How to test solenoid with multimeter: An Ultimate Guide

We’ve all been there – a crucial electrical device, like a starter motor in a car, fails to function correctly, and you’re left scratching your head.

There’s a good chance the issue lies with a small yet essential component called the solenoid.

Knowing how to test a solenoid with a multimeter can save you time, money, and a lot of unnecessary hassle.

Let’s see how to test solenoid with multimeter.

In short, Disconnect the power, and find the solenoid, typically in the starter motor for vehicles. Set your multimeter to ohms, and connect the red and black leads to the multimeter’s positive and negative terminals, respectively. Probe the solenoid’s large terminals, and interpret the multimeter reading – a low resistance denotes a functional solenoid, while a high resistance suggests a faulty one.

What is a Solenoid?

Basically, a solenoid is used to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. It’s an essential component in many electrical systems, including your car’s starter motor.

When you turn your ignition key, the starter solenoid receives a current from the car battery, which triggers the starter motor, turning over the engine.

Understanding the Multimeter

Before we proceed with the solenoid test, let’s familiarize ourselves with the multimeter, a versatile tool for diagnosing electrical issues.

Key Parts of a Multimeter

A multimeter is an electrical tool that measures voltage, current, and resistance. It has two probes, usually red (positive) and black (negative), and a dial for setting the measurement type and range.

How to Use a Multimeter

To measure resistance (in ohms), you’ll connect the probes to the two terminals of the component you’re testing. The multimeter will then display the resistance between the terminals.

Tools Required for Testing a Solenoid

For a successful solenoid test, you will need the following tools: a multimeter, alligator clips, and safety gloves.

How to Test a Solenoid with Multimeter

how to test solenoid with multimeter

Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s go through the steps to test a solenoid.

Safety First

Ensure the power source is disconnected before starting your test. Always remember, safety comes first!

1. Locate the Solenoid

In a car, the solenoid is usually part of the starter motor, connected to the car battery.

2. Preparing the Multimeter

Set your multimeter to the ohms setting. Connect the red lead to the positive terminal and the black lead to the negative terminal of the multimeter.

Testing the Solenoid

Touch one probe to one of the solenoid’s large terminals and the other probe to the other large terminal.

Note the multimeter reading. A properly functioning solenoid should show a low resistance reading, indicating that electrical current can pass through without issue.

However, if the multimeter reads an open circuit or infinite resistance, you may have a faulty solenoid.

3. Interpreting the Results

Based on the multimeter readings, you can properly diagnose the state of the solenoid. Remember, a high resistance reading often indicates a bad solenoid.

4. Common Problems During Solenoid Testing

While testing a solenoid may seem straightforward, you may encounter a few hitches along the way.

5. Signs of a Bad or Faulty Solenoid

A common sign of a faulty solenoid is a clicking sound when you turn the ignition switch, but the engine doesn’t start.

Other symptoms include a starter that stays on after the engine has started or a car that won’t start at all, even with a good battery.

6. Troubleshooting Common Problems

If you encounter problems during testing, ensure the multimeter is in proper working order and the connections are secure.

Also, consider checking if the battery has enough power to supply current to the solenoid.

How To Test Solenoid With Multimeter: FAQs

How many ohms should a good solenoid have?

Generally, a good solenoid should have a low resistance reading. The exact value can vary depending on the specific solenoid, but it’s typically under 5 ohms.

Can a weak battery cause a solenoid to not engage?

Yes, a weak battery may not supply enough power to the solenoid, preventing it from engaging the starter motor.

How do you diagnose a solenoid problem?

Some signs of a bad starter solenoid include a clicking sound when trying to start the car, a starter that stays on after the engine has started, or a car that won’t start at all, even with a good battery.

What is a multimeter?

There are a number of measurements you can take with a multimeter, including voltage, current, and resistance.

What happens when a solenoid goes bad?

When a solenoid goes bad, it may not be able to effectively convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, causing devices like a starter motor to malfunction.

Can I replace a solenoid myself?

While it’s possible to replace a solenoid yourself, it’s recommended to have a professional do it if you’re not comfortable with the process.

Final Thoughts

Understanding how to test a solenoid with a multimeter is a useful skill, particularly for diagnosing problems with your car’s starter motor.

Remember, safety should be your priority when dealing with electrical components. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re unsure about any part of the process.

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Charlie Bass

Charlie has been a mechanic for over 25 years and has worked on everything from small engine gardening equipment to huge diesel-electric mining haul trucks, trains and even aircraft. This broad range of industry experience gives him a unique insight into almost anything mechanical especially with an engine, including gardening and landscaping equipment. He currently owns his own mobile mechanic business and lives with his family in Australia.

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