My Car Won’t Start, and There’s a Clicking Noise

April 17, 2024

What to Do When Your Car Won’t Start

It’s a typical morning, and you need to get from your house in Strongsville to Downtown Cleveland for work. You attempt to engage your auto-start and it does not work, so you head out to the car. You put your key in the ignition and expect to hear a lion roar, but instead, you hear a meager clicking noise. The panic sets in, and you realize that your car won’t start—and you won’t be going anywhere this morning.

Why won’t your car start? There could be several things going on with your car, depending on the symptoms. Rad Air put together this article to help you determine what’s next when your car won’t start and all you hear is a clicking noise. Let’s look at two common scenarios.


Your Car Won’t Start—and You Hear a Rapid Clicking Noise

This is most likely a battery issue or a problem with the alternator and/or charging system. Your starter relay and high current contacts are trying to stay closed but there isn’t enough power to hold them in position so they are rapidly opening and closing. When there is a lack of power in the car, there is either low voltage or high resistance in the starter circuit.  Your car’s starter—a small electric motor that gets energy from the battery to start your engine—does not have enough power to run. This is why you hear it rapidly turning on and off and stopping, which is what makes that clicking noise. Try jump-starting and/or charging it back up, and if that doesn’t work, then it might be time for a battery replacement and system diagnostic and repair.

If the problem is high resistance, there could be corrosion on the battery terminals/connections, anywhere there is an electrical connector and/or charging system, or even a loose cable. Before replacement, an automotive repair technician can take a look at the terminals to check for corrosion and check the cables to make sure they are properly connected. In either case, have the charging system checked to make sure there is not an underlying issue killing your battery. Rad Air’s experienced mechanics can troubleshoot any issues with your vehicle and perform a battery and charging system inspection, or test to determine your exact problem,  along with any necessary electrical repairs.


Your Car Won’t Start—and You Hear One Click

If you hear nothing or only a single clicking sound, then nothing—rather than a stream of rapid clicks—you may still have an issue with the battery side of the system; however, this points more to the starter itself or the starter relay, a device that transfers power to the starter. A single clicking noise after you turn the key or push the start button for your vehicle can be a symptom of a bad starter or a severe loss of power flowing through the system. In this case, you will likely need to have your starter and/or circuit repaired or replaced.

We recommend trying to jumpstart your vehicle and driving it to your local Rad Air to have the issue diagnosed by a qualified automotive technician. If your engine won’t turn over even after a jump, you will need to arrange for a tow to get your vehicle checked.

Keep in mind that the longevity of your vehicle’s starter depends on many factors, including your vehicle make and model, your unique driving habits and style, the environment, and the condition of your engine.

Get Help When Your Car Won’t Start

We understand the dreadful feeling of getting in your car and realizing that it will not start. Rad Air technicians are experts at electrical repairs for cars and are here to help you diagnose the issue, find a solution, and repair your vehicle efficiently and accurately. No matter the reason, whether it is a battery or alternator issue, a starter relay problem, or another electrical issue, we can get you back on the road safely.

If you’ve been having issues with your car’s starter, stop rolling the dice to see if your car will or won’t start: Schedule your vehicle service at Rad Air and regain your confidence when you sit in the driver’s seat.

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