Understanding Car Starters

Both the Otto cycle (which is a four stroke cycle that is most commonly used in vehicles today) and the Diesel cycle internal combustion engines require the pistons to be moving before the ignition phase of the cycle. This simply means that the engine must be set in motion by an external force before it can power itself.

In the earlier days when automobiles were a new thing, a hand crank was used to start the engine, but this was somehow inconvenient and really hard work to crank the engine up to speed. It was also very dangerous. Although the cranks had an override mechanism to prevent it, when the engine started, a crank could begin to spin along with the crankshaft. The operator had to then pull away immediately, or they could risk breaking their wrist, or even worse than that.

As engines evolved, they became larger and the compression ratios increased, thus making hand cranking an increasingly more difficult matter.

The self-starter was first invented in 1899, but the invention was impractical and then in 1903 it was patented in New York City. But by 1920, nearly every vehicle had a self-starter. It had replaced the hand-cranking.

There are a few different types of starters: