Common Causes of a Clicking Car That Won't Start
Car making a clicking noise when trying to start it, but the engine won’t turnover? Below we explore this scenario and discuss the difficult decision of making the necessary repairs or cutting your losses – selling your vehicle and using the money towards a new car.

We buy cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, and pickups that make a clicking noise (even if the vehicle won’t start) throughout Arizona, including in Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson. Contact our team now to find out how much cash your non-running vehicle is worth.

Car Clicks But Won’t Start

Picture this: You’re all set to go to work, you hop into your car, turn the key, and all you hear is a clicking sound, but the car won’t start. This frustrating situation can leave you puzzled and stranded.

In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of a clicking car that won’t start and how to troubleshoot the issue to get you back on the road. We’ll also discuss ways to prevent this problem from recurring in the future.

5 Common Causes of a Clicking Car That Won’t Start

There are several reasons why your car might click but not start. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes:

#1 Dead or Weak Battery

A dead or weak battery is the most frequent culprit when your car clicks but won’t start. When there’s not enough power in the battery to turn the engine, the starter solenoid will produce a clicking noise. This could be due to a drained battery, a bad battery, or an alternator that’s not charging the battery properly.

#2 Faulty Starter Motor

The starter motor is responsible for cranking the engine when you turn the key. If the starter is damaged or malfunctioning, it can’t do its job, and you’ll hear a clicking sound as the solenoid tries to engage the starter.

#3 Malfunctioning Ignition Switch

The ignition switch sends power to the starter motor when you turn the key. If the ignition switch is not functioning correctly, it may not send enough power or any power at all to the starter, causing the clicking sound.

#4 Bad Battery Cables

Corroded or damaged battery cables can prevent the flow of electricity from the battery to the starter motor. If the cables are in poor condition, they may not be able to carry enough current to start the engine, resulting in a clicking sound.

#5 Poor Ground Connection

A poor ground connectionyoutube between the battery and the car’s chassis can also cause a clicking noise. If the ground connection is loose or corroded, it can impede the flow of electricity, preventing the starter motor from functioning properly.

Troubleshooting a Car That Clicks But Won’t Start

Now that we know the possible causes let’s discuss how to troubleshoot and fix the issue:

#1 Test the Battery

The first step is to check the battery. Make sure it’s fully charged and in good condition. You can use a multimeter to measure the voltage. A healthy battery should read around 12.6 volts when the engine is off. If the voltage is significantly lower, try jump-starting the car or charging the battery. If the battery is old or damaged, it might be time for a replacement.

#2 Inspect the Starter Motor

Next, take a look at the starter motor. Locate it in your engine bay and check for any visible signs of damage or wear. If you can’t see anything amiss, try tapping it lightly with a hammer to free up a stuck solenoid. If the issue persists, you may need to have the starter motor tested or replaced.

#3 Test the Ignition Switch

To test the ignition switch, you can use a test light or a multimeter. Turn the key to the “on” position and check for voltage at the starter solenoid’s control wire. If there’s no voltage, the ignition switch might be faulty and need replacement.

#4 Examine the Battery Cables

Inspect the battery cables for signs of corrosion, damage, or loose connections. Clean any corrosion using a wire brush and a mixture of baking soda and water. If the cables are damaged, replace them to ensure proper electrical flow.

#5 Ensure Proper Grounding

Lastly, verify that the ground connection between the battery and the car’s chassis is secure and free of corrosion. Clean and tighten the connection as necessary to ensure proper electrical flow.

3 Ways to Prevent Future Clicking Car Issues

To avoid facing a clicking car that won’t start in the future, follow these preventive measures:

#1 Regular Maintenance

Keeping your car well-maintained is the key to preventing most issues, including starting problems. Follow your car manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and pay attention to any signs of wear or damage in the starting system components.

#2 Keep Your Battery Charged

Ensure your battery is always charged by driving your car regularly, especially if you have a lot of electronics that draw power from the battery. Avoid leaving accessories like lights or the radio on when the engine is off, as this can drain the battery.

#3 Replace Worn Components

Regularly inspect the components of your starting system, such as the starter motor, ignition switch, and battery cables. Replace any worn or damaged parts as needed to keep your car running smoothly.

5 Vehicle Clicking Noise FAQs

#1 Why does my car click but not start even with a new battery?

Even with a new battery, there could be other issues, such as a faulty starter motor, bad battery cables, or a malfunctioning ignition switch, causing the clicking sound.

#2 Can a bad alternator cause a car to click but not start?

Yes, a bad alternator can lead to a clicking sound but not starting, as it may fail to charge the battery properly, leaving it with insufficient power to crank the engine.

#3 How can I tell if my starter motor is the problem?

One way to determine if the starter motor is the issue is to tap it lightly with a hammer to free up a stuck solenoid. If the car starts after tapping, the starter motor could be the problem. It’s also a good idea to have it tested by a professional.

#4 What should I do if my car clicks but won’t start after jump-starting it?

If jump-starting doesn’t resolve the issue, there may be other problems, such as a faulty starter motor, a malfunctioning ignition switch, or bad battery cables. Inspect and troubleshoot these components to identify and fix the issue.

#5 How can I prevent my car from clicking but not starting in cold weather?

Cold weather can strain the battery and other starting system components. To prevent issues in cold weather, make sure your battery is in good condition and fully charged, and consider using a battery warmer or a block heater to help the engine start more easily. Regular maintenance of the starting system components is also crucial for reliable performance in cold conditions.

Do I Repair My Car or Sell It?

Repairing or selling an automobile might be confusing as there are several variables making it a tough choice.

If the problem is minimal and the automobile is in good condition, repairing it may seem like the best option. If the repairs are too expensive, it can be hard to decide whether to sell the car. But, selling and buying a new car might be confusing, especially if you have an emotional tie to it. Down payments and monthly installments make buying a new car tough.

One’s financial status, vehicle age, and needs must be considered. If the car is old and unreliable, sell it and buy a new one. If the car is relatively new and in good shape, repairs may be cheaper. The decision to repair or sell an automobile is personal and requires thorough study and weighing of the benefits and disadvantages.

The first step is to speak with a mechanic, perhaps more than one, and then finding out how much your car is worth in its current state.


In conclusion, encountering a situation where your car won’t start and just clicks can be frustrating and inconvenient. The issue can manifest in various ways, such as “car won’t start just clicking” or experiencing a rapid succession of clicks when trying to start the car, but the lights work. Regardless of the specific symptoms, a clicking sound when starting the car generally indicates a problem with the starting system.

Common causes for a car that won’t start but is clicking include a dead or weak battery, a faulty starter motor, a malfunctioning ignition switch, bad battery cables, or a poor ground connection. It’s essential to troubleshoot these components methodically to identify and fix the issue. Sometimes, you might find that your car won’t start but the lights come on, accompanied by a clicking noise. In this case, the battery might have enough power for the lights but not enough to crank the engine.

By understanding the common causes of a clicking car that won’t start, learning how to troubleshoot the issue, and following preventive measures, you can resolve the problem and avoid facing similar situations in the future. Regular maintenance, keeping your battery charged, and replacing worn components are vital for ensuring a reliable starting system for your car.