How To Test The Starter Motor (1994-1997 2.2L Chevrolet S10, GMC Sonoma)

How To Test The Starter Motor (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 2.2L Chevrolet S10, GMC Sonoma, And Isuzu Hombre)

I can tell you from personal experience that testing the starter motor isn't difficult at all. In this tutorial, I'll walk you through the entire testing process step by step.

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 (1994-1997 2.2L Chevrolet S10, GMC Sonoma) (at:

APPLIES TO: This tutorial applies to the following vehicles:

  • 2.2L Chevrolet S10: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997.
  • 2.2L GMC Sonoma: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997.
  • 2.2L Isuzu Hombre: 1996, 1997.

Important Testing Tips

The following testing tips will help you test the starter motor without complications:

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

It's been my experience, working on cars over the past several decades, that starter motor failures usually cause one of the following:

  • An engine no-crank problem.
  • An intermittent engine no-crank problem.

Generally, when the starter motor causes an engine no-crank problem, you turn the key to crank and start the engine, but nothing happens.

The starter motor intermittent failures are generally the hardest to diagnose since 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

The cool thing about testing the starter motor is that you don't need any expensive diagnostic equipment. You'll need a multimeter and a few basic hand tools.

Here's a list of things you'll need to follow the test instructions in this tutorial:

TEST 1: Applying 12 Volts To The S Terminal

Applying 12 Volts To The S Terminal. How To Test The Starter Motor (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 2.2L Chevrolet S10, GMC Sonoma, And Isuzu Hombre)

Your first order of business will be to apply 12 Volts directly to the starter motor's S terminal. These 12 Volts will come from your vehicle's battery.

As soon as the starter motor receives these 12 Volts, it should activate and crank the engine.

The fastest, easiest, and safest way to do this is with a remote start switch. You can see an example of this tool here: Actron CP7853 Remote Starter Switch For 6V And 12V Automotive Starting Systems (at:

IMPORTANT: Remove the key from the ignition switch for this test. If your vehicle 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
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

GMC Vehicles:

  • Sonoma 2.2L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

Isuzu Vehicles:

  • Hombre 2.2L
    • 1996, 1997