How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Car Starter?

Replacing an engine’s starter isn’t something many people think of until they’re on the side of the road, desperately trying to get their car to start. As the name indicates, the starter “starts” the car’s engine by using the electricity stored by the battery.

Understanding what makes a starter tick and associated costs can save you time, money, and headaches if you need to replace it.

What Does a Starter Do?

A starter motor is a vital piece of kit on your car. That’s because you need the engine to be running to make pretty much everything else work the way it should.

To turn over the engine you need an electric motor that can provide lots of torque for a brief time, over and over again. That is exactly what the starter motor is, plus a mechanism to allow it to engage and disengage mechanically in an instant.

As you turn the key or press the starter, power is sent to the ignition system to fire the spark plugs, and to a larger magnetic switch, which sends a rush of power direct from the battery to the starter.

That magnetic switch is called the solenoid, and is typically bolted to the starter itself, both switching high amperage power and causing the gears to mesh.

When the electromagnet is engaged, the solenoid plunger connects the thick battery cable to windings within the starter to actually turn the electric motor, plus it pushes a rod, engaging a fork which in turn pushes a pinion gear (connected to the motor) to automatically engage with the flywheel.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Car Starter

Common Signs Of A Bad Starter

Most of the time, a starter’s motor and relay don’t just fail abruptly. These are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • The engine won’t turn over.  The most common signal that your starter has a problem is if nothing happens when you turn the key or push to start. 
  • Unusual noises, such as clinking, grinding and whirring. If you ignore these sounds, it can eventually lead to damage to the engine flywheel.
  • Intermittent problems starting the car. If you are starting your vehicle and the engine doesn’t ignite right away, and it works the second attempt, you are more than likely dealing with a problem with the starter relay.
  • Smoke coming from under the hood. The starter is a mechanical system powered by electricity, which is prone to overheating. When the starter overheats, you will see or smell smoke coming from under the hood.

If you have a bad starter, there’s a good chance your car won’t even start, which means you won’t be able to drive it or jump-start it.

Causes Of Faulty Starters

A starter malfunction can have different causes:

  • Electrical connections are faulty.
  • Solenoid switch (engaging relay) stiff or faulty.
  • The electric motor was damaged electrically.
  • Single-pinion gear, starter pinion, or freewheel damaged.

How Much A Starter Replacement Costs?

The cost of rebuild parts for a starter can range from as little as $50 to as much as $350. A brand-new starter can range from $80 to over $350. For a qualified mechanic to replace or rebuild your starter, you can expect to pay between $150 and over $1,100.

The cost of a starter replacement depends on several factors such as your car’s make and model, the type of starter, labour costs, and the quality of parts. It’s important to get a professional assessment and estimate before making a decision.

Many vehicles have a starter that is easily accessible and can be removed and replaced in under an hour – others are far more complicated, as they can be housed other engine components – like underneath the intake manifold.

Factors Affecting Starter Replacement Costs

It’s important to understand a few factors when determining starter replacement costs, as the price can vary depending on your vehicle’s make, model, and type of starter you’ll purchase.

Labor is typically the biggest expense for starter replacements. A certified or experienced professional should install the new starter. The labor costs will vary depending on where the starter is located in your car. If you can see it under the engine, replacing it will cost less labor than when installed underneath many other parts, making it harder to access.

You can choose between aftermarket (third-party manufacturers) or original equipment manufacturers (OEM) for replacement starters. Aftermarket parts are typically cheaper but tend to have differences in fit and performance.

An OEM part will offer you an exact match for your starter but will cost more. Often OEM parts have warranties, whereas some aftermarket parts do not.

How often do starters need to be replaced?

Most vehicles will have a starter fail at some point. Failure rates are low for the first 75,000 miles or so, but after that, the rate of failure increases dramatically, with the majority occurring around the 125,000-mile mark.

Vehicles that start and stop frequently, such as newer cars with automatic engine start-stop functionality, are at a higher risk of premature failure.


How do I know if my starter is bad?

Signs of a Bad Starter:
1. Whirring, grinding, or clicking sounds when trying to start your car.
2. A loud single click while trying to start the vehicle with no engine crank.
3. The instrument cluster, headlights, and radio work normally, but nothing happens when you turn the key.

Is it worth replacing a starter?

If you are hearing any unusual noises when you first turn your car on, it usually means that it’s time to replace your car’s starter. It’s never fun having to spend money on repairs for your vehicle, but if you don’t repair your starter now, it could necessitate more expensive repairs later.

How many hours does it take to replace a starter?

Due to the complexity of starter motors, the average amount of time it takes to completely replace a starter is generally between 2 and 4 hours. If your car has an easily accessible starter and you take it to a mechanic worth their salt, your time should hopefully be closer to 2 hours rather than 4.

Can I replace a starter myself?

Luckily, replacing a starter is not a difficult task. In most cases, it’s a fairly simple process that anyone with basic car knowledge can do.

Can a bad starter still start?

Yes, a bad car starter can still crank. However, it may crank slowly or make unusual noises when attempting to start the engine. If you’re experiencing issues with your car’s starter, it’s best to have it inspected and potentially replaced by a professional mechanic.