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Trade of Motor Mechanic

Phase 2

Module 2

Unit 5

Starter Motor /
Produced by
FS Learning Innovation Unit

In cooperation with

Subject Matter Experts:

Martin McMahon
Declan McGrath

CDX Global
FENC - Further Education National Consortium

Foras iseanna Saothair 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

1.0 Starter Motors 1
1.1 Health and Safety 1
1.2 Starting System 1
1.3 Starter Motor Principles 3
1.4 Flemings Left Hand Rule 4
1.5 Motor Principles (Magnets) 5
1.6 Commutation 6
1.7 Starter Motor Construction 7
1.8 Starter Motor Engagement 8
1.9 Switching 10
1.10 Basic Schematic Diagram 12
1.11 Starter System DIN Numbers 13
1.12 Checking a Starting System 13

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

Learning Outcome
By the end of this unit each apprentice will be able to:
Describe the basic operation of a permanent magnet DC
Describe the function and basic operation of the pre-engaged
starter motor
Draw a basic schematic block diagram of the starter circuit,
(no internal solenoid/motor details)
State the average current requirements for the starter motor
of a 12V petrol/diesel automobile
Remove a pre-engaged starter motor, dismantle, examine and
report on the condition of the brushes, reassemble, bench
test (run motor before refitting) and refit
Use a multimeter to test the starter circuit of an operational

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

1.0 Starter Motors

1.1 Health and Safety
If the proper safety procedures are not adhered when working on
Starter Motors this could lead to serious injury to personnel.
Instruction is given in the proper & safe procedures \ methods for
working and testing Starter Motors include the following:
Removing and refitting of motors
Motor free run tests
Working with live terminals
Bench run tests
Rotating pinion
Arcing \ voltage peaks effect on electronic circuits \
Refer to motor risk assessments, Environmental policy, and Material Safety
Data Sheets (MSDS)

1.2 Starting System

The starter motor is a necessity for internal-combustion engines,
because the four stroke cycle requires that the pistons already to
be in motion before the ignition phase or power stroke of the
cycle. This means that the engine must be cranked over by an
external force, before it has the energy to drive itself. It is not
possible to crank over or start automotive engines of the capacity that is
required to power a vehicle by the simple means of a pull cord as
in lawn mowers etc.

Basic Configuration
The modern starter motor is an electric motor with a solenoid
switch, similar to a relay, bolted to its side. When low-current
power from the lead-acid battery is applied to the solenoid (the
thin grey wire in the image), usually through a key switch, it pulls
out a small pinion gear on the starter motors shaft and meshes it
with the ring gear on the flywheel of the engine. The solenoid also
closes high-current contacts for the starter motor and it starts to

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

If the engine starts the key switch is released, the solenoid pulls the
small gear back off the starter gear and the starter motor stops
running. Modern starter motors have a special pinion gear and
free-wheel assembly that enables the pinion gear to automatically
disengage from the ring gear when the engine starts.

Larger, high power engines such as those used in heavy equipment

sometimes have a smaller petrol powered engine attached to the
side as a starter motor.

Principle of Operation
The starting system consists of the battery, cables, starter motor,
flywheel ring-gear, and the ignition switch.
During starting, two actions occur. The pinion of the starter
motor engages with the flywheel ring gear, and the starter motor
then operates to crank the engine.
The starter motor is an electric motor mounted on the engine block,
and operated from the battery. It is designed to have high turning
effort at low speeds.
The starter cables are the thickest on the vehicle, as a high
current must be delivered to the starter motor, to turn the
crankshaft from rest, and keep it turning until the engine fires, and
runs on its own.

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

1.3 Starter Motor Principles

A direct-current motor is a device for converting DC electrical
energy into rotating mechanical energy. All starter motors have
several basic characteristics in common. They include: The frame
and with its stationary components (e.g. the fixed magnetic field,
which can be either a permanent magnet or an electromagnet), an
armature, which is the rotating shaft and its associated parts (many
coils of wire are wound on a cylindrical shaft); auxiliary equipment,
such as a brush/commutator assembly and a solenoid switch

Basic Functionality
The starter motor converts electrical energy from the battery
to mechanical energy. It is mounted on the cylinder block in a
position to engage a ring gear on the engine flywheel. A solenoid
switch actuated by the terminal 50 of the ignition switch as an
electromagnetic relay switch to switch on and off the large
quantity of current; this solenoid also acts as a device to get the
pinion of the motor into contact with the ring gear as required.
During engine cranking excessive current draw will lead to the
cables becoming hot and the drop in battery voltage.

