Test A Solenoid With A Screwdriver

Solenoids are essential components found in various devices, and understanding how to diagnose and troubleshoot them can save you time and money.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to test a solenoid with a screwdriver and a multimeter. Some of the key points we’ll discuss include the following:

  • what a solenoid is and how it works?
  • The signs of a faulty solenoid and when to test one?
  • The tools you’ll need for testing and safety measures to consider.
  • The Step-by-step instructions on testing a solenoid with a screwdriver and a multimeter.
  • Troubleshooting common problems and guidance on repairing or replacing a faulty solenoid.

What Is A Solenoid?

what is a solenoid

First things first, a solenoid. If you’re wondering if it’s some complex, fancy-schmancy tech thingy – worry not! It’s a component found in many everyday devices, from your car’s starter motor to your home’s doorbell.

If landed on this article and your goal is to troubleshoot your car’s starter or make it start using a screwdriver, check out our previous article on how to start a car with a screwdriver instead, we mentioned a lot of helpful stuff there (:

Basic Explanation Of A Solenoid

A solenoid, in essence, is a coil of wire wound into a tightly packed helix. When electric current passes through it, it generates a uniform magnetic field in its center.

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, right? But it’s real. And it’s quite remarkable how it works.

Working Principle of a Solenoid: The beauty of a solenoid lies in its simplicity. When electricity is introduced, the solenoid acts as an electromagnet.

The magnetic field generated pulls a movable core or plunger, causing mechanical movement.

This principle forms the basis for the solenoid’s role in various devices. It’s all about turning electrical energy into mechanical movement.

Different Types of Solenoids: Solenoids are not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. They vary in type according to the role they play.

Starter solenoids create a push or pull motion, while rotary solenoids generate a rotational motion. Then there are hydraulic and pneumatic solenoids used in fluid control systems.

But don’t worry! the basic test we’re going to discuss applies to most types of solenoids.

Understanding How A Solenoid Works

How does a solenoid work

Understanding how a solenoid functions helps in diagnosing any potential problems. It’s like getting to know your car’s engine compartment better – the more you know, the easier it is to tell when something’s off.

How A Solenoid Operates?

In layman’s terms, a solenoid operates like a switch. When current is supplied, it ‘switches on’, creating a magnetic field that moves the plunger, and hence, triggering the device it’s controlling.

Cut off the current, and it ‘switches off’, allowing a spring to return the plunger to its original position.

Common Reasons For Solenoid Malfunction

Solenoids are pretty robust, but they can run into problems. Wear and tear is a common culprit, especially in high-use applications.

Overheating due to excessive current can also cause the solenoid’s positive terminal to burn out.

Rust or debris might jam the plunger, hindering its movement. Understanding these can aid in quicker and more efficient troubleshooting.

Why And When You Might Need To Test A Solenoid?

testing a solenoid

Solenoids are like the unsung heroes of many devices. They’re often overlooked until something goes wrong. Understanding the signs of a faulty solenoid can save you from more significant issues down the line.

Here are a few common signs of a faulty Solenoid:

  • Recognizing Unusual Noises: If your device starts making strange noises, like clicking or grinding, it might be the solenoid calling for help.
  • Experiencing Problems in Device Functionality: If your device isn’t working as smoothly as it usually does or not working at all, the solenoid might be the cause.

What Tools You Need For Testing A Solenoid?

Tools required to test a solenoid

You don’t need an entire toolbox to test a solenoid. Just a couple of simple tools, and you’re good to go. Testing a solenoid requires two primary tools: a starter wire and a multimeter.

You might already have them around the house. If not, they’re easily available and are invaluable additions to your DIY arsenal.

Detailed Breakdown Of Each Tool

Importance of a Screwdriver: Your trusty screwdriver is your first tool of choice. It’ll help you expose the solenoid for testing by removing the outer casing of the device.

Some solenoids also have screws securing them, and the screwdriver will come in handy there.

Role of a Multimeter: A multimeter is a versatile tool that measures electrical properties like voltage, current, and resistance.

It’s indispensable when it comes to testing a solenoid as it helps measure the resistance of the solenoid coil to check its health.

