Every memorable drive you've experienced in your life begins with the successful operation of the starter on your vehicle. The starter on today's cars, trucks and SUVs is attached in the rear of the motor, where a gear on the starter aligns with the vehicle's flywheel to begin the ignition process. Once the engine turns over, fuel is introduced to the combustion chamber and is ignited by the activated ignition system.
Intermittent issues starting the vehicle:
If you try to start your car and the engine doesn't ignite instantly, but you action the switch once again and it works, this is most likely due to a problem with the relay. The starter relay is an all or nothing device, meaning that it either sends the full electrical current or it sends nothing to the starter. In some occasions, a damaged relay can cause the starter to make a clicking sound when you turn the key.
Starter stays on after engine started:
When you start the engine and release the key, the circuit which will discontinue the power to the starter motor is supposed to close. If this stays on after the engine has ignited, the main contacts in the solenoid have most likely welded together in the closed position. If this problem is not addressed immediately, the relay will be stuck in the 'on' position.
Smoke when starting the motor:
The starter is a mechanical system that is powered by electricity. Sometimes the starter will overheat because of continued power being supplied to the starter or the starter motor will not shut off after the car's engine has ignited. If this occurs, you'll most likely see or smell smoke coming from underneath the engine. This problem may be caused by a short circuit, blown fuse, or a problem with the ignition switch.
Interior lights dim when starting the car:
A short circuit in the starter motor's wiring may cause your dashboard lights to dim whenever you start the car. In this case, the starter motor pulls extra current away from the vehicle's other systems.