there is a problem with either how much voltage it’s getting or a possible failure of the control relay. In this case, relay should be checked and replaced if needed.
Testing starter relay with Multimeter
In case you found no issue with the starter motor and battery then it’s time to go for engine starter relay. For this, you should have a working multimeter, alligator clips and a 12 v battery.
- Insert multimeter probes to relevant sockets, black probe to COM and red one to socket having volt, ohm symbols.
- Now is the time to find starter relay location, in most of vehicles you may find it in fuse box near dashboard. Remove fuse box’s plastic covering and pull out relay from it.
- Now bring it near power source and energize relay with 12v dc in true manner of polarity.
- If the relay produces click sound, that means that relay is working well otherwise you should replace it immediately.
- You may also check relay functionality more deeply by testing its output points, either relay is working in true manner and switching between its NC and NO points.
For more help watch this video.
Causes of Starter failure
One of the most common causes of vehicle starter problems is corrosion and wires brokerage. If you notice any unusual surface rust on your starter, replace it immediately because this can lead to short circuits in heavy traffic situations and cause permanent damage to electrical components within your car or truck’s wiring harnesses, if not fixed quickly with an inexpensive repair kit.
We hope that after reading this guide blog you’ll be able to check your car starter by yourself. When you’ve tested the starter and found it ok, it should be able to hold a charge and produce enough power. If not, then there may be another electrical problem that needs to be addressed by someone with more expertise than you.
Sometimes there may be a circuit fault or something else that prevents the normal working of starters or any other equipment. We hope this post was helpful in deciding whether your car’s starter is good or bad. Have any questions? Let us know below.
Leo Maxwell is basically an Electrical engineer and hobby tech writer, having 13 years of experience in the electronics and instrumentation industry. He has hands on experience working in various fields like Powerhouses, solar, automotive, and FMCG.
During his career, he has used many power tools and meters in electrical projects. Now his aim is to explain tools and troubleshooting in easy guides to help people. Other then it, leo loves traveling, reading books and DIY tasks.