Imagine: it’s your first time going out with friends since the pandemic started. You’re excited to drive to your meeting place until you realize…Oh no! Your car won’t start. Usually, people have a hard time starting their engines because of a bad starter. Thankfully, you can fix your starter by hitting it with a hammer. Though, you may be wondering: what if I break my starter if I hit it incorrectly?
Read on to learn more about cars, starters, and the right places to hit your starter with a hammer to get your engine going.
How the Starter Works
The starter is an electric motor connected to your car’s engine and transmission. For a starter to function, it needs to be powered by the car’s main battery. A starter is activated once you place your key in the ignition. The starter solenoid then receives fuel from the car’s main battery voltage and moves the engine crankshaft attached to your car’s flywheel, which effectively starts the engine. In short, the starter should get your vehicle moving once you key in your ignition.
Sounds pretty simple, right? So why doesn’t the starter work sometimes?
Starter motors contain graphite brushes prone to wearing out as their bristles accumulate large amounts of rust. A starter motor will accumulate rust if you use your vehicle frequently. As the bristles get rusty, it becomes harder for the starter motor to work smoothly, explaining many starter delays.
How to Fix a Starter with a Hammer
If your starter’s brushes have grown rusty, you would want to gently tap the top part of your starter using a hammer. Once your starter is reconnected to the right parts, it can work smoothly again. This works because that hammer strike and the electric contact produced move your starter’s worn-out brushes, allowing it to function accordingly.
If your starter isn’t working for other reasons, you can also softly hit its side using a hammer, and your engine will start. When using a hammer to activate a starter, ensure that your strikes are gentle and well-placed to avoid further damage to the starter.
Though, keep in mind that when you’re repairing a starter regardless of why it’s broken, one person needs to keep and hold the key in the ignition as the other person fixes the starter.
However, using a hammer to fix your starter should not be a long-term solution for you. If you find yourself needing to use a hammer to fix your starter more than once, it’s advisable to ask for professional help or pay a visit to your local auto repair shop. All in all, it is best to keep an eye on your car’s parts and functionalities to avoid further damage before they happen.
Bad Starter Symptoms
Ideally, you should not have to fix your starter yourself with a hammer or at all more than once. It would be a good practice to detect potential starter damage before it gets worse. After all, prevention is the best cure. Thus, you should know some symptoms of bad starters. With this knowledge, you can be proactive and get your starters improved before they completely stop functioning.
Outside of the obvious refusal of your engine and/or your car to start, take note of any unfamiliar noises you may hear as you start your car. Grinding, whirring, or clicking noises may also be present even after you’ve already started your engine. This should not be happening as the presence of these noises points to a stuck starter relay, pointing to a starter motor with impending damage and decline.
Intermittent delays in starting your vehicle should also be one of your red flags. While your car may start eventually, an absence of instant ignition is a sign that your starter is already encountering some problems through a damaged starter relay.
Aside from this, be on the lookout for smoke emitted by your starter motor. Forcing your car to start repeatedly may cause the starter to overheat through a continuous power supply. When this happens, you may see or smell smoke caused by a short circuit, damaged fuse, or anything else.
Do not hesitate to contact a mechanic if you experience any of the situations mentioned above.
For many, a car is one of their most prized possessions. Whether you’re heading to work during rush hour or meeting up with friends after a while, you’ll surely need a car. With that in mind, it is very important to handle your car with care so it can take you to where you need to be, especially as we go back to normal.
Understanding how a starter works, knowing how to manually fix it via a hammer, and taking note of bad starter symptoms will help you and your car in more ways than one. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss out on important life events just because your engine won’t start.