Current Requirements
The typical quantity of current required to crank over an
automobile engine is approx. 80 100 amps. Current requirements
differ between petrol and diesel engines. This is because of the
different compression ratios also the ambient temperature has
an effect on the amount of current draw especially on the diesel
engine as it may require the use of heater plugs.

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

1.4 Flemings Left Hand Rule

Also known as the Motor Rule this is a way of determining the
direction of a force on a current carrying conductor in a magnetic
The thumb, the first and second fingers on the left hand are held so
that they are at right angles to each other.
If the first finger points in the direction of the magnetic field and
the second finger the direction of the current in the wire, then the
thumb will point in the direction of the force on the conductor.

A little practice will show how easy this rule is to apply, but it must
be carried out using the left hand and applies only to the motor
Exercises Using Flemings Left Hand Rule

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

1.5 Motor Principles (Magnets)

Electric Motor Principle
When electric current flows in a conductor it gives rise to a
magnetic field, this concept is illustrated in Figure 1A. This current
carrying conductor experiences a force which makes it move when
it is placed between the poles of a powerful magnet, Figure 1B.
The conductor moves because the magnetic field of the permanent
magnet reacts with the magnetic field produced by the current in
the conductor.

Figure 1A and B
Figure 2 illustrates the combined flux of the magnet and the
conductor carrying a current. At side A the magnetic field lines of
the magnet and the conductor are in the same direction and so
reinforce one another. At B the magnetic field lines of the magnet
and the conductor are in opposite directions, so they tend to cancel
each other out. The result is a sort of catapult effect, which
propels the conductor in the direction of the arrow.

Figure 2
It is often important to know the direction of the force on a
conductor when it carries a current of given direction in a magnetic
field of given polarity. One method is to draw out the magnetic
field as shown above, but there is a rule which links the directions
of the current, magnetic field and movement of the conductor,
and which enables us to find the third unknown if the directions
of the other tow are known.

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

1.6 Commutation
When current flows in a conductor, an electromagnetic field is
generated around it. If the conductor is placed so that it cuts across
a stationary magnetic field, the conductor will be forced out of the
stationary field. This happens because the lines of force of the
stationary field are distorted by the electro-magnetic field around
the conductor and try to return to a straight line condition.
Reversing the direction of current flow in the conductor will cause
the conductor to move in the opposite direction. This is known
as the motor effect and is greatest when the current carrying
conductor and the stationary magnetic field are at right angles to
each other.
A conductor loop which can freely rotate within the magnetic field
is the most efficient design. In this position, when current flows
through the loop the stationary magnetic field is distorted and the
lines of force try to straighten. This forces one side of the loop up
and the other side of the loop down. The motor effect causes the
loop to rotate until it is at ninety degrees to the magnetic field. To
continue rotation, the direction of current flow in the conductor
must be reversed at this static neutral point. A commutator is used
for this purpose.
An example commutator consists of two semi-circular segments
which are connected to the two ends of the loop and are insulated
from each other. Carbon impregnated brushes provide a sliding
connection to the commutator to complete the circuit and allow
current to flow through the loop. Rotation commences with both
sides of the conductor loop cutting the stationary field. When the
loop passes the point where the field is no longer being cut, the
momentum of rotation carries the loop and the commutator
segments over so that the brushes maintain current flow in the
same direction in each side of the loop relative to the stationary

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

This process will maintain a consistent direction of rotation of the

loop. In order to achieve a uniform motion and torque output, the
number of loops must be increased. The additional loops smooth
out the rotational forces.
A starter motor armature has a large number of conductor loops
and so has many segments on the commutator.

1.7 Starter Motor Construction

A basic starter motor consists of:
Field coils
A drive pinion with an over-running clutch
A drive pinion engagement solenoid and shift fork
The armature is the revolving component of the direct current
motor. The armature shaft is supported at each end by bushes
pressed into end frames which locate the armature centrally in the
outer casing or yoke of the motor.

