How To Test The Starter Motor (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 2.2L Chevrolet S10, GMC Sonoma, And Isuzu Hombre)

This tutorial explains the three tests you need to perform on the starter motor to determine if it's good or bad.

All three tests are explained step by step and don't require any expensive diagnostic equipment to perform.

With your test results, you'll quickly and easily determine if the starter motor is good or bad.

NOTE: The starter motor test in this tutorial is an on-car test. The photos I'm using show the starter motor off of the vehicle only to explain the test connections better.

In Spanish You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Motor De Arranque (1998-2003 2.2L Chevrolet S10, GMC Sonoma) (at:

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  • 2.2L Chevrolet S10: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.
  • 2.2L Chevrolet Sonoma: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003.
  • 2.2L Isuzu Hombre: 1998, 1999, 2000.

NOTE: You can find the starter motor test for the 1994-1997 2.2L Chevrolet S10 and GMC Sonoma here:

Important Testing Tips

TIP 1: The battery must have a full charge before starting any of the tests in this tutorial.

TIP 2: The battery cable terminals and the battery posts should be clean and corrosion-free before starting the tests.

TIP 3: Read the entire article first to familiarize yourself with the tests.

TIP 4: Use jack stands for safety. Don't trust the jack alone to keep your vehicle up in the air while you're underneath it!

TIP 5: Take all necessary safety precautions. Use safety glasses while working underneath the vehicle. Be alert and think safety all of the time.

Symptoms Of A Bad Starter Motor

When the starter motor fails, it will not turn over the engine. Specifically, you turn the key to crank the engine but nothing happens.

Unfortunately, the starter motor can fail intermittently. In these cases, the starter motor works fine most of the time, but it doesn't now and then.

The key to successfully resolving an intermittent no-crank problem is to test the starter motor when it isn't cranking the engine.

Tools Needed To Test The Starter Motor

You'll need a few inexpensive but essential tools to diagnose the starter motor as good or bad:

TEST 1: Applying 12 Volts To The S Terminal

Applying 12 Volts To The S Terminal. How To Test The Starter Motor (1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 2.2L Chevrolet S10, GMC Sonoma, And Isuzu Hombre)

Your first task will be to apply 12 Volts from your pickup's battery to the starter motor's S terminal.

Applying 12 Volts to the starter motor's S terminal should activate it to crank the engine.

The fastest, easiest, and safest way to do this is with a remote start switch. You can buy or borrow this tool from your local AutoZone or O'Reilly Auto Parts Store.

You can see an example of a remote start switch and where to buy it here:

IMPORTANT: Remove the key from the ignition switch for this test. If your Chevy S10 (GMC Sonoma) is equipped with a standard transmission, place it in neutral.

OK, let's get testing:

  1. 1

    Raise the front of your vehicle and place it on it's jack stands (to gain access to the starter motor).

  2. 2

    Disconnect the battery negative (-) terminal.

    You'll reconnect it back in one of the following steps; for now, it's a safety precaution as you set up the test.

  3. 3

    Attach one end of the remote starter switch to the battery positive (+) post.

  4. 4

    Attach the other end of the remote starter switch 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.

  5. 5

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

  6. 6

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

  7. 7

    You'll get one of two results:

    1.) The starter will activate and will turn over the engine.

    2.) The starter motor won't do a thing.

Let's see what your test results mean:

CASE 1: The starter motor cranked the engine. This is the correct and expected test result and confirms the starter motor itself is functioning correctly.

Since the starter motor isn't cranking the engine when you turn the key to crank it, the next step is checking it's receiving an activation signal. Go to: TEST 2: Verifying The 12 Volt Start Signal.

CASE 2: The starter motor DID NOT crank the engine. This test result usually tells you that the starter motor is bad and needs replacement.

Before replacing the starter motor, your next step is ensuring that the cable connecting the starter motor to the battery positive (+) terminal is OK. Go to: TEST 3: Voltage Drop Testing The Battery Cable.

Chevrolet Vehicles:

  • S10 Pickup 2.2L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

GMC Vehicles:

  • Sonoma 2.2L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003

Isuzu Vehicles:

  • Hombre 2.2L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000