How to tell if starter solenoid is bad on ATV

We all know that a bad starter solenoid can cause your ATV to stall or not start. If you have an ATV, then you also know how frustrating it is when the engine won’t fire up. 

In this article, we will tell you what causes starter solenoids to fail and what symptoms they may exhibit if they are going bad for you to determine whether it’s time for a replacement or repair of your current unit.

The starter solenoid is an important part of your ATV. Its job is to activate the ignition switch and send power from the battery to start your engine.

How to tell if starter solenoid is bad on ATV

If a clicking sound coming from inside the solenoid and you are not able to start the ATV , this would mean that the starter solenoid is bad on ATV.

If you’re having trouble starting your ATV, or it won’t crank at all, then this guide can help you diagnose and fix the problem.

We will go over how a starter solenoid works, what symptoms mean that it might be bad, and what parts are involved in this repair so we can troubleshoot together.

What is Starter Solenoid in vehicles?

A starter solenoid is a small electric device that interrupts the circuit of the vehicle’s ignition system to allow the engine to start.

A starter solenoid is not a part of an ignition system on its own: it only works in concert with a flywheel, starter motor, and battery.


Starter Relay Solenoid
Starter Relay Solenoid

The starter solenoid is connected to the vehicle’s battery and has three connectors that connect it to a starter motor, which in turn is mounted to the engine.

The starter solenoid is an electrical switch that is used to help your ATV start when you turn the key.

Once started, the starter solenoid deactivates, and the engine is now running off the flywheel.

What is the Function of Starter Solenoid on vehicles?

The solenoid is a type of relay, and the engine starter has three parts:

  1. The battery
  2. The starter motor
  3. The solenoid

When you turn the key, the battery sends power to the starter motor, which spins the flywheel to start the engine.

The only thing holding back power from going directly to the starter motor is the solenoid, a switch that can be opened and closed.

When you turn the key to start the ATV, the circuit is completed by the solenoid, and the starter motor gets the power to start the engine.

Problems with your starter solenoid may prevent you from starting your 4-wheeler.


Starter Relay Solenoid
Starter Relay Solenoid

What are the symptoms of Starter Solenoid Problems? (How To Tell if Starter is Bad on ATV)

There could be several reasons why your ATV won’t start, and every case is different, but here are some common symptoms to help you determine if the solenoid is the cause of your problem:

1) No power to solenoid 

The ATV will turn over and may even try to start, but there won’t be enough power to the solenoid to complete the circuit and activate the starter.

Usually, there is power going to the solenoid. If you have checked all of your connections and they are solid, then it may be that the starter motor itself is shorted out due to a faulty armature or brushes.

2) Loud clicking or buzzing noise 

The solenoid may make a loud clicking or buzzing noise when you try to start the ATV.

3) Shorted Starter Relay 

If your solenoid is stuck in the activated position, it may cause your starter relay to stay engaged, so you’ll get a “click” when you turn the key but won’t hear the starter trying to turn over. This is typically a sign of a bad solenoid or shorted wire.

4) Engine Cranking but not starting 

This symptom is usually accompanied by a buzzing noise and could be caused by incorrectly connected wires, a faulty solenoid, or wire issues.

If you can hear the engine cranking, but it won’t start, this is a good indication that there could be a problem with the solenoid. 

5) Clicking noise when trying to start 

This is when you hear a clicking noise every time you turn the key, but your ATV won’t start.

6) Vehicle not starting at all 

If your ATV doesn’t start at all, the problem could be with a faulty solenoid. There could be other reasons, but you can check your solenoid for physical damage or wear and tear that could point to a problem.

7) Vehicle starts for a few seconds and dies 

 The solenoid only works when you turn the key to start your engine, so if it’s broken or faulty, you will get a few seconds of cranking until the battery runs out.

8) Engine dies after a few turns 

If you get your ATV to start and it runs for a few turns, but the engine dies, you may have a bad solenoid.

What causes the Starter Solenoid to malfunction?

Many things can go wrong with your solenoid. It is used in high voltage applications, so many parts could fail. If your starter solenoid is constantly causing problems, you need to do some checking and troubleshooting.

