If you find that you need to make several attempts to start your car, or if you have to hold the key for more than a few seconds before the engine turns over, you may have problem with the vehicle's starter. If you suspect that this may be the case, listen carefully for either of the following sounds that indicate your car has a bad starter.
1. Whining Noise Without the Engine Turning Over
One sound for which you should be on the lookout is a whining noise that is heard while you are turning your car key. When you hear this noise, you will probably notice that the engine is not turning over as it should.
If this is the case, there is an issue with the starter motor's ability to come into contact with the flywheel. Known as freewheeling. the motor turns and turns but does not come into contact with the gears responsible for engaging with your car's engine.
This could be a sign that the flywheel is worn down, or it could be caused by an increased gap between the motor and flywheel. And, while they may come into contact eventually, especially when you first start noticing the noise, the problem will only get worse until no engagement between the two can occur. This would then leave you unable to start your car at all.
2. Grinding Sounds During and After Starting the Car
Another noise indicating that your car's starter is going bad is a grinding sound you may hear while you are trying to start the car. This noise may also be present for a few seconds the engine has turned over. The sound is similar to the one you hear when you try to turn the key when the engine is already running.
If you hear grinding noises, there are a couple of possible causes. First, the gears inside the starter may be out of alignment. When they come into contact with the flywheel, metal meets metal, which creates the noise.
Second, the motor itself may be loose or starting to go bad. With either of these issues, your starter is on the verge of failing completely and needs immediate professional attention.
If you notice the above noises coming from your car and seem to be having trouble getting the engine to start, there is most likely a problem with the starter. Take your car to an auto repair shop so that they can inspect your vehicle and take the necessary action to either fix or replace the bad part.