What to do When Your Starter Goes Out
Well, we know a car won’t go anywhere without gasoline. And it won’t go far if there isn’t any oil in the engine or fluid in the transmission. But what do we know about the starter? In fact, what is a starter, and when it quits working, is starter repair possible, or does it have to be replaced? Read on for more information about the starter on a vehicle.
So, what is a starter?
The starter is a starting gear that engages the flywheel when the key is turned in the ignition. As the engine rotates, it delivers power to the rest of the engine, allowing it to rotate. The engine then sucks air and fuel into the cylinders which starts the combustion process for the engine to run.
The starter converts electrical energy it gets from the battery into mechanical energy. So, our next question may be, “What happens when the starter isn’t working?”, and “Is starter repair possible?”. Let’s answer the first question with a pretty simple answer: Nothing. Nothing will happen if the start is broken. The engine won’t turn over, or it may be better known as “My car won’t start!”.
If the starter on your car has quit working, and they will do that without any warning, you’ll know it by the dreaded sound of clicking. Sometimes, a non-working starter will grind or have a whirring sound.
Is there a way to diagnose a starter problem?
Here are 5 symptoms that you may be needing a starter repair or replacement:
- ODD SOUNDS
A common symptom of possibly needing starter repair or replacement is odd sounds, like the clicking sound we mentioned above. However, a starter can quit working without that indication and when you go to start your car, you get nothing more than a grinding or whirring sound.
- THE LIGHTS ARE ON
… but the car isn’t starting! If the dashboard lights or headlights come on, but the engine doesn’t start, it could be the battery, or you may need a starter repair or replacement service.
- THE ENGINE ISN’T CRANKING
If the engine won’t rev up, like the battery is dead, even after jumpstarting it, you should call your mechanic. There is a good chance that you’ll need starter repair or replacement, or it may be something more serious.
- CAR IS SMOKING
There are many things that can cause a car to smoke, and because the starter is part of the electrical system, fuses can blow and circuits can short out. If you keep trying to get your car to start after it’s just clicking, you could cause it to overheat and start smoking.
- OIL-SOAKED STARTER
On a rear-wheel drive car, the starter is located on the passenger side of the engine, just under the exhaust manifold. If the car is a front-wheel driver, it is located above the transmission on the driver’s side. Some may be below the exhaust manifold. If your starter isn’t kicking in, check the starter to see if it appears to be oil-soaked. Even a few drops can cause you to need to start repair or replacement.
What are the parts of a starter?
There are many components and parts inside the starter. Before anyone can begin a start repair job, they need to be familiar with these components and parts. This is typically referred to as a rebuilt starter. Those parts consist of:
- Lever Fork
- Field Coils
Often a start repair is nothing more than replacing the solenoid or a relay. On the starter, there are two coiled wires inside the solenoid that are wrapped around a flexible core. The solenoid closes the electrical connection and connects the battery and the starter motor together. The other parts inside a starter will require a rebuild or a starter repair by a trained mechanic.
Can a starter solenoid be tested to determine if that is the problem?
Here are some possible indicators that all the starter repair job needs is a new solenoid:
- If nothing happens when you engage the ignition, it may be just the solenoid.
- You get one click when you engage the ignition, it is usually the solenoid has gone bad, not requiring a full starter repair job.
- Repeated clicking is typical of a dead battery, but it could be a faulty solenoid failing to make electrical contact inside the starter.
- This may seem odd, but a bad solenoid can allow an engine to start without engaging the ignition.
- If the starter engages and doesn’t disengage after letting go of the key, this is an indication of a bad solenoid.
Get Your Motor Running!
Once you have your starter repaired, gas in the tank, oil in the engine, fluid in the transmission, and air in the tires, you can head out on the highway! Should you have your starter checked on any regular schedule?
It isn’t part of a typical car maintenance program, but if you’re noticing any issues with the starter, it would be recommended to have it checked before you head out on that road trip! If your car isn’t starting and you need starter repair in Atascadero, CA, set up an appointment today by calling 805-466-3236.