Car has battery but clicks when key turned

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It’s happened to most drivers at one point or another. You turn the key in the ignition, and instead of the sweet sound of an engine roaring to life, all you hear is a clicking noise. What gives? If you have a newer car with a reliable battery, it can be especially confusing. After all, a dead battery usually means no response at all when you turn the key.

If your car has a battery but only clicks when you turn the key, it could be due to a few different problems. For starters, it could be a sign that your battery is starting to fail, even if it’s still holding a charge.

Alternatively, the issue could be with your starter motor. This is the component that actually turns the engine over when you turn the key. A malfunctioning starter motor can prevent your car from starting, even if the battery is fully charged.

There are a few other potential culprits as well, such as a faulty ignition switch or a bad connection somewhere in the car’s electrical system. The key is to diagnose the problem correctly so you can fix it and get back on the road.

Common Causes of Clicking Sound

1. Dead Battery

1. Dead Battery

If the battery in your car is dead or has insufficient charge, you may hear a clicking sound when you try to turn the key. This is because the starter does not have enough power to engage. In this case, it is recommended to jumpstart the battery or replace it altogether.

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2. Corroded Battery Terminals

If the battery terminals are dirty or corroded, you may experience the same clicking sound. This is because the battery is not able to provide enough power to engage the starter. Clean the terminals with a wire brush or replace them if they are damaged.

3. Faulty Starter Motor

3. Faulty Starter Motor

If the starter motor is faulty, you may hear a clicking sound when you turn the key. This could be due to worn out brushes or a failed solenoid. In this case, it is recommended to replace the starter motor.

4. Bad Alternator

If the alternator is not functioning properly, your battery may not be charging as it should. This could result in a clicking sound when you try to start the car. In this case, it is recommended to have the alternator replaced.

5. Failed Ignition Switch

5. Failed Ignition Switch

If the ignition switch is failing, it may not be sending a signal to engage the starter. This can result in a clicking sound when you turn the key. In this case, it is recommended to replace the ignition switch.

  • Remember to always wear protective gloves and glasses when working on your car.
  • If you are unsure of what is causing the clicking sound, it is recommended to have a professional mechanic inspect your car.
  • Regular maintenance and inspection of your car can help prevent any issues before they arise.

Checking the Battery and Cables

Checking the Battery and Cables

1. Look for signs of corrosion

One of the most common reasons for a car that has a battery but clicks when the key is turned is corroded battery cables. Begin by inspecting the cables for signs of corrosion. If they’re corroded, they may need to be cleaned or replaced.

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2. Check the battery voltage

2. Check the battery voltage

Next, use a multimeter to check the battery’s voltage. If the voltage is low, the battery may not have enough power to start the car. A fully charged battery should register around 12.6 volts.

3. Inspect the battery terminals

Be sure to check the battery terminals for any signs of damage or corrosion. If there’s buildup on the terminals, it may need to be removed. Additionally, the terminals should be tight and secure.

4. Test the battery with a load tester

A load tester can help determine if the battery is holding a charge. Using a load tester, you can check the battery’s ability to hold a charge under heavy loads. If the battery fails the load test, it may need to be replaced.

5. Check the alternator

If the battery is in good condition, the issue may be with the alternator. A bad alternator can cause the battery to drain quickly or not charge at all. Have the alternator checked by a professional mechanic.

  • Remember to wear safety gloves and goggles when working with car batteries
  • Ensure your car is parked on a level surface with the engine turned off before inspecting the battery
  • If you’re unsure about how to check your car’s battery, consult a professional

Testing the Starter

Testing the Starter

Step 1: Inspect the Battery

Step 1: Inspect the Battery

The first step in testing the starter is to inspect the battery. Check to make sure the battery cables are clean and tight. If there is any corrosion on the terminals, clean them with a wire brush before proceeding.

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Step 2: Check the Solenoid

Step 2: Check the Solenoid

The next step is to check the solenoid. Use a multimeter to test the voltage between the solenoid and the battery. If there is no voltage, the solenoid may be faulty and need to be replaced.

Step 3: Test the Starter Motor

If the battery and solenoid are functioning correctly, the problem may be with the starter motor. To test the starter, connect a multimeter to the positive and negative terminals of the starter motor. Turn the key in the ignition and monitor the voltage reading. If there is voltage, but the starter is not turning, then the starter motor may be faulty and need to be replaced.

Step 4: Check the Wiring

If all of the previous steps have been completed and the problem still persists, it is time to check the wiring. Inspect all of the wires leading to the starter for any signs of damage or wear. It is also important to check the starter relay and ignition switch for any faults.

Step 5: Seek Professional Help

Step 5: Seek Professional Help

If you are unable to diagnose and fix the problem with the starter, it is best to seek professional help from a mechanic or auto technician. They will be able to use specialized diagnostic equipment to determine the root cause of the issue and provide a solution.

Examining the Ignition Switch

Checking for Loose Connections

One of the first things to check when diagnosing a clicking sound from the ignition switch is for loose connections. Start by checking the connection from the battery to the starter motor, followed by the connections from the starter motor to the ignition switch. A loose or corroded connection can prevent power from reaching the starter motor, resulting in a clicking sound when the key is turned.

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Verifying the Ignition Switch Functionality

If all connections are secure, the next step is to verify the functionality of the ignition switch. This can be done using a multimeter to check for continuity. Start by removing the ignition switch from the steering column and running a continuity test between the switch terminals. If there is no continuity, the switch may need to be replaced.

