What is the Starter in a Car?

If your car does not start during the cold weather, it’s usually because of the battery. The truth is, it’s not actually the car battery that starts your car engine.

Car engines are complicated things and in order for it to function properly and help your car bring you to all the places you want to go, it has hundreds of components of varying shapes and sizes.

What is the starter in a car?


To get your engine started, there is a smaller electrical motor that powers it up–that is your car starter. Its shaft has a gear wheel that turns a large gear around the flywheel of the car’s engine. For most cars with the engine laid out in front, this starter can be found near the back of the engine.

For the car starter to work, it needs lots of electric power, and that is where your car battery comes in. As the engine starts, it will turn at a certain speed as fuel and air gets sucked into the cylinders. In a sense, whenever you start a car, you are creating explosions and controlling the flow of the fuel so that the force created will turn the engine and the wheels and make the car take you where you want to go.

The switch of the starter has to be turned on and then off very quickly to avoid any dangerous sparks that can blow up the engine. To do that, there’s a small switch called a solenoid, which is used to turn on an electromagnet, that will in turn complete the circuit.

By turning the ignition key, you are directing current from the battery to the solenoid.

Do you ever wonder why the ignition key springs back to the ON position?

That spring turns the starter switch off. When the solenoid gets access to the current, the electromagnet attracts an iron rod, which closes the circuit. This rod also has a return spring, which turns the starter motor off. This is done to prevent the starter from drawing more electricity from the battery than is needed. Otherwise, the battery will quickly deteriorate.

In addition to that, the quick switch on and off of the starter is done to prevent the engine’s rapid spinning from damaging the starter.

That is the job of the car starter.

If your car does not start, and you’ve already tried a jump starter…

Then the problem could possibly be the starter in your car. There are a variety of causes why starters are damaged:

It might have been soaked by oil and fluids; the mounting could be loose and it needs tightening; or it might have been too tight; or there is a loose connection in its electrical component.

The more serious problems could be related to poor grounding, a broken gear, or a melted terminal. Melting could be the result of overheating, which happens when you repeatedly try to ignite the car after failing to start it.

So if your battery is discharged or dead and the car won’t stop, it would be better to just let it rest for a while and then try a gain. If you keep turning the ignition key, it may overheat the starter, which will lead to more serious problems for your car.


So, if your car does not start, it’s not just the battery that may be at fault. The starter system is another potential area of investigation. And if you’re not a mechanic and you don’t want to risk your car by tinkering with it and DIY-ing to a solution, you better call your mechanic and have it checked.

How to Get a Car to Start in the Cold

During the winter, bears go into hibernation. They store lots of fats in their body, go to sleep, and wake up after several weeks (or months). Sometimes, though, your car seems to want to do that, too, especially if you don’t have a covered garaged in which to store your car when snow comes pouring in.

How to Get Your Car to Start in the Cold

image credit: AKX_ via Flickr

image credit: AKX_ via Flickr

Even if you just want to stay home and snuggle every single day of the winter, you need to go to work, or at least go out to buy groceries and food, or get firewood for your good old-fashioned fireplace.

So there you are wrapped in three (or more) layers of clothes to stay warm, car key in hand, remove snow that accumulated on the car, get in, key in the ignition, the engine cranks a little bit, and… nothing. Car refuses to start.

Nope, your car doesn’t hate you. That just what happens when it gets really cold!

Cold can do that to cars of different shapes and sizes, especially if your car is older or if your battery gave out. Oil tends to thicken during extreme cold. And that will lead to more friction, and makes it more difficult for the starter to fire up your engine. The cold can also slow down the chemical reaction process in the car battery, so the output of your battery is reduced compared to its usual summer time performance.

Most battery ratings are made at 77 Fahrenheit. When the temperature drops to 5 degrees, your battery’s capacity can drop to as low as 50%, even if it is fully charged.

What to do when your car won’t start?

Don’t kick your car or pound the car’s hood, all you need is to take a few deep breaths, and try the following:

If you think that the battery might have been drained over the past couple of days, then shut the door, turn off the A/C and heater, the blower, all lights, and your radio. In doing this, you may help the battery amp up its starting power.

