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What's A Starter And Why Is It Important?

The starter in your vehicle is one of the most remarkable creature-comforts our cars offer us today. One hundred years ago, people had to spin an engine by hand to get it going. Nowadays, our starters quickly turn the engine over and get things started. A starter is a small motor that engages the flywheel, spinning the engine. Once an engine has spun over, it will continue to run with proper air, fuel, and spark. But getting that first turn of the crankshaft takes a lot of effort; that’s why we’re thankful for starters.

How Often Should I Change My Starter?

Image Credit: rickpin06a

There is no standard interval for replacing a starter. Many starters last the life of the vehicle. But, depending on how the vehicle is driven, some starters see a lot more wear and tear than others. If you do a lot of short trips around town, your starter will see a lot more use than if you drive mostly longer trips. Cold weather increases the stress on the starter, as cold engines are harder to turn over. Unfortunately, starters can often fail unexpectedly. But if you’re aware of how they work, you can have some idea of what’s going on with your vehicle.

Is My Starting Issue Caused By The Starter?

If your car isn’t starting, it can be tempting to blame the issues on the starter. But there are a few other possible causes to rule out first:

  • The battery - A weak battery can still turn on the interior lights and ignition, but be too weak to power the starter. If you turn the key and hear a rapid ticking or the lights on the dash flash, the problem is more likely a battery issue.
  • Electrical connections - Sometimes the main wire carrying power can get corroded or loose where it attaches to the starter. This happens more often on older cars and trucks. You'll have to get under the car to check this one out.
  • The solenoid - Starters have a solenoid. The job of the solenoid is to move a gear on the starter motor so that it engages with the flywheel. These can fail, while the starter itself is still good. When a solenoid fails, it gets stuck. In this case, you may be able to hear the starter spinning when you try to start the car. If you have a helper turn the key over, you may be able to get the solenoid to work by tapping it with a hammer. The good news is that a solenoid is pretty easy to replace, and less expensive than a starter.

If you've ruled out all the causes listed above, you probably need a starter. Similar to a solenoid, a starter is pretty easy to replace. There are usually two or three bolts holding it one, and one heavy wire to disconnect.

At VW Parts Vortex, you can be confident in our starters and all our parts. VW’s manufacturer warranty backs all of our OEM parts. We only sell genuine OEM parts from Volkswagen. With more than 15 years in business, we’ve shipped countless parts from our facilities in New Jersey. You can also contact us here for more information.