Having problems starting your car? It could be a problem with the starter solenoid. In this blog post, we’ll cover how to use a multimeter to test the starter solenoid and determine whether it is the cause of your problem. Keep reading to find out more!
What Is A Solenoid?
It consists of a coil of wire and a core made from ferromagnetic material such as iron or steel. A starter solenoid is an electrical switch in the starting circuit of an engine-driven vehicle such as a car, truck, lawn mower, etc. The main purpose of the starter solenoid is to provide power to the starter motor so it can begin its operation and start the engine. 
Why Is a Starter Solenoid Important?
A starter solenoid is an essential component of a vehicle’s ignition system. It is responsible for energizing the starter motor, which in turn turns over the engine and starts it running. A faulty or failing starter solenoid can prevent your car from starting, so testing it regularly with a multimeter is necessary to identify any potential problems before they become serious.
The starter solenoid helps control the electric current to the ignition system. When you turn on the key, power flows through the switch and into two separate circuits: one that powers up the electrical components inside, such as lights and gauges; and another that sends electricity directly to the starter motor to start it spinning and provide power to other parts of the engine.
The starter solenoid helps regulate the flow of current between these two circuits, and it also acts as a safety mechanism to protect your vehicle in case of an electrical overload or short circuit. That’s why it is important to make sure that the starter solenoid is working properly before attempting any repairs or maintenance work on your car.
In addition to its role in starting up the engine, the starter solenoid can also extend the life of other parts connected to it, such as the battery and alternator. This makes testing it regularly with a multimeter even more important for preventing major problems down the line.
How To Know If A Starter Is Bad
If you suspect that your starter solenoid is bad, there are several signs that can indicate if it needs to be replaced.
- Listen closely for a click when you insert the key and turn it in the ignition: If you hear a distinct click when inserting your key into the ignition, that could be an indication of a faulty starter solenoid. The clicking sound will usually come from underneath the hood of your car and may get louder or softer depending on how far you turn the ignition key.
- Check if there’s power going to the starter motor: To check if power is getting through to your starter motor, use a multimeter set to measure voltage. Connect one side of the meter to the positive terminal of the battery and the other to the starter motor. If you see a reading below 12 volts, then this could indicate that your starter solenoid is faulty.
- Inspect for any corrosion on the terminals: Corrosion can easily build up over time on the terminals of your starter solenoid, which can reduce its performance and cause it to fail prematurely. To check if there’s any corrosion, simply remove the wires from the terminals and inspect them closely for signs of discolouration or flaking metal.
- Check for any loose connections: Loose connections are another common sign that your starter solenoid may be faulty so it’s important to check all of the connections to make sure they’re secure. If there are any loose wires or terminals, it may be necessary to replace them before carrying out further tests.
If you experience any of these issues with your starter solenoid, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional mechanic as soon as possible. By testing your starter solenoid with a multimeter, you can determine if it needs to be replaced or repaired, and ensure that your car is running safely and reliably. 
Tools Required To Test A Solenoid
In order to test the starter solenoid, you will need the following items:
- A multimeter
- A pair of pliers
- Cleaning supplies (wire brush, fine sandpaper)
- Electrical contact cleaner
- Battery terminal protector or corrosion inhibitor.
After amassing all the necessary tools, you are now ready to progress onto testing your starter solenoid.
How To Test The Starter Solenoid With A Multimeter: Step By Step Guide
- To begin, detach the battery cable from the negative post and attach a multimeter configured to ohms across both small terminals of your starter solenoid. If there is continuity between the two terminals, then the solenoid is working correctly.
- Next, disconnect the positive battery cable and connect a multimeter set to ohms across the large terminal of your starter solenoid and the small terminal with the wire running to it. If there is continuity between these two terminals, then continue on with step three.
- Disconnect all other wires from your starter and reconnect them one at a time while testing for continuity between each connection point and the large terminal of your starter solenoid when connected to a multimeter set in ohms. If there is no continuity between any of these connections, then you have identified an issue with your starter solenoid that needs further investigation or replacement.
- Clean the terminals of your starter solenoid using wire brushes and fine sandpaper if necessary. Apply electrical contact cleaner or battery terminal protector or corrosion inhibitor to all connection points in order to ensure optimal performance of the starter solenoid.
- Finally, reconnect everything and test for continuity once more across each connection point as per step three. If there is still no continuity between any of the connections, then it is advisable to replace your starter solenoid with a new one.
By following these steps, you can easily troubleshoot and test your starter solenoid with a multimeter in order to identify any potential issues that may be causing your vehicle not to start.
