Blog Car Care Advice Car Won’t Start & Makes a Clicking Noise: Causes & Solutions
Car Care Advice

Car Won’t Start & Makes a Clicking Noise: Causes & Solutions

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Here’s a situation no car owner wants to be in:
You turn the ignition switch on, and your car won’t start and makes a clicking noise instead. 

What should you do next?

In this article, we’ll answer that question right after we explain why your car doesn’t start. We’ll then tell you the best way to handle this issue and go over five car won’t start clicking noise FAQs.

This Article Contains:

Let’s dive right in.

Why Your Car Won’t Start and Makes Clicking Noises

It’s bad enough when your car doesn’t start as you turn the ignition switch on.

On top of that, if your car clicks, you need to contact a mechanic ASAP because there are issues with the internal parts of your vehicle.

But which parts?
The answer to that depends on the car clicking noise you hear.

Generally, you’ll hear either:

1. Fast-paced, multiple car clicks
2. A sluggish, single click

Let’s check what these clicking sounds might indicate:

A. Multiple Clicks

When you hear a rapid clicking noise as you attempt to start the engine, it usually indicates an issue with the electrical system in your car.

Specifically, there could be a problem with the following:

And due to these issues, your starter motor doesn’t receive enough power to stay energized. As a result, the starter motor repeatedly activates and deactivates, resulting in rapid clicking.

B. Single Click

If you only hear a single click as you try to start the car, it could be an electrical problem with the starter solenoid or starter relay

A faulty or corroded starter solenoid tends to absorb the electrical current meant for the starter motor. When the starter motor doesn’t get the power it needs, your car won’t start, and you’ll hear a single click.

Note: A bad starter may also produce a grinding noise when trying to start the cars engine.

Additionally, a damaged or locked engine can produce a clicking noise and prevent the car from starting.

Engine lock up or damage to your engine compartment can happen due to:

Alternatively, a damaged spark plug or a faulty fuel pump can be the reason for the clicking sounds. But in such a scenario, you’d be able to hear the engine crank.

Now, if you notice a clicking noise and your car doesn’t start, what should you do? 
Let’s find out.

What Should You Do? 

Many car owners instinctively assume that there’s a battery problem when they hear a clicking sound as they try to start the engine.

But as we’ve mentioned before, the exact cause of the clicking noise can vary.

The clicking noise can be due to the following:

And without proper automotive training and experience, you may not be able to diagnose why your car won’t start precisely.

That’s not all.
It also may not be safe to replace damaged parts on your own. For example, when working with a vehicle battery, you may get exposed to dangerous battery acid fumes.

Instead of trying to guess the underlying cause, it’s best to request a mechanic’s assistance.

The mechanic would first try to start your car and listen for a rapid clicking sound or single click noise.

A. Multiple Clicks

In case of a rapid clicking noise, the mechanic would:

Step 1: Jump-start your car

The mechanic may use another vehicle, a jumper cable set, and a battery charger. Or they might try alternative methods for jump-starting your car, like using a jump start box or spinning the car’s alternator.

In any case, if the car starts, the issue could be with the battery. On the other hand, if the car starts and then dies, chances are that you’ve got a faulty alternator.

Step 2: Inspect the battery terminals and battery cables

If the battery’s positive or negative terminal shows corrosion (due to leaking battery acid), the mechanic will clean off the corrosion build-up with a wire brush. And if a battery cable is loosely connected, the mechanic would fix the poor battery connection and prevent high resistance.

Step 3: Check the car battery voltage

Generally, a fully charged battery would show a voltage reading of 12.6 Volts on the multimeter or voltmeter when the vehicle isn’t running. If the measured car battery voltage is nowhere close, you may have a drained or dead battery (flat battery). Resulting in low voltage and high resistance, hence the rapid clicking. 

Step 4: Recharge or replace the flat battery and try to start your car

If the car makes a clicking sound again, even after installing a new battery, the mechanic may conclude that the alternator is at fault and recommend replacing the defective alternator.

B. Single Click

In case of a single click, the mechanic would:

Step 1: Locate the starter motor inside your car

Usually, you can find your starter motor near the bottom of the engine compartment, where your car engine and the transmission connect.

Step 2: Inspect the starter

If you have a jammed starter pinion gear, the mechanic will try to free the pinion gear. Moreover, the mechanic would check if the starter solenoid or relay of the starter motor is working as expected or if they should replace it.

Step 3: Replace the bad starter motor and try to start your car

If you’ve got a starter problem that you can’t fix, the mechanic would replace the faulty starter and then confirm whether your car starts without making a clicking sound.

Since this is a lot of work, you’ll need to hire an excellent mechanic.

Essentially, when hiring a mechanic, ensure that they:

This brings us to a question: is there an easy way to find such mechanics?

The Best Way to Deal with the Issue

Having a car that won’t start is troubling enough. 

On top of that, you shouldn’t have to worry about looking for a reliable mechanic or towing your car to an auto repair shop.

Is there a better way to do things?
Of course! 

Just reach out to AutoNation Mobile Service — an affordable, hassle-free, convenient, and reliable mobile auto repair service.

Here are some of the fantastic benefits that come with using AutoNation Mobile Service:

Next, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions associated with your car not starting and producing a clicking sound:

5 FAQs: Car Won’t Start, There’s a Clicking Noise

Here are answers to five car wont start clicking noise FAQs:

1. How Does My Car Start?

When you push the Start button or turn on the ignition key of your car:

2. How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Bad Battery?

The cost of replacing your dead battery (or weak battery) can vary between $90 and $400, depending on the type of new battery you’re purchasing, your vehicle, and your location. Since installing a new battery is a straightforward task, the associated labor cost could be minimal.

3. How Much Does a Bad Alternator Replacement Cost?

The alternator replacement cost can vary depending on your vehicle’s make, model, and year.

You can expect to pay between $420 and $850 to purchase a new alternator. Also, depending on your location, you may incur additional labor costs for the replacement.

4. How Much Would It Cost to Replace a Faulty Starter?

Getting a brand new starter can cost you anywhere from $50 to $350, based on your location as well as the make and model of your vehicle. And the labor cost for replacing your bad starter can range between $150 and $1100.

As a result, your starter replacement cost could amount to $200 – $1450.

5. What Are the Symptoms of a Faulty Starter?

Here are some common signs that point to a starter problem:

Closing Thoughts

When your car doesn’t start and you hear a clicking noise, call up a mechanic ASAP. 

A professional mechanic is well-equipped to detect if the underlying cause is a bad battery or alternator, a blown fuse or fusible link, corroded battery terminals, a faulty starter motor, etc. 

And for hassle-free and affordable auto repairs, you can reach out to AutoNation Mobile Service. Our experienced technicians will come to your driveway for all car inspection, maintenance, service, and repair needs.