car starts and then dies

Car Clicks And My Engine Won’t Start

If you hear an unusual noise coming from your engine, it can be pretty concerning. You may be thinking that it’s time to break out the wallet and get ready for an expensive fist. But with a little knowledge, you can avoid that costly fix for something a bit more reasonable.

The most common reason your car clicks when you turn the key comes from a weak battery. That clicking is the sound of your ignition system trying to send a signal to the rest of your car. In this case, you likely need to jump-start your car or get a replacement vehicle battery.

6 Reasons Why Your Car Has Multiple Clicks Instead Of Starting

  • Low battery
  • Damaged battery
  • Faulty wiring or battery cables
  • Blown fuse
  • Faulty alternator
  • Starter solenoid

#1: You Have A Bad Battery

The most common reason your car isn’t starting comes from a battery that is not fully charged. The clicking sound goes back to the starter, desperately trying to signal the rest of the car to get moving. That means your car battery doesn’t have enough power to get the job done.

If the issue is limited to your battery, your first step will be to take a voltmeter to test it out. Make sure your car isn’t running, and place one end of the voltmeter on each terminal. If you have volts around 12.6, that means your car’s battery is good. If your volts are any lower, contact a buddy to see if you can’t get some jumper cables on.

#2: Check The Battery To See If It Is Damaged

Corrosion on the surface of your battery prevents your terminals from being effective. Your battery may be charged just fine, but it cannot communicate with your engine if the surface is too dirty. An over-the-counter cleaning product can be used to remove corrosion easily. Otherwise, check out this video below if you are a visual learner:

#3: Faulty Wiring Or Battery Cables

Faulty wiring makes it so power cannot get to various points in the engine. In this case, we refer to the wiring that is located between the battery and the ignition system.

Unless you are an electrical mechanic, you aren’t going to service this problem yourself. Instead, contact an experienced mechanic who works with modern vehicles. Your best bet is to contact a dealership, which receives specific training on how to handle these kinds of electrical issues.

#4: Blown Fuse

If you are lucky, a blown a fuse will be the ultimate problem causing your car not to issue. The fuse case is typically located on the passenger side on the underside of the dashboard. Pull it out and check your diagram to see which fuse refers to the starter.

The sign of a bad fuse comes through any burnt areas. If you see something that looks like the burnt inside a fuse, replace it and pay attention to its size and amperage. Make sure the new fuse matches the old fuse as you make a replacement.

#5: Your Car’s Rapid Clicking Comes From Your Faulty Alternator

A faulty alternator isn’t going to give your battery a reasonable charge. You may see other problems related to flickering dome lights and other electrical systems giving you problems. These are all the signs of a bad alternator.

To test your alternator, get a friend to come by with jumper cables to start your battery. If the alternator is working, your battery should be charging as you drive it. Take it for a leisurely Sunday drive around the block. If your car dies on the way, that means your alternator needs replacement.

#6: Faulty Starter May Cause Your Car To Have One Click

Another common issue behind clicking cars goes back to a faulty starter. This comes from two different factors of your starter:

  • The starter relay
  • The starter solenoid

The starter relay is what provides energy from your starter to signal the battery. A faulty relay means that your charge has never left the starter, therefore sending signals to an unresponsive area.

The starter solenoid, otherwise known as the ignition coil, is a magnet that acts as another form of the relay to inform your vehicle to start. Much like the relay, any of these can be diagnosed by using a voltmeter. If your voltmeter reads no charge, that means you need to replace your starter.

What Can I Do If I Am Trying To Start My Car And It Has A Battery With Low Voltage?

Your first step will be to try and jump your battery.

How Can I Jump My Car Battery To Make Sure It Can Hold A Charge?

  1. Purchase a jump pack from a local auto parts store or call your friend with jumper cables
  2. Ensure that the jump pack or your friend’s car battery matches or exceeds the voltage on your vehicle; otherwise, the other car will not have enough power to jump yours.
  3. Remove the battery cables located on your car. (modern cars may have a battery case that you need to remove first)
  4. Connect the jumper cables onto your positive battery terminal and a metal piece of your car while your friend connects to both positive and negative battery terminals.
  5. Wait for a couple of minutes.
  6. Start the car using your key ignition to see if it starts up.
  7. If your car is still showing signs of a dead battery, you need to make a replacement.

After you start the engine, it is essential to be sure that you let your charging system, otherwise known as the alternator, attempt to bring your dead battery back to life. This can be done by driving around the block.

Other signs that your battery charge is too low come from dimming dome lights and headlights. You can also place your battery on a trickle charger to see if it responds to that, which brings us to our next repair.

What Do I Do If My Starter Motor Isn’t Working?

If you cannot start your car and you’ve already tested your batteries, the starter motor may be the ultimate culprit. If that’s the case, you need to replace your starter.

How To Replace My Starter If My Car Has A Bad Starter

Whether it be a single click or multiple clicks, your vehicle isn’t going to start without a functioning starter. Follow this video below if you want to know how to replace your starter:


The ultimate key to replacing your vehicle starter comes from being safe. That means if you have a charged battery, you are going to want to disconnect that battery to make sure your electrical system doesn’t give you a shock.

Also, some rubber mechanic gloves are beneficial. That means even if there is an electrical charge coming from your car battery, your gloves will protect you from this.

What If I Need To Buy A Replacement Alternator?

A replacement alternator can be found at any of your local parts stores. They can often order the part online, based on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. In most cases, you will need additional help from a mechanic to make this sort of repair. If you don’t know what you are doing, there is no shame in asking for help.

What Do I Do If My Car Has Faulty Wiring Or A Bad Battery Cable?

When it comes to wiring, it takes a skilled electrician to ensure that you don’t cause any additional problems. If replacing a battery cable is all you need to do to fix your car’s clicking noise, It is relatively easy to distinguish this for the regular person. However, there may be many different engine parts you need to maneuver around to get to this replacement.

Check your owner’s manual in this case. That being said, your battery could still be dead in this case, so be sure you’ve eliminated that cause before you move onto this one.

Is There A Difference Between Rapid Clicking And A Single Click?

A single loud click leads us to believe that it most likely comes from your starter. A faulty starter is more likely to give up sooner rather than later. This would be different from another car whose ignition key continues to click, which signifies that the car battery is dead.

If it is a single click, you are also less likely to run into issues related to a flickering dome light, which is more of a sign that the overall power in your car is malfunctioning. Check to see if other vehicle functions like power windows and the radio work, which will allow you to differentiate the two easily.


Whether it be related to a bad battery, a bad starter motor, or the alternator going out, various things could cause your car to have an irritating clicking noise. Whatever the case may be, you must figure it out, which you will be able to do so with greater ease using the above guide.

If you decide to go through any repairs, be sure that you have the car battery disconnected and have a pair of electricity-resistant mechanic’s gloves. Many of these need to be handled by professionals, but many of us prefer to do things ourselves rather than pay for expensive repairs.

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