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.

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