What Is A Starter Motor And How Does It Work?

The starter motor, also referred to as the starter, self-starter, or cranking motor has been around for over 100 years. It provides the power to get the engine turning over until its internal combustion cycle begins and it runs on its own power. This process requires a coordinated effort from several of your car's systems including the battery, fuel, air, and ignition. In this post, we'll cover the starter motor and how it works.

What Does The Starter Motor Look Like?

OEM toyota starter motor

A starter motor is a cylinder-shaped object about the size of a loaf of bread. It is mounted next to the engine's flywheel which is located between the engine and the transmission. To locate the starter motor you can usually follow a thick positive (+) battery cable from the battery back to the starter.

How Does The Starter Motor Work?

When you turn your ignition key to the start position, the battery sends power to the starter and the ignition system. The starter motor cranks the engine, turning the flywheel, crankshaft, and pistons, drawing air and fuel into the combustion chambers. Meanwhile, the car's ignition system is firing the spark plugs. This process goes on until the engine starts combusting the fuel/air mixture and running on its own power.

The starter itself is made up of two components:

  • The starter motor is the motor that cranks the engine.
  • The starter solenoid is the part that switches on the starter and engages it to the flywheel.

For more information on the starter motor or starter solenoid including the parts your Toyota needs, click on the links above.

How Long Does A Starter Motor Last?

Toyota OEM starter motor

Image Credit: YOUCANIC

Starter motors are designed to last years, starting your car thousands of times over its lifetime. Over time, starter motors gradually wear out and eventually fail. Starter motors fail for a number of reasons but it generally has to do with the starter solenoid or internal mechanical parts wearing out. As the parts wear out it becomes harder for the starter to start the car and requires more energy to do so.

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