How To Diagnose A Failing Starter Motor

Day after day for years, the starter motor on your car works reliably to get your motor running and help you get on with your day. Until one day it acts up. It could be a fluke or a sign your battery is failing. Or it could be that your starter motor is failing.

To help know what to look for, we put together this guide on starter motors which includes:

  • What is a starter motor
  • How to tell if a starter motor is failing
  • Reasons why starter motors fail
  • Where to buy a starter motor for your Toyota

What Is A Starter Motor?

Toyota starter motor

The starter motor is an electric motor that rotates your engine's internal moving parts until it begins running its own power. Once the engine is running, the starter disengages until the next time you need to start your car. Ideally, a starter motor will last for many years and thousands of starts, but occasionally they go bad.

For more info on starter motors, here's a great article on all you ever wanted to know about starter motors.

How To Tell If A Starter Motor Is Failing 

The most common symptom of a failing starter is that nothing happens when you turn the key, even though your battery seems to be fully charged.

Other signs include:

  • The starter makes a funny noise  - You could hear a clicking noise, or grinding, or it could sound like the starter is spinning freely without rotating the engine.
  • Smoke - You could see smoke from under the hood when you try to start your car. Or it could smell like something is burning.
  • The starter continues to run -  The starter continues to run after your engine is running, making a high-pitched spinning or grinding noise.
  • The starter works intermittently - You turn the key and nothing happens for a few seconds and then the starter engages. Or, you turn the key off and back on, and then it engages.

Reasons Why Starter Motors Fail

Toyota starter

Starter motors eventually wear out over time. This wear could be due to age, use, and one or more of the following reasons:

  • Loose wiring connections - Your car's starter could have a loose or bad internal or external connection.
  • Dirty or corroded connections - One or more electrical connection is dirty or corroded
  • Damaged or worn-out parts inside the starter motor.
  • Oil or fluid leaks - In addition to the fluid leak problem, your starter won't work properly if it gets covered in oil or antifreeze.
  • Bad connection, relay, or fuse - Another component in your car's electrical system like a connection, relay, or fuse is bad.

Where To Buy A Starter Motor For Your Toyota 

Olathe Toyota Parts Center is the best place to buy a starter motor for your Toyota car or truck. We sell genuine Toyota parts at wholesale prices and offer fast shipping. We also offer resources like a free Toyota VIN decoder, diagnostic info for common Toyota trouble codes, and a wide variety of resources just for Toyota and Scion owners.