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18.09.2014
Starting system problems are common and not all problems are caused by a faulty starter motor. A typical starter solenoid has one small connector for the control wire (the white connector in the photo) and two large terminals: one for the positive battery cable and the other for the starter motor (see the diagram below). The starter motor requires a very high current to turn over the engine, that's why it's connected to the battery with thick (large gauge) cables (see the diagram). The negative (ground) cable connects the "-" battery terminal to the engine cylinder block, close to the starter. For safety reasons, the starter motor can only be operated when the automatic transmission is in Park or Neutral position; or if the car has a manual transmission, when the clutch pedal is depressed.
To accomplish this, there is a Neutral Safety Switch installed at the automatic transmission shifter mechanism or at the clutch pedal in case of a manual transmission. Often a transmission range sensor - the part that tells the powertrain computer which position (P R N D) the transmission is in, is used as a neutral safety switch (in the photo). When the automatic transmission is not in Park or Neutral (or when the clutch pedal is not depressed), the neutral safety switch is open and the starter control circuit is disconnected. If when you are trying to start the car, you hear the starter cranks as usually, but the car doesn't start, then the problem is most likely not with the starting system - read our car no-start troubleshooting guide for tips how to find a problem.
Poor connection at the cable terminals can cause the starter not to work or run very slow too. Sometimes the starter control terminal gets corroded (in the photo) or a starter control wire gets loose or disconnected from the terminal causing the starter not to work.
When the starter motor doesn't work, first the state of charge of the battery, battery terminals and battery cables must be checked. A starter motor has several (typically 4) electric windings (field coils) attached to the starter motor housing from the inside. On the front end of the armature, there is a small gear that attached to the armature through an overrunning clutch.


Please note: the information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and cannot substitute for the advice of professional mechanic or authorized dealer. New from GForce comes the motor analyser, a device to check multiple parameters of car and flight brushless motors. It consists of a powerful DC (Direct Current) electric motor and the starter solenoid that is attached to the motor (see the picture).
To turn over the engine the starter motor requires a very high electric current, which means the battery has to have sufficient power.
When activated, it closes the electric circuit and sends the battery power to the starter motor. At the same time, the starter solenoid pushes the starter gear forward to mesh it with the engine flywheel (flexplate in an automatic transmission).
Often the battery terminals or the ground cable connection get corroded causing starter problems (see the photo).
For example, this corroded starter control terminal was the cause of a no-start, no-crank condition in the Mazda 3. Sometimes the carbon brushes or some other parts inside the starter motor wear out and the starter motor stops working. This may cause a very loud metal grinding or screeching sound when attempting to start the car.
The contact points inside the ignition switch wear out, so when you turn the ignition switch to the "Start" position, no electric current is going through the starter control circuit to activate the starter solenoid. For example, if a car starts in "Neutral" but doesn't start in "Park," the neutral safety switch should be checked first. One of the symptoms of a weak battery is when the dash lights go dim when the key is turned to the START position. Your mechanic may start by measuring the battery voltage at the starter solenoid control terminal with the key in the START position.


The armature (the rotating part) is connected through the carbon brushes in series with the field coils.
Consult your mechanic, and check your car's owner's manual for safety measures, precautions, warnings, tips and recommendations.
Housed in a sturdy case with a blue backlit display, the motor analyser allows to check the motor’s KV rating, voltage and amp draw, as well as the sensors.
At the same, the starter solenoid pushes the starter gear forward to mesh it with the engine flywheel (flexplate) ring gear teeth. If the starter motor is faulty, it will have to be replaced, which may cost from $250 to $650. If jiggling the key in the ignition helps start the car, it's possible that the ignition switch is defective.
If there is no voltage, the problem is most likely in the starter control circuit (ignition switch, starter relay, neutral safety switch, control wire).
A timing test helps to precisely adjust the timing level while a noise level test can give a hint on the motor’s ball bearing condition. If there is a battery voltage at the starter solenoid control terminal with the key in the START position, the starter motor itself could be bad. If the battery is low on charge, when attempting to start the engine you will probably hear a single click or repeated clicking, or the starter may turn over slowly and stop.



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