Automotive Starting Systems Primer

Hello and let me tell you, I’m glad you came back to read another article in our series on automotive how to guides and repair information for the new comer weekend warrior auto mechanic. Now, if this is your first read in our series, let me explain that this isn’t being written for professionals but rather for guys just like yourself who want to understand what’s going on underneath the hood of their cars a little better than they do now. In today’s article I’m going to talk a bit about your car’s starting system and the reason is that car’s not starting is probably the number one break down complaint that I hear. So let’s get to it!

When you turn the key, you close an electrical circuit that sends current through the ignition switch and down to the start solenoid. The only time you need to be concerned with the solenoid is when it stops working. Some solenoids are remote mounted, while others are built right into the starter. When a car fails to start and the battery and it’s connections are good – it’s normally the solenoid that has gone bad. When attached directly to the starter, they often cannot be replaced without replacing the whole starter. From there the current get’s sent to the starter via a large cable mounted directly to the battery. That causes the starter arm to swing out and lock into the teeth that run along the edge of the flywheel which is sandwiched between your engine and transmission. The starter motor will begin to spin the engine and in combination with the fuel injectors firing and the ignition system igniting the result is a running combustion engine.