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The starter turns idling: possible causes, methods for solving the problem and expert advice
The starter turns idling: possible causes, methods for solving the problem and expert advice

Reliability of modern cars has increased significantly compared to the old ones. Therefore, today's drivers do not immediately remember which lever to pull to open the hood. One of the most popular situations that confuse inexperienced car owners is when the starter is idling. It seems to be spinning, but the engine does not start. There can be many reasons for this failure. Let's look at the main ones and find out how to fix them.

starter bendix spins at idle

Starter device

This element in the car is necessary to start the engine. The main mechanisms in it: a DC electric motor, a freewheel or bendix, a retractor relay.

The device works as follows. When the ignition key is turned on, the starter is energized by the battery. to control contactthe retractor relay is supplied with 12 volts, then an electromagnet is activated inside it and the gear is extended. The latter should engage with the ring gear on the flywheel.

just idle

At the same time, power contacts are closed inside the retractor relay and voltage is supplied to the starter motor. As a result, the starter armature rotates, and with it the overrunning clutch gear. Accordingly, the flywheel rotates along with the gear. The rotation of the flywheel and crankshaft sets the piston in motion and the engine starts.

What prevents the starter from working properly?

A variety of factors can interfere with the normal functioning of the starter. For example, often in severe frost, the starter can act up - the oil in the engine thickens and the engine power is not enough to turn the crankshaft at sufficient speed to start the engine. You can also note the human factor and the state of electrical contacts.

The most common breakdowns

If we knock out statistics on starter malfunctions, we can identify the following problems. These are loose tips or oxidized battery terminals. Also, there are short circuits in the windings of the solenoid relay or short circuit of the relay winding to ground. There may be breaks in the starter power circuit. Often, the starter turns idly due to malfunctions of the solenoid relay. The brushes inside the starter may be worn out, there are burnt pins inside the solenoid relay.

starter just idle

Twists and doesn't catch

Fault is popular, especially on domestic cars. The situation indicates that an electrical circuit has been closed and current is supplied to the starter armature brushes. The electric motor is in perfect working order. But the holding winding of the retractor relay does not work, and there is no movement of the bendix. Among the reasons, one can single out both mechanical and electrical malfunctions.

Mechanical problem

The starter turns idly if the bendix does not engage with the flywheel teeth. The force from the relay during retraction is transmitted to the overrunning clutch through a special plastic element. If there is a high resistance to the movement of the bendix along the armature shaft, then the plastic part breaks. Overrunning clutch fails to engage while starter rotates due to contact closure of solenoid relay.

An indirect reason for breaking the plastic rod inside the starter is worn teeth on the starter armature shaft. The teeth on the back of the bendix may also be worn. To solve the problem, experts advise replacing the plastic lever or bendix completely.

starter turns at idle

Another mechanical cause of starter idling is wear and tear on the teeth on the flywheel crown. The gear bendix just scrolls and cannot catch on. As a result, the starter bendix turns to idle. In this case, repairmen recommend removing the starter from the engine and carefully inspecting the teeth on the flywheel, as well as on the gear. Possibly to changeyou will have both a flywheel crown and a bendix.

How to check the teeth on the flywheel without removing the starter?

In order to confirm or eliminate this fault with worn teeth, you need to turn on the 3rd or 4th gear on the car and move the car about half a meter. Then you should try to start the car again - if the engine starts, then the crown needs to be changed. If the starter is idling, then it's not the crown.

cold starter spins at idle

Electrical reason

If, when starting the engine, you can hear the starter rotating, but the engine does not cling, then problems can be localized in the solenoid relay. It is installed on the starter housing and has terminals for connecting the positive wire from the battery and the control contact of the ignition switch. The solenoid relay is a coil with two windings. The first winding here is retracting, the second is holding.

The functions of these two windings are different. The effort is also different. The retracting winding of the relay is necessary to push the bendix, close the contacts to supply voltage to the brushes of the electric motor. In turn, the holding winding creates enough force so that the bendix can get a reliable engagement with the flywheel crown. If the starter just spins at idle, then the retractor winding works fine. Need to look elsewhere for the problem.

If there is an interturn short circuit in the holding winding of the solenoid relay, then the fixation of the bendix in the engagement position with the crown is not performed, and the gear is thrown back. Torque is not transmitted tothe engine, and it does not start - the VAZ starter turns idling.

starter spins at idle

Repair involves the restoration or replacement of the solenoid relay completely. Also a great solution is to replace the starter completely with the original device. But this is not a solution for everyone, so experts can advise repairing the assembly - disassembling the retractor, defecting, changing or restoring worn parts.

Starter turns, engine does not start

Another situation can be distinguished - the starter rotates, clings to the flywheel, spins the engine. And the motor doesn't want to start. Let's see why the starter is idling. The cause may be either the starter itself or other elements of the car.


The anchor rotates on two bushings. They act as a sliding bearing. If the bushings are badly worn, then the position of the rotor may change due to play. He gets stuck. Hence the idle work.

When the starter is running on worn bushings, the current required for the normal operation of the starter increases. This leads to a sharp drop in voltage in the vehicle's on-board network. If it drops below 9 volts, then the ECU will turn off, the system will not be able to spark. The starter turns the crankshaft, but as a result, the engine cannot start. The situation with a missing spark due to an ECU shutdown is especially relevant for modern cars.

starter just spins

This malfunction is often observed in cold weather. But it's not always the starter's fault. This behavior can provoke viscousoil, dead battery. The starter may be new, but the engine cannot be started. In this case, experts advise charging the battery, and the problem will be solved by itself.

Low compression

Another reason when a cold starter turns to idle is the internal combustion engine itself. If the engine compression is insufficient for normal compression of the fuel mixture, then the engine will not start. Also, the crankshaft can rotate with resistance - this also affects the start.

One of the simplest reasons is everything related to the human factor. For example, empty tank or low fuel level. In some cars, the tank is designed so that if the car is on a hill and the fuel level in the tank is low, then the pump cannot pump the right portion of gasoline. The engine cannot be started. The same applies to candles. The starter can turn the engine until the battery runs out, but the engine will not start due to faulty spark plugs.


So we have considered the situation when the starter turns to idle. The reasons are different. However, repairing a starter is not difficult for those who are a little versed in technology. It is possible to restore the operation of even a non-separable solenoid relay, since it is arranged quite simply.

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