Once you are confident that your starter solenoid is in proper working order, you can be sure that it will continue to operate efficiently and reliably for many years to come. 
Solenoid Voltage Test With Multimeter
Turn the ignition key to “ON” and check the voltage at the starter solenoid. To do this, turn on your multimeter and connect one of its probes to the “In” terminal on the solenoid. Connect the other probe to a ground (a metal surface on the vehicle that isn’t painted). The reading should be between 9 and 14 volts if it is working properly. If there is no voltage, then you may have an issue with either your battery or wiring leading up to it.
Next, set your multimeter to ohms (Ω) setting and use one of its probes to touch each of the terminals on the solenoid in turn while leaving the other probe still connected to a ground. The multimeter should read zero resistance if the solenoid is working correctly. If there is any resistance, then you will need to replace the starter solenoid.
Finally, you can use your multimeter to test for continuity between the “In” and “Out” terminals on the solenoid. With the ignition key in “ON,” touch each of the probes on either terminal and make sure that the multimeter registers a continuous connection (zero resistance). If not, then you will need to replace your starter solenoid.
Starter Solenoids and the Failures That They Cause
Starter solenoids are an important component in any vehicle’s starting system. Responsible for relaying the energy from your battery to the starter motor, these parts are integral in ensuring a successful car startup. Unfortunately, starter solenoids can fail due to a variety of reasons and cause issues with starting or running your vehicle.
Common signs that indicate that a starter solenoid has failed include slow crank times when trying to start the engine, complete inability to start the engine, lights flickering or dimming when attempting to start the engine, lack of power when driving at higher speeds, dead battery after multiple attempts to start the engine and persistent clicking noises coming from the starter motor. In order to test whether there is an issue with your starter solenoid, it is necessary to use a multimeter. 
Checking for Current Resistance
The next step in testing a starter solenoid is to check for current resistance. To do this, you will need to use your multimeter once again. Configure your multimeter to measure ohms, and connect the red lead of the meter to the positive terminal on the solenoid and its black lead to its negative one. You should get a reading in ohms that indicates how much resistance there is between these two terminals. If you get a reading of infinity or “OL” (open load) then you know that there is an issue with either the connection between these terminals or within one of them.
If you get any other readings then make sure they are within range according to what is indicated by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If they are not then you will need to replace the solenoid as it is likely damaged and causing an issue with the starter system.
Once you have finished testing for current resistance, move on to the next step in testing a starter solenoid.
Pros And Cons Of Multimeter Testing
The pros of multimeter testing include accuracy, portability and convenience. With a multimeter, you can quickly and easily determine whether or not your starter solenoid is functioning correctly. It’s also very helpful in diagnosing problems with your vehicle’s electrical system.
The cons of using this type of testing are that it requires some knowledge of electronics. If you don’t have the experience to use a multimeter, then it may be difficult to achieve accurate results. In some cases, an automotive technician may be needed to properly diagnose any issues found during the test process. Additionally, if the starter solenoid is faulty, then replacing it is often the best option to fix the problem because multimeter testing will not fix the issue.
Overall, multimeter testing is a great tool for quickly and easily diagnosing starter solenoid issues. However, if you lack the necessary knowledge or experience to use a multimeter, then it may be better to take your vehicle to an experienced technician who can properly diagnose and repair any problems found. 
Types of Multimeters
A multimeter is an essential tool for any mechanic or electrician. There are several types of multimeters that can be used for testing a starter solenoid.
A digital multimeter displays the measurement as a numerical reading, and provides more accuracy compared to an analog type. It also comes with additional features such as continuity testing and frequency measurements. Digital multimeters typically cost more than their analog counterparts, but they provide greater accuracy in readings.
Analog multimeters display the measurement visually via a pointer needle movement along a scale on its faceplate. This type is cheaper than the digital version, and works great when you need quick general measurements or tests.
When testing a starter solenoid, it is important to use the right type of multimeter. The process may be different depending on the type you have. Make sure you read the manual that comes with your device before beginning any tests or measurements. This will help ensure proper usage and get the best possible results.
How to Use a Multimeter to Measure Amps?
To begin, set your multimeter to the amperage setting. Once this is done, attach the red lead of the multimeter to the starter solenoid’s positive terminal and the black lead to its negative terminal. You will now be able to measure the amps running through the starter solenoid. If it is reading 0 amps or very low (less than .5 amp) then you know that there is an issue with either your battery or your starter system. In these cases, try replacing either one and start testing again until you get a normal reading.
If you are getting readings above .5 amp but still not enough for your engine to start, then there may be a problem with another part of the electrical system. You should check all other wiring and connections in your engine to make sure they’re not causing the starter solenoid to draw too much current.