The commutator serves as a sliding electrical connection between

the motor windings and the brushes and is mounted on one
end of the armature shaft. The commutator has many segments
that are insulated from each other. As the windings rotate away
from the pole shoe (piece), the commutator segments change the
electrical connection between the brushes and the windings.

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

This action reverses the magnetic field around the windings. The
constant changing electrical connection at the windings keeps the
motor spinning.
The commutator end frame carries the copper-impregnated
carbon brushes which conduct current through the armature when
it is being rotated in operation. The brushes are mounted in brush
holders and are kept in contact with the commutator by tensioned
spiral springs.
Half of the brushes are connected directly to the end-frame
and via the ground return of the vehicle frame to the battery
negative terminal. The other half are insulated from the end-frame and
connected to the positive battery terminal via the main starter
solenoid input terminal.
This can be a direct connection in the case of a permanent magnet
type starter or indirectly via the electro-magnetic field poles of a
series wound motor.

1.8 Starter Motor Engagement

Engagement is provided by operation of the ignition switch in the
start position which activates a starter mounted solenoid whose
plunger is engaged with the hooked end of a pinion shift lever and
operating fork.

Solenoid operation moves the operating fork causing the pinion to

engage with the ring gear and also causes the plunger contacts to
bridge the main starter terminals.
The fork locates in a guide ring on a pinion driver which is
coupled to the pinion via a roller type over-running clutch designed
to transmit drive in one direction only.

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

The pinion driver is mounted on a helix, machined on the armature

shaft to form a very coarse thread. This allows the pinion driver
to rotate slightly when it is moved towards the ring gear and this
feature together with a chamfer on the leading edge of the ring
gear and pinion teeth, is designed to assist meshing and easy
engagement. However, if the pinion teeth butt against the ring gear
teeth and engagement is prevented, the guide ring continues its
axial movement by sliding over the sleeve of the driver and
compressing a meshing spring until the plunger contacts bridge the
main terminals and the armature begins to turn.
Slight armature rotation and the force from the meshing spring
allow the pinion teeth to drop into mesh with the ring gear
assisted by the screw action of the helix. The helix forces the pinion
further into the ring gear until the pinion contacts a stop ring on the
armature shaft. This prevents further axial movement and the
driver and pinion now lock to the shaft via the helix and over-
running clutch and transfer the armature rotation to the flywheel.
The pinion has only a small number of teeth compared to the ring
gear and this means the armature will rotate several times for each
revolution of the flywheel. The gear reduction also multiplies the
torque from the starter motor.
As soon as the engine starts, its rotational speed will eventually
exceed the speed of the armature. At this instant the over-running
clutch breaks the connection between the pinion and the armature
shaft and prevents over-speeding and damage of the armature.
The pinion remains meshed as long as the engaging lever is held
in the engaged position. Releasing the starter switch allows the
solenoid plunger return spring, to return the engaging lever, driver
and pinion to their original position.

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

1.9 Switching
The starter motor is usually brought into operation by activating a
starter switch as part of ignition key operation.
This remote control operates a starter mounted solenoid which has
two functions:
It acts as a solenoid to engage the pinion with the flywheel
ring gear.
It acts as a relay to bridge the main starting terminals.

In the control circuit, the ignition lock start switch has a positive
connection from the battery and a connection to two windings in
the starter solenoid. One of these is a pull-in winding which has
a low resistance value and the other is a hold-in winding which
has a high resistance.
The pull-in winding is connected to the main starter terminal
leading to the field and armature windings and its circuit will be
completed through the armature to ground on the starter casing
and by frame return to the negative battery terminal.
The hold-in winding is connected to ground on the starter casing.
With the ignition key in the START position, current passes from
the positive battery terminal through the start switch and through
both windings. The high current flow through the low resistance
pull-in winding creates a strong magnetic field which attracts the
solenoid plunger towards the main terminals. Plunger movement
also operates the shift fork lever engaging the pinion with the ring

