How to Test the Starter Motor
(Nissan 2.4L -Frontier, Xterra)

How to Test the Starter Motor (Nissan 2.4L)

This tutorial will help you test the starter motor, on your 2.4L Nissan Frontier or Xterra, without removing it to bench test it. All the tests are explained in plain English and are accomplished with basic tools.

By the way, this article covers two types of 2.4L Nissan Xterra/Frontier starter motors and you'll see the two types of starter motors in the image viewers in each test.

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

  1. Important Safety Precautions.
  2. Symptoms of a BAD Starter Motor.
  3. Tools Needed to Test the Starter Motor.
  4. STARTER TEST 1: Applying 12 Volts to the Starter Motor S Terminal.
  5. STARTER TEST 2: Verifying the Start Signal.
  6. STARTER TEST 3: Voltage Drop Testing the Battery (+) Cable.
  7. Related Test Articles.

Important Safety Precautions

Suggestion 1: You don't need to remove the starter motor from the vehicle to perform the test steps in this article/tutorial. The photos I'm using show it off of the vehicle just to make it easier to show you where to make your connections.

Suggestion 2: The battery in your Nissan needs to be fully charged to perform all of the tests. Also, the battery cable terminals and battery posts must be clean and corrosion free.

Suggestion 3: Use jack stands to keep your Nissan Xterra or Frontier up in the air... don't trust the jack alone! Take all necessary safety precautions, like using jack stands to hold up the vehicle, wearing eye-protection (safety glasses), etc.

Suggestion 4: If you're vehicle has a standard transmission... make sure that it's out of gear and in neutral, and the parking brake is activated/on.

Symptoms of a BAD Starter Motor

When the starter motor goes BAD on your 2.4L Nissan Xterra or Frontier, you'll see one of the following symptoms:

  1. When you turn the key to crank the engine, nothing happens. In other words, the engine doesn't turn over (crank).
  2. A jump start does not help. The vehicle’s engine still refuses to crank.
  3. The battery has been charged and/or replaced and still your Nissan does not crank.
  4. When you turn the key to crank the engine, all you hear is a small knock and nothing else.

Although the above list is a not a very complete list of symptoms... the theme that runs thru’ them, and any other related symptom, is that the engine will not turn over when the key is turned to crank the engine in your Nissan 2.4L Frontier or 2.4L Xterra.

Tools Needed to Test the Starter Motor

You don't need expensive test equipment to test the starter motor on your 2.4L 4 cyl. Nissan Frontier or Xterra... but you do need a few things. These are:

  1. Jack.
  2. Jack stands.
  3. Remote starter switch.
    1. If you'd like to see what a remote starter switch looks like, you can follow this link: Actron CP7853 Remote Starter Switch.
    2. You can either buy this tool online or you can buy it at your local auto parts store (AutoZone, O'Reilly, Pepboys, etc.).
  4. Multimeter or a 12 Volt automotive test light.
    1. If you don't have a Multimeter or need to upgrade yours, check out my recommendation here: Abe's Multimeter Recommendation (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).
  5. A wire piercing probe.
    1. This tool is not an ‘absolute must have tool’ but I can tell you from experience that it makes it a whole lot easier to probe the S terminal wire for the Start Signal.
    2. If you'd like to see what this tool looks like, you find out more about it here: Wire Piercing Probe Tool Review (Power Probe PWPPPPP01).
  6. A helper.

You'll need to raise your vehicle to gain access to the starter motor... never trust the jack alone to hold your Nissan up in the air! Use jack stands!

Nissan Vehicles:

  • Frontier 2.4L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Pick Up 2.4L
    • 1996, 1997
  • Xterra 2.4L
    • 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

“Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.”
George Carlin

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