Your Car Doesn’t Start? Everything You Must Know About Car Starter Motor
What is starter motor & why it’s necessary for car starting?
If you drive a car, then you know it has a device somewhere inside the engine called a starter motor. But do you know what a starter motor is and why it is important?
Essentially, it is a mechanism that is part of a vehicle’s starting system that is used to turn the vehicle’s internal combustion engine in order to start it. It gets the engine operating under its own power.
Once started, Internal-combustion engines depend on the inertia of each cycle to kick off the next cycle. But the first cycle needs to be initiated by an external source. This is what the starter motor is for.
The starter motor is a direct current electric motor with a starter solenoid attached to it. When the ignition sends an electric current from the battery to the solenoid, it causes the drive pinion to push out and mesh with the starter ring gear on the flywheel of the engine.
This sends a charge to the motor to crank the engine and start it. Once the engine has turned over, the starter motor clicks off and disengages the starter ring. Standard starter motors’ components are designed to operate intermittently, usually only for under 30 seconds before they overheat.
Your starter motor is vital to being able to operate your car. If you have a faulty starter motor, your vehicle will not start reliably. This could possibly leave you stranded and having to pay a small fortune to get your car back on the road.
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Starter
As with any machine, the components in your starter motor will eventually begin to wear out. Catching any developing problems before they completely fail is crucial. The two components most likely to fail are the solenoid or the starter motor itself.
So, how do you know when the starter motor is beginning to fail? Well, when the starter is wearing out and about to fail, it will exhibit some warning signs.
1) The vehicle won’t start. If you turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens, this is the most obvious indicator that you have a problem with your starter motor. The engine could make a clanking noise or be completely silent. You could also hear a clicking noise in the starter when you turn the key. This could be because the starter motor has burnt out or a circuit has failed.
2) The starter doesn’t engage the engine. Sometimes, the starter does activate but the engine does not crank over. This could be an indication that the problem is of a mechanical nature. Such as the gears are dislodged or have been stripped and are not engaging the flywheel.
3) Erratic starting. A healthy relay will send current to the starter every time. If there are times when you have issues starting your vehicle, it could mean that the starter has damaged or dirty wiring.
4) The starter motor grinds. This frequently happens when the gears are worn out but can also be a sign of something broken inside the starter motor. Both of these issues mean the starter motor needs to be replaced as it can damage the engine.
5) Starting the Car causes interior lights to dim. If the dashboard lights dim every time you start your vehicle, it probably means that there is a short circuit in the wiring. Current is pulled away from other systems in order to power the starter motor. If this is joined by a chugging sound, the bearings inside the starter motor are likely to be failing.
6) Smoke is present when starting the motor. You will probably see or smell smoke coming from the starter motor if it has overheated due to a continuous supply of current. This could be caused by a blown fuse, short circuit or something has gone wrong with the ignition switch. Damage to the starter, relay or transmission flywheel may occur if this issue is not sorted out without delay.
It is almost impossible to predict or avoid problems with your starter motor. You need to have the starter motor seen to by a professional as soon as you notice any strange noises and smells, or if you are having trouble starting your vehicle.
How to ensure starter motor durability?
Modern vehicles have electric starter motors as opposed to the older hydraulic starter systems of the past. In order to maintain your starter motor’s longevity, you will need to maintain your vehicle’s electrical system. Your starter motor depends on The starter motor’s durability hinges on the components within the electrical system being functional and sound. Here are some tips to ensure your starter motor has a long life:
Be Patient: Let your starter motor rest for about ten seconds after each ten to fifteen-second bouts of cranking the engine. This will prevent it from overheating and burning out.
Tighten the Mounting Bolts: If the mounting bolts holding the starter motor in place become loose, the drive shaft of the starter won’t engage with the flywheel. Tightening the mounting bolts from time to time can prevent any issues arising.
Clean the Battery Terminals: Battery acid produces hydrogen gas, a corrosive that eventually leaks out of the battery. The electric current is weakened by this corrosive coating and regularly cleaning the terminals will keep it flowing.
Clean the Connectors and Solenoid: Any dirt or corrosion on the series of parts and wires connecting the battery to the starter motor will hinder the strength of the current to the starter relay. The motor will then be unable to generate sufficient power to crank the engine. The motor will also wear out far sooner, so it is important to keep the connectors clean.
Inspect the Flywheel: The flywheel is a revolving device which is engaged by the pinion gear. This engagement helps the starter to crank the engine. Both of these parts need to be in a good state of repair. If the teeth are worn or damaged, then your starter motor will not function properly, and it could wear out more rapidly.
Fixing Your Car Starter Motor
Although a faulty starter motor poses no danger to you, it does need to be replaced to prevent further, more costly repairs and inconvenient breakdowns. Once your starter motor begins to act up and becomes unreliable, it is time to replace it.
- How is a Starter Motor Replaced?
First, the vehicle’s battery is disconnected to avoid any inadvertent shocks from occurring. After the vehicle is raised on a hoist, the starter motor’s wiring is disconnected. The starter motor is then unbolted from its mounting and a new one is fitted in its place. The mounting bolts are tightened, the wiring is reconnected, and the vehicle is lowered back to the ground. Then the battery is reconnected, and the ignition is turned to check everything is now operating correctly.
- How Long It Takes to Replace Starter Motor?
Again, depending on your vehicle type, as well as what related issues your vehicle may have, a starter motor replacement can take up 4 hours to complete.
common questions asked by customers
- What causes a starter to fail?
Generally speaking, the most common reason for the starter motor to fail is normal wear and tear. However, accelerated or early failure mostly due to a worn and weak car battery. As well as Low state of charge as a result of short trips or irregular driving conditions.