How To Stay Safe When Testing A Solenoid?

Safety measures for testing a Solenoid

While we’re talking tools, it’s vital to stress safety. Always ensure the device is unplugged or powered down before you begin.

And while a multimeter is generally safe to use, be cautious when handling it and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the tee.

Preparing For The Test

Now that you’ve got your tools ready, let’s prepare for the test. A little prep work can save you from potential hiccups during the process.

Safety Precautions To Consider Before A Solenoid Test

  • Disconnecting Power Supply: The first and foremost rule before you start: disconnect the power supply to the device. This is when your ignition key comes into play – make sure the ignition is off. Safety first, folks!
  • Using Protective Gear: Though it’s not a high-risk task, using protective gloves can safeguard against any unforeseen issues.

Accessing The Solenoid In A Device

Guide to Identifying the Solenoid: Depending on the device, the solenoid might be tucked away within.

You’ll need to remove the outer casing or cover to get to it. Look for a cylindrical object, often with two wire connections – that’s our target.

Properly Exposing the Solenoid for Testing: Once you’ve identified the solenoid, you might need to unscrew it or disconnect it from its mounts to test it properly.

Just make sure to remember how it was placed for easy reassembly.

How To Test A Solenoid With A Screwdriver ( Explained Step By Step)

Test a starter Solenoid

Just like testing an alternator with a screwdriver, the process is very straightforward.

All right! now that we’re all set let’s dive into the actual testing process

Here are the steps to follow if you want to test a solenoid with a screwdriver:

  • Step 1: Connecting The Solenoid To The Battery
  • Step 2: Removing The Solenoid With A Screwdriver
  • Step 3: Testing The Solenoid’s Resistance With A Multimeter
  • Step 4: Interpreting The Results

Step 1: Connecting The Solenoid To The Battery

Use your jumper cables to connect the starter’s positive terminal to the positive terminal of your car battery.

The solenoid should click, indicating it’s working. If the starter cranks, that’s even better.

Step 2: Removing The Solenoid With A Screwdriver

Use your screwdriver to unscrew the solenoid from its position. Be gentle to avoid any damage.

Step 3: Testing The Solenoid’s Resistance With A Multimeter

With the solenoid disconnected, use the multimeter to measure its resistance.

Connect the multimeter’s probes to the solenoid’s terminals and read the resistance. It should fall within the manufacturer’s specified range.

Step 4: Interpreting The Results

If the resistance is within range, your solenoid is healthy. If it’s too high or too low, it might be faulty.

Troubleshooting Common Problems The Solenoid Testing Process

Dealing with Inconclusive Results: If your results are inconsistent or you’re not sure, repeat the test. Always better to double-check.

Overcoming Difficulties in Removing the Solenoid: If you’re having trouble removing the solenoid, be patient.

Check if there are additional screws or clips holding it in place. And remember – force is not your friend here.

What To Do If Your Solenoid Is Faulty?

So you’ve tested your solenoid, and it could be in better shape. What now? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

Guidance On Repairing A Faulty Solenoid

When to Repair vs When to Replace a Solenoid: If the solenoid is jammed or dirty, you might be able to clean it and get it working again. But if it’s burnt out, it’s best to replace it. visit this article about repairing a solenoid to learn more.

Step-by-step Guide to Repair a Solenoid: A jammed solenoid can often be cleaned and lubricated to restore functionality. Remember to ensure it’s fully dry before reassembling.

Buying A New Solenoid

How to Choose a Suitable Solenoid: If you need to buy a new solenoid, make sure to choose one that matches the specifications of the old one.

These can often be found written on the solenoid itself or in the device’s manual.

Installing the New Solenoid: Installing the new solenoid is often as simple as reversing the removal process.

Screw it in place, reconnect the wires, and you’re good to go!


And there you have it! You’ve just unlocked a new DIY skill. Knowing how to test a solenoid with a screwdriver not only saves you money but also gives you a better understanding of the devices around you.

So, the next time a device acts up, don’t panic. Grab your screwdriver, your multimeter, and get testing.