The starter motor is an important part of your car. It’s responsible for starting the engine, and if it doesn’t work, your car won’t start. There are a few common causes of a starter motor that spins but doesn’t engage. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common reasons why this happens, and we’ll also provide some tips on how to fix it.
We’ll also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about starter motors. So if you’re experiencing problems with your starter motor, be sure to read this article!
What is a Starter Motor?
A starter motor is an electric device that starts up the internal combustion engine of a car. It is used only when starting the car, and it’s usually engaged for one or two seconds before the ignition switch is turned off. A starter motor operates on direct current (DC) power from the battery, which means that it has a single polarity of charge.
Where is Starter Motor Located?
The motor itself is mounted on the end of the crankshaft and receives its electrical power through a ring gear that’s connected to the starter solenoid, which is in turn connected to the battery positive terminal.
Since it only operates for short periods of time, a starter motor uses large amounts of current because of how powerful it needs to be in order to start the engine. In fact, a starter motor can draw up to 150 amps of current from the battery!
How Does a Starter Motor Work?
The way a starter motor works is by using electromagnetic force to turn the crankshaft. This is done by having a rotating armature that’s inside of a stator (which is stationary). The armature is mounted on the end of the crankshaft, and when electric current flows through it, a magnetic field is created.
This magnetic field then interacts with the stator’s electromagnets to create an electromagnetic force that turns the armature either clockwise or counter-clockwise until it rotates far enough to start up the engine.
What Causes a Starter Motor to Spin and Not Engage?
There are a few common causes of starter motor spinning but not engaging. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Low Battery Voltage
- Defective Starter Solenoid
- Damaged Flywheel
- Sticky Starter Solenoid Contacts
- Defective Plunger, Pinion Gear, or Ring Gear
- Starter Wiring Issue
Let us take a closer look at each one of these causes:
1. Low Battery Voltage:
One of the most common reasons why a starter motor spins but doesn’t engage is because of low battery voltage. When the battery voltage is low, or you have a weak car battery, it can cause all sorts of electrical problems in the car, including the starter motor. This is because the battery powers all the electrical devices of your car.
If your starter motor is spinning but not engaging, one of the first things you should check is the battery voltage. If it’s low, try charging the battery or jump-starting the car. If that doesn’t work, you may need to replace the starter motor.
2. Defective Starter Solenoid:
One of the most important parts of a starter motor is the solenoid, an electromechanical device used to control the flow of electricity. The solenoid is basically a big coil of wire that’s wrapped around an iron core, and when electric current flows through it, a magnetic field is generated. The solenoid is what turns the armature of the motor either clockwise or counter-clockwise when it starts up.
Now, if your car’s starter motor is spinning but not engaging, one of the most common reasons is a defective starter solenoid. A faulty starter solenoid would not allow the electric current to flow from the battery to the starter motor.
There are a few ways to test whether or not the starter solenoid is defective. One way to test the starter solenoid is to use a 12-volt test light. First, disconnect the negative battery terminal. Then, touch one end of the test light to the positive terminal on the solenoid and the other end to the small wire that goes to the starter motor. If the test light doesn’t come on, the solenoid is most likely defective.
3. Damaged Flywheel:
Another common reason for a starter motor to spin but not engage is a damaged flywheel. The flywheel is a heavy metal disc that’s attached to the end of the crankshaft. When the engine is running, engage the flywheel to keep it rotating smoothly.
If the flywheel is damaged, it can cause all sorts of problems, including the starter motor not engaging. There are a few ways to tell if the flywheel is damaged. One way is to look for cracks or chips in it. Another way is to check for any damage to the teeth on the edge of the flywheel.
4. Sticky Starter Solenoid Contacts:
Another possible cause of starter motor spinning but not engaging is sticky starter solenoid contacts. This particular part sits inside the solenoid and is what completes the circuit to start up the motor by moving back and forth.
The contacts on the solenoid have a very small gap, which measures in millimeters or thousandths of millimeters, and if these contacts get dirty or rusty, they can cause the starter motor to spin but not engage.
If your starter motor is spinning but not engaging, one of the first things you should try is cleaning the solenoid contacts with electrical contact cleaner. This will help remove any dirt, grime, or rust that may be causing the problem.
5. Defective Plunger, Pinion Gear, or Ring Gear:
A common cause of a starter motor spinning but not engaging is a defective plunger, pinion gear, or ring gear. This part is what attaches to the end of the armature and turns when the motor starts up. If any of these parts are defective or worn, it can prevent the armature from rotating and engaging with the flywheel.
One way to test for a defective plunger, pinion gear, or ring gear is to listen carefully as you try to start the car. If you hear any clicking or grinding noises coming from the starter motor, it’s a good indication that one of these parts is defective.
6. Starter Wiring Issue:
Another possible cause of a starter motor spinning but not engaging is a starter wiring issue. If any of the wires that connect to the starter motor are loose, damaged, or corroded, it can prevent the starter from getting the power it needs to start up.
One way to test for a starter wiring issue is to use a multimeter to check for continuity. First, disconnect the negative battery terminal. Then, set the multimeter to the continuity setting and touch one end of the leads to the positive terminal on the solenoid and the other end to the small wire that goes to the starter motor.
If the multimeter doesn’t show any continuity, you know that there is a problem with one of the wires on your starter motor. If this is the case, you will need to replace or repair the damaged wire before continuing to try and start your car.
Symptoms of a Bad Starter Motor:
A few symptoms can help you determine if your starter motor is going bad. Some of these are:
- Clicking Sound
- Car Takes Longer To Start
- Car Won’t Start
Let us describe these symptoms a bit:
1. Clicking Sound:
A bad starter motor will often produce a clicking sound when you try to start your car. This can be quite loud and distinct and is usually the first sign that something might be wrong with the starter motor. This clicking sound is usually a result of a worn plunger or starter pinion that is unable to engage.
