Car Clicks But Won’t Start? Here’s The Fix

Does your car make a clicking sound but won't start for some reason? What are the causes and how can you fix it? Here's the ultimate guide.

Heading down to work with your car only to find out that it won’t start is one of the worst feelings. Sometimes the car will crank without starting, other times it may click and that is it.

In most cases, when the car clicks without starting, the problem is due to an electrical component. The good thing is that if you really need to get going, you would be able to jump-start the car.

If you do manage to jump-start the car, which is not always the case, the best thing to do is to get it to a mechanic.

In this article, we will go through the most common problems for why your car clicks but won’t start.

Table of ContentsShow

What Makes The Clicking Noise?

hand plugs in key, trying to start car engine

When you turn the ignition on and start the car, the starter motor engages and the pinion gear of the starter engine starts rotating the crankshaft through the starting ring gear.

If the starter motor does not have sufficient power to spin the gear, you will hear a clicking sound that is caused by the pinion gear hitting the starting ring gear repeatedly.

The cause of this phenomenon is due to insufficient power to the starting motor which is needed for the engine to crank. Instead the power is just enough to make the starter engine engage the starting gear.

What Causes The Clicking Noise?

Does Your Car Crank But Won't Start

As previously mentioned the clicking noise is due to electrical problems. This may be due to multiple reasons such as the battery, alternator, or the starter motor itself.

In short, the most common reasons are the following:

  • Dead battery
  • Broken alternator
  • Faulty starter
  • Bad wiring

Each of these potential causes will be discussed below.

Dead Battery

man using jumper cables to start car

A very common problem that causes a clicking noise when trying to start the car is a dead battery. To test the battery, you may simply use a voltmeter (or multimeter) to measure the voltage in the battery.

The normal voltage of a car battery should be 12.6 volts or above. If it turns out that it is lower, the battery may be the culprit.

You may still start the car by jump-starting it and then drive it to recharge the battery. However, this is not a long-term solution.

Broken Alternator

alternator repair cost

If you do try to jump-start the car and it does so successfully but then shuts off, the problem may be in the alternator.

A broken alternator could also lead to a broken battery. It is therefore important to distinguish the fault, you may do so by testing the alternator.

If you change the battery and the problem comes back within a short period, you should be very suspicious that the alternator is the culprit.

Faulty Starter

hands holding car starter

The reason why your car is not starting may be due to a faulty starter motor, believe it or not.

A bad starter will in most cases not produce a continuous rapid click, instead, a single, loud click can be heard.

It is also possible to hear a grinding noise or you may just hear a whirling sound.

Bad Wiring

mechanic changing car battery

As with all electrical components, a bad wire somewhere in the electrical system may be the culprit. You should be extra careful to make sure that the clamps are connected to the battery.

There is also a possibility that corrosion is present in the battery terminals, making it impossible for any current to go through the cables.

If this is the case, simply disconnect the battery and get rid of the corrosion with a battery cleaning agent. Always make sure that you follow all precautionary methods when working with the battery and electricity in general.

Summary

man inserting key in car ignition lock

If your car is clicking but not starting, there is most probably a fault in one of the electric components such as the battery, alternator, or wiring.

The clicking sound is produced as the pinion gear of the starter motor is hitting the starting ring gear.

In most cases, it is possible to jumpstart the car, if the car refuses to start or starts only to shut off shortly after, the problem most likely resides in the starter or alternator.

A problem with the starter will emit a big, single click. A dead battery or a faulty alternator will produce a continuous click.

Whatever the problem may be, if you decide to check the problem yourself or try to fix it, make sure to use all safety precautions possible when dealing with electricity.

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Bajro Muric
Bajro Muric

Bajro is a big car enthusiast with a love for writing and teaching. He writes about anything regarding cars - from common problems and fixes to racing.