Tricks to Make a Starter Work

by Tasos Vossos
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When you turn the key in your ignition but the engine does not start, it is time to check if the starter system is working properly. The starter -- or starter motor -- is an electric motor that sets the car's engine in motion. The problem of a non-working starter can be a defective part in the system, but less serious issues can be solved with a series of simple tricks.

Fixing Battery Cables

The starter motor is part of an electrical circuit and if there is a problem with either the battery unit or the connections, the engine won't start. Ensure all cables of the starter motor system -- not only the direct connection between the battery and the starter -- are tight enough and the cables are of the appropriate size. Even small losses of electrical current can reduce the power of your starter.

Cleaning Terminals and Cable Clamps

Allowing current to flow freely around the electrical circuit is not only a matter of tight connections, but also of cleanliness. Road dirt and grease can affect the function of the starter, as they create resistance that obstructs the flow of the electrical current. Disconnect the battery and use very fine sandpaper to clean the battery's terminals and cable clamps. Sandpaper allows you to remove rust and grime, but be careful not to rub too hard and damage the contact area.

Rocking the Car

If the lights of the car and the windshield wipers are working properly, the problem can be a stuck gear preventing the starter from functioning. Since you are not a car expert to open the starter and find the stuck gear, try rocking the car, in a bid to loosen it. Push the handbrake lever down and rock the vehicle a little while it is in top gear.

Tapping the Starter

Another method to loosen a stuck gear is to tap the starter with a hard tool, such as a wrench. However, you need to know the location of the starter motor on your car and be able to distinguish it from other parts. When you have located the starter, gently hit it with the hard tool. Be careful not to hit the starter too hard, effectively ruining it, as well as not to confuse another part for the starter.

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