2. Car Takes Longer To Start:
If your car is taking longer than usual to start, this can be a sign that there are issues with the starter motor. This might be due to a problem with the solenoid or wiring, or it could be a result of internal wear and tear in the starter motor.
3. Car Won’t Start:
If your car won’t start at all, then this is a sure sign that there is a problem with the starter motor. It could be that the starter motor itself is faulty, or there could be an issue with the solenoid or wiring. In any case, if your car won’t start, it’s best to take it to a mechanic to get it checked out.
These are just a few of the symptoms that can indicate a problem with the starter motor. If you notice any of these, it’s best to get your car checked out by a mechanic as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
How To Fix if Starter Motor Spins But Don’t Engage?
Now that we know some of the possible causes of a starter motor spinning but not engaging, let’s take a look at how to fix it.
1. Check the Battery Terminals:
The first thing you should do if your starter motor is spinning but not engaging is to check the battery terminals. Make sure that they are clean and free of corrosion. If they are corroded, you can clean them with a wire brush or replace them altogether.
2. Recharge Battery:
If the battery terminals are clean and free of corrosion, the next thing you should do is recharge the battery. This can be done by hooking up a charger to the battery or taking it to a local auto parts store for a charge.
Once the battery is charged, try starting the car again. If the starter motor still doesn’t engage, move on to the next step.
3. Inspect Electrical Wiring:
The next thing you should do is inspect the electrical wiring that goes to the starter motor. Make sure that all of the connections are tight and free of corrosion. If there are any loose or damaged wires, they will need to be repaired or replaced.
4. Replace Worn Starter Pinion Gears:
If the electrical wiring is in good condition, the next thing you should do is replace the pinion gears. This small piece sits inside the starter motor and helps to engage it. If it is worn, it can prevent the starter motor from engaging properly.
5. Replace Battery:
If the starter motor still won’t engage, the next thing you should do is replace the battery. This is usually only necessary if the battery is old or damaged.
6. Replacing a Starter Motor:
If none of these steps fix the problem, then you will need to replace the starter motor altogether. This can be done by taking it to a local auto parts store or mechanic.
Starter Motor Replacement Cost
The average cost for a starter motor replacement is between $250 and $1,450. Parts prices are estimated between $80 and $200, while labor costs are estimated between $120 and $1,250. The actual price will vary based on the make and model of your vehicle as well as the location you live in.
If your starter motor is spinning but not engaging, there are a few possible causes. The most common cause is a problem with the car battery terminals, electrical wiring, faulty starter clutch, or defective starter motor Bendix. You can try to fix these yourself, but you will need to take it to a mechanic for further diagnosis and repairs if the problem persists.
The most common symptom of a bad starter motor is that the car won’t start. Other symptoms can include the starter motor spinning but not engaging or the car starting and then stalling shortly after.
If your starter motor isn’t functioning properly, it’s important to get it replaced as soon as possible. A non-functioning starter motor can make it difficult or impossible to start your car, which can leave you stranded on the side of the road. This can be dangerous as well as inconvenient if you have somewhere that you need to be.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the average lifespan of a starter motor?
The average lifespan of a starter motor can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle. However, most starter motors will last between 50,000 and 100,000 miles. If your starter motor begins to fail before it reaches this mileage, it may be due to a problem with the electrical system or a damaged component.
What is the meaning of starter spinning but not engaging?
When the starter motor spins but doesn’t engage, it means that the starter motor is turning, but the car won’t start. This can be caused by several different things, including a problem with the battery terminals or electrical wiring. If this happens, you will need to take your car to a mechanic for further diagnosis and repairs.
Can a starter motor fail instantly?
Yes, a starter motor can fail instantly. This is usually due to a problem with the electrical system or a damaged component. If your starter motor fails suddenly, you will need to take your car to a mechanic for further diagnosis and repairs.
What are the major components of the ignition system in your car?
The ignition system in your car is made up of several key components, all of which work together to produce the spark that ignites the fuel-air mixture in the cylinders. These components include the spark plugs, Ignition coil, distributor, and electronic ignition control module. Each of these parts plays an important role in the overall function of the ignition system, and without any of them working properly, your car will not start or run correctly.
Can a bad starter motor damage the wiring of your car?
Many people ask if a bad starter motor can damage your car’s wiring. The short answer is yes, a faulty starter motor can cause extensive damage to your vehicle. A bad starter motor can create additional heat and vibration that may cause wires to become loose or disconnected.
Additionally, it can overheat components such as the battery and alternator, causing them to fail prematurely. If you notice any problems with your starter motor, it is important to have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your car.
What does it mean if headlights flicker or go off while you crank?
This could be caused by a faulty or damaged battery, the alternator, or a starter problem. If the headlights are flickering or going off while you crank, it could be a sign that the battery is not providing enough power to start the car. If the alternator is not working properly, it could also cause the headlights to flicker or go off. If there is a problem with the starter, it could cause the engine to turn over slowly or not at all, which would cause the headlights to flicker or go off.
How long can you drive with a bad starter motor?
A starter motor is responsible for starting a car’s engine, and if it fails, the car won’t start. There are a few signs that may indicate a starter motor is going bad. If you suspect the starter motor may be going bad, you should drive your car as little as possible. The more you drive with a bad starter motor, the faster it will wear out and eventually stop working entirely.
Typically, most cars can run on a bad starter motor for a few weeks or even a few months. However, if you don’t want to risk your starter motor failing entirely and leaving you stranded, it is best to limit your driving as soon as possible.