Your Chevy Silverado is an excellent, well-designed vehicle. However, that’s only true if you can get its engine started with the help of its starter. The starter is reliable, but it’s still prone to experiencing the occasional problem during its lifespan.
4 common causes trigger Chevy Silverado starter problems. First, the starter can fail indirectly due to a bad car battery and a faulty ignition system. The battery will fail to power the starter, while the ignition system will prevent the starter from starting the engine. Meanwhile, a stuck pinion or a broken gear inside the starter can also cause problems directly.
This guide will help you get the big picture of what’s going on. First, you’ll learn how the starter is supposed to work. Then, you’ll discover the 4 common causes of starter problems in your Silverado and whether or not you can fix the starter.
How Is A Starter Supposed To Work?
The most important way to understand starter problems in your Chevy Silverado is first to learn how it’s supposed to work under normal conditions.
The starter’s work begins with the ignition. Putting your key in and turning the ignition begins the entire starting process.
While you hold the ignition in the Start position, the car battery will power the starter so its gear can turn. Simultaneously, the starter’s pinion will raise its turning gear to meet the engine’s flywheel. Once they make contact, the engine’s flywheel will turn and essentially wake the engine up.
As the flywheel turns, the engine will begin sucking in air and fuel into its chambers, where spark plugs will trigger the initial combustions that start the engine.
Once you release the key and let the ignition rest in the On position, the starter will pull back its gear and allow the engine to continue functioning by itself.
The internal combustion process takes over and keeps the engine running indefinitely until you shut the car off. Of course, that can continue for as long as there’s fuel and air supplied to the engine.
Overall, your Chevy Silverado engine is a small component that cranks the engine to run independently.
What Are the 4 Common Causes Of Chevy Silverado Starter Problems?
Now that you know how a Chevy Silverado starter is supposed to work, let’s see what happens when it doesn’t work as it should.
Here are 4 common causes for Chevy Silverado starter problems:
#1 Battery Issue
One of the most common causes of Chevy Silverado starter problems has nothing to do with the starter directly. Instead, a battery issue prevents the starter from getting the power it needs to function correctly.
Your car battery can suffer from several issues, including:
- Excess wear: Firstly, a car battery will experience excess wear once it reaches the end of its lifespan. If your car battery is too old, it can’t hold and deliver the charge necessary for the starter to work.
- Low charge: Even if your battery is still new and in excellent condition, it might also have a low charge inside. For example, leaving your Silverado parked for a few weeks and never starting its engine will leave the battery drained and too weak to power the starter.
- Rusted terminals: Batteries have metal terminals that can experience corrosion and rust after a while. When that happens, the rust undermines the contact with the cables and prevents the battery from discharging efficiently.
- Loose or damaged wires: Lastly, consider the wiring between the battery and the starter. That wiring can be loose or damaged (e.g. eaten by rats), which will also prevent the starter from receiving the power it needs to start your engine.
As you can see, the power supply to your starter is just as important as the starter and its internal components.
#2 Ignition Problems
Another indirect cause of problems with your starter has to do with the ignition system.
Remember: the starter is only supposed to help crank the engine until the combustion process begins. Once it does, the engine will run independently, and the starter can shut off.
However, if the ignition system is not malfunctioning, the engine won’t start, no matter how hard the starter works.
Those problems can include faulty or worn-out spark plugs, among many other issues that prevent the engine from starting despite the starter working correctly.
Instead, the starter will continue cranking the engine for as long as you turn the key in the ignition.
#3 Starter Pinion Is Stuck
Of course, there are also direct causes for Chevy Silverado starter problems. For example, the starter pinion might be stuck.
If you remember what you read earlier, turning the key in the ignition will cause the starter to turn its gear. Simultaneously, the starter pinion will move that gear to meet the engine’s flywheel. Once the engine runs, the pinion will pull that gear back.
Unfortunately, that pinion can get stuck. When that happens, the starter will turn its gear as it should, but it won’t start the engine because there’s no connection to its flywheel.
#4 Broken Starter Gear
A broken starter gear is the last common cause of starter problems in your Chevy. The pinion might work correctly and move the gear to meet the engine’s flywheel.
However, if the engine is broken, it won’t have anything to connect with that flywheel.
As a result, the starter will continue turning as you hold the key in the ignition, but none of that energy is transferred to the engine.
In the end, the engine won’t crank and will not start, either.
Can Starters Be Repaired?
Yes, you can get your starter repaired if it’s experiencing any of the issues described above. In fact, you should try your best to get it repaired, as replacing the starter in a Chevy Silverado will be expensive.
So, take it to your preferred mechanic and have them inspect the starter. The solution could be as straightforward as replacing a gear or other small component.
Depending on the condition of that starter, you might need a mechanic or automotive technician to rebuild it for you instead.
However, if the starter is well beyond saving, you’ll have no choice but to buy a new one. Given how critical the starter is to your engine’s functioning, this is clearly something you do not want to delay doing.
There is a silver lining here, however. You don’t necessarily have to buy a brand-new starter for your Silverado.
The starter is one component you can safely buy as a used part. Used car parts are more affordable, and they still have plenty of value to offer to you.
Of course, be sure to buy your used parts only from reputable dealers, preferably those that also provide you with a warranty on that part for added peace of mind.
Overall, you can see that Chevy Silverado starters have a few direct and indirect causes for the problems they face. Thankfully, those problems can be fixed by your trusted mechanic. Or, you could do it yourself if you have the tools and knowledge.
If saving the starter is not an option, you must purchase a replacement. A brand-new starter will last you a long time, but a used one in excellent condition will serve you well also.
Whatever the case, a faulty starter must be fixed or replaced as soon as possible. That’s because there is no other way to start your Chevy when you want to drive.