If you turned the ignition a couple of times and it refused to start, you better let it sit for a few minutes before trying again. Let it recover, otherwise, if you keep turning the ignition, the starter might overheat. If you try it again, and the car seems to come close to starting but just can’t summon that last ounce of power to actually start, stop for a while, pause for a break. Then try again.

Try to remember the last time you used your car. Did you leave the headlights on? If you did, chances are the battery discharged and you will need to jump start your car battery.

Check your owner’s manual. I’m assuming you’re keeping the owner’s manual in one of the compartments in your car. There should be an information there about using at tiny bitty amount of throttle to get it going in the cold.

If it fails to start, then only have the following three options:

1. For manual transmission cars, you can jump start you car manually. This is an easy way to get your car going, but you will need some able-bodied individuals to push your car or roll it on a hill.

2. Jump start your car with another car. You will also need to call a friend or family to help you out and rescue you wherever you may be.

3. Use a portable car jump starter. If you keep one of these devices in your car, no matter where you get stuck with a bad battery, you are ready. After charging your car battery for a few minutes, you can start the engine, and off you go.

Click here for more tips on things to do when your car battery is dead.

If you tried jump starting your car and it still won’t start in the cold, then your car may be suffering from a different problem. Call roadside assistance or your mechanic to help you diagnose the problem correctly. Meanwhile, you may need to ride with an office mate or get yourself an Uber.

How to Get a Car Loan from a Credit Union

Wouldn’t it be great if you visit a car dealership, pick the car you want, write a check for the whole amount, then drive off with the car?

A lot of filthy rich people could afford that. But for most people, that is something akin to an impossible dream.

When you buy a car and you can’t pay a cash–you have two options: take out a loan from a bank, or finance the car through the dealership.

That’s just fine if your credit score is top notch–you can get really nice interest rates.

But what if your credit score is bad? Or you don’t have a credit score at all?

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What to Do When Your Car Battery is Dead?

There are several factors that lead to a car battery’s death.

For one, you battery might be too old and it has reached the end of its life span. Most car batteries last for about 2-3 years. If you take care of it well, you may be able to extend the life of your battery for another year or two.

On top of that, other factors may also come into play when it comes to the demise of a battery: Continue reading

Buying a Jump Starter: Look for Peak Amps or Cold Cranking Amps?

Buying a jump starter could be a confusing affair. When buying a jump starter: do you look for peak amps or cold cranking amps? What’s the difference? Which one should be your basis in buying a jump starter?

Peak Amps or Cold Cranking Amps?


Some jump starters will put 900 peak amps like the JNC300XL, 2200 Peak Amps for the Schumacher PSJ-2212 and everything in between. Most buyers will be attracted to the products with the highest peak amps, but you should avoid that temptation. That is a bad criteria to assess your options.

What you should look for, instead is the jump starter’s Cranking Amps and Cold Cranking Amps. This is the actual power that the jump starter will supply to your car’s battery.

Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC300XL 900 Peak Amp Jump Starter
  • 900 peak amps; 225 cranking amps
  • 27" #4 AWG cables
  • 12V LED flashlight
  • DC outlet to power 12 volt accessories
  • Full size clamps to penetrate corrosion

What if you have several vehicles with different engines? Say you have a 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder car, will you need separate jump starters?

The good news is NO. You just need to choose the jump starter with the highest Cold Cranking Amps that you can afford. This way, if the battery of your car is totally dead, your jumpstarter has enough juice to bring it back from the dead. Just make sure to keep the jump starter, either at home, or in the trunk of the vehicle with the weakest or deadest battery.

What is Cold Cranking Amps

If you’re wondering, a battery’s Cranking Amps (CA) refers to the amount of power that a battery can discharge for 30 seconds at 32° F (0° C). It really is the amount of power you need to start your engine on any weather except winter.

On the other hand, Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) refers to the number of amps that a battery can push out for 30 seconds at 0° F without dropping under 7.2 Volts. Remember that a jump starter is really another battery supplying power to your car’s battery. It’s more difficult to start an engine during cold weather, that’s why batteries tend to have both the CA and CCA ratings.

