Category: car tips

Quick Guide: How A Starter Motor Works

Understanding the basic principles of how your car works can be really helpful. Without a starter motor, your car quite simply would not start so it’s good to be aware of the simple mechanisms involved.

What does a starter motor do?

Located near the transmission in a car, a starter motor is responsible for starting a vehicle. It is placed near the transmission as it needs to extend a starter gear into a flywheel (a toothed gear attached to the back of the engine).

What are the key parts of a starter engine?

The main parts are the starter itself and the starter solenoid. A solenoid (an arrangement where a switch turns on an electromagnet to complete a circuit) is required as the switch must be turned on and off as quickly as possible to prevent sparking.

The solenoid is usually on the starter although it can sometimes be on the fender wall. There will be a red power wire attached to the starter solenoid. This power wire (protected by the starter relay) runs between the battery and the starter solenoid. The power wire carries the heavy electric current from the battery to the starter – this high current requires a large switch to handle it.

starter motor

What’s involved in a starter motor?

To get a motor to start, it has to be turned at speed – allowing the cylinders to take in fuel and air, which they will then compress. The starter motor plays this role – it rotates the engine in order to start the combustion process.

The electric starter motor has a shaft with a small gear wheel (sometimes called a pinion). There is also a flex plate or flywheel bolted to the rear of the crank shaft. The gear wheel engages with a larger gear ring around the rim of the engine flywheel. It’s important to remember that a starter is not engaged all of the time.

The other key component to a starter motor is a device called a Bendix gear. This engages its pinion with the gear ring on the flywheel – but only while the starter is turning the engine. When the engine picks up speed, the Bendix gear will disengage – either by the inertia system or the pre-engaged system.

So what engages a starter motor in the first place?

The starter switch is generally worked by the ignition key. It engages when the key is turned to a start position, thus completing a circuit. Generally, an ignition switch has a return spring which ensures that once the key is released, it will spring back and turn the starter switch off.

Does the starter motor stay engaged?

No, and in fact it’s important that the starter motor only turns enough in order to start the engine. It uses a large amount of electricity therefore can quickly run down the battery of a car if left engaged. Equally, the bendix will be activated if the ignition key is turned when the car is already running which will then push the starter gear into the flywheel, which will already be turning. This can cause the moving gears to mesh and can break the teeth of the starter gear, as well as causing an unpleasant crunching noise.

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Car Maintenance Tips For Beginners

starter motor tips for beginners

Millions of people across Australia own cars, often expensive vehicles that they use everyday and rely on for business and leisure. However how many of us actually understand how our cars work? Having a basic knowledge of car maintenance and the best ways to keep your car in good condition could save you thousands of dollars long term.


  1. Check your Oil

What to do:

  • Checking your engine oil is essential on any car and it’s easy enough to do.
  • Always keep it topped up with good quality oil, especially if you’re going on a long drive or using your car regularly.

Oil has a variety of functions to perform in your car engine. Not only is it a lubricant (meaning that it reduces friction when parts of the engine move against each other), but it also helps to absorb the heat that is produced in the engine combustion chamber – therefore preventing overheating. Engine oil is a detergent, and it also neutralizes the acids that are produced by combustion gases therefore inhibiting rust. Keeping your oil at the optimum level may mean that you avoid corrosion and damage of essential parts of your car.


  1. Keep safe by maintaining your tyres

What to do:

  • Check your tyres on a regular basis and additionally before any long journey
  • Tyres should have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread depth

The way that your tyres are wearing can tell you a lot about the car and its movement. If the wear patterns change or seem abnormal and out of balance, this could mean that your car has problems with wheel alignment or even its suspension. Another way to spot tyre imbalance is if you experience vibrations in the steering when driving so keep aware and address any problems as soon as possible. Healthy tyres mean maximum fuel economy so it’ll save you money immediately.


  1. Stop! Are your breaks in tip top conditions

What to do:

  • Fill up your brake fluid regularly
  • Keep an eye on the performance of your brakes and react quickly to any changes – don’t ignore unusual noises or slower performance.

Being able to brake suddenly could save your, or other people’s life. Your braking distance should be as short as possible in order to avoid any sudden dangers out on the road. React immediately if your brakes begin to make grinding or squeaking noises, and similarly if you experience vibrations when steering. When filling up your brake fluid, always use the best quality recommended by your car manufacturer.


  1. Lights and Battery

What to do:

  • Only use the recommended bulbs for your vehicle and check your lights regularly
  • Replace your battery every 3-4 years and always ensure the electrolyte level is correct if your battery requires you to top it up.

By ensuring that your lights are fully functioning and as efficient as possible, you’ll be able to drive safely day or night. Battery problems are the main causes of vehicle breakdowns so keep yours in good condition and you should be trouble free out on the roads.


Stay tuned as next post we’ll explore how to starter motor works.

Until then, check out this great eHow resource on more car maintenance tips.