My Car Won’t Start! What’s That Clicking Noise?

Like humans, cars can also become sick when you least expect it. Imagine getting set in the morning for a long-awaited presentation at work only to get into your car, insert the key to start the engine, and all you hear is a clicking noise.

That experience can be damn frustrating, especially when you’re running late already. By then, many thoughts would fill your mind; could it be an empty gas tank? (Well, you bought a full tank a few days ago). Could it be the battery and so on!

Note that if a car won’t start but produces a clicking noise, casting a “lot” won’t solve the problem. The simple causes and solutions to this problem are right before you in this article.

Causes of Clicking Noise when Starting a Car

Undoubtedly, you can be overwhelmed by some problems in your vehicle, especially when they occur at times when you are not prepared for them. A consistent hesitation to start is one of such problems in a car.

Meanwhile, most issues aren’t the actual problems. They are only a reflection of the real problem. In other words, if a car won’t start but rather gives off a single or rapid clicking sound, that’s only an effect. There is a reason why it is so. This is based on the Law of Cause and Effect.

Therefore, failure to identify the reason why your car won’t start in the morning after having a nice time cruising around town yesterday can be more frustrating. However, some of the causes of such an issue are outlined below.

Battery issue

A bad or dead battery is the first suspect when a car fails to start. The battery is responsible for supplying electric current to the starter motor in order to kick start the engine. Although, other components like the spark plugs synergize with the battery in this operation.

However, the battery is designed to supply the initial electric power that your car requires to start when you turn the key or push the ignition button.

Therefore, a bad battery that fails to hold a charge or one that is completely flat for some reason may only release clicking sounds without starting the car. 

So, if your car fails to start when you engage the ignition switch, you most likely have a bad battery that won’t hold a charge or a relatively low battery voltage. In some cases, corroded battery terminals can be the issue.

Bad starter

Next to a battery failure is a bad starter. The starter motor works in synergy with the flywheel to trigger the cranking operation that starts the engine. The starter solenoid receives electric current from the battery to initiate this process.

So, if you inspect the battery and realize that it isn’t responsible for the car’s failure to start, you may want to check the starter motor too. If this component is bad, it will only produce a clicking noise instead of spinning the engine to start.

Defective alternator

A defective alternator is yet another reason why your car won’t start. The alternator is responsible for turning mechanical energy into electrical energy in your car.

Besides powering the electrical components in your car, it also charges the car battery while the car is on the road or idling.

Once the alternator is damaged due to overloading or leaking fluid, it will no longer be able to charge the battery. So, a dead battery can also be a product of a defective alternator, and these two can hinder the engine from starting.

Faulty wiring

Wires can wear out over a period of time. When you perceive a burning smell alongside the clicking sounds when starting your car, you most likely have a bad (burnt) wiring.

Since a car’s operation comprises mechanical and electrical operations, defective wiring can be the reason why your car won’t start.

What to do when a car won’t start

Of course, the challenges above can be overwhelming when you don’t know what to do. However, the following are simple solutions you can implement to rectify the problems.

Recharge or replace the battery

If you have a flat battery, ensure to take it out and recharge it until the voltage is capable of powering up the car again. However, if the battery won’t hold a charge because it is completely damaged, kindly replace it.

Jumpstart the car

Sometimes you may be in a location where charging your car’s battery is impossible. In this case, request that a good Samaritan helps to jumpstart your car’s battery to start the car. 

All you need is to connect jumper cables between the person’s battery and yours, then start the car. However, ensure to find out how to jumpstart a car correctly.

Replace the faulty components

Irrespective of the “first aid” approach you to implement, the problem may reoccur if you fail to change the faulty components.

So, if you have a bad starter, alternator, or electrical wiring, ensure to replace them as soon as possible. This will help you avert future occurrences of the same problem.

FAQs

Does a bad alternator make a clicking noise?

A faulty alternator that has no capacity to charge a battery will only produce a clicking noise when you try to start the car. The alternator plays two main roles in a vehicle. It helps to power the electrical components and charge the battery.

Therefore, a bad alternator will eventually fail in these roles. So, once you notice a faulty alternator, kindly replace the component ASAP.

How do I know if my starter is bad?

Some of the signs that reveal a bad starter include the inability to properly crank an engine to start, release of clicking sounds instead of starting an engine, etc. If you’re having difficulty starting your car, the starter is one of the components to blame.

So, kindly inspect every component that plays a role in the ignition process, including the starter motor. If this component is bad, simply replace it, and you’re good to go.

Can you jump start a car with a bad alternator?

Sure, you can jumpstart a car with a bad alternator. The battery can power the car without the alternator when you jumpstart it. However, the battery must be in good condition to do the job alone without the alternator.

Nevertheless, if you have a bad alternator, jumpstarting the car and sustaining the power with the battery is likened to a “first aid.” Ensure to replace the faulty alternator after this fast-track approach.

Why would a car suddenly not start?

Battery failure, defective alternator, bad starter motor, etc., are some of the reasons why your car suddenly won’t start. However, not to panic, you can ask a friend or neighbor to help you jumpstart your car’s battery as a rescue strategy.

On the other hand, it is advisable to have a spare battery in your trunk. This will help you avert being stranded, especially in locations where you can’t find help immediately.

Final Thoughts

Some car malfunctions are unpredictable; hence you need to be prepared with various alternative solutions at all times.

If you suddenly realize that your car won’t start, instead it produces a clicking noise, ensure to inspect the battery, starter, alternator, or wiring to identify the problem.

However, if you’re not a DIYer, this exercise can be pretty tricky. So, kindly contact a professional mechanic to diagnose and fix the problem.

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