If your battery reads 660 CCA, that doesn’t automatically mean that you need a jumpstarter with the same CCA rating. A product with a lower rating can power it up. A jump starter with at least 500 CCA can power up a car equipped with a 660-CCA battery.

But remember: if your battery is dead, a jump starter with high Cold Cranking Amps has better chances of reviving it and starting your engine.

This also does not mean that a battery with a lower CCA rating will be damaged by a jump starter with a higher CCA rating. Keep in mind that whenever you use a jump starter, it will only provide the power needed to start a battery. So even if your jumpstarter has 2200 Peak Amps, and you power up a 660 CCA rating battery, you won’t overload the car’s electrical system.


So here’s the bottom line…

Be more discerning in buying a jump starter. While peak amps may be a good measure of the maximum power output of a product, you should be considering Cranking Amps (CA) and Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) primarily.


image credit: Flickr

Save Money on Gas with Kroger Plus Card – as much as $1 per Gallon!

Gas prices had declined in 2015. But that should not deter you from saving money on gas. For people who rely on their cars to move around from home to work, and to all the places we love to shop and visit, every penny saved on gas means extra money for ourselves. Who wouldn’t want to save money, right?

Thankfully, you can save some money through Kroger’s Plus Card. You can save as much as $1 per gallon up to 35 gallons! Read on to find out how:

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Review of Jump-N-Carry JNCAIR 1700-Amp 12-Volt Jump Starter with Power Source and Air Compressor

We’ve reviewed some lightweight jump starters in the past. But since reviewing the Duracell 600 Watt | 1300 Amp Powerpack Pro, we’ve moved to the heavyweights.

Another heavy duty jump starter is the Jump-N-Carry JNCAIR 1700-Amp 12-Volt Jump Starter with Power Source and Air Compressor. It is not just a jump starter but also packs in additional features that can entice you to buy it. Since, it costs more than $200, is it going to be worth every penny?

Find out more below.

Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNCAIR 1700 Peak Amp Jump Starter with Air Compressor
  • PROFORMER battery technology is designed to provide extremely high power output, extended cranking power and a long service life
  • Extra-long 68" cables, Industrial grade Hot Jaw clamps.12 feet coiled air hose with screw-on chuck
  • For protective cover, see model no. JNCCVRXL. NOTE: Refer user manual before use
  • Voltmeter provides charge status of onboard battery

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Review of Duracell 600 Watt / 1300 Amp Powerpack Pro Jump Starter

It pays to have a nice, handy jump starter at the trunk of your car, but what if you need a big jump starter for a big ass truck?

You better reach out for the the Duracell 600 Watt/ 1300 Amp Powerpack Pro Jump Starter.

Got a compact car or a motorcycle? This baby can handle ’em just fine. But even if you got a V8 car, a mini-truck, or a motorboat, the Duracell 1300 Amp Powerpack Pro Jump Starter will do the job. You won’t be stranded in the middle of the road or the even the sea if that boat fails you.

Duracell Power DR600PWR Power Pack Jump Starter
  • Jump Starts 4, 6, and 8 cylinder vehicles with built-in heavy duty jumper cables - 1300 peak amps
  • Includes 2 AC outlets with up to 600W of combined available AC power for 115V AC devices, two 2.4A USB ports, one 12V DC outlet, a 160 PSI air compressor to inflate tires, and an emergency LED...
  • AC cord and inflating needles are included in the built-in compartment underneath handle and 6 AWG jumper cables
  • Safety Features: Reverse polarity indicator; Alarm to help prevent incorrect jumpstarting connection; Inverter overload/over-temperature & short circuit protection; Follows ETL safety standard
  • Recharge unit every 2-3 months: It is also recommended to recharge unit after each use so that the internal battery remains at full capacity

And it’s not just a jump starter! It also comes with an air compressor. If you want to go camping, it can even double as a charging station for your laptop, smartphone, or other devices, thanks to its Power Inverter feature with Dual AC wall outlets and two USB. Based on the Manufacturer’s product description, if you have this jump starter fully charged, you can recharge a Smartphone up to 19 times and a tablet for up to 7 times.

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