Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to test starter solenoid?

As you turn the ignition key, car's starter motor is switched on by power delivered by car battery, via solenoid. The starter solenoid is a relay that closes metal contacts with the starter motor, when it receives a current from car battery and ignition switch. As a result of current being delivered, the motor starts working. This makes a retractable rotating gear to engage with the flywheel and turn it to crank the engine . The starter solenoid thus provides power to drive starter motor.

So when your car doesn't start, it may be due to the malfunctioning of several parts that come into play ranging from the car battery to the retractable gear. There are two main types of starter solenoids. One type only acts as a switch which closes the circuit between battery and motor. The other type may act as a switch, as well as move the plunger that engages the gear with the flywheel. Insufficient power delivered from the car battery can be the reason for starter solenoid not being able to switch on the motor. Let us take a look at how to troubleshoot a starter solenoid

Arm yourself with a voltmeter and check whether the battery output voltage is around 12 V. If it is, then you can proceed with the rest of starter solenoid testing procedure. To test the starter solenoid connect a jumper cable to the battery side of the solenoid. The solenoid has two large posts and two small posts. A single large post is located on either side of the solenoid. Attach the alligator clip of the jumper cable to the large post on the battery side of the solenoid. Touch the opposite end of the jumper cable to the large post on the other side of the solenoid. If the starter turns the engine normally, the problem likely lies with an ignition override switch, such as a clutch start switch or a neutral safety switch. If the starter produces a buzzing sound, the starter is likely defective. If there is no response at all, the solenoid is defective and must be replaced.
Disconnect the wire that runs from ignition switch to solenoid. In order to test the starter solenoid.
To jump you can use insulated pliers or a screwdriver to short the big post on the starter solenoid, with the ignition switch terminal on the same device. This will directly transfer power to solenoid without the ignition switch current. Now ask somebody to turn on the ignition.
If your engine cranks with the ignition switch terminal shorted in this way, then your solenoid is in good working condition and the problem is elsewhere. Otherwise, if the engine doesn't crank, you'll have to replace the starter solenoid.


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