America's best source for Starter Motors
The starter motor does exactly as its name implies. It is the critical part that starts your vehicle’s engine. A starter motor is actually an electric motor that turns over the vehicle’s engine to start it. When you turn the ignition key in your vehicle to start the engine, voltage from your vehicle’s battery goes through the starter motor control circuit and activates the starter solenoid. When activated, the starter solenoid closes the electric circuit and sends the battery power to the starter motor. The starter motor spins, turning the engine crankshaft and allowing your vehicle’s engine to start.
What happens when you go to start your car and your car won’t start? Often times, the starter motor is the culprit. Over time, parts inside the starter motor wear out causing the starter motor to stop working. This usually happens due to normal wear and tear. With a defective starter motor you are not likely to get your vehicle running unless you receive a boost.
There are a couple of tests that you are able to perform to ensure that it is the starter motor that is causing your vehicle not to start. A bad starter motor can be distinguished by the sounds that it makes when trying to start your vehicle. A clicking noise followed by loud, metallic screeching. This would be your first clue that it may be a starter motor problem. A second test would be the headlight test. In order to ensure that this problem is not being caused by a bad battery, turn your headlights on to see if they are working. Headlights that are dimmer than usual or not working often will tell you it’s a problem with your battery. Another test to troubleshoot for a bad starter motor is to see if the engine cranks slowly. If the engine cranks very slowly when you turn the ignition than it is more than likely a starter motor issue (assuming you have performed the battery test in the troubleshooting process). If you are unsure still, a professional mechanic would be able to tell you if your problem is being caused by a defective starter motor.
Now that you have determined you have a bad starter motor, look on the bright side. Before the advent of the starter motor, people would have to start their vehicle using a hand crank. When the engine started, the crank could begin to spin along with the crankshaft and potentially strike the person cranking the engine. The person starting the vehicle would also have to be weary of a possible backfire. Backfire from using a hand crank had been known to cause broken thumbs or wrists on the starter.
Although it is inconvenient to have to change your defective starter motor, at least you do not have to use a hand crank!