How to Test a Starter Solenoid with a Multimeter

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Starter solenoids are electrical elements that entail a broader range of applications installed in almost every equipment, starting from dialysis machines to door locks that are electronic. They contain coiled as well as thin wires that generate a magnetic field when you power the application. The use of starter solenoids is popularly used to confuse the state of your valves and switches, plus they are major elements in your car engine starter.

Whereas starter solenoids are often incorporated in some of the most complex machines, they are simple elements that you can quickly test at home when you suspect they are defective. To do this, you need only to have the appropriate tools to run the test.

Once you have the necessary to use in the status analysis of the starter solenoid effectively, your duty is subsequently much easier. One of the essential tools you need is a multimeter that is well known for troubleshooting electrical devices and is often used in examining resistance, current, and voltage in electrical systems.

However, you might be having a multimeter but have no idea how to use it; hence the question, how do you use a multimeter to test a starter solenoid? Well, in this article are the detailed steps you need to follow when testing your starter solenoid with a multimeter. 

Testing your starter solenoid

Step 1 – Check your starter solenoid

Before running the test, you need first to examine the starter solenoid properly. To do this, you should check not only the wires but also the terminals that are connected to your solenoid since this is often the root problem area in your car.

Therefore, your first goal should be to locate the starter solenoid in your vehicle’s engine, and they usually come in different sizes, and it all depends on the model of your car. Nevertheless, it typically has a cylindrical shape, plus it is also attached to a minimal cylinder.

In case you are having any trouble locating the starter solenoid, you should refer to the manual script. Note that there are two basic terminals coming out of your starter solenoid, and there is also a wire coming from your car’s battery positive terminal, and it is connected to one of the solenoid terminals.

Once you locate the starter solenoid, find someone to ignite your car as you listen to the sound your starter makes. In case it has a click sound, the starter solenoid is functioning correctly. However, if it does not generate a clicking sound, you then should know that your starter solenoid is most likely faulty hence cannot work accordingly, and this may be resulting from your battery.

Step 2 – Check your battery

Examine your car’s battery. Your vehicle might not be fully charged to have enough energy, as well as the potential to run your engine’s car and make the starter solenoid work more effectively. Use the multimeter to run a test on the battery and determine its voltage.

Consequently, connect the multimeter’s probes to your battery terminal, placing the red probe of your multimeter on your battery’s positive terminal and placing the multimeter’s black probe on the negative terminal. If you do this appropriately, your reading value should be around 12 volts, and that shows it is functioning correctly. In case it gives a different reading from the one mentioned above, there is a great possibility your battery might result in the starter solenoid to commence malfunctioning.

Step 3 – Examine the voltage

It is good that you examine the amount of voltage your car battery supplies to your starter, as this will enable you to identify the origin of the problem. This might occur because of the poor connection between your battery and your solenoid starter.

Using your multimeter, place your negative probe, which is black in color from your meter to the terminal, which is on the ground, and your positive probe represented with a red color to your battery’s positive terminal. The positive terminal usually has a plus sign, while a negative terminal has a minus sign on it.

Set your multimeter correctly and examine the readings displayed on its screen, and the reading should be 12 volts, as mentioned earlier. If it is lower than 12 volts, then you should know that your battery charged fully.

While still maintaining the connections, find someone to assist you in igniting the engine of your car, and as you do this, the voltage is expected to drop up to its 1/2 voltage. If this does not happen, then the problem could be in the connection of your battery and the starter solenoid.

Step 4 – Run the final test on your starter solenoid.

Connect your multimeter’s black probe to your battery’s negative terminal and the red probe to your battery’s positive terminal. Have someone assist you in igniting the engine as you observe the reading value displayed on your multimeter. The voltage should drop just like it did previously. In case it is under 0.5 volts, then your solenoid is defective, meaning something in it might have gone wrong, and you might need to fix it for it to function correctly.

If it drops completely, consider the problem to be originating from your battery as well as the starter solenoid. Nevertheless, if your multimeter does not display any reading value on its screen, you should know that there is a high likelihood that your starter solenoid is wholly damaged, and it needs to be replaced.


After reading through this article, you now see that running this test is not as complicated as you might have previously thought. In fact, it is relatively straightforward, so long as you have a clear understanding of how to conduct it correctly.

Therefore, whenever you suspect that your starter solenoid is damaged, you need to follow the aforementioned steps, and you will be able to know precisely whether or not it is damaged. With this in mind, you will know whether repair or replacement is the next appropriate step you should take. However, as you do this test, it is vital that you always observe all the safety measures to prevent any unforeseen accidents from occurring that might cause you significant injury and damage to your vehicle. 

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