Can Tapping on the Starter with a Hammer Really Start My Car?

QuestionsCategory: Ask An ExpertCan Tapping on the Starter with a Hammer Really Start My Car?
Aiden Allen asked 6 months ago
I recently heard that if your car won't start, tapping on the starter with a hammer while turning the ignition could work. This sounds a bit surprising to me, and I'm worried it might cause damage. Is there any truth to this method, and if so, how should it be done properly?
1 Answers
Zack Norman Staff answered 6 months ago
Hi there, Aiden! You've stumbled upon a classic car trick that's been around for ages! Indeed, gently tapping on the starter motor can sometimes help in starting a car, especially if the issue is with a sticky starter solenoid or a dead spot on the starter motor armature. Here's a breakdown of why and how this works, as well as my personal recommendations on how you can do this safely:
  1. Starter Solenoid Issue: The solenoid is an electromagnetic switch that engages the starter motor. Over time, it can start sticking due to wear or dirt. A light tap can dislodge whatever is causing it to stick, allowing it to function momentarily.
  2. Method: Use a piece of wood or a rubber mallet to gently tap the starter solenoid. This reduces the risk of short circuits compared to using a metal tool. You don't necessarily have to turn the key at the same time. Tap a few times, then try starting the car.
  3. Dead Spot on Armature: If there's a dead spot on the starter motor armature, tapping can move the armature to a position where it can make contact, allowing the engine to start.
  4. Caution: This is a temporary fix and should be used as a last resort. Frequent use can lead to more significant damage. After using this method, plan to get the starter inspected and possibly replaced.
  5. Avoiding Damage: Be cautious not to hit too hard. The force should be similar to knocking on a door but with a hammer. Avoid using metal tools to prevent sparking or electrical shorts.
  6. Professional Advice: If you're unsure about doing this yourself, it’s always best to consult a professional mechanic.
Remember, while this trick can sometimes save the day, it's not a permanent solution. It's crucial to address the underlying problem to avoid getting stranded. Zack - Motor Verso Mechanics Team