Reasons For Motorcycle Clicks Instead Of Starting

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Key Takeaways

  • A dead battery is a primary cause. If the battery doesn't have enough power to crank the engine, you'll hear clicking as the starter tries to engage.
  • A bad starter could be to blame. The starter might struggle to turn the engine or fail to engage with the engine's flywheel properly, resulting in clicking noises.
  • A seized engine could be the culprit. Overheating can cause the engine to lock up, preventing the starter from turning it over and causing the clicking sound.

If you're a motorcycle rider like us, you've likely experienced the dreaded clicking sound when trying to start the bike. It's frustrating and tricky to fix.

The three reasons why a motorcycle clicks instead of starting are a failing starter relay, a dead or low battery, and a seized engine. The starter fails because of a malfunctioning solenoid or faulty starter motor. We can prevent these problems with routine maintenance and motorcycle inspections.

By understanding these common issues, we can help you troubleshoot the problem and get your bike running smoothly again. So, let's dive into the details and explore the reasons for that pesky clicking sound. Stick with us as we delve into the world of motorcycle mechanics and help you unravel this mystery, one click at a time.

In this article...


Motorcycle Clicks Instead Of Starting (Reasons)

We often encounter situations where our motorcycles click instead of start, which can be both frustrating and concerning. Here are a few common reasons this may happen.

Failing Starter Relay

A primary reason our motorcycles may click instead of starting is due to a faulty starter. The starter plays a crucial role in cranking the engine. If it malfunctions, the engine won't start.

The starter is responsible for cranking the engine, so we can experience major issues without it. Inspect the starter for basic wear and damage. You should also look for proper electrical connections to ensure it works correctly.

A motorcycle starter works in three steps. First, the starter relay will collect power from the battery to trigger the solenoid. Then the solenoid uses that power to activate the starter motor.

The starter motor then cranks the engine flywheel. This movement gets the pistons moving and triggers the bike to start. So if the starter relay fails, there is no way to trigger the electromagnetic generator for power.

Dead Battery

A dead battery is one of the most common reasons for this clicking sound. The battery might not have enough power to crank the engine, causing the clicking noise.

Ensure the motorcycle’s battery is fully charged and functioning properly to rule out this issue. When the battery is dead, there is no way for it to generate enough power. The clicking noise means you need to charge it or get a new battery.

One solution is to use a battery tender to help the bike maintain a charge. This is a cheap accessory that can be found at any auto parts store.

Loose or corroded electrical connections can cause your motorcycle to click instead of start. These faulty connections may prevent the necessary voltage from reaching the starter to ignite the piston process. This results in a dead battery or low battery power.

Seized Engine

A seized motorcycle engine is another potential cause for a clicking noise when starting the bike. When you turn the key in the ignition switch, the bike will not start and only click.

Before checking the engine, I always look at the clutch switch and kill switch first. If I can eliminate these two components as a potential cause, I will analyze what's wrong with my engine.

A seized engine happens because of poor lubrication. This forces the pistons, rings, or rod bearings to get stuck. When they get stuck, they can also overheat, fuse together, and seize. So the clicking noise tells us that the engine flywheel is trying to move, but it cannot rotate.

Understanding Why a Motorcycle Clicks Instead Of Starting

When we try to start our motorcycles, hearing a clicking sound instead of the engine roaring to life can be frustrating. There are a few key reasons for this issue, as we mentioned.

This table explains the problem, what causes it to happen, and the ideal solution. In most cases, visiting a professional mechanic is the best way to fix the clicking noise quickly.

Problem Cause Solution
Failing Starter Old Age or Excessive Use (100k miles or more) Replace the starter; See a professional
Dead Battery Parasitic Drain, bad electrical connection, lights left on, or old age Charge or replace battery; Fix connection issues
Seized Engine Poor lubrication, overheating, old age, corrosion & rust Use lubricant on pistons and chamber or see a professional

How To Fix Motorcycle Clicking

We've identified the common reasons for a motorcycle clicking instead of starting. Now, let's explore some solutions to get your motorcycle up and running again.

Charging or Replacing the Motorcycle Battery

As a dead battery is often the root cause of clicking, begin by charging it. If charging doesn't help, it might be time to replace it. A new, fully charged battery should provide enough power to start the engine.

The most common reason why the battery dies is that you leave an electrical component running while the bike is off. Allow at least 2-3 hours to recharge a motorcycle battery.

Solenoid Repair or Replacement

If the starter solenoid is causing the clicking issue, clean the connectors to improve the solenoid's performance. Sometimes, simply removing rust from the terminals may solve the problem.

However, if cleaning doesn't work, consider replacing the solenoid. This will quickly solve the issue, help improve battery voltage delivery, and improve the motorcycle starting process.

Starter Motor Replacement

Another possible cause is a faulty starter motor. In this case, replacement is the best solution. A new starter motor should successfully engage the bike's engine, eliminating the clicking sound.

Cleaning or Repairing Electrical Connections

Ensure all electrical connections between the battery, solenoid, and starter are clean and secure. Over time, corrosion and wear can cause poor connections, leading to clicking sounds.

Clean any corroded terminals and tighten loose connections to avoid any issues. Keep in mind these solutions as you troubleshoot your motorcycle's clicking issue.

By addressing these common causes, you'll be back on the road in no time. Always consult a professional mechanic for assistance if you're unsure how to execute these repairs.

How To Prevent Motorcycle Clicking In The Future

To avoid facing the frustration of motorcycle clicking instead of starting, it's essential to perform regular maintenance. Here are a few ways to prevent future clicking issues:

Routine Battery Maintenance

Regular battery maintenance is key to preventing clicking issues. Ensure you check and maintain the battery's health by keeping it clean, charging it occasionally when not in use, and replacing it when needed.

Always look out for signs of a weak battery, such as dimming headlights, slow cranking, or trouble starting the bike.

Electrical System Inspections

Checking and maintaining the electrical system is vital for avoiding clicking problems. Inspect the connections, cables, relays, and solenoid for signs of wear or corrosion.

Repair or replace any damaged parts as needed. Checking the wiring regularly can help prevent electrical issues that may cause clicking.

Regular Oil Changes & Motorcycle Engine Care

Maintaining your engine is crucial in preventing clicking and other starting issues. Perform regular motorcycle oil changes and use the recommended oil type for your motorcycle.

This will help reduce the chances of engine seizure, which can also cause clicking. Pay attention to any unusual noises, performance issues, or warning lights and promptly address them.