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What does a starter motor do? 

The starter motor is an electric motor and is, as you may have guessed by its name, in charge of starting your car. The combustion engine of your vehicle needs a lot to get going and the starter motor provides the necessary kick to do this. 

Once you turn the key in the ignition switch, the starter motor springs into action and cranks the engine. To do this, it is connected to the car’s battery because it needs a high electric current. The starter motor uses an electromagnet, the starter motor solenoid, which pushes out a pinion gear that engages with the flywheel of the engine. This flywheel is connected to and turns the crankshaft, which is in charge of sucking in air and fuel. Once the spark plugs start ignition, the starter disengages and the pinion retracts — the engine can now run on its own. 

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Signs of starter motor problems

As with any part of your car, there can be issues with the starter motor as well. Most commonly, these are either due to a problem with the solenoid or the gears’ teeth. The pinion is an important part of the starter motor, as is the flywheel of the engine. Over time, their teeth can come off and they won’t be able to mesh anymore. When this happens the starter motor will simply spin but not engage the crankshaft. 

In addition, the solenoid contacts can wear out or get burned over time, which will also affect the efficiency of the starter motor. 

These signs can indicate a problem with your starter motor:

  • The most common indication of a problem with your starter motor is an engine that won’t turn over. However, without a mechanic it can be tricky to determine whether your battery is dead, the ignition system is at fault, or if the solenoid and starter motor is not working.
  • When the pinion loses teeth or becomes dislodged, the motor won’t spin when you turn the ignition and activate the starter. If that is the case you might need a starter motor repair or have a mechanic replace the faulty gears.  
  • If you hear a starter motor clicking or grinding noise when you start the motor, it can also indicate an issue with the gears or the starter itself. Either way, you should take your car to the garage to have it checked out.  
  • In some cases the starter can overheat due to a blown fuse or a short circuit. When that happens you will notice smoke underneath the engine — you should take your car to a garage immediately!

Starter motor repair

How much is a starter motor? The starter motor cost depends on the car make and model and whether you have to replace the whole starter motor, the solenoid, or the windings. 
If you are handy you can do any starter motor repairs or even the replacement yourself. However, especially in new cars, it can be quite tricky to get to the starter motor, as it is usually quite hidden and you will need to disconnect the battery to remove it from the car. If you are unsure what is actually wrong with your starter motor and which parts need replacement or repair, we recommend you let an expert handle the job. On autobutler.co.uk you can request various quotes from garages near you to find out how much it costs to replace a starter motor or repair it. 

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Prices on engine repairs, cleaning and replacement

The average prices and savings for the car brands shown are based on different models and years. You must therefore create a job and compare quotes to see your actual price and savings.
Make Save on average*
Audi
5.0
(6)
£139 / 25%
BMW
3.5
(2)
£139 / 28%
Citroën
5.0
(1)
£172 / 23%
Ford
4.7
(10)
£152 / 24%
Mercedes-Benz
4.8
(4)
£135 / 24%
Mini
3.7
(3)
£173 / 30%
Peugeot
4.5
(8)
£154 / 25%
Renault
5.0
(1)
£183 / 24%
Vauxhall
5.0
(14)
£138 / 25%
Volkswagen
4.8
(8)
£156 / 26%

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