Car clicks and battery dies when you try to start

If you own a car, you may have encountered a situation where it won’t start, and all you hear is a clicking sound. In most cases, this sound indicates that your battery is low, and it lacks the power to get your car started. The clicking sound is caused by the starter relay, which tries to start the engine but doesn’t have enough power to do so.

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There can be several reasons why your car’s battery is not producing enough power. It could be due to a faulty alternator, corroded battery terminals, or a dead battery. But first, let’s take a closer look at the starter relay that is causing the clicking sound.

The starter relay is an essential component of your car’s starting system. When you turn the key, it sends power to the starter motor, which cranks the engine. However, if the battery is low, it won’t be able to provide enough power to the starter motor, and you will hear a clicking sound instead of the engine starting.

Car Clicks and Battery Dies: Troubleshooting Tips for Starting Issues

Check the Battery

Check the Battery

The most common cause for clicking and a dead battery is a weak or dead battery. Check the battery connections to make sure they are tight and free of any corrosion. If necessary, recharge the battery or replace it if it is too old or damaged.

Inspect the Starter

The starter is responsible for turning over the engine, so it is an important part to inspect if you are experiencing clicking and starting issues. A failed or worn-out starter can cause clicking sounds as it tries to engage but cannot start the engine. Have a mechanic inspect and repair or replace the starter if necessary.

Check the Alternator

Check the Alternator

The alternator is responsible for charging the battery while the engine is running. A failing alternator can cause the battery to drain quickly, resulting in clicking and a dead battery. Use a voltmeter to check the alternator’s output voltage, and if it is not within the recommended range, have the alternator replaced.

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Inspect the Ignition Switch

The ignition switch sends a signal to the starter to engage and start the engine. A faulty ignition switch can cause clicking or other unusual sounds when you turn the key. Have a mechanic inspect and replace the ignition switch if necessary.


Clicks and starting issues can be frustrating and inconvenient, but they can be easily fixed with the right troubleshooting tips. By checking and inspecting the battery, starter, alternator, and ignition switch, you can identify and fix the problem and get back on the road with ease.

Check the Battery Connections

Check the Battery Connections

Inspect the Battery Terminals

The first thing to check when your car clicks and the battery dies is the battery’s terminals. Over time, the terminals may become corroded and loose, causing a poor connection to the battery. Use a voltmeter to test the power at the battery terminals. If there is no power, remove the battery cables and carefully inspect the terminals and the cable connection points. Clean any corrosion with a wire brush or sandpaper and make sure the cables are tight on the terminals.

Check the Battery Cables

Check the Battery Cables

If the battery terminals are clean and tight, next, check the battery cables for any damage or wear. Look for any cracks, breaks, or frayed wires that may cause a poor connection to the battery. If the cables are damaged, you may need to replace them. If the cables are in good condition, check the connections to the alternator and starter to ensure they are tight and secure.

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Inspect the Battery

If the battery terminals and cables are in good condition, the next step is to inspect the battery itself. Check the battery for any signs of damage or leakage. You can also test the battery’s voltage with a voltmeter. A full battery should have a voltage of around 12.6 volts. If the battery voltage is low, it may need to be charged or replaced.

  • Make sure your car’s electrical system is off before inspecting the battery.
  • Wear gloves and eye protection when handling the battery.
  • If you’re unsure how to inspect the battery connections or test the voltage, consult your car’s owner manual or a certified mechanic.

Test the Battery and Alternator

Test the Battery and Alternator

Step 1: Test the Battery

Step 1: Test the Battery

One of the main reasons for a car not starting is a dead battery. To test your battery, you need a voltmeter or a multimeter. Set the device to DC volts range and connect it to the battery terminals. A healthy battery should read around 12.6 volts. If your battery reads less than 12 volts, it may be time to replace it.

Step 2: Test the Alternator

Step 2: Test the Alternator

If your battery is healthy, the issue may lie with the alternator. You can test your alternator with a multimeter by following these steps:

  1. Start your car and let it run for a few minutes.
  2. Set your multimeter to DC volts range and connect it to the battery terminals. A healthy alternator should read around 14 volts.
  3. If your alternator reads less than 14 volts, it may be time to replace it.
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Step 3: Bring your Car to a Mechanic

If your battery and alternator are both healthy and your car still won’t start, it’s time to bring it to a mechanic. They will be able to diagnose the issue and provide you with a solution.

Remember, maintaining your car’s battery and alternator is an essential part of owning a car. Regularly testing and replacing them can help prevent starting issues in the future.

Replace the Starter



Before replacing the starter, make sure that it is the actual problem. A faulty battery, alternator or electrical system can also cause the clicking noise. Use a voltmeter to test the battery and make sure it is holding a charge of at least 12 volts. You can also check the alternator by starting the car and disconnecting the negative battery terminal. If the car stalls, the alternator is faulty. If everything else is functioning well, then it’s time to replace the starter.



When replacing the starter, there are a number of steps that need to be followed. First, disconnect the battery to prevent any electrical shocks. Then, locate the starter, which is usually mounted to the engine or the transmission. Remove the cables from the starter solenoid, followed by the bolts holding the starter in place. Once the starter is loose, remove it from the engine and replace it with a new one of the same make and model. Reconnect the cables and battery, and test the car by starting it.

Note that if you are not confident in performing this procedure, it’s recommended to take your car to a certified mechanic. They have the experience and expertise needed to get your car back on the road safely.

