How to Test the Starter Motor
(GM 2.4L Quad 4)

How to Test the Starter Motor (GM 2.4L Quad 4)

Nothing sucks more than having your car not start. Without your car... how can you get to work? To the grocery store? To get the kids to and from school? Well, this article will help you to troubleshoot the starter motor on your 2.4L GM (Quad 4) equipped vehicle.

Testing the starter motor on your 2.4L Pontiac Grand Am (or Cavalier, Malibu, Achieva, Alero, Sunfire) is not a hard test to do and can be accomplished with two tests. You don't need any exotic automotive diagnostic equipment to do it... just a multimeter.

Here are the contents of this article at a quick glance:

  1. STARTER TEST 1.
  2. STARTER TEST 2.
  3. Symptoms of a BAD Starter Motor.
  4. Related Test Articles.

Before you jump into the two tests, let me tell you that both are On-Car tests of the starter motor and you don't have to remove it from you car to test it... although the photos I'm using to describe the tests show the starter motor off of the car.

STARTER TEST 1: Verifying the Starter (S) Signal

One of the things that could make you think that the starter motor is BAD, when it really isn't, is a BAD battery or a discharged one. So, the first thing you have to do is make sure that you're starting these two tests with a fully charged battery.

Now, in case you're wondering how to test the battery on your car... Well, you can do a very simple test to find out. Here are the steps: 1.) Turn on the headlights, with the engine off, for about 10 seconds and then turn them off. 2.) Now, measure the battery voltage with a multimeter. If the battery voltage is at least 12.4 Volts (which indicates your battery is at least 75% charged), then you can proceed with the tests in this article. If not, just charge your battery.

OK, for this first starter motor test, here's what you'll need to do:

  1. 1

    Raise your 2.4L Quad 4 Chevy (or Pontiac, Olds, Buick) car and place it on jack stands (jack stands are important), since the starter motor can only be accessed from underneath the car.

  2. 2

    OK, once the car is up and on jack stands, probe the wire that connects to the S terminal of the starter motor solenoid, with the RED multimeter Lead. What I personally do is use a Wire-Piercing Probe to pierce the wire and then attach the RED multimeter Lead to this probe.

    The S terminal on the starter solenoid???... Well this is the thinnest of the two wires that connects to the starter solenoid. The big thick wire comes from the battery positive post. The thinnest one (S terminal wire) comes from the ignition switch (via the neutral safety switch) and is the one that delivers the Start signal from the ignition switch.

  3. 3

    Ground the BLACK multimeter lead on the battery negative terminal or on a clean spot on the engine.

  4. 4

    Now, the car won't crank, but when ready, have a helper crank the engine while you observe what Voltage the multimeter will register on it's display screen.

  5. 5

    You should see one of two results when you helper turns the key to crank the engine (although it's not gonna' start):

    1.) 10 to 12 Volts DC if the ignition switch are working or...

    2.) 0 Volts if no Crank (Start) signal is present.

Let's turn the page and find out what your test results mean and what the next steps are...

Buick Vehicles:

  • Skylark 2.3L, 2.4L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998

Chevrolet Vehicles:

  • Cavalier 2.3L, 2.4L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
  • Malibu 2.4L
    • 1997, 1998, 1999

Oldsmobile Vehicles:

  • Achieva 2.3L, 2.4L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
  • Alero 2.4L
    • 1999, 2000, 2001

Pontiac Vehicles:

  • Grand Am 2.3L, 2.4L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
  • Sunfire 2.4L
    • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

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