How to Tell If Starter Solenoid Is Bad on ATV

Last Updated on November 18, 2023 by ATVNotes

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The starter solenoid is the crucial component of your ATV’s starting system. It is essential for engaging the engine when you turn the key to start your vehicle. However, like any other mechanical part, it wears out over time, and you might experience problems starting your ATV

A clicking sound or grinding noises when you try to start your ATV indicate that your starter solenoid is bad. When these two and many other symptoms (detailed in a later section) show up, it’s time to check the ATV starter solenoid. 

Testing an ATV starter solenoid is the most important part of testing ATV starter and is relatively easy. You do not need to be a mechanic. As an ATV enthusiast, you can know how to tell if starter solenoid is terrible on ATV. Here you find the ways well-explained explained so you can easily determine if the starter solenoid is bad.

Let’s know what a solenoid is and what the symptoms of a bad solenoid are first. 

Starter Solenoid Is Bad on ATV

What Is a Solenoid?

Solenoid is a vehicle part that ensures your engine turns on. When you turn the key of your ATV or other vehicles, the starter solenoid receives electrical currents from the battery and ignition system. And that leads to a change of electrical reactions making your engine start working. 

Starter solenoids are important for a fast turn-on of the engine. Without solenoids, drivers would have to directly turn on the engine without any key, which, as you may have guessed, would be very time-consuming. 

That is why it is necessary to ensure that your starter solenoid works correctly to avoid problems starting or turning off your ATV.

Symptoms of a bad ATV starter solenoid

Below you go with the signs that suggest you have a bad ATV starter solenoid. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms with your ATV, diagnosing them early before they cause further damage or pose safety hazards while driving is essential.

Engine not cranking or starting

One of the most common symptoms of a bad starter solenoid on your ATV is the engine not cranking or starting at all. This happens because the solenoid is responsible for transmitting electrical current from the battery to the starter motor, ultimately leading to the engine’s starting up. A faulty solenoid can interrupt this process and cause your ATV to fail to start.

Clicking sounds/grinding noise.

Another symptom of a bad starter solenoid is when you hear clicking sounds from your ATV’s engine area when you try to start it. These clicks are usually caused by a weak connection between the battery and the starter motor, which occurs when the solenoid fails. In some cases, there might be only one click instead of several clicks, indicating insufficient power reaching the starter motor.

Light dimming while starting 

If you’re experiencing issues with your ATV’s electric system or lights dimming while trying to start your vehicle, it could be an indication that your starter solenoid has gone bad. This problem is because a faulty solenoid can drain power from other parts of an ATV’s electrical system, leading to flickering lights or even dead batteries in severe cases. 

Starter staying on after engine started 

A bad starter solenoid can cause the starter to stay on after the engine has started. This issue can lead to severe damage to both the car and its driver.

When a bad starter solenoid causes this problem, you will hear a loud grinding or whirring sound coming from under your hood. If left unchecked, it can significantly damage your vehicle’s flywheel or ring gear responsible for turning your engine over. Additionally, it can also drain your battery since it keeps sending electricity even when the engine has started.

Intermittent starting problem

The starter solenoid engages the starter motor to turn over the engine. If it malfunctions, it can cause an intermittent starting problem.

It’s important to note that other issues could also be causing intermittent starting problems, such as a weak battery or corroded connections in your ignition system. However, if you’re experiencing this issue frequently and have ruled out other possibilities, replacing your bad starter or solenoid might be necessary to ensure the reliable performance of your vehicle’s ignition system. 

How to Be Sure of a Bad ATV Starter Solenoid 

First, locate the starter solenoid on your ATV and determine the type of starter. It may be a starter featuring a starter motor and solenoid in a single unit or a starter motor Bending box and the solenoid sitting separately. Yes, testing starter solenoids will vary a bit depending on the types of starters. Here you go:

Testing if ATV Starter Solenoid is bad

Tools You Need 

Before we move on and learn how to know if starter solenoid is bad on ATV, we need these tools around:

  • Digital Multimeter 
  • Jumper cables
  • Test leads
  • A DC Volt Battery

Safety Measures 

The solenoid transmits an electrical current from the battery to the starter motor. When this connection becomes weak or damaged, it can result in an inconsistent response from your vehicle when turning on.

  • Wear safety goggles if you believe you need to. 
  • Remove any flammable liquids for your safety, as testing a starter solenoid will cause sparks that can cause a fire if they come in contact with the liquid.
  • Always check if the battery is fully charged before checking any starters. You can do this with a multimeter set to DC volts. Ensure the battery is 12.5 volts or above; if not, charge your battery first. 

Testing Starter Solenoid on ATV (Starter motor and solenoid in a single unit)

Connecting The Jumper Cables Correctly 

Take the jumper cables we mentioned previously and connect the negative side to the battery’s terminal and the starter motor’s body. Connect the positive side of the jumper cable with the battery’s positive terminal. As the jumper cable is in action, do not touch its other end against a ground surface for safety measures.

Connecting to the Solenoid 

Take the free end of the positive jumper cable and connect it with the solenoid’s spade terminal. If your solenoid is fine, you should hear a clicking sound that will start the Bendix gear; if not, you must replace it. 

Testing Starter Solenoid on ATV (Starter motor with Bendix gear and separate solenoid)

Connecting Test Leads with the Starter Motor 

Take the test leads mentioned in the ‘Tools’ section, connect their negative lead with the solenoid’s negative side, and do the same with the two positives. 