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Additional Tips

  • If you are replacing the starter yourself, be sure to purchase the correct size and type of starter for your specific make and model of car.
  • It’s a good idea to replace other parts such as the starter solenoid, if the car has high mileage and these parts have never been replaced before.
  • Always wear protective gloves and eye-wear when working with car parts.
  • Remember to properly dispose of the old starter. Many auto parts stores offer recycling for used car parts.

Re-energizing your car starts with a well-functioning starter. By following these basic steps, you can successfully replace your starter and get back on the road again.

Consult a Mechanic for Further Assistance

Consult a Mechanic for Further Assistance

Experiencing car trouble can be frustrating and stressful.

If you’ve tried to start your car and it clicks, or the battery dies, it’s essential to seek help from a qualified mechanic. These issues can often be a sign of a more significant problem, which may require professional expertise to diagnose and resolve.

A mechanic will be able to assess the condition of your car’s battery, starter, and alternator, identifying any underlying issues that may have caused the problem. They will be able to provide you with a detailed report, outlining the necessary repairs and costs, which can help prevent more severe issues down the line.

  • Don’t ignore the problem.
  • Avoid DIY fixes, as they can cause additional problems.
  • Consult a trusted mechanic for help.

By working with a skilled mechanic, you’ll be able to get your car running safely and reliably again, restoring your peace of mind and getting you back on the road as quickly as possible.

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What does it mean when my car clicks and won’t start?

It means that your battery may be low or there may be a problem with your starter motor or solenoid.

Why does my car only click once when I try to start it?

This could be due to a weak battery, a faulty starter motor or solenoid, or a poor connection in the starting system.

What should I do if my car clicks when I turn the key, but doesn’t start?

Check your battery connections, test your battery with a multimeter, and inspect the starter motor and solenoid for any damage or wear. If you’re not comfortable diagnosing the issue yourself, it’s best to take your car to a mechanic.

Can a bad alternator cause my car to click and not start?

Yes, a bad alternator can cause your battery to drain and eventually result in a clicking noise when you try to start your car. However, if the clicking is the only symptom you’re experiencing, it’s more likely a problem with the starter motor or solenoid.

What is the difference between a dead battery and a bad starter?

A dead battery means that there is not enough power to turn the starter motor, while a bad starter means that the motor itself is not functioning correctly. Both can result in a clicking noise when you try to start your car.

How do I know if my battery or starter is bad?

If you turn the key and hear a single click, the battery may be low or the starter motor/solenoid may be faulty. If you hear a rapid clicking sound, it’s likely that your battery is dead. The best way to determine the cause of the issue is to test your battery and starting system with a multimeter.

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What can cause a clicking sound when I try to start my car?

A clicking sound when you try to start your car can be caused by a variety of issues, including a low battery, a faulty starter motor or solenoid, or loose or corroded battery connections. It’s best to have your starting system inspected by a professional to determine the exact cause of the issue.


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Thomas Wilson

As a male reader, I found this article to be incredibly helpful. I’ve had my fair share of car troubles, and experiencing a click followed by a dead battery when attempting to start my car has always left me feeling frustrated and uncertain of what to do next. The article’s explanations of potential causes, such as a faulty starter or alternator, were easy to understand and gave me a clear idea of what I need to check or have repaired. Additionally, the article provided practical solutions, like jumpstarting the battery or ensuring the battery terminals are clean, that I can implement myself before seeking professional help. Overall, I appreciate the clear and concise information presented in this article, and I will definitely refer back to it in the future if I encounter this issue again.

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Andrew Mitchell

As a male driver, I have experienced the frustrating situation where my car clicks but refuses to start, leaving me stranded with a dead battery. This article provides some valuable insights and tips on how to diagnose and fix this issue. It is crucial to check the battery connections and make sure they are clean and tight. In addition, a faulty starter motor or alternator could also cause this problem, and it is essential to have them inspected and replaced if necessary. Overall, this article is an informative guide for anyone facing this issue and needs to get their car up and running again.

Joshua Hernandez

As a male driver, I have experienced the frustration of a clicking sound coming from my car and a dead battery when trying to start my vehicle. The article on this issue provides helpful information on potential causes such as corroded battery terminals, a faulty starter motor, or a drained battery. I appreciate the clear steps to diagnose and fix the problem, including using jumper cables or a battery charger, cleaning the terminals, or replacing the starter motor if necessary. It’s important to not ignore this issue as it can leave you stranded on the side of the road. Overall, the article provided me with valuable information to troubleshoot this common car problem and get back on the road.

Michael Campbell

As a male driver, I found this article extremely helpful. I have experienced the frustrating situation of a clicking sound and a dead battery when trying to start my car before, and now I know what steps to take in order to diagnose and fix the problem. The advice on checking the battery terminals and connections is crucial, as this is often a simple fix that can save a lot of time and money. I also appreciate the explanation about possible issues with the starter or alternator, which I may have overlooked as potential causes of the problem. Overall, this article provides valuable information for any driver who wants to avoid being stranded with a dead car battery.

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Olivia Johnson

I recently experienced this problem with my car and it was quite frustrating. Every time I tried to start the car, it would make a clicking sound and then the battery would die. I did some research and found out that this could be a sign of a bad alternator, which is responsible for charging the battery and powering the electrical systems of the car. I also learned that it could be a problem with the starter motor or the battery itself. It’s always important to get a professional mechanic to diagnose the issue to ensure safety and efficiency. In my case, it turned out to be the alternator and I had it replaced quickly. It’s important to stay on top of car maintenance to avoid any unexpected issues like this.

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