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  • You can try to jump-start your car while it has a bad starter, but there’s no guarantee that it will work.
  • A quick fix to get your starter going is to gently tap it with a hammer.
  • Driving with a bad starter is dangerous, and it’s best to replace it as soon as possible.

Dealing with starting issues can be frustrating. If you urgently need to get somewhere, jump-starting your car can sometimes do the trick. But what if your starter is faulty? Can you still jump-start your car?

Jump-Starting a Car With a Bad Starter

You can jump-start your car even when the starter is bad. While there’s no guarantee it will work, it might be worth giving it a try, especially if you have to make that urgent trip.

Most of the time, jump-starting will only work if you’re dealing with a weak or drained battery. The chances of it working are slim if you’re dealing with starter issues.

How to Start a Car With a Bad Starter

Here’s how to start your car if you suspect that your starter is bad:

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Verify Whether Your Starter Is Bad

car starter inspection
The best thing to do if your starter is bad is to have it replaced as soon as possible.

Before following the procedure below, the first thing you have to do is be sure that you’re dealing with starter issues. A grinding or whirring noise when trying to crank your engine is a tell-tale sign that your starter is bad.

The best thing to do if your starter is bad is to have it replaced as soon as possible. But if you’re looking for a temporary fix, you can proceed with the steps below.

Check the Electrical Connections Going to Your Starter and Battery

Loose connections can cause starting issues. Turn off your engine, and visually inspect the cables and terminals. Tighten any loose connections. Make sure to observe safety measures while conducting inspections and repairs.

Check for Corrosion

Aside from fixing loose connections, it’s also recommended to check for corrosion. Corrosion can disrupt the flow of electric current, affecting the performance of your starter and battery.

Look for whitish, bluish, or greenish substances on your battery terminals, cables, and posts. You can use a commercial battery terminal brush and cleaner to clean your battery terminals.

To help prevent corrosion on your battery, consider using anti-corrosion battery washers and battery grease after cleaning it.

Gently Tap the Starter With a Hammer

A quick fix to get your starter to function temporarily is to tap it with a hammer or any metal you can find on your trunk that’s long and thin.

The starter motor is usually below the engine’s left cylinder bank on the driver’s side. Once you locate the starter, gently tap it with a hammer. It’s important to be careful when doing this and avoid electrical connections.

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If you’re traveling with a companion, you can ask the person to try and start the ignition while you tap the starter.

Why does this trick work? Over time, starters can start developing mechanical issues. There can be inactive spots between the field coils and the armateur. Tapping the starter can free up moving parts and dislodge a stuck starter gear, allowing current to flow to the starter motor.

You can try to start your car at this point. But if it doesn’t work, you can try to jump-start it. Make sure that you know the jump-starting basics before you do anything with your vehicle.

How to Determine Whether the Issue Is the Battery or the Starter

If you’re having a hard time starting your vehicle, you’re probably dealing with a battery or starter issue. But how would you know which one is causing the problem?

A mechanic can pinpoint the issue through different tests. However, if you want to at least have an idea, you can try the steps below:

Option # 1: Check Headlight Brightness

Turn the headlights on, then go to the front of your car to assess their brightness. After that, try to start the car again. If your headlights dim while you’re starting your car, you might be dealing with a weak battery.

Option # 2: Listen to the Ignition

When you try to turn on the ignition, determine if the starter starts producing a droning noise and slows down after a while. This sound could mean a problem with the car battery.

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Option # 3: Bench Test the Starter Motor

If you’re a seasoned automotive DIYer, you can also bench test the starter motor to find out if it’s functioning. The process usually involves connecting the motor to a battery and grounding the body of the motor. The motor should spin freely and smoothly if it works.

However, this process can be complicated. Don’t attempt to do anything with your starter or any component in your engine if you don’t have the necessary tools and know-how to do the test. When in doubt, you can always contact a trusted mechanic.

Is It Dangerous to Drive With a Bad Starter?

Yes. It’s not recommended to drive if your starter is malfunctioning. A failing starter can cause your engine to behave erratically, putting you at risk of accidents while on the road.

Also, a bad starter can put too much stress on components like the battery and alternator. You might end up damaging your engine more if you continue to drive.

Tapping your starter with a hammer is just a temporary fix. You’ll still have to replace your malfunctioning starter to keep your engine running at its best.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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