Starter Motor Faults

starter motorWhen you jump into your vehicle and it doesn’t start, it is very frustrating. The first thought that comes into most of our heads is to try to figure out why our vehicle won’t burst into life. One of the most common reasons for a vehicle not starting is that there is some sort of fault with the starter motor.

The starter motor is an electrical device that is used to start a normal internal combustion engine. The starter motor is a part of a system consisting of the starter, a starter solenoid and the battery. As the ignition switch is turned, it sends an electrical charge to the starter solenoid. This in turn sends the charge to the motor that cranks the engine until it starts. Once the engine fires to life, the starter motor clicks off and disengages the starter ring.

There are a number of myths when it comes to starter motor faults. Some people generally jump to conclusions and automatically assume the starter motor is faulty, when in fact there may be a wider problem. FMP Motor Factors have provided some of the most common starter motor faults and explains what the actual problem might be.

Common Starter Motor Fault Myths

Finding the exact reason why your vehicle won’t start could be difficult for some people. But it is very beneficial to find the exact cause of the starter motor failing as soon as possible so a repair can be carried out and get you back on the road. People who only have limited knowledge of starter motors and the working of an engine, sometimes can jump to conclusions as to why their engine will not start. This can cause further damage to their vehicle or result in them purchasing replacement parts when it was not necessary to do so.

There are some starter motor fault myths going around that need to be addressed. These myths mean that people automatically assume that something is wrong with their starter motors, when in fact there may be an issue elsewhere in the engine system that needs to be addressed. Here are some of the more common starter motor fault myths:-

  • Myth 1: the starter motor has burnt out

When turning the ignition key and the engine turns over,but fails to start, it is sometimes automatically assumed that the starter motor has failed. It is likely that during the attempted starting of the engine that it is getting slower when attempting to turn over. This is obviously due to the battery running down and not being burnt out. This condition can have a devastating effect on the starter motor.

The impact of low-battery voltage and numerous attempts of trying to start the engine, will draw high current and eventually burn out the motor. This is where it is often misdiagnosed as a starter motor failure.

  • Myth 2: the starter motor is continuing to run

Another myth regarding starter motor failure is when the starter continues to run while the engine is running. The tell-tale signs of this condition will often be a whining noise and in some cases, a burning smell. On removal of the starter motor, you’ll notice that the starter motor’s armature shaft and pinion will be a blueish colour due to overheating. This condition is called “over-run” – high speed/low current.

The likely reason for this type of failure is due to a sticking key switch or relay, resulting in a permanent electrical feed to the starter motor’s solenoid connection. Again, this is misdiagnosed as a starter motor failure.

  • Myth 3: the starter motor just clicks when the ignition key is turned, but the engine will not start

The most common misdiagnosis for this is a faulty starter motor. As a result, the starter motor is simply replaced without any further investigation. It is however extremely likely that the replacement starter motor will show the same symptoms as the original unit. The actual diagnosis can be any of the following: a bad battery or a bad connection to the battery; the main cable connection to the starter motor is loose, broken or corroded; or there is poor ground connection.

To correctly diagnose the root cause of the problem, you should check that the battery is in good condition as well as checking all of the connectors. You should also check the main cable to the starter motor as well as the vehicle ground connection.

  • Myth 4: if I hit the starter motor, it will start to work

The modern starter motor is a complex and delicate component. Instead of wound copper coils and a heavy thick outer frame, the starter motor has a delicate outer frame and internal permanent magnets. There is a common misconception that on attempted starting of the vehicle, the starter motor solenoid just clicks, then the starter motor must be jammed and if you give the starter a tap, it might free it. This is certainly not the case and the likely reason for failure is due to low system voltage.

FMP Motor Factors provide high quality car parts and accessories such as starter motors, as well as general motoring advice to our customers across all of South Wales including Swansea and Port Talbot. At FMP Motor Factors we work with a wide network of garages and car dealers as well as individual car owners to provide the best car parts, as well as offering advice on a wide range of motoring issues.

For our latest offers visit or call us on:


get in touch for advice & to order your car parts


Open Mon-Fri, 8.00am - 5.30pm and Sat 8am - 1.30pm
FMP Motor Factors, Unit 1, St John's Court, Upper Fforest Way,
Swansea Enterprise Park SA6 8QQ

Port Talbot

Open Mon-Fri, 8.00am - 5.30pm and Sat 8am - 12.30pm
FMP Motor Factors, Unit 30, Baglan Industrial Park,
Port Talbot, SA12 7DJ