In some cases, it can be hard to tell if the issue is with the starter solenoid or somewhere else. In these cases, you may need a more specialized tool such as an ohmmeter to measure resistance in the circuit and determine where the problem lies. If you don’t have access to one of these tools, then you may want to take your car into a professional mechanic for further diagnosis.
Once you’ve determined that the issue is indeed with the starter solenoid, replace it and retest it using a multimeter. The reading should be within the range specified in your vehicle’s user manual. If you are still getting a low reading, then it is likely that there is an issue with the wiring or another component of the starter system. 
Multimeter Reading Keeps Jumping: What to Do?
If you are testing a starter solenoid with a multimeter and the readings seem to keep jumping, it is likely that either the battery cables or the starter solenoid itself is faulty. As such, you should inspect them both before carrying on with your diagnosis.
Start by checking the battery cables for corrosion or damage. If either of these issues are present, replace or repair them as necessary. Make sure all connections are secure as well.
Next, inspect the starter solenoid itself for signs of wear and tear including rust, exposed wires, frayed insulation etc. If any of these issues are found then it’s time to replace your old starter solenoid!
Finally, if none of these issues are present, then it’s time to test the starter solenoid with a multimeter. Use the resistance setting and check for readings between 0.2-0.7 ohms to determine if the starter solenoid is working properly or not. If you get any readings outside of this range, then there is likely an issue with your starter solenoid that needs to be resolved before continuing with your diagnosis.
How do you test a solenoid with a multimeter?
To test a solenoid with a multimeter, first set the meter to check for continuity and then measure the resistance between the terminals of the solenoid. If there is no resistance or any abnormal reading, it means the solenoid needs replacing. If you get good readings on both tests, then your starter solenoid should be in working order.
How do you know if a starter solenoid is bad?
If your vehicle does not start or makes strange noises when trying to start, this may indicate that your starter solenoid is failing. You can also check for signs of physical damage such as corrosion around the terminals or loose wires. Also performing an electrical test using a multimeter will provide further information about the condition of the solenoid.
What are the symptoms of a bad starter solenoid?
The common symptoms of a bad starter solenoid include difficulty starting the engine, strange noises when attempting to start, and lights or other warning signs on your instrument panel. Additionally, you may find corrosion around the terminals or loose wires connected to the solenoid. If any of these signs appear, it is best to replace your starter solenoid as soon as possible.
How many ohms should a starter solenoid read?
The resistance should be between 0.2 and 0.6 ohms, which is a sign that the solenoid is in good working order. If you get any other reading, then it means that your starter solenoid needs to be replaced.
What is the main cause of solenoid failure?
One of the main causes of solenoid failure is corrosion. Corrosion can reduce the electrical connection between the starter and its solenoid, causing it to not work. Additionally, a weak battery or low voltage supply can also lead to solenoid failure. Other common problems that could be contributing factors include broken wires or worn contacts, loose connections, and faulty wiring.
Will a bad solenoid click?
Yes, a bad solenoid can make clicking noises. When the starter is turned on, it creates an electrical charge which travels through the connection to reach the solenoid. If any of these components are damaged or corroded, then this process will not take place and no current will be able to reach the solenoid. This usually leads to a clicking sound as the starter attempts to send power to the solenoid in vain.
Can a car run without a solenoid?
No, a car cannot run without a solenoid. The solenoid is an essential component of the starter motor, and it plays a crucial role in providing the necessary electrical connection so that the engine can turn on when you turn the key. Without this connection, your vehicle will not be able to start up and will remain stuck in neutral until the issue is resolved.
How do you reset a solenoid?
In order to reset a starter solenoid, you must first disconnect the power source from the vehicle’s battery. Once this is done, wait for at least 10 minutes before reconnecting the battery and turning on the ignition switch. This should be enough time to allow any current stored in the solenoid to dissipate and reset itself. If this doesn’t work, then it may be necessary to replace the starter solenoid altogether.
Useful Video: How to use a Multimeter: Solenoid Testing – Purkeys
Testing a starter solenoid with a multimeter is an easy and effective way of determining if your solenoid is working properly. All you need is an ohm meter, some electrical tape, and the proper safety equipment. Before testing, make sure all cables and wires are disconnected from the battery to avoid any possibility of electric shock or fire. Once connected to the battery, measure the resistance with an ohm meter in order to determine whether or not the starter solenoid is functioning correctly. If it isn’t, then consider consulting a professional mechanic or replacing the part entirely. With these steps in mind, you should be able to effectively test a starter solenoid with a multimeter!