Checking your starting system on your vehicle

starterChecking your starting system on your vehicle One of the most common problems on vehicles is that they simply will not start.  There are several different factors that can affect whether or not your vehicle will start.  In this article we will discuss some simple tests that will allow you to test your entire starting system.  This will help you save money and do it yourself. Ok, the only real tool that you are going to need to test your starting system is a simple multimeter.  You can use a simple multimeter such as this ATD5536 Digital Multimeter or as advanced as this FLU885 Fluke 88 Multimeter.  Either one of these meters will work to properly check your starting system. The Procedure

  1. The first thing that you are going to test will be your battery.  This is the simplest thing to test.  To do so you will simply need to take your multimeter and switch it to DC Voltage.  Once you have your meter ready you are ready to disable the fuel system.  To do so you will want to remove the fuse for the fuel pump, this will prevent the car from starting when you crank the engine.  You will then want to take the red lead from your meter and place on the positive post of the battery, and then take the other lead and place on the negative post of the battery.  Then crank the engine and record your reading on a piece of paper.  Next you will want to test the starter, so you will want to connect your meter on the same setting across your starter.  You will want to connect to where the positive battery cable is attached to the metal frame of the starter.  If the reading is 0.5 volts or more different from the battery you are going to want to continue on and do the next tests. If not then the starting system is in good operating condition.
  2. Assuming that your test has failed on the first one, so we will go onto testing the next thing in line.  This test is for testing to see if your battery clamps are corroded  To do so you will again switch to DC Voltage and have the engine cranking, and place the red lead on the positive post of the battery, then take the black one and place it on the battery clamp you will have to crank the engine over while touching the posts.  There should not be anything more than 0.2-0.3 Volts showing on your meter.  Do this same test for the other battery clamp.  If you do have more than the above voltage you will need to remove and clean your battery clamps.  You can use a wire brush such as this ATD8239 Wire Brush.  After you clean the clamps you will want to retest and if they pass, then you will want to do the first test again and make sure.  If they fail you will want to move onto the next step.
  3. After testing your battery clamps, we can move onto each of your battery cables.  Again to test these you will have to have your vehicle cranking.  To do this test you are going to have to follow your positive battery cable until it reaches the starter.  Have a helper hold the one lead of your meter on the positive post of the battery, and then you place the other lead on the end connected to the starter motor.  You will then switch to DC Voltage again and you should not more than 0.2 Volts on your meter.  You will then want to do the same test for your negative battery cable, following it.  If any of your cables have more Volts than the above, you are going to want to replace them.
  4. Once you have tested, and or replaced the battery cables, you are now ready to move onto testing your starting circuit. You are going to want either jack the front of the vehicle up and place it on jack stands, or if you can crawl under it do so.   Once you are under your vehicle you are going to want to locate your starter.  Then you will want to take and place your positive lead on the post on the starter where the positive battery cable is connected, then take the negative and go to the ground post straight below that post.  This is testing the starter solenoid; you do not want to have more than 1 volt on the meter.  If you have more than 1 volt your starter has high resistance and you will need to remove it and take it to a shop and either have them overhaul your starter, or simply buy a new one.

After doing all of these tests your starting system should be working in your vehicle.  It should also help you save some money because you will not have to take your vehicle to the repair shop and get stuck with an expensive repair bill.

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