A Simple Guide to Your Vehicle’s Starter Motor

starter motor

When you turn the car key, the engine needs an initial kick to get started. The starter motor gives that initial kick. However, it can only happen if your starter is in a good condition. 

A starting motor is sort of a high-torque motor that helps start a car’s engine. It is also called a starter, cranking motor, or just a motor. You can find it in vehicles with an Internal combustion engine. The engine needs an outside force to start the combustion cycle and a starter motor does that job flawlessly.

A starter motor is located right below the cylinders on the driver’s side of the engine. It is attached to the mounting plate with a few bolts and two wires running to it. 

Read on to learn more about this rather important part of your car.

How does a starter motor work?

A starter motor is nothing but an electric motor. When you switch it on, the ignition engages and starts the engine enabling it to draw in the necessary air. A flywheel with ring gear around the edge is located on the crankshaft end of your car’s engine. There will be a gear (the pinion gear) on the starter motor that is made to slide into the ring gear’s grooves.

When the ignition switch is turned, the starter gets powered up activating the electromagnet inside the body. The rod with which the pinion gear is attached gets pushed out. Once the gear and flywheel are engaged, the starter will turn. The engine is spun around, sucking in fuel and air.

The starter will then begin disengaging while the engine is running, and the electromagnet will cease. To avoid any damage, the rod will retract into the starter and take the pinion gear out of contact with the flywheel.

The electrical parts of a starter motor are normally made to last no longer than 30 seconds before overheating. Wait for at least 10 seconds after every 10-15 seconds of cracking if the engine doesn’t start right away.

When is the right time to replace a starter motor?

The following symptoms point towards a potential starter problem.

Your vehicle won’t start

You turn the ignition key on but your engine won’t crank. There can or cannot be a clicking noise each time you push the start button. If this happens, then there’s a possibility that something is wrong with the most important part of your car.

Problem with interior lights

A short circuit in the internal wiring causes the starter motor to pull more power which depletes other systems including your lights. You might also hear a chugging sound. This could indicate a motor bearing failure that needs immediate attention.

Grinding noise

Turning the key and hearing a grinding noise suggests that the gears connected to the starter motor are not engaging properly. It’s possible that the starter motor has an internal issue or has come loose from its mountings.

Whining engine

If you hear a whining or whirling sound, it means that the flywheel in your car is spinning on its own because the starter motor isn’t engaging it. This usually happens when there is a problem with the system that engages and disengages your starter.

Take care of your starter motor

Here are some ways to ensure that your starter motor works for an extended period.

Cleaning up terminals

If the battery terminals have layers of corrosion, it will hamper the transmission of current from the battery to the starter motor. Therefore, you should clean up the terminals in order to sustain the current.

Tighten the mounting bolts

The flywheel and starter’s driver will be unable to connect with each other if the mounting nuts are loose. You can tell that the nuts are loose if you hear those grinding noises when starting the engine.

Cleaning up connectors

With time, dirt can build up on these wires, preventing the electric current from the battery to the motor from flowing. It is advisable to clean these connector wires which will help the car run more smoothly afterwards.


Checking up on the flywheel

The flywheel and pinion gear work together to turn the engine. Thus, the teeth of the gear and the flywheel must always be in good condition. 

The functioning of your starter motor defines the performance of your car. Use these tips to keep your starter motor working for years to come.