(Updated on January 1, 2021)
The starter motor is responsible for cranking the engine so that it can run by itself. The car battery sends an electric current to the starter motor so that it can initiate this action. This is the normal process that occurs whenever you start up your vehicle by turning the key in the ignition.
Cars used to only have hydraulic starter motors in them but now, newer cars have electric starter motors. You basically need to maintain the electrical system of your vehicle if you want to ensure that your starter motor remains durable and lasts you a long time.
Top 5 Starter Motor Maintenance Tips
The starter motor depends on the integrity of other components within the electrical system to stay functional. Below are the top 5 tips that you need to follow to keep your car starter motor as durable as possible.
1. Clean the Connectors
The battery and starter motor are connected through a series of special connector wires. If there is corrosion on the connectors or any other type of dirt or grime, it will limit the strength of the electric current that gets sent to the starter relay.
This will make it nearly impossible for the motor to generate enough power to fully crank the engine. Furthermore, it will ruin the integrity of the motor and cause it to become excessively worn out. So, you’ll always want to keep the connectors clean.
2. Tighten the Mounting Bolts
The starter motor is held in place with mounting bolts. If these mounting bolts ever become too loose, then the drive of the starter and the flywheel won’t be able to engage each other. One symptom of this happening is a grinding sound whenever you try to start the engine.
To prevent this from happening, you should periodically check to make sure the mounting bolts on the starter motor are tightened.
3. Clean the Solenoid
The solenoid is the starter relay of the motor. On the top of the motor, it will appear as a small cylindrical object. The positive battery cable is what attaches to the solenoid from the battery.
It is the equivalent of the positive battery terminal. And like the terminal, the solenoid needs to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. All dirt, corrosion, and debris must be swept away if you see it there.
4. Clean the Terminals
The battery terminals are notorious for getting covered with corrosion. Battery acids produce hydrogen gas which will eventually find its way out of the battery once it has been used for too long.
These gases form the corrosive materials that you will typically see on a battery and its terminals after a couple of years. When the terminals are covered like this, the electric current which gets sent from the battery to the starter motor is weakened.
Cleaning the terminals will not only be good for the battery, it is even better for the motor as well.
5. Inspect the Flywheel
The flywheel is a rotating device which assists the starter in cranking the engine. The front side of the starter has something called a pinion gear. This is the gear which engages with the flywheel so that the engine can be cranked.
Both the teeth of the flywheel and teeth of the gear need to be in good condition. If these teeth are cracked, worn, or missing altogether, then your starter motor will malfunction. You will need to replace the flywheel or pinion gear if their teeth are causing the problem.
If you continue to keep forcing the engagement between the two while they’re under these conditions, then it could wear out the starter motor more quickly.