For your car's starter to work, the battery has to produce enough power. For the battery to have power, the alternator needs to charge it. Hence, that is why some auto electric problems can be challenging to pinpoint, considering all the moving parts involved. Nonetheless, some symptoms can help you pinpoint what part of the electrical system is not functioning, and this gives you the chance to have the problem addressed before the entire auto electrical system is compromised. This piece touches on the symptoms that would be indicative of your vehicle's starter being the root of your auto electrical problems.
You smell burning or smoke
Any smoke being emitted from your car should alert you to an underlying issue that needs to be addressed posthaste. If the smoke or burning smells are emanating from your auto electrical system, you likely have an undiagnosed problem with your starter. A potential reason why the starter could be in decline is that it is overheating and this causes the smoke. This overheating could stem from either a fuse that is blown or a short circuit. In other instances, the whiffs of smoke could be caused by a different auto problem altogether, but to be on the safe side it is best to visit your mechanic to establish if the starter is at risk or not.
Your motor is not spinning
One of the reasons why a starter problem can easily be overlooked under the guise that it could be a different component is because the starter may engage but you are not getting any response from your vehicle's motor. If this is what you are experiencing, it means that the flywheel gears either are degraded or are out of place. In this case, it is an indicator that the starter is no longer functional. Thus, your best course of action is having your mechanic replace this component even though you feel it engaging when you switch on your ignition.
Your engine is not turning over
As mentioned above, the engine, alternator and starter all need to be in working condition for any component to function. However, there are scenarios in which the engine is not working due to the starter rather than the battery being dead. When you are turning on the ignition but are not getting any response, it could mean that this component's solenoid has worn down. However, it could also be indicative of a dead motor. A mechanic will be best placed to diagnose if it is solely the starter or if additional electrical components need repairs or replacement.