Can A Starter Lock Up An Engine? – What Should You Know?

One of the issues that no driver wants to experience is a locked-up motor. Among all the reasons you might think of, you may wonder: “Can a starter lock up an engine?”

Yes, a bad starter can make your car struggle to start and motor lock up. Let’s find out more about this problem and see what you can do to fix it.

can a starter lock up an engine

What Is A Locked Engine?

What Does It Mean When Your Engine Locks Up?

Before getting deeper into the question, “Can a starter lock up an engine?,” it’s better to grasp a clear idea of what the status is.

You can not start a car when there is a failure in the mechanism due to different reasons.

When you hear your motor produce a strange rough sound and stop by itself while driving, it means you are having a problem with a bad starter or seized engine.

starter motor burn out
Bad Starter

Sometimes, the electrical system works, but the car is struggling to start. Or in some cases, the motor can be locked up even if it’s not running.

In case you face any of these situations, you’d better ask a mechanic for proper solutions for your bad motor.

What Can Cause A Motor To Lock Up?

You may wonder, “Why does an engine lock up?”. Here are a couple of reasons you can think of.

Not enough motor oil can cause this problem. Oil lubricates all the movement of the mechanism by reducing friction.

Lack of lubrication or oil that doesn’t circle well can produce heat. If you don’t change the oil regularly, the motor can not work smoothly.

Another reason for a locked up motor is water damage. When you drive in flood, the water can come inside the mechanism and take up the space of the air.

The pistons can not reach the top of its stroke and cause a locked up motor.

Overheating can be one of the culprits. The older the car is, the lower pressure the fuel systems are.

Extreme heat can turn fuel into gas before it comes to the engine, which leads to starvation for fuel and seized motor.


What Are The Signs Of A Bad Starter?

There are some common symptoms that can tell your generator is bad.

If you hear a grinding sound when you push the start button or turn on the key, it means your car is in trouble.

Another sign is when you turn the generator on, but the car doesn’t power up while still seeing lights on the dashboard.

Furthermore, in case you try the jumpstart and the motor won’t crank, it’s time to consider serious problems with your motor.

When you try to start your car many times, the mechanism gets overheated, and you may see smoke coming out. It’s one of the indicators of a bad generator.

Oil soaked in the generator is another symptom. Be careful with the oil leak, which can lead to serious issues.

Can A Starter Lock Up An Engine?

Yes, a broken starter can lock up an engine. Its initial responsibility is to start the motor. When your generator is struggling to work, your automobile is also affected. It can also explain  why your car won’t start after turning off.

If you keep forcing it to function, it means it will force the mechanism to work harder to start. It can result in too much pressure on the mechanism, which can render it to seize.

Car Won't Start Right After Turning Off

How To Fix?

Now you know what happens when engine locks up. Here are some steps to take when you face the situation.

It would help if you first diagnosed what is the problem you are facing. Rotate the crankshaft by hand and rule out the starter. Remove it and try again if it won’t spin.

Ensure it is not seized due to a broken alternator or A/C compressor by removing the serpentine belt and rotating again. It’s recommended to check the timing belt if possible.

After ensuring the issue, you may have a few options. Replace or repair some internal components of it.

You may choose to fix it in case yours is high-end or rare. However, the first option is more common because sometimes, fixing a small detail can cause more money and time than replacing a new one.

There is one more option that is to rebuild the motor. The engineer needs to open it and see which part can be fixed and which part cannot. And this process will cost a huge amount of money.

Besides, the internal components can be wrapped due to overheating. It can degrade durability. In this case, replacing the motor is a smart choice.

starter keeps going bad


How Long Will A Bad Starter Last?

Each generator performs differently depending on how often and how carefully the owners drive their cars. The average time is from 30,000 to 200,000 miles.

Can Battery Be Drained Due To A Bad Starter?

Similar to the case “Can a bad alternator ruin the battery?,” yes, a broken commutator can also drain the battery.

In this situation, your car is not at its full power and requires your attempt to start over and over, which will need more energy from the battery.

How Much Does Repairing An Engine Cost?

The engine is the most important part of the car. You can not drive without it. Anything that happens to it can cost you quite much money. To fix it, you should spend $3,000 or more.


Now you know what causes an engine to lock up, and can a starter lock up an engine or not.

A bad starter can lock up your motor and cost you not small money to fix the issue.By noticing the starter locked up symptoms, you can understand the status of your automobile.

It’s advisable to bring your car to the repairing shop for consulting professional mechanics to avoid terrible damage and get proper repair services.

2 thoughts on “Can A Starter Lock Up An Engine? – What Should You Know?”

    • Hi Bo,

      Absolutely not. Starter’s function is only engaging the flywheel and crank the engine while starting a car. Try to find other causes such as lack of oil or other damage inside engine. Good luck!


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