Do Starters Go Bad From Sitting?

It is common for car owners to leave their cars sitting in the garage or driveway, especially if they already have a winterized vehicle. Unfortunately, if the vehicle sits long enough without occasionally starting it up, it can cause problems with certain parts of your car. Does the starter fall in this category of parts going bad from sitting too long? We have researched and answered that question in this article!

A starter can go bad from sitting too long. The reason why this happens is usually due to corrosion or moisture getting to the starter. If a vehicle, boat, or any other motor vehicle sits too long, the components within the starter could potentially go bad.

At times, you may not have a choice but to store your motor vehicle for an extended period of time. However, it does pose the risks of components such as the starter going bad. This article will discuss what can cause a starter to go bad and the signs to watch for, so please read on.

A car starter on the table, Do Starters Go Bad From Sitting?

Do Starters Go Bad From Sitting?

Over time, a starter can go bad from sitting too long. The problem with starters going bad from sitting too long typically results in corrosion due to driving conditions or other environmental factors. However, it can still pose a risk for starters to go bad over time.

For instance, you might need to replace the starter if you press the gas pedal down extra hard for the engine to turn over. On the other hand, if it won't start at all and is making a grinding or clicking noise, the starter is more than bad. If this is the case, you should consider having a professional come and replace your current starter.

It is essential to monitor your starter to ensure it doesn't go bad from sitting too long. Do be aware of any warning signs associated with starters going bad so you can take the appropriate actions.

A car motor starter photographed on a white background

Signs of Starter Going Bad

While a starter going bad from sitting too long is a possibility, it isn't something that will happen overnight. But, there are warning signs that you should be aware of to catch problems with your starter before it's too late.

If you notice any of the following signs, you should take your car to a mechanic immediately:

The engine turns over very slowly (or doesn't turn over at all). The engine may crank but not turn over. In addition, various other symptoms can indicate problems with starters going bad from sitting too long. These include grinding noises, a clicking sound, and other signs.

As you take your vehicle to the mechanic, be sure to point out these symptoms so they can determine what is wrong with the starter and ultimately fix it.

What Can Cause a Starter to Go Bad?

Many things can cause a starter to go bad, so let's take a look at each of them.


Some of the most common reasons are due to corrosion or environmental factors.

For instance, extreme temperatures can result in weakening parts within your starter. This causes components such as the brushes to wear out faster than usual. Furthermore, it could be that screws holding down specific components have come loose or corroded.

In other cases, corrosion may build up on the terminals of the starter. In turn, this could potentially block the power from going to the battery and cause a problem with starting up your car.

Bad Relay or Fuse Link

Another common reason why starters go bad is due to a faulty relay or fuse link.

The relay refers to the connection between your battery and the starter. So, if this is damaged in any way, it will impede the power from reaching your starter. As a result, it can cause your vehicle not to start up properly.

In these cases, the mechanic will inspect your fuses and replace them if necessary (if they are burnt out). In addition, they will check to ensure that they properly connect the links between the battery and starter.

Damaged Parts in the Starter

Other times, starter components may be damaged. For example, brushes and other essential parts of the starter could be worn out or broken. Therefore, you will need to replace them if this is the case.

Faulty Solenoid Switch

Another common reason why starters go bad is related to the solenoid switch.

The starter solenoid switch serves as an essential part of your vehicle's electrical system. The role of this switch is to provide power to your battery and ultimately allow your car or truck engine to start up. Without it, you will not be able to start your car as the starter will be dead.

Starter Pinion Damage

If the starter pinion has damage, you will likely need to replace it. This component is responsible for transferring power from your battery to your starter. If this part isn't working properly, the engine won't turn over as needed and ultimately not startup.

Battery Corrosion

In some cases, battery corrosion can cause problems with your starter. The reason is that the metal parts of your vehicle need to conduct electricity. In turn, this allows power from your battery to get through and make contact with your starter pinion, which in turn allows the engine to start.

Electric Motor Damage

In other cases, an electric motor can suffer damage. In turn, this prevents the engine from starting up as needed because it doesn't have enough power from your vehicle's battery.

Faulty Freewheel

Sometimes, a problem with the freewheel may be to blame for why your starter isn't working. Essentially, this part of the system works as a disconnect between the transmission and starter. If the freewheel fails or breaks down in any way, it will prevent power from going to your starter and, therefore, not allow your vehicle to start.

Can a Starter Go Out Suddenly?

It's also possible for a starter may go out suddenly. However, this is not always the case, as problems with starting your car can develop over time.

If you notice issues such as grinding noises or clicking sounds when turning over the engine, the chances are that you need to replace your starter. In addition, if you keep having trouble starting your car, the chances are that your starter is the reason.

An isolated photo of a car starter on a white background

How do I Test if My Starter is Bad?

Although you can test your starter by turning the key in your ignition and seeing if it starts, this is not always an accurate indicator of whether or not your starter needs to be replaced.

You will typically hear a clicking or grinding noise if the starter is bad. However, if you hear absolutely nothing, this can also signify that the starter is entirely shot.

How Long Can you Let a Car Sit Without Starting It?

If you have taken the necessary precautions to prep your vehicle for storage, then your car can sit for three to six months without being started. For example, you should remove or disconnect the battery terminals. In addition, you should have the fuel tank close to empty because the gas will go bad after three months of sitting.

If you plan to store your car for the winter, the necessary steps include getting a tune-up, putting fresh oil in, and filling up all essential fluids.

What to Check on a Car That Has Been Sitting?

You will need to inspect any items regularly used before you put the car away for storage. For example, if you put your car away in late fall and plan to start it up again in the spring, make sure that you top off all of the engine fluids (oil, coolant, brake fluid). As well, keep your tire pressure at factory specification.

In addition, keep your fuel tank as close to empty as possible because any excess gas will go bad after three months. Finally, if you plan to store your vehicle for more than six months, it is best to get a car inspection from your local mechanic before putting it into storage.

In Closing

If your motor vehicle is going to sit for an extended period, then it is possible that your starter could fail. There are some signs of a bad starter, as mentioned in this article. If you plan to have your vehicle or other motor vehicle sit for a while, then be prepared for parts to go bad such as the starter.

If you like this article, then you should also read:

How To Remove Body Odor From Leather Car Seats

Are Car Engines Waterproof? [A Look At Gas And Diesel Engines]

How Much Octane Booster To Add To Your Vehicle

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