Your vehicle’s starter system turns on the motor after you’ve started the ignition. An electric motor (that turns the engine’s flywheel), a solenoid (that relays electricity from the starter to the engine), and additional circuitry (for powering the motor and controlling the solenoid) make up a complete starter system. If any of these elements malfunctions, several symptoms will signal impending disaster.
Your Car Won’t Start
A failure to start is the most common symptom of a failing starter. You turn the key (or push the button) but nothing happens. You might hear nothing or a series of clicks. Either way, an important part of the starter system has likely disengaged.
Your Car Starts…Sometimes
Not knowing if your car will start or not can be frustrating. Dirty or loose wiring could be causing a clog or an electrical element might be damaged, but if your car starts inconsistently, you should have it checked as soon as possible.
The Engine Doesn’t Crank
If the engine won’t crank but you hear a whining sound, your engine could be freewheeling, a condition in which the motor isn’t prompting the flywheel but spinning on its own. If you hear this sound, contact a professional immediately.
You Hear a Grinding Noise
If you hear a grinding sound while the engine runs, a mechanical malfunction (rather than an electrical issue) is usually to blame. It could mean the gears that connect the motor might be loose or worn. Again, having a professional evaluation will prevent continued damage.
You Notice a Burning Smell
As both a mechanical and electrical element, your car’s starter will mix overheated metal parts (greasy with lubrication) with electrical issues. As such, the damage will elicit a burning smell or even smoke that comes up from the engine. Foul smells are a big deal and should be dealt with right away.
The Starter is Oily
Since it sits at the bottom of the engine (an inhospitable environment), the starter is susceptible to leakage from components above. After time spent sitting in engine fluid, it begins to degrade and malfunction, requiring profession repairs.
The Starter Keeps Running
Once you start the ignition, the motor should turn off. However, if it sounds like it’s still trying to start, it could mean a major issue with electrical circuitry. If not tended to quickly, the issue could cause further damage to the engine.
If you notice any of these issues, having the problem properly diagnosed is the first step to a fully-functional vehicle. If you suspect a struggling starter, don’t wait to call the experts at Heath’s Auto Service at 928-233-9335 and schedule an appointment today!