- What causes the starter motor to go bad?
The bad starter motor is mostly due to a failed and inoperative solenoid that drives a starter motor gear into a flywheel to turn over the engine. However the second part that is often overlooked is brush box located at the back of the starter motor unit.
- What can cause starter failure?
The starter motor is designed to go through many cycles before reaching the end of its life span. Early failure is directly linked to components that work together in a system. The car battery is the most common cause of slow rotating starter motor.
- Why does a starter motor fail?
Where are the four most likely causes of starter motor malfunctions? Faulty electrical connections. Starter Solenoid switches internal contacts. Brush box OR electrical motor windings are damaged. Last but not least Pinion gear or freewheel/flex plate teeth worn or damaged.
- What Causes starter motor to go out?
The starter motor is the last major component in a starting system. If any early starter motor failure occurs it almost certainly a result of other causes. That could be an undersized battery, ignition switch, oil leaks or heat from the exhaust and other.
- What cause starter motor to burn out?
Starter motor can be easily burned out if used for excessive cranking the engine. In situations like poor starting from cold, engine stall after a cold start. Also, where are known issues with many Toyota Model cars that include: Landcruiser Prado, Hilux, Rav4 and Camry. In those vehicles due to design deficiencies starter motor can engage at the incorrect time leading a starter motor to burn out.
- What are the signs of a bad starter motor?
Where many common signs to suggest that starter motor is bad. Rattling inside when starter motor is shaken. The burnt smell from the starter motor unit. Visible damage to the starter gear. Burnt/discolored/melted/broken main wire from starter motor solenoid/heat damaged label or other.
- What are the symptoms of a bad starter motor on a car?
While it is the best way to bench test a removed starter motor. However, while working on a car at roadside or initial inspection before removing it is a good idea to check it first. Things to look for: no response when turning a key or pressing the push start button, the starter motor “Clacks” but the engine is not turning, the starter motor spins fast but engine won’t turn over.
- How long should a starter motor last?
There are a few ways how starter motor life span can be described. The number of kilometers the car or truck traveled or starting cycle counts. This is especially true about later model vehicles. Cars like Mazda i-Stop-start Cx3, Cx5 or Cx9 vehicles has an inbuilt counter that registers every start of the engine. Same is true about Volkswagen Golf, Passat or Audi Start-Stop systems.
- How much does it cost to replace a starter motor?
Every car that has an engine will need a starter motor replacement at some point in its life. While prices can vary significantly between makes and models. The average cost of aftermarket starter motor replacement expects to be an estimate of $380 to $640.
- What does it cost to replace a car starter?
Cost of starter motor replacement consists of these factors. Starter motor unit genuine or aftermarket, amount of labor required to remove and refit a starter motor. Also, other factors like diagnostic scan and system reset after fitment is complete.
- Can you jump start a car with a bad starter?
In order to Jump-Start a car you need a power source that could be another car, truck or booster/ Jumpstarter pack. You do that by using wires to carry electric power from another source to your car’s battery. This is a method to use if your car battery is a fault, discharged or has low power. However, jump start will make no difference to the starter motor and generally won’t work if the starter motor is broken.
- Can you start a car with a bad starter?
While starting a car with a bad starter may not be possible. There are a few things everyone should check first. Test a car battery it must be over 12 volts. Check that cables between a battery and starter motor tight and clean of corrosion or dirt.
- Can a bad starter kill a battery
Faulty starter motors that create a drain will create continuous discharge situation. This will most likely to cause a Dead Cell where your maximum battery recharge is 10.6V and it is permanently damaged.
- Can a bad starter drain your battery?
Faulty starter motor can cause a parasitic drain called a current draw. Depending how bad is a draw measured in AMPs using amps meter will determine how quickly it will drain your car battery. This type of drain is cause inside a starter motor brush box or a starter motor rotor windings. It is must be diagnosed and repaired as early as possible. Ignoring a problem will cause a car battery to fail. Also additional strain on alternator and charging system what will dramatically increase wear rate.
- Can a bad starter cause a car to die?
While it is very unlikely for a running engine to die or stall due to the bad starter motor. However it still possible. It must be a series of events before that can happen. The bad shorted starter motor will cause a car battery to discharge. While worn or undercharging alternator fails to keep up a battery charge. After all, there will be not enough voltage to run the engine and car will die or stall.
- How long does a starter last?
There is a number of starter motor manufactures to cover. The biggest in the industry would be Denso, Bosch, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Valeo. Also replacement quality aftermarket units: Jaylec, OEX and remanufactures parts to OEM Specifications. No starter motor that will have the exact same life span. Each fitment should be assessed on the basis of previous testing and recurring failure rate.
- What’s the average lifespan of a car starter?
To know how long should you expect your starter motor to last. A most reliable source is to look into research and experience of reputable repairer. Same cars will have a mileage pattern that is considered normal for the starter motor to fail or wear out. Let’s say your Honda Accord, CRV and Odyssey that’s equipped with K24A engine starter motor will last approximately 150.000 Kilometres.
- Can a bad starter cause the check engine light to come on?
While it may sound strange or unrelated however bad starter motor can easily draw high demand of current from a car battery. If cars computer sense situation of under voltage / low voltage it will turn on a check-engine light that most cases will stay on permanently until diagnostic tester is connected and reset is complete. Most commonly experienced on Holden GM cars and late model Captiva, Cruze, and Trax model vehicles.
- How can I Start my car with a bad starter?
First, it is a good idea to check what starter motor needs for it to work. Two things to check: Car Battery voltage must be at least 12v, you should hear a slight click at the turn of the key from a relay box. If all seems to be ok. The only way to turn over the engine to start might be a push to start the car (Manual gearbox vehicles only).