Here are some things that could cause your starter solenoid to malfunction:

1) Weather and corrosion 

The weather can affect the electrical connection between your ATV and the solenoid.

2) Moisture 

The main connection points on your solenoid are sealed so they can handle moisture, but if the connector on your battery is corroded, it can let in water. If this happens, the moisture can corrode other parts of the solenoid as well.

3) Loose connections 

If your ATV’s electrical components are not secure, they could move around. This can cause the electrical connection to the starter solenoid to become loose, and it can cause the solenoid to malfunction.

4) Faulty Starter Solenoid 

The starter solenoid can become faulty if it is used for too long. This can happen because the solenoid has parts that are extremely sensitive to wear. If your starter solenoid is faulty, you need to buy a new one.

5) Bad battery 

If your ATV’s battery is not in good shape, it can affect the solenoid. The battery can be the cause of a broken or bad connection because it is supplying your starter solenoid with power. You need to check your voltmeter periodically to check your battery.

6) Short circuit 

If the solenoid gets too much power, it will short out and prevent the starter motor from spinning to start the engine. This usually happens when there is a loose connection somewhere, and there is too much power flowing to the solenoid.

7) Weak power

 A weak starter solenoid will not have enough power to send signals to the starter motor and turn the engine over.

How do I recondition a starter solenoid?

If your starter solenoid is constantly malfunctioning and all of the things listed above don’t work, you need to buy a new one. If that’s not in your budget right now, you can recondition your solenoid and get a few more months out of it.

If you want to recondition your starter solenoid, you need to use a wire brush and clean the connection points. This will remove any corrosion or dirt that is on your solenoid. If you have corrosion on the starter solenoid or the battery posts, a wire brush will get it off. If this doesn’t work or if the corrosion is too bad, you need to replace your solenoid.

Starter Relay Solenoid
Starter Relay Solenoid


How to test a bad starter solenoid?

Method 1 – Test with a voltmeter

1) First, you need to get your multimeter and set it to 20V.

2) Use the positive probe and check the positive connector on your solenoid.

3) Now connect the negative probe to the negative terminal on your battery and then check the other connector on your solenoid.

4) If the voltage is coming through, then you know that the solenoid is not faulty.

5) If you don’t get any voltage, you need to buy a new solenoid.

Method 2 – Test with a jumper wire

This method is a little quicker and easier than using a voltmeter. If you want to use this method, follow the steps below:

1) Connect one end of your jumper wire to the positive connector and another end to the negative connector.

2) If the starter turns over, you know that your solenoid is bad.

3) If it doesn’t turn over, you’re good to go, and your solenoid is not faulty.

Method 3- With two wires

It’s hard to believe that something as inexpensive and straightforward as a starter solenoid could cause so much trouble. Seriously, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend a bundle of money to test it. You can do it with two wires and a battery.

To test the solenoid, connect one wire to the battery and touch the other wire to the starter relay without turning on the key or touching anything else in the engine compartment. If the wire makes contact, but no clicking sound is heard, then the chances are really good that the solenoid is bad.

Common Questions

Will a bad starter solenoid make a clicking noise?

Yes, you might hear a clicking sound coming from inside the solenoid if there’s a problem with it

Can a bad starter solenoid start up the ATV?

Yes, if it is near the end of its life, it may be able to start up your ATV for a short amount of time. If the starter is causing the ATV to crank or turn over for a long amount of time, you might need a new starter solenoid.

What happens if the starter solenoid goes bad?

If your ATV’s starter solenoid is bad, you won’t be able to start it. The starter will only make a quick clicking sound and then nothing.

How much does a starter solenoid replacement cost?

A starter solenoid replacement costs about $100 to $150, depending on the model of your ATV.


If you want to know what is wrong with your ATV, the best thing to do is just check if the starter solenoid is bad. If it is, you have to replace it. You can do the testing at home by yourself by following the guide above and save some money.

We hope this article has given you the knowledge to identify a bad starter solenoid and how to test it. 

If you have any questions about this topic, please leave your comments below, and we will try our best to answer them.

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