Reprogramming the Key Fob

In some cases, the problem may be related to the key fob or immobilizer system. If the key fob is not properly programmed, the immobilizer system won’t allow the ignition to start, resulting in a clicking sound. To reprogram the key fob, consult the vehicle owner’s manual or seek assistance from a professional mechanic.

  • Check for loose connections between battery and starter motor
  • Check connections between starter motor and ignition switch
  • Verify ignition switch functionality using a multimeter
  • Reprogram the key fob if necessary

Seeking Professional Help

Seeking Professional Help

Why Seek Professional Help?

If you have tried jump starting your car and still hear clicking sounds when you turn the key, it’s time to seek professional help. The issue may not just be a dead battery, but rather a problem in the electrical system that will require a trained technician to diagnose and fix. Waiting too long to address the problem can lead to further damage and more costly repairs in the future.

Choosing a Professional Mechanic

Choosing a reputable mechanic is crucial to getting your car fixed properly. Start by checking reviews and ratings online and ask for recommendations from trusted friends and family members. Before making an appointment, make sure the mechanic is experienced with electrical problems and the make and model of your car. Don’t hesitate to ask for credentials and certifications to ensure they are qualified to work on your vehicle.

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What to Expect at the Mechanic

When you arrive at the mechanic, be prepared to explain the issue in detail and provide any relevant information such as recent battery replacements or electrical work. The mechanic will likely perform a battery and electrical system test to pinpoint the problem. Depending on the issue, they may need to replace the battery, alternator, starter, or other components. They will provide you with a quote for the repairs and discuss options with you before proceeding.

Overall, seeking professional help can save you time, money, and further damage to your car. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment if you are experiencing clicking sounds when turning the key with a charged battery.


My car battery is fine, but the engine just clicks when I try to turn it on. What could be the problem?

The most common reason for this issue is a faulty starter motor. It may also be caused by a bad connection between the battery and starter motor or a low battery voltage.

What should I do if my car clicks when I try to start it?

If your car clicks when you turn the key, start by checking the battery connections and the battery voltage. If those are fine, have a mechanic check the starter motor and the starter solenoid.

Does a clicking sound always mean a dead battery?

No, a clicking sound does not always mean a dead battery. It can also indicate a faulty starter motor or a bad connection between the battery and starter motor.

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How can I check if my car battery is healthy?

You can check your car battery’s health by using a multimeter to measure its voltage. A healthy battery should have a voltage between 12.6 and 12.8 volts. You can also have a mechanic perform a battery load test.

My car battery seems fine, but my headlights are dim. What could be causing this?

The most common cause of dim headlights is a bad alternator. The alternator charges the battery and powers the electrical system when the engine is running. If it is not working properly, the battery will not be charged and the electrical system will not function correctly.

Can a bad alternator cause a clicking sound when trying to start the car?

Yes, a bad alternator can cause a clicking sound when trying to start the car. If the alternator is not charging the battery, the battery voltage may be too low to turn the starter motor, causing a clicking sound.

What is a starter solenoid?

A starter solenoid is an electrical component that is attached to the starter motor. When the key is turned, the solenoid receives an electrical signal, which causes a plunger to move and engage the starter motor with the engine’s flywheel. If the solenoid is faulty, the starter motor may not engage, causing a clicking sound.


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Sarah Davis

As a female car owner, I often encounter a problem where my car battery has enough power, but it clicks when I turn the key. This issue can be frustrating, but it usually indicates a problem with the starter motor. To fix this issue, I suggest checking the connections to the battery and the starter motor. If the connections are loose or corroded, they must be cleaned or tightened. If the problem persists, it may be best to take the car to a mechanic for further diagnosis. It’s important to address this issue quickly since it may lead to more significant problems down the road. In conclusion, while a clicking sound when turning the key may not seem like a significant issue at first, it’s always better to address it as soon as possible to avoid it turning into a bigger problem.

David Taylor

I had the same issue with my car and was frustrated when it wouldn’t start despite having a fully charged battery. In cases like these, the most likely culprit is a faulty alternator or starter. However, it could also be caused by corroded connections or loose wiring. It’s important to have a trained mechanic diagnose the problem to avoid further damage to the vehicle. In any case, it’s always a good idea to keep a set of jumper cables in the trunk in case of emergencies.

Emily Wilson

I have encountered a similar problem with my car, and I believe that the clicking sound when I turn the key indicates that there is a problem with the starter or alternator. It is important to have it checked by a mechanic as soon as possible because a failing starter can leave you stranded in the middle of the road. While it may be tempting to try and fix it on your own, I would highly recommend leaving it to the professionals to avoid causing further damage. Always keep your car maintained and serviced regularly to avoid such issues and ensure your safety on the road.

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William Jones

I recently had the same issue with my car where the battery worked, but it clicked when I turned the key. I found out that the problem was with the starter solenoid. It was not properly engaging, which was causing the clicking sound and preventing the car from starting up. I ended up replacing the starter solenoid, and the car worked perfectly fine after that. I recommend checking the starter solenoid if you’re experiencing a similar issue. It shouldn’t cost too much to replace, and you’ll save yourself from the hassle of taking the car to a mechanic.

Thomas Robinson

I had the same problem with my car – it had a brand new battery but when I turned the key, all I heard was a clicking sound. I was confused and frustrated, but after doing some research I found out that it could be a faulty starter or a bad connection. I checked the connections and found that one of the cables was loose, so I tightened it and tried again. To my relief, my car started up without any issues. It’s important to always check the simple things first before assuming it’s a bigger problem and taking it to a mechanic. Remember, a car is only as good as its maintenance.

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