Just curious


Asked by Dec 27, 2012 at 07:39 AM about the 1996 Ford F-150 XL LB

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Since the mid 50's when I slid under my first car, one of the methods used to check for a defective starter or solenoid was to take a hammar and tap on it.  If the car then started the problem was with the starter of solenoid.  The question is; What was I accomplishing that would make the vehicle start.  The procedure wasn't 100 percent by was up there in the 90's.

3 Answers


The starter is a big DC motor. It has a pair of brushes that ride on a commutator and send the amps to the rotor. After years of use, the brushes become short from wear. The short brushes hang up in the brush holders. When you tap on the starter with a blunt object, the brushes break free, regain contact with the commutator and the engine spins. If the starter would spin but not engage the flywheel, the solenoid mounted on the side would be suspect. It has a device called a Bendix spring which moves the gear into the flywheel teeth.

Best Answer Mark helpful

Thanks tenspeed. All my previously owned electrocution hazard carpentry tools from the 50's had brushes. When the tool stopped working I would give it a bang. If it started, I pulled a replacement set of brushes out of the drawer and loosened the screwed on the side to replace the brushes. When I pulled a 16 year old starter out of the neighbors car yesterday I suspected as much. I momentarily contemplated dismantiling the thing to replace the brushes. Then realized I'm well into my sixties, it wasn't my car, the neighbor was paying for the parts, my fingers are getting fat, and most important, my patience isn't what it use to be. Again thanks.


We're of the same age OJ. Years ago I would have filed and sanded brushes to fit. If you think about it, you can get a re-manufactured starter that has all new everything. Use percussion maintenance on starters, fuel pumps and blower motors to get them working long enough to get you to the auto parts store for replacements. Save the rebuilding skills for the the easy, expensive stuff like lawn tractor parts.

Your Answer


Looking for a Used F-150 in your area?

CarGurus has 219,880 nationwide F-150 listings starting at $1,222.


Ford F-150 Experts

  • #1
  • #2
  • #3
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used GMC Sierra 1500
881 Great Deals out of 58,809 listings starting at $1,980
Used Dodge Ram 1500
332 Great Deals out of 9,589 listings starting at $800
Used Toyota Tacoma
431 Great Deals out of 40,098 listings starting at $2,600
Used Ford Mustang
278 Great Deals out of 38,263 listings starting at $1,995
Used Ford F-250
411 listings starting at $3,500
Used Ford Explorer
835 Great Deals out of 63,811 listings starting at $600
Used Chevrolet Tahoe
625 Great Deals out of 37,366 listings starting at $795

Used Cars For Sale

2017 Ford F-150 XL LB For Sale
10 listings starting at $21,982
2016 Ford F-150 XL LB For Sale
11 listings starting at $16,998
2015 Ford F-150 XL LB For Sale
4 listings starting at $11,990
2014 Ford F-150 XL LB For Sale
3 Great Deals out of 65 listings starting at $9,995

Content submitted by Users is not endorsed by CarGurus, does not express the opinions of CarGurus, and should not be considered reviewed, screened, or approved by CarGurus. Please refer to CarGurus Terms of Use.