How do I know if I need a starter or not

I’m confused, I thought I needed a starter because I put the key in the ignition and it would make a clicking sound but would not start, so I was told to bang on the starter and then magically the car would start…this occured for about a week. Now I’m baffled because my car has started without any banging for several days in a row. Maybe I do not need a starter afterall.

The most probable cause is a failing battery. Stop by a place that will do a free battery test, Next most probable is the cables and connections, last most probable is the starter motor.

The clicking sound you are hearing is most likely from the starter solenoid. I assume that is part of the starter since most starters are made that way but some are not so they are seperate. Part of the solenoid’s job is to connect the main main battery lead to the starter motor when the ignition is turned to START. The electrical contacts of the solenoid get worn down after time and can cause the trouble you describe. This usually happens to cars with 100k miles or more on them. If this is the trouble you are having you will get by for a while but eventually the trouble will be back and repairs will be needed. The contacts can be replaced but you may as well put in a rebuilt unit so other ware items are replaced also.

Thank you guys for all your great advice… very much appreciated.

Since you don’t mention the make, model, engine, mileage, I will assume the car is a Toyota Corolla with the 4 cylinder and has 100k miles. As Cougar stated the solenoid contacts could well be worn away. Also the brushes could be worn to the point where they are barely making contact. The simplest approach is to have the starter replaced rather than troubleshooting to the failed component level.

Hope that helps. Get back to us with more information for a better diagnosis.

One way to check a questionable starter is to perform an amp draw test. This measures the amperage draw of the starter when attempting to start the engine. If this measurement is over spec, the starter requires replacement.


Please tell us model/year/engine. I had that exact problem with my Toyota starter, it was the contacts (cheap fix if you can find someone to do it).