Connecting Jumper Cables with the Battery 

Take the jumper cables and connect their positive cable with the positive test lead and the other end with the battery’s terminal side. Now, connect the negative jumper cable to the battery’s negative terminal. Put the free end of the negative jumper cable into the negative battery terminal. You should hear a clicking sound from the solenoid if it has started working. 

Check Continuity Using the Multimeter 

Use the multimeter, connect it to the solenoid’s two terminals, and set it to resistance, and it should show an open circuit. Now make the negative jumper cable’s free end touch the battery’s negative terminal. The multimeter should show an open circuit which indicates that the solenoid is working. 

If there is continuity, you should see a reading between 0 and 1 ohm on your multimeter display. If there is no continuity or an infinite reading (OL), this indicates an issue with your starter solenoid, which may need replacing. Take guide from the owner’s manual or contact a certified mechanic if you’re unsure about any step in this process or have other concerns about checking continuity in your starter solenoid. 

Why Starter Solenoids Fail

The starter is susceptible to wear and tear over time, leading to various issues. Here you have the common causes covered why this component goes bad.

Faulty alternator 

When your car’s alternator malfunctions, it can’t charge the battery properly. This means the battery will eventually die while driving or starting your ATV. This reason could be behind a bad starter solenoid not having enough current to flow through it.

If you suspect that you have a faulty alternator, it’s essential to check it out immediately. Delaying or ignoring these issues could potentially put you in danger while driving or even lead to more severe problems down the line.

Corroded or broken wiring 

Corroded or broken wiring is why a starter solenoid is not behaving as it should. When the wires become rusty, they can no longer conduct electricity properly, which can cause problems with starting your car. Broken wiring is another issue that may prevent your ATV from starting altogether.

If you notice any signs of corrosion or breaks in the wiring leading to your starter solenoid, it’s important to have them repaired as soon as possible. This will ensure that your car starts reliable every time and prevent further damage to other parts of the electrical system.

Blown fuse 

A blown fuse can be a common reason why the starter solenoid in your vehicle is not working properly. The starter solenoid requires a certain amount of amperage to engage and start the engine, and if there is not enough power coming through due to a blown fuse, it will prevent the starter from functioning correctly. 

It’s essential to check the fuses whenever you have any issues with your vehicle’s electrical system, including starting problems. Locate the fuse box in your car, which should be mentioned in your owner’s manual. Then check for any blown fuses related to the starter or ignition system. Replace any blown fuse with new ones that match its amperage rating.

Low battery power 

Engaging the starter motor when you turn the key in the ignition requires a significant amount of electrical power from your vehicle’s battery. If there isn’t enough charge in the battery, the starter solenoid may not supply enough current to engage the solenoid properly.

This gradual reduction in voltage can lead to wear and tear on your vehicle’s electrical system components, including the starter solenoid. 

Jumpstart your ATV by passing Bad Starter solenoid

 If you’re out on the trails and your ATV’s starter solenoid goes bad, don’t panic – it’s easy to bypass it to get back on the road. 

Locate the Starter Solenoid

The first step is locating the solenoid– usually found near the battery or starter motor. Once you’ve located it, remove any attached wiring before disconnecting the solenoid.

Connect the large solenoid terminals

Next, use a pair of pliers or a screwdriver to connect the two large terminals on the solenoid (these are usually marked with an “S” and an “M”). Doing this will bridge the gap between these two points and send power directly from your battery through your starter motor. 

Turn on Ignition Key

Finally, turn your ignition key to start up your ATV. If all goes well, you should be able to fire up and ride off into the sunset.

However, it’s important to note that this is only a temporary fix. While bypassing a bad starter solenoid can help you get back home in a pinch, you’ll still need to replace it eventually. You need to do it for everything under your hood to function properly again. 


Main Reason Why a Solenoid Doesn’t Work?

One of the main reasons a solenoid doesn’t work is the accumulation of dirt and debris, which can prevent it from making proper contact to provide enough power for the starter to spin. Age and general wear and tear can also cause solenoid to malfunction.

Can Valves Prevent an ATV from Starting?

Yes. If the valves are not properly adjusted and maintained, they can stick and cause misfiring, preventing your ATV from starting. It is important to regularly inspect and maintain your valves to keep your ATV running in top condition.

What Burns up Starter Solenoid?

The main culprit of burning up a starter solenoid is short-circuiting. An unintended connection between the two terminals will cause the current to overflow in excess, overheating and eventually burning out the starter solenoid. High temperature can also be a factor in damaging the solenoid.

Can I Replace Starter Solenoid Myself?

Yes, you can. It is a relatively simple process requiring mechanical knowledge and the right tools. Make sure to know precisely what you are doing before attempting to replace the solenoid yourself. If you don’t have the basic knowledge and skills, it is best to consult a professional for help.

Bottom Line

So, identifying that your ATVs’ starter solenoid is bad doesn’t require any specialized knowledge like pro mechanics. Instead, watch out for strange sounds such as clicks or grinding noises from under hood and pay attention to changes in how easy (or difficult) it becomes to turn on the ignition without delay. These are both tell-tale signs that something might be wrong with this essential component. There are other symptoms mentioned above. 

But you cannot make a decision simply on the said signs. You must conduct a thorough test to know if your ATV starter solenoid is bad or not. If it is bad, fix it at your earliest convenience. Also, you can jumpstart your ATV if you need to start it up urgently. 

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