What Is a Starter and How Does It Work?

What Is a Starter and How Does It Work?

22nd Jul 2022

If you're unable to crank your vehicle, a bad starter could be to blame. Many drivers automatically assume that their battery is dead in this scenario. While a dead battery can have similar symptoms, you shouldn't ignore the starter. Starters can fail. And upon failing, you won't be able to start your vehicle.

What Is a Starter?

A starter is a small electric motor that's designed to start a vehicle's engine. When you turn the key in your vehicle's ignition, you'll engage the starter. The starter will get your vehicle's engine going so that it can continue to burn gas and air within its combustion chamber.

How Starters Work

Starters work by turning over the engines with which they are used. They consist of direct current (DC) electric motors. There are different types of starters, but nearly all of them function as DC motors.

You can typically find your vehicle's starter on or near the transmission. It looks like an alternator. Some vehicles have the starter bolted directly on the transmission, whereas others have the starter installed near the transmission inside of the engine bay.

Because it's an electric motor, the starter works in conjunction with the battery. It will draw electricity from your vehicle's battery when you turn the key in the ignition. The starter's pinion will then begin to spin. The pinion is connected to a flywheel on the edge of your vehicle's engine. As a result, when the starter's pinion spins, your vehicle's engine will begin turning.

What Happens When the Starter Fails?

If your vehicle's starter has failed, you may not be able to start it. It's not necessarily the battery that starts automotive engines. A functional battery with a sufficient charge is still necessary, but the battery will work in conjunction with the starter to get your vehicle's engine going. A bad starter means you may not be able to start your vehicle.

You may hear unusual noises coming from behind your vehicle's dashboard if the starter is bad. Upon turning the key in the ignition, you may hear a clicking or grinding noise, for instance. Unusual noises such as these can be indicative of a bad starter.

In some cases, a bad starter may result in smoke. Starters are electric motors, so they are susceptible to overheating. If your vehicle's starter begins to overheat, it may smoke. You should stop driving immediately if you notice smoke.