Did you know that when automobiles were first invented, you had to crank them to get them started? Fast forward to today, when many vehicles have a key or even a button that is gently pressed or rotated in order to get the vehicle fired up. Those removable options that went directly into the crankcase were dangerous and inconvenient (to say the least!). Fortunately, today’s engines have a much higher compression ratio which leads to the advent of the self-starting motor.
Starters work by converting electrical energy from the batteries of your vehicle into mechanical energy – which in turn breathes life into the engine. Internal combustion engines that are running at 0 RPM are unable to produce torque, therefore the starter helps the engine turn over that first time to get started. Once that occurs, the engine can power itself.
Starter motors come in a variety of styles, gear-reduction, electric, and pneumatic. Some things to note about these styles when purchasing a starter for your vehicle:
Gear-reduction starter: The gear-reduction starter is mostly utilized for cost-reduction instead of for any specific benefits that it offers, although this style is essentially obsolete now.
Pneumatic starters: Pneumatic starters are simply put together, reliable and deliver a nice, high torque. Used by diesel engines and gas turbines, the pneumatic starter includes a pressure tank, an air compressor and a geared turbine. Once compressed air is released from the tank, the turbine spins – turning over the engine. The engine then recharges the compressor as it runs. This type of starter is generally saved for heavy equipment and machinery.
Electric starters: Electric starters are used most often for everyday gas and diesel engines. A low-power current is pushed through the solenoid when the key is turned, causing the drive pinion to mesh with the ring gear on the engine’s flywheel.
Finding the accurate starter replacement part is as simple as consulting your vehicle’s manual, as you will have to be sure to get the correct style and size of starter to get your car going. As always, when you’re looking for parts, try to go with the highest quality you can afford.
YourMechanic supplies top-quality starters to our certified mobile technicians. We can also install a starter that you've purchased. Click here to get a quote and more information on starter replacement.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Starter and was authored by Valerie Johnston.