Car Won’t Start Just Clicks But Lights Work (Causes and Fixes)

Your car may occasionally simply refuse to start. It is either no response at all or a few clicking sounds. It is annoying when the lights come on, and the car clicks but won’t start.

Such issues are primarily prevalent when there are issues with the battery or any adjacent component that has a huge role in starting the engine. As you are here for the problem of your car not starting despite the lights being on, the origin might be those faulty components.

No need to be worried, in this article, we will explain the issue and come up with some relevant fixes. Therefore, without wasting a second, let us begin.

My Car Won’t Start Just Clicks Once With Lights Working All You Need To Know

Why Won’t Your Car Start with Just Click once but the lights working?

A good number of reasons can contribute to the problem of the vehicle not starting. After thorough research, we have identified the reasons for the problem. 

1. Defective Starter Motor

 Defective Starter Motor
Defective Starter Motor

The problem we are discussing here suggests that the headlights are functioning. It means that the battery is in working condition and not completely dead. 

In such cases, the problem primarily initiates from the Starter Motor. Whenever there are defects in the starter motor, you’ll notice much cranking with the engine not turning. 

Having said that, the malfunctioning starter motor can even cause battery issues. Such issues may invoke things like light dimming or smoke from the engine. You must take steps immediately when you notice either of these symptoms in your vehicle.

2. Weak Battery

Weak Battery
Weak Battery

It is the stage before the car battery becomes drained and out of use. Before it gets drained, the weak battery impact makes it seem that the car is alright but doesn’t help in starting. 

It simply doesn’t give enough scope to the starter to draw power, which is required to start the engine. In such cases, it’s often tough to start the car in the cold mornings. Sometimes the headlights are on, and even a few clicks take place. But like the problem states, the vehicle doesn’t start. 

That said, with the dimming interior and exterior lights or sluggish starting, the symptoms will be evident that your car battery isn’t potent enough.

3. Bad Solenoid

Bad Solenoid
Bad Solenoid

Sometimes a part of the starter, like the solenoid, can turn bad and impact the car not to start. Solenoid functions to receive electrical signals from the battery and ignition system and help the vehicle to start.

But when the solenoid is faulty, it won’t let the signal pass, and the car won’t start. Remember that the car lights and regular clicks would happen. But persistent sluggishness and the engine disregarding signals won’t let the car start.

4. Corroded Battery Terminals

Corroded Battery Terminals
Corroded Battery Terminals

The rust formed on the battery terminals ends up corroding them. It mainly happens when the hydrogen gas from the battery acid mixes up with the heat under the hood. You may identify the corrosion color as brown, green, or, to some extent, white.

In the case of the problem we are discussing, once you notice slow cranking, be sure there is something wrong with the terminals. For such scenarios, either replace or repair the terminals.

What to Do When Your Car Won’t Start with Just a Click but Lights Work?

Given the reasons, the fixes can be multiple for the problem here. Below, we’ve described some relevant fixes that might help you mitigate the issue.

Replace Solenoid

Before replacing the solenoid, you must inspect the starter motor. Use a jump lead and connect with the bottom contact responsible for starting the motor. Then, hook up the connection with the positive end of the battery.

On the other hand, clamp the jump lead’s negative end to the starter’s body and then connect it with the negative end of the battery. If the motor spins fast, there is nothing wrong.

But for something otherwise, you would hear a few clicks and lower spins. It eventually means that you must replace the solenoid. We recommend having a mechanic consultation for replacement.

Rejuvenate Weak Battery

There are two ways to revive a weak battery. One is by adding acid and water, whereas the other is sulphation. Firstly, adding distilled water can activate the acid in the storm.

After this, you’ll notice a significant improvement in the voltage levels. A few drops of sulfuric acid may work well for further improvement. This is eventually the process of sulphation. 

Since the lifespan of a battery is around 3-4 years, it needs to be taken care of to ensure proper longevity. That said, rejuvenating is something you wouldn’t even need to consult a mechanic. By taking appropriate measures, you can do it all by yourself.

Repair/Replace Corroded Terminals

Whether you should replace or repair the corroded terminals in the battery depends on the level of corrosion. If the deterioration resulted in decaying the terminals, there is no other way than replacement.

On the other hand, you can use baking soda paste to remove the corrosion if the effect isn’t that severe. With the help of a paper towel, you can apply the paste and effectively neutralize corrosions to repair the terminals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When the car doesn’t start after clicking once, but the lights are working, you might get confused and wonder what’s wrong. To help you clear your confusion, we added some of the most asked queries on this topic.

Let’s have a look at all those!

How much does it cost to replace a solenoid in a car?

Solenoid replacement costs between $75-400, depending on whether you fix it or go for a mechanic consultation. Depending on the car model, a solenoid would cost around $20-150. The rest will be mechanical costs if you don’t plan to replace yourself.

Can I drive with a defective starter motor?

In most instances, you won’t be able to drive with a defective starter motor. The reason is that improper voltage prevents the car from operating correctly. As a result, even in the middle of driving, you may notice the car stopping and the engine showing sluggish nature.

Can a bad starter drain the battery

A bad starter motor can draw more charge from the battery than required. It is the condition when the faulty starter motor will eventually drain the battery and weaken it. As a result, the car may or may not end up starting.

Final Words

The faults in the internal components primarily associated with the battery often lead to many complications. Such is the issue we have been discussing in the article.

When the car clicks once but doesn’t start, it has to be an issue with the starter motor or a weak battery. There isn’t enough voltage in the battery to process signals to the car’s ignition system. The outcome is the car not starting despite the lights working.

In such cases, proper maintenance of the battery has a considerable impact. It is the battery mostly the origin of such issues. To ensure functionality, you must regularly inspect the terminals, connections, and water levels.

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