What’s That Clicking Sound? 5 Causes Students in Auto Repair Courses Should Know

You’ve probably been here before: you go to start your car, and instead of the comforting roar of the engine, all you hear is a fast clicking sound. Unfortunately, a clicking sound typically indicates trouble with the battery, which drivers often dread because battery replacements can be pretty expensive. However, a clicking sound doesn’t always indicate that a battery needs replacing. This noise can be a symptom of many other issues, battery-related or not, and often the solution is relatively simple. 

If you’re interested in becoming a mechanic, it’s likely that many drivers will come to you to determine the source of the clicking noise coming from their vehicle. Here are five possible causes of a clicking noise to be aware of. 

1. Those in Auto Repair Courses Should Know That a Clicking Sound Might Mean a Battery is Drained

A drained battery is one of the most common causes of a clicking sound when a vehicle starts, and luckily, it’s also one of the easiest fixes. If an interior light, the headlights, or the radio have been left on in a vehicle for a long period of time, this can cause a battery to drain. If you want to learn how to become a mechanic, you’re probably already familiar with the solution for a drained battery. Simply acquire a pair of jumper cables and use them to attach the vehicle to a car with a working battery, and the vehicle should be running again in no time. 

If a vehicle’s battery is drained, this could be the cause of a clicking sound

2. Clicking Noises Could Indicate Low Battery Voltage

Another common cause of a clicking noise is low battery voltage. While this problem can also be fixed temporarily by jump-starting the vehicle, low battery voltage is a more serious issue, indicating that a battery is slowly losing its ability to hold a charge. This can be caused by cold weather, in which batteries must use an excessive amount of power to start an engine. Professionals with mechanic training can use a car battery tester to determine the condition of the battery. If a battery is low in voltage, it may need replacing. 

A clicking sound could indicate that a battery’s voltage needs to be checked

3. A Faulty Starter Motor May Be the Source of the Problem

If a vehicle’s battery is fully charged, graduates of auto repair courses should be aware that a faulty starter motor could be the culprit. The starter motor works with a solenoid—a type of switch which activates the starter motor when a vehicle’s ignition is turned. The starter motor then turns the flywheel, and the engine starts. If the solenoid is stuck, this will stop the starter motor from engaging and prevent the engine from starting, causing a clicking sound instead. 

4. Look Out for Corroded or Loose Battery Terminals

Battery terminals connect a vehicle’s electrical system to its battery. If these terminals are loose, the contact between the terminals and the connectors can become unreliable, resulting in the battery being unable to deliver an adequate amount of power to the engine. The terminals might not have been properly tightened after a prior repair, or the connecting components may be affected by corrosion. Either way, it’s important to inspect the battery terminals and their associated components for damage if a clicking sound is heard. 

5. A Broken Power Cable Could Be the Cause of Clicking Sounds

Within a vehicle, a power cable connects the ignition lock to the starter motor. The engine relies on the power cable to gain the power necessary to start, and if this cable is broken or corroded, not enough power will pass to the starter motor. The result is that the engine is unable to crank, resulting in the infamous clicking sound in place of the rumble of the engine. A power cable’s connector bolts may need to be tightened, or the cable itself may need to be replaced if it is corroded or faulty.

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