Car Clicking When Trying to Start? Common Causes & Fixes

May 20, 2024

It's a frustrating moment every driver dreads: you turn the key or push the start button, and your car refuses to start—only to respond with a series of clicking noises. Understanding the root causes of this common issue can save you time and possibly money. Let's delve into why your car won't start and instead makes those alarming clicking noises.

"Car Trouble" by Gerry Balding is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Understanding Different Clicking Sounds

The type of clicking sound your car makes can provide significant clues about the issue at hand. Generally, the sounds can be categorized into two types: single click and rapid clicking.

Single Click

A single, loud click upon turning the key typically points to issues with the starter engine. Several factors can cause this problem:

  • Dirty or corroded battery terminals
  • Battery drain

It's important to note that even with a partially charged battery, some vehicle features might still function, adding to the confusion.

Rapid Clicking

Rapid clicking sounds usually indicate that the starter motor isn't receiving sufficient electrical current. This can be due to:

  • A failing car battery
  • Poor connection at the battery
  • A faulty alternator

Initial Troubleshooting Steps

Starting with the Battery

The most common culprit is the battery. Begin with a visual check:

  • Inspect for cleanliness and corrosion on the battery and terminals
  • Clean the battery terminal connectors using a wire brush, toothbrush, and a baking soda and water solution if needed
  • Try jump-starting the car to see if it resolves the issue temporarily

Checking Cabling

After examining the battery, the next step is to inspect the engine cables, including solenoid, starter, and ignition cables:

  • Check for cleanliness, fraying, or corrosion
  • Ensure all cable ports are clean and secure

What If It's Not the Battery?

If troubleshooting the battery and cabling doesn't solve the problem, it could indicate a more complex issue, possibly involving the starter or alternator. Here, specialized tools and knowledge are required.

When to Seek Professional Help

While basic troubleshooting steps can sometimes resolve the issue, more severe problems often necessitate professional intervention. If your troubleshooting efforts don’t solve the problem, it’s best to seek the expertise of professional technicians. These experts can diagnose and fix deeper electrical and mechanical issues efficiently.

Professional Help and Contact Information

Professional mechanics are trained and equipped to handle intricate issues like a faulty starter or alternator. For reliable service, it’s essential to contact a certified automotive service provider. Many service shops now offer contactless and secure drop-offs, enhancing safety and convenience for customers.

While a clicking noise when trying to start your car can be alarming, understanding its potential causes can aid in effective troubleshooting and communication with your mechanic. By following initial troubleshooting steps related to the battery and cables, you could potentially resolve the issue yourself. If not, professional help is always advisable to ensure your car gets back on the road in no time.

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