Why does tapping the starter work?

Answered by Robert Flynn

Tapping the starter is a common troubleshooting technique used to temporarily fix a faulty starter motor in a vehicle. This method can often provide a temporary solution to get the engine started, but it is not a permanent fix. So, why does tapping the starter work?

The starter motor is responsible for initiating the engine’s combustion process by cranking the engine to create the necessary compression and spark. It is an electric motor that is powered by the vehicle’s battery. Over time, the starter motor can experience wear and tear, leading to various issues.

One common problem with starter motors is worn-out brushes. These brushes are small conductive elements that make contact with the armature, which is a rotating coil of wire inside the motor. The brushes carry electrical current from the battery to the armature, allowing the motor to turn and crank the engine.

However, due to constant use and friction, the brushes can wear out and become less effective at making electrical contact with the armature. This can result in a weak or intermittent connection, causing the starter motor to fail or struggle to start the engine.

When you tap the starter with a hammer or another suitable tool, you are essentially jolting the brushes back into place. The impact of the tap can dislodge any debris or build-up that may be preventing the brushes from making proper contact with the armature. It can also temporarily realign the brushes, allowing them to touch the armature more effectively.

By tapping the starter, you are essentially giving it a “wake-up call” and providing a temporary solution to the electrical contact issue. This jolt can sometimes provide enough contact for the starter motor to work properly, allowing the engine to start.

However, it’s important to note that tapping the starter is not a permanent fix. It is merely a temporary workaround to get the engine started in a pinch. The underlying issue of worn-out brushes or other starter motor problems will still need to be addressed to ensure reliable starting in the future.

Tapping the starter works by temporarily realigning and jolting the brushes back into place, allowing for better electrical contact with the armature. This can provide a temporary solution to start the engine, but it is not a permanent fix. It is always recommended to have a professional mechanic diagnose and repair any issues with the starter motor to ensure proper functionality and prevent further damage.