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How To Tell If Your ATV Starter Is Bad? [FIND OUT HERE]

How To Tell If Your ATV Starter Is Bad? [FIND OUT HERE]

Having a problem with your ATV starter implies that you may be limited in enjoying the freedom of riding across rough terrain for pleasure or other purposes. To avoid such an undesirable scenario, you must be able to tell when your ATV starter is bad. Fortunately, numerous symptoms can help on how to tell if a starter is bad.

If you start noticing signs such as inconsistent starting, failing to start, heavy smoker, grinding noise, starter staying on after the engine has started, and a clicking sound from the starter, your starter may be impaired. However, it is essential to note that diagnosing the ATV starter problem may depend on your ATV type.

With several signs pointing towards a faulty starter system, you must roll up your sleeve and locate the problem. Read on for more details on how to tell your ATV starter is bad and how to handle the situation perfectly.

atv starter bad

What Is An ATV Starter?

An ATV starter is an electric motor device that engages when power from the battery is sent to it. The role of an ATV starter is to initiate the engine's operation by setting the engine's components into motion. When you insert the key to the ignition switch, the ATV starter gets engaged and pushes a pinion to the flywheel gear in the engine to start the engine's normal running operations.

The position of the ATV starter varies depending on the type and design of the ATV. Nonetheless, in most cases, it is usually concealed behind a body panel to safeguard it from impact damage.

Despite the protection provided by concealing it under the body of the ATV, starters develop problems.

Some of the causes for starter problems may include ordinary wear and tear or poor maintenance. Considering that an ATV starter undergoes a lot of tears and wears throughout its entire service life, it is vital to ensure you carry out a regular maintenance schedule to ensure that the starter is always in good condition.

Bad Starter Symptoms

Your ATV starter will display numerous symptoms to show you that it is time to fix or replace it with more reliable ones. Acquainting yourself with bad starter symptoms will ensure you are not caught off-guard in a strange land with no one to give you a helping hand. The following signs should guide you on how to tell if a starter is bad.

Failing To Start

One common symptom of a bad ATV starter is failing to start. When you insert and turn the key, you may hear a clicking noise or silence, indicating that the starter is failing. In most cases, this problem happens when the starter relay or a circuit board problem results in power transfer problems. Persisting on starting the ATV may not bore any fruit, but it will instead drain the battery.

Grinding, Clicking, Or Whirring Noise

If you start getting noise that you have never heard before when starting your ATV, that could indicate a bad ATV starter. Any clicking, whirring, or grinding noise can exhibit a starter on the verge of damage. Often, you will experience these types of noises when the starter components are worn out and, therefore, not engaging correctly. If you ignore the clicking or grinding sounds, the consequences might be catastrophic, including damaging the engine flywheel.

Starter Stays On After Starting

Another common sign of a bad starter is when the engine is already running, but the starter is still on. The starting circuit of your ATV starter is supposed to close immediately once the engine starts and after releasing the key. If you notice a continuous grinding noise from the ATV after the engine is already running, that may indicate that the engine has become stuck. The best action is to address this problem immediately as it can cause a severe problem to the entire engine.

Heavy Smoke

If your ATV begins to emit excessive smoke once you turn on the ignition key, you should turn it off immediately. Excessive smoke is an indication of too much power going through the starter. Letting or persisting to start the ATV may result in some parts melting, burning, or even igniting. In most instances, this problem is caused by a wiring problem in the starter that you can quickly fix if you have the tech-know how.

Intermittent Starting Issues

If, when starting your ATV, the engine does not start instantly, you could be having a problem with your starter. A well-functioning starter relay sends electrical current to the starter to jumpstart its functions. Sometimes, a damaged relay causes the starter to produce a clicking sound anytime you turn on the key. Whenever you notice both the clicking sound and intermittent starting, the best course of action is to contact an experienced mechanic to correct the condition before it gets out of hand.

How To Tell If Your Starter Is Bad

When an ATV fails to start, it could be because the starter is bad. Unfortunately, some may think the cause is more complicated and could involve the entire engine. The best way to tell if your starter is bad is to familiarize yourself with the tell-tale signs of a bad ATV starter which include;

  • The engine fails to start or crank
  • Grinding noise when starting the ATV
  • Intermittent starting of the engine
  • Excessive smoke from the engine

How To Tell If Starter Relay Is Bad

How to tell if the start relay is bad is one of the most commonly searched queries on the internet. To tell when the starter relay is damaged, you need to know how it works. The primary function of the starter relay is to serve as a switch for the starter solenoid. Since it is not too expensive, replacing it is the best decision.

Here are the warning signs you should watch out for a damaged starter relay.

The ATV Is Not Responsive.

The most common and obvious sign of a bad starter relay is when the ATV does not wholly respond after turning on the ignition key. In a normal situation, once you turn the ignition key, the starter relay should send current to the starter solenoid and motor to start the engine.

However, when the starter relay is damaged, it will not receive any signal from the ignition key and will not perform its functions. Hence, the unresponsiveness even after inserting the ignition key.

The Clicking Sounds

If your starter makes clicking sounds when you want to start the ATV, that could indicate a bad relay starter. The clicking sounds happen because the relay attempts to close the circuit but unsuccessfully, producing the clicking sound. However, it is crucial to understand that a battery with a lower current can cause the same problem. Therefore, you need to be keen before you can draw your conclusions.

atv racing red

The Starter Does Not Go Off.

If you notice that the starter does not get switched off even after turning off the ignition key, that implies something is wrong with the starter relay. The possible causes for the starter remaining on even after the engine goes off could be exposure to a high volume of current or overheating.

Occasional Failures When Starting The ATV

A perfectly functioning starter relay will promptly transfer current to the starter anytime it is engaged. If this is not the case, then the starter relay may be damaged, and the earlier you correct the problem, the better. The damages to your relay starter could result from the accumulation of dirt, overheating, or any other similar issue. In addition, a problematic wire connection could be the cause as well.


Having a problematic starter on your ATV can limit you from getting the full potential of your ATV in exploring the beautiful terrains around your area. Whenever you notice inconsistent starting, failing to start, heavy smoker, grinding noise, starter staying on after the engine has started, or a clicking sound from the starter, seek to correct the problem before it is too late.