How To Test The Starter Motor (1995-1999 1.6L Nissan)

How To Test The Starter Motor (Nissan 1.6L)

Testing the starter is not hard and it doesn't have to be removed from your Nissan's engine to be tested.

In this tutorial I'll show you the 3 basic test you need to perform to find out if the starter motor is bad and behind the engine not cranking.

NOTE: The illustration I'm using shows the starter motor removed only to make it easier to explain your test connections. You don't need to remove the starter motor to test it.

Symptoms Of A Bad Starter Motor

A bad starter motor will cause a ‘does not crank’ engine condition. In other words, when you turn the key to start the engine, the engine doesn't turn over.

You'll also see one or several of the following symptoms:

  1. The engine doesn't turn over (crank) when you turn the key to start the engine.
  2. A jump start doesn't help. The vehicle's engine still refuses to crank.
  3. The battery has been charged and/or replaced and still your vehicle 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 you try to start it.

Tools Needed To Test The Starter Motor

You don't need expensive test equipment to test the starter motor on your 1.5L, 1.6L Civic (Civic del Sol, CRX) but you do need a few things. These are:

  1. Jack (if applicable).
    • You may (or may not) need to raise your Honda Civic (Civic del Sol, CRX) to gain access to the starter motor. Depending on your country of origin, the starter motor may be located in the rear of the engine (facing the firewall) and underneath the intake manifold.
  2. Jack stands (if applicable).
  3. Remote starter switch.
  4. Multimeter or a 12 Volt automotive test light.
  5. A wire piercing probe.
    • 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.
    • 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.

As you can see you don't need anything expensive. OK, let's turn the page and get started with the first starter motor test.

TEST 1: Applying 12 Volts To The Starter Motor S Terminal

How To Test The Starter Motor (Nissan 1.6L)

For our first test, we're gonna' make sure that the starter motor is getting the activation signal from the ignition switch.

This is activation signal is in the form of 12 Volts and is fed to the starter motor solenoid by the S terminal wire. In the illustration above, the S terminal wire is identified with the orange arrow with the letter S on it.

NOTE: Getting to the starter motor solenoid S terminal (to manually apply 12 Volts) can be a challenge. What I do is use a wire piercing probe to pierce the S terminal wire (while it's still connected to the S terminal) and then I connect my remote starter switch to it and proceed from there, I suggest you do the same (to see what this tool looks like, go here: Wire Piercing Probe Tool Review (Power Probe PWPPPPP01)).

IMPORTANT: The battery MUST be fully charged for this test (or any of the other 2) to give you a trustworthy test result! Also, place the vehicle on jack stands if you raise it up with a jack.

OK, this is what you'll need to do:

  1. 1

    Disconnect the negative battery terminal and jack up your Nissan vehicle and place on it jack stands. Remember, to only way to gain access to the starter motor is from underneath the engine.

  2. 2

    Attach one of the remote starter switch's terminals to the S terminal of the starter motor solenoid.

    This is easier said than done, so take your time and make sure the connection is on the S terminal of the starter motor solenoid.

    Also, in case you're wondering, you can leave the starter motor solenoid's S terminal wire connected to the engine's wiring harness connector or not, the test will work either way.

  3. 3

    Reconnect the battery negative (-) cable to the battery negative post.

    Connect the remaining remote starter switch ‘alligator’ type connector to the battery positive (+) terminal.

  4. 4

    Now, apply 12 Volts to the S terminal wire of the starter motor starter solenoid with your remote starter switch.

    As you apply these 12 Volts (to the S terminal wire of the starter motor solenoid), you'll get one of two results: The starter will activate and will turn over the engine -OR- the starter motor won't do a thing.

Let's take a look at what your test results mean:

CASE 1: The starter motor activated and cranked the engine. This test results tells you that the starter motor IS NOT bad.

It also tells you that the most probable cause of the starter motor not working is that the start signal from the ignition switch is missing. The next step is to go to TEST 2 and see if the starter motor is getting the 12 Volt Start signal on the S terminal wire (circuit). Go to: TEST 2: Verifying The Start Signal.

CASE 2: The starter motor DID NOT activate. This generally means that the starter motor on your 1.6L Nissan is bad and needs to be replaced.

Just to make sure, I suggest doing a simple and easy voltage drop test on the starter solenoid's battery power cable. For this test go to: TEST 3: Voltage Drop Testing The Battery Cable.

Nissan Vehicles:

  • Sentra 1.6L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
  • 200 SX 1.6L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998