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

The plunger contacts a switching pin which transfers the motion

through a contact spring to a moving contact which then bridges
the main terminals. This allows a large current to flow from the
battery through the starter motor windings causing armature and
pinion rotation and rotation of the engine crankshaft. Bridging the
contacts also short-circuits the pull-in winding and the plunger is
held in position by the action of the hold-in winding only. The
pull-in winding is short-circuited because battery voltage is now
being applied to both sides of the winding and this stops current
flow through it.
During engine cranking, the action of the helix on the
rotating armature shaft causes the pinion to be forced as deeply as
possible into the flywheel ring gear and this holds the pinion in
mesh. Thehold-in winding is only used to ensure that the moving
contact continues to bridge the main starter terminals.
When the engine initially fires, the ring gear tries to drive the pinion
and the force acting through the helix is relieved. When the starter
switch is released, this opens the circuit between the battery and
the hold-in winding and current flow through the winding ceases.
The return springs in the solenoid return the plunger, the moving
contact and the pinion to the rest position.

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

1.10 Basic Schematic Diagram

Alternator / Starter Motor - Wiring Circuit
This component information was sourced from Autodata

Manufacturer: Volkswagen Component x braided cable

Engine code: AFN G1 Alternator br brown
Tuned for: H1 Alternator warning lamp gr grey
Model: Passat (96-00) 31 Battery - rt red
1.9D TDI 30 Batter + hbl light blue
Output: 81 (110) 4150 A35 Engine control module y high tension
Year: 1996-00 K270 Engine running circuits relay el cream
15 Ignition switch - ignition ON nf neutral
50 Ignition switch - startsignal sw black
A35 Instument panel hgn light green
A75 Instrumentation control z non-cable
module connection
M1 Starter motor ge yellow
Wiring colour Codes og orange
bl blue vi violet
gn green rbr maroon
rs pink
ws white

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

1.11 Starter System DIN Numbers

DIN72552 Electric terminal numbers
Automobile electric terminal numbers according to DIN 72552
For almost every contact in a car there is a number code to
standardize car wiring. An example of these numbers is defined
in DIN 72552. This table gives most frequently used numbers for
starter systems.
Contact ID Identification
15 Battery+ through ignition switch
30 From battery + direct
50 Starter control
31 Return to battery or direct to ground

1.12 Checking a Starting System

Part 1. Preparation and Safety
Objective Check a starting system using a voltmeter.

Safety Check Make sure the bonnet stay rod is secure.

Always make sure that you wear the appropriate personal
protection equipment before starting the job. It is very easy
to hurt yourself even when the most exhaustive protection
measures are taken.
Always ensure that your work area/environment is as safe as
you can make it. Do not use damaged, broken or worn out
workshop equipment.

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

Always follow any manufacturer's personal safety instructions

to prevent damage to the vehicle you are servicing.
Make sure that you understand and observe all
legislative and personal safety procedures when carrying out the
following tasks. If you are unsure of what these are, ask your
Points to Note DVOMs come in many forms. Always follow the specific
manufacturer's instructions in the use of the meter or you could
seriously damage the meter or electrical circuit. The voltmeter
can be used to determine the electrical condition of the starting
system because the amount of the electrical load that the starter
motor exerts on its recommended, good condition battery will reflect
directly on the voltages present in the system. Correct
interpretation of these voltage readings will indicate the most
common fault conditions.

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instruction

1. Battery condition: A battery that must be in perfect condition: i.e.
all cells in good condition and fully charged is required to
operate any starter motor that is being tested. Unless you are
sure that the battery is perfect, the voltage readings that you
try to interpret will be completely misleading
2. Set up the meter for a voltage check: Prepare the Digital Volt Ohm
Meter or DVOM for testing voltage by inserting the black
probe lead into the common input port, and the red probe
lead into the Volt/Ohms input port.
3. Check the meter function: Turn the rotary dial until you have
selected the mode for Volts DC. The reading on the meter
should now be at Zero. Some meters will automatically sense
the correct voltage range for the meter when a voltage is
detected. On other meters you will have to set the voltage
range before using the meter.
4. Check the battery voltage: Place the Black probe onto the
Negative terminal of the battery, which will be marked with
a Minus sign, and place the Red probe onto the Positive
terminal of the battery. This is marked with a Plus sign. Note
the voltage reading from the battery.

