Diesel Car Won’t Start: Clicking Noise? 6 Typical Reasons (Solved)

It can be quite distressing when you attempt to start your diesel car, but it keeps making a clicking noise instead of starting.

This is fairly common with diesel engines as they have their problems, but they can be fixed easily in most cases. The problem is usually either with

  • The battery
  • The starter motor, or
  • A failed engine.

We have highlighted some of these issues and have also suggested ways to resolve them; let’s dive in quickly.

1. The Car Battery Is Weak or Dead

The battery is the first place to look whenever there’s the issue of ‘no start’ in your diesel car.

A weak or dead battery lacks sufficient power to turn ON the starter motor, often leading to repeated clicking noise.

Generally, diesel engines are prone to power failure, especially when parked out for too long in cold weather.

Likewise, whenever you leave your vehicle’s light ON throughout the night, you’re killing the battery. This is one of the ways the batteries get damaged quickly.

So, what do you do when it appears the battery is dead or too weak to start the car?

All hope is not lost after all. You don’t have to buy a new battery except in the rear cases where the battery is already old. You can jump-start the vehicle with a jump pack or another car battery.

However, it’s best to ensure every light is put off in your car and every system is deactivated before retiring to your bed chambers for the day.

2. The Battery Is not Well Connected

A ‘not well-connected’ battery can also behave like a dead battery.

If your car won’t start and you continuously hear a clicking sound, then you should check for

  • Loose terminals
  • Corroded battery parts
  • Damaged cables, etc.

After traveling for several thousands of miles, it’s not unusual for the battery terminals to start loosening.

However, you might be perceptive enough to discover this early. You can re-tighten the loosed terminals to restore the connection.

In cases of corroded or rusty battery terminals, the connection can still be restored if you can remove the corrosion.

Corrosion often occurs in car batteries when hydrogen gas released from sulfuric acid in the battery starts reacting with air.

This ‘corrosion’ in batteries is easily noticeable because it appears white, green, or brown in most cases. Although it still depends on the type of metal used for your car battery terminals.

Regardless, it can be easily spotted in most cases.

To remove the corrosion, you can use a battery cleaner or baking soda to spray or rub on affected areas.

Afterward, add a small amount of water to each of the terminals. Then you can use an old toothbrush or a scrub brush to brush away the corrosion.

3. The Starter Motor Is Bad

Grinding, clattering, or clicking noise can be associated with a bad starter motor. Starter issues are common with most diesel cars, except that it’s often confused with other problems.

The starter is a small motor that draws power from the battery to keep the engine running. When it fails, you’d have trouble starting your vehicle, and in most cases, you’d have to tow it.

Here are some symptoms of starter problems in your diesel car:

  • Weird sound or clicking noise
  • Dashboard lights ON but not starting
  • The engine won’t crank
  • Car emitting excessive smoke, and so on

Starter problems can result from

  • Loose wiring on the starter
  • Corroded cables connected to the starter
  • Rusty battery
  • Oil leaks
  • Faulty fuse, etc.

Another cause of starter failure is age. Of course, the passage of time has its natural effect on everything, including the mechanical parts of automobiles.

The frequency of use of the engine is often a primary factor that contributes to the ‘aging’ of the starter.

However, an aging starter shouldn’t scare you as there are healthy practices to ensure a long-lasting starter.

According to Cartreatment.com, ‘for most cars, you can expect starter issues due to normal aging after driving about 100,000 to 125,000 miles. Usually, long-distance travels are mostly what speeds up this rate.

4. The Alternator Is Faulty

The alternator is like an electric generator that keeps the battery charged while the car is running.

Due to the power requirement of the starter motor from the battery to start the engine, the alternator is responsible for ‘powering’ the battery.

The alternator may not be the reason why your car refuses to start. However, it can determine the health of the battery. Therefore, a faulty alternator has a direct impact and influence on your car battery.

In most cases, what causes damage to a diesel engine’s alternator are

  • Overheating
  • Short circuit
  • Strong vibrations, and
  • Condensations

However, your mechanic can easily test the alternator to determine the health state and perform a quick fix if need be.

Here are some symptoms to note for a faulty alternator:

  • Burning smell
  • Dim lights
  • Frequent stalling
  • Whining/grinning noise
  • Trouble with starting, etc.

Generally, regular maintenance can naturally preserve the health of your diesel engine’s alternator.

Regular maintenance can make your alternator last up to 6 to 10 years. That’s something you should invest in.

5. Leaks in the Fuel Pump

The fuel pump is the primary supplier of fuel to the engine fuel components of your car, so you can imagine what oil leaks on those components can result in.

Several engine damages have resulted from fuel pump leaks. Therefore, if fuel pump leakage can damage the engine, that’s automatic ‘non-movement’ for the car.

In no time, you begin to hear annoying clicks and disturbing vibrations all over the vehicle. Alas, it’s time to do something about it and your pocket may have a lot to pour out.

However, here are symptoms that can help you discover and act promptly to solve this problem before it escalates.

  • Fuel tank noise
  • Power loss on acceleration
  • Reduced fuel efficiency
  • Dead engine
  • Jerks at high speed
  • Power loss while towing, etc.

Note, a condemned fuel pump would interrupt the steady flow of fuel to the engine and also affect the diesel engine’s efficiency.

It is advised to take your car to a professional for a proper check and fix and avoid making assumptions concerning the fuel pump.

Also, explore some problems with low-mileage diesel cars.

6. Fuel Filters Are Clogged

A diesel fuel filter is key to ensuring the vehicle’s fuel is clean and keeps the engine running maximally. It is added to fuel systems to filter off impurities like dust and debris from contaminating the fuel.

Modern diesel cars run at very high fuel pressures, which has given the fuel filters more work. This means any blockage or clogging in the fuel filter will automatically hinder the flow of fuel to the engine.

Consequently, you’ll have difficulty cranking the car engine and clicking noise, the next whip of frustration that follows.

So, what exactly causes clogging in diesel fuel filters? Well, out of the many answers to this, here are the most important to note:

  • Contaminants within the fuel tank
  • Corrosive fluid
  • Visible microbial growth
  • Condensation within the tank, etc.

So how can you prevent your diesel fuel filter from clogging? The best and easiest way to prevent fuel filter clogging is to change the filters regularly.

Although manufacturers may have varying figures, on average, you should change the fuel filters after 10,000 miles.

You may consult your manufacturer for advice on further peculiar issues about this, but this is a general resolution.

There are also some easy fixes if your diesel car won’t start.

Final Thoughts

Several factors come to play if your diesel car refuses to start. The most common are issues with the starter and the engine.

However, in situations where it gets above your handling, it’s best to call a professional for help.

Be that as it may, with adequate maintenance and strict adherence to the suggestion made in this article, you just might keep your diesel car on the road for life!

Find out some easy solutions if your diesel car won’t accelerate.

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