Motorcycle Starter Not Working? Troubleshooting Guide

Motorcycle starter not working

A non-functioning electric starter in motorcycles can be a pain in… Let’s just say it can be annoying.

Sure, kick start is there for our risqué.

But whenever the bike dies off in the middle of a busy road, you can’t help but curse your damned electric starter.

There can be two major reasons why your motorcycle starter is not working.

A dead battery is the foremost cause that prevents the motorcycle from starting. The second reason is a dead starter motor.

Old motorcycles are more prone to see a busted starter motor. You need to replace either the battery or the starter motor to fix your electric starter problem.

Motorcycle electric starter button

You can hear the buzzing noise of your motorcycle when you press the starter, but the bike is not starting.

That’s the gist.

But let’s deep dive into the causes and solutions whenever the electric starter (push-start) is not working:

#1. Dead Battery

Corroded battery terminal

To know for sure that it is the battery that is causing the issue in your electric starter, check for other motorcycle components that use the battery for their functioning.

This includes headlights, turn signals, horns, backlight, and other electrical systems.

Check these components before you start your motorcycle using the kickstart.

Turn the ignition key on in the motorcycle and try honking by pressing the horn button.

Now, if the intensity of your motorcycle horn reduces after a second or two, then the battery is the culprit causing issues in your electric starter.

Now that we have zeroed in on the battery, we need to look further into battery issues.

Here is our detailed guide on dead battery issues. In this post, we will touch these issues in brief.

Battery is not holding the charge

This is straight and simple. The battery is dead.

You need to replace your motorcycle battery with a new one.

There is no need for further inspection if the battery is not holding a charge. The battery is dead and needs replacement for the electric starter to function.

Battery terminals corroded

Battery terminals are the electrical contacts that provide power to the vehicle’s electrical system.

If the terminals are not in good condition, expect the battery to not perform well.

That’s why terminal corrosion is a problem. Corroded battery terminals can be very problematic as the current will not flow easily.

In case the terminals are indeed corroded:

Either clean the terminals or replace the battery.

#2 Dead Starter Motor

Starter motor

If your motorcycle is old, say, more than five years old, then the chances of a dead starter motor is a high possibility.

If your battery is working fine, then it is most likely that the starter motor in your motorcycle is either not generating power or not able to convert the generated power into DC current.

In either case, your starter motor needs to be checked.

Solenoid Check

If the starter makes an odd buzzing noise and your battery is holding charge, then the solenoid might be corroded.

If the starter is responding when the terminals are charged, but the solenoid is not clicking, then the solenoid is the cause for your starter woes.

The solenoid will have an electromagnet that sends the battery power to your starter. If the solenoid is buzzing then the battery is not holding enough charge to power the solenoid enough to maintain contact with the circuit.

Stator Problem

If the motor is not able to generate any power, then the stator is not functioning to its capacity.

Here’s how to test the motorcycle starter:

Check the power generated by the stator using an Ammeter or a multimeter.

The current reading would help you determine the root cause of the problem. A bad stator will result in your motorcycle starter not functioning.   

Rectifier problem

Another key concern in the battery problem is your rectifier.

If it is the voltage regulator that is not charging up the battery, then your rectifier needs rectification (lame?).

The rectifier most likely is not converting the generated power from your stator to DC current from AC.

Since the electric starter used in a motorcycle engine is a DC motor, a failing rectifier not able to convert to DC current will result in your starter not working.

#3 Other Causes

Other rare causes include a messed-up wiring connection.

The last time you serviced your bike, or your mechanic serviced your bike, can be the root cause of your starter problems.

If there has been a loosened wire connection or a wrong connection taken place in the last servicing, then electric starter problems might have started which has left you relying entirely on your kick start.

Symptoms of a bad motorcycle starter

The main symptom of a bad motorcycle starter is the motorcycle not being able to start with the electric starter.

Motorcycle throttle with kill switch and electric starter button

Here are the detailed symptoms:

  • Doesn’t start: The electric starter doesn’t start the motorcycle engine. No matter how much you try. But the motorcycle might start with the kick start.
  • Feeble sound and stop: Whenever you push-start via the electric starter, the motorcycle makes a feeble buzzing noise and then stops. Still causing starting problems.
  • Clicking noise: There will be a loud clicking noise coming from the starter. Most likely a solenoid problem.


Let’s wrap this up.

  • A dead battery is the foremost cause that prevents the motorcycle from starting with the electric starter.
  • To check whether it is indeed the battery problem, turn the key on of your motorcycle and press the horn button without kick-starting the engine. If the horn sound slows down on its intensity after a second or two, you have a dead battery in your motorcycle there.
  • Within battery issues, if the battery is not holding up charge, then it is as good as dead. You need to replace your battery with a new one.
  • If the battery is holding up charge, check for solenoid issue. If the electric starter makes a buzzing sound whenever you press it, it is most likely that the solenoid is not clicking.
  • Apart from the battery, the starter motor can also cause issues in the electric starter of your motorcycle. Either it is not generating enough power or not able to convert the generated power into DC current.
  • If the starter motor is not generating enough power, then it is the stator issue. You need to check with an Ammeter.
  • If there is enough power generated but it is not getting converted into DC current, then there is an issue with the rectifier.
  • In both of the above cases, you need to fix your starter motor. Take your motorcycle to your mechanic for the repair.
  • Other rare causes of concern include loose wire connections or misplaced connections during your last motorcycle servicing.