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

5. Disconnect the ignition system: With the meter still connected to

the battery, disconnect the ignition and fuel systems. The
ignition system must be disconnected at the current
supply or the earth of the ignition coils. In some systems, the
ignition leads may be earthed where appropriate. The fuel
system must also be disabled to prevent unburned fuel entering the
catalytic converter as the engine is being cranked over.
Choose a manufacturers recommended method to disable the
ignition and fuel systems in the vehicle you are working on.
6. Crank the engine and check result: Crank the engine whilst at the
same time watching the voltage displayed on the DVOM. This
test checks the starter circuit for voltage drop. The first test
is to measure the voltage of the battery under load. If the
reading remains above 10.25 Volts then the system is in good
condition. If the motor fails to crank the engine over and
the voltage remains very close to the initial battery voltage,
then you may assume an open circuit somewhere, possibly
a worn brush inside the motor. If the reading is below 10.25
Volts then this may indicate that an excessive quantity of
current is being drawn from the battery, remember, you
are sure that the battery is in good condition and now if its
voltage falls lower than the recommended value, the
fault must be in the starter motor/circuit and further
investigation is required. The live and earth circuits should
be checked separately to locate any voltage losses. This
should be done by connecting the voltmeter to either end of
each lead as the starter current is flowing through. A typical
reading would not exceed 0.25 volts. The solenoid con-
tacts should be examined also by again, connecting the
voltmeter across the contacts as they carry the starter current,
and again, the voltmeter reading should not be above 0.25

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

Module 2 - Unit 5 Starter Motor / Circuits

Further Reading
Advanced Automotive Diagnosis. Tom Denton. ISBN 0340741236
Automobile Electrical and Electronic Systems (3rd Edition). Tom Denton. ISBN
Automotive Mechanics (10th Edition). William H. Crouse and Donald L. Anglin.
ISBN 0028009436
Automotive Technology: A Systems Approach (3rd Edition). Jack Erjavec. ISBN
Bosch Automotive Electrics Automotive Electronics: Systems and Components
(4th Edition). Robert Bosch. ISBN 0837610508
Bosch Automotive Handbook (6th Edition). Robert Bosch. ISBN 1860584748
Bosch Automotive Technology Technical Instruction booklet series (numerous
Bosch Diesel Engine Management: Systems and Components (3rd Edition).
Robert Bosch. ISBN 0837610516
Bosch Gasoline Engine Management: Systems and Components (2nd Edition).
Robert Bosch. ISBN 0837610524
Engines, Electronics and Related Systems (Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Se-
ries: Level 3) (3rd Edition). Jack Hirst and Roy Brooks. ISBN 1861528051
Hilliers Fundamentals of Automotive Electronics (2nd Edition). V.A.W. Hillier.
ISBN 0748726950
Hilliers Fundamentals of Motor Vehicle Technology: Book One (5th Edition).
V.A.W. Hillier and Peter Coombes. ISBN 0748780823
Hilliers Fundamentals of Motor Vehicle Technology: Book Two (5th Edition).
V.A.W. Hillier and Peter Coombes. ISBN 0748780998
Introduction to Motor Vehicle Craft. Jack Hirst and John Whipp. ISBN
Light and Heavy Vehicle Technology (3rd Edition). M.J. Nunney. ISBN
Modern Automotive Technology. James E. Duffy. ISBN 1566376106
Motor Vehicle Craft Studies - Principles. F.K. Sully. ISBN 040800133X
Motor Vehicle Engineering: NVQ Level Two. Tom Denton. ISBN 1861528922
Motor Vehicle Engineering: NVQ Level Three. Tom Denton. ISBN 1861527446
Motor Vehicle Studies for NVQ. V.A. W. Hillier. ISBN 0748720111
National Car Test (NCT) Manual (Department of Transport, Vehicle Testers
Manual - DoT VTM). Department of Transport
Transmission, Chassis and Related Systems (Vehicle Maintenance and Repair
Series: Level 3) (3rd Edition) John Whipp and Roy Brooks. ISBN 186152806X
Vehicle and Engine Technology (2nd Edition). Heinz Heisler. ISBN 0340691867

Motor Mechanic - Phase 2 Course Notes Revision 1.0 August 2006

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