The starter motor is what gets your engine running when you turn the ignition key or push the start button.
A starter motor gets a lot of wear during its life, and is bound to start having problems eventually.
It is common to assume that a engine not starting is the direct result of a dead battery.
In some instances that might be the case, however, sometimes the problem is the engine’s starter motor.
When a starter motor is going bad it may display a few warning signs.
It’s also possible that you may have wiring issues, or possibly a bad ignition switch.
If you turn the key and simply hear a clicking sound, or nothing at all, then it may be the starter.
The odds are that your problem can be traced to the starter motor, the solenoid or the starter relay.
The symptoms may be easy to recognize if you know what to look for.
So, a starter motor is composed of two main parts:
- The primary motor that turns your crankshaft and starts your engine.
- The solenoid that simultaneously engages the starter drive gear and closes the main motor’s electrical contacts.
Starting system troubles may be caused by poor maintenance, or just by wear and tear. With more vehicles being fitted with stop/start technology the strain on the starter motor and batteries has been greatly increased.
Like most mechanical devices, when the starter motor is beginning to wear out, it may display a few warning signs.
- When the starter drive gear is worn out or not engaging properly, it will often produce a grinding noise. This is similar to the noise you hear when you try to start your engine when it is already running. If the grinding noise is ignored, it may also result in damage to the engine flywheel.
- Freewheeling occurs when you crank the engine and simply hear a whining noise without the engine cranking. When this occurs, it means the starter is not engaging with the flywheel.
Starter Motor Still On After Engine Started
- When you start the engine and release the key, power to the starter motor is stopped. If power stays on after the engine has started, the main contacts in the solenoid have most likely welded together. If this problem is not addressed immediately, it will cause serious damage to the starter motor and the flywheel.
The first step in getting your starter motor problem properly diagnosed is to rule out the battery. Remember that your battery will need to be fully charged (or sufficiently charged) in order to operate the starter motor. This is the reason why a dead battery can sometimes be mistaken for a starter problem.
Consequently, If your car does not crank try to start it with jump leads or a starter pack. So, If the engine starts you know there is a problem with the electrical system.
- If the engine does not start or turn, try to rule out a seized engine.
- Start by turning the engine over by hand at the crankshaft pulley.
- If you’re unable to turn the engine over by hand you have major engine damage.
You May Have One Last Start in Your Starter Motor
You turn the key and nothing happens, or you hear a single faint click but the motor still won’t crank. If you are lucky you may still be able to start the engine one last time. This may sound unconventional, but tapping the rear of the starter while turning the key might start the engine. It is best to have a friend turn the key while you use the hammer to tap the starter. If the engine starts, have the starter fixed or replaced immediately.
Starting system problems can be hard to diagnose, but paying attention to the symptoms will help you. And not only that, it can help you save money in the process.