Question about 2003 Ford Focus

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My car wont start and its making a clicking noise..i think its the starter but how can i be sure?

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Use a sounding rod: rest the end of a long metal bar or a very long screwdriver against the starter motor, try to rest it on the smaller cylinder parallel to it. Make sure that you have no hair or loose clothing dangling into the engine bay and place the other end of the bar against your ear. Get someone to try and start the car. You should hear a very definite click from the smaller cylinder, slightly less so from the starter motor itself, and even less form all other parts getting less as you go further away.

If you tap the end of the bar sharply with a hammer (whilst against the smaller cylinder) and then try to start you'll often find that the car starts. It's not foolproof though.

The small cylinder is an integral part of the starter and is called the starter solenoid. It's a heavy duty electrical switch which acts as a power relay. The small amount of current going through the ignition switch turns on the solenoid which then passes a very large current direct from the battery to the starter motor. Over time, the switch contacts get burnt and dirty and don't pass enough current to the starter motor.

The solenoid cannot be replaced as a separate item, so the fix is to replace the complete starter motor assembly. By the time that the solenoid needs changing the starter motor is usually not far off wearing out as well, typically the whole assembly lasts around 70,000 to 100,000 miles before failing, but it can be a lot less if the vehicle makes many starts every day.

Starter motor replacement is a quick and easy DIY job to any home mechanic with a basic socket set and a little bit of practical sense and a reconditioned exchange motor with a warranty is usually around £40 to £60. At those prices it's not worth fitting a used motor with barely any warranty unless you pay less than a tenner for it.

If you aren't able to do the job yourself, ask at a Ford dealer; the motor will be more expensive (from £70) but fitting is often free under their FastFit scheme. A professional will take up to half an hour typically to fit the motor (should be able to do it in under fifteen minutes!).

Good luck, please take a moment to rate my answer.

Posted on Sep 29, 2010


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