The easiest way is to disconnect the power and apply an Ohm meter across the terminals. Depending upon the solenoid and the power source you should read something from a few ohms to a few hundred. This will vary greatly. If you read in the thousands or an open circuit it is probably bad. You also want to measure the resistance from the input wiring to the case. Again the reading will vary greatly. For a single wire solenoid like one found in a car, you should read the same as the coil resistance in the first part. If its an AC solenoid a reading between the two terminals is probably in the hundreds of ohms. When you test from wire 1 to case and wire 2 to case you will either read an open (meg ohms) circuit or an open on one and a short on the other. this is normal.
Last, you can always apply power and see if it moves. You should see and probably hear the center throw move.
Any solenoid is an electrical switch with main terminals to pass current when
operated by the small terminal being given a voltage .
to check if sol is faulty bridge the two main terminals with thick jump lead if the starter works its faulty.
If it still does not work check these with and without operating the key switch.
1.Good Battery voltage across battery terminals
2.Same voltage at starter
1 and 2 should be the same
if 1.2 check out ok you will most likel find the brushes in the starter motor have worn out
The solenoid is connected to the starter and for the backyard mechanic if one is bad they both are bad. When you purchace a new starter it will have a solenoid attached so dont worry. Getting your hands on just a solenoid for that vehicle might prove to be a chore. I'm having the same problem and wanted to ask the same question about a 92 Sable 3.8. I'm thinking that if you don't hear a click when you turn the key it may be that the solenoid/relay is bad. I checked my solenoid with a tester and it is getting juice so I still don't know for sure if it's the starter or the relay but I'm thinking more towards it being the relay because I don't hear any clicking sound that the relay usually makes... Can anyone expound on this and help me out??? I'd appreciate it... Thanks.
If it is the solenoid just take a small jumper wire and jump out the two small terminals on the front of the solenoid and the starter should try to start the engine. If nothing happens then it is bad. Or you could take a volt meter and go from ground to the starter side of the solenoid and get some one to take the key and try to start it ,if you get 12volts and the starter doesn't try to engage then your starter is bad ,if you don't get 12volts then your solenoid is bad.
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