A starter relay is a component of the ignition system on your vehicle. It is essentially a remote switch that receives current from the ignition switch and sends current to the starter solenoid and starter.
The starter circuit carries a much higher electrical current than the ignition switch and therefore requires a relay to turn the circuit on. While a starter solenoid might be operated directly from the ignition switch on smaller engines and vehicles, larger vehicles (like cars, trucks, and SUVs) rely on both a relay and a solenoid to energize the starter. Relays and solenoids are, in fact, similar in function. But they are not the same size. Solenoids are much larger and work on heavier circuits.
The starter relay is typically located in the fuse/relay box inside the engine compartment.
If the starter relay on your vehicle is bad, there is a good chance your engine will not start. In fact, it will not turn over at all. That is because, without current passing through the relay, the starter circuit will not energize. Sometimes a starter relay will fail completely. Other times the trouble will be intermittent. Your vehicle might need a new starter relay if you notice one or more of the following:
Starter relay replacement is relatively simple, as long as it is clear which relay needs to be replaced. In order to replace the starter relay in your vehicle, a technician will need to open the hood, locate the fuse/relay block, and open the weatherproof cover. Once the correct relay has been identified, it is extracted from the box and replaced with a new relay. The box is sealed and the hood closed. This is a much simpler task than replacing a starter solenoid or starter motor.
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