The History and Function of the Starter

The History and Function of the Starter

Ever wonder how your car starts? I mean think about it, this vehicle, with an engine as big as your body, and parts all throughout it whose purpose is generally unknown, certainly couldn’t be started by simple means? Who was the great man that discovered the method, and why don’t we hear more about him?


The History

In 1911, a man by the name of Charles F. Kettering, along with Henry M. Leland, of Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company invented and filed U.S. Patent 1,150,523 for the first electric started within the borders of America. This was the first invention on American soil regarding the starting of a motor vehicle that did not involve a crankshaft of some sort. Since then, the car starter has seen great leaps and bounds in development.


How It Works

In order to start, the engine has to be turned at a good amount of speed so it can suction fuel and air into the cylinders, compressing and releasing it. The powerful electric starter motor does the turning, and its shaft engages with the large pinion of the engines flywheel in getting the engine to begin to turn.

The starter gets its heavy electric current from thick wires from the battery, which then powers the alternator, which we all know powers the rest of the car.

This starter switch has to be turned on and off very quickly to avoid the dangerous and unnecessary sparking that results from keeping the current on. A solenoid is used – which turns a small switch that puts an electromagnet in a place to finish off the circuit. This keeps the starter from sparking for longer than it should.


Other Features

The ignition switch has a spring inside that pushes your starter back to off once the vehicle has received enough juice.

The starter motor itself features a device on it, called a Bendix gear, that engages the pinions of the starter to the gear ring on the flywheel, but only while the starter is turning the engine. This ensure that no unnecessary charge is added to the starting mechanism.

Starter problems can happen at any time, really. It’s important to make sure that your vehicle starter is working properly, and isn’t too worn down. Sometimes, a faulty starter can lead to battery and alternator problems as well, so it’s important to keep your starter working well. For any questions or concerns about your car starter, you can come to a reputable professional car starter specialist for a diagnosis.