My starter is very noisy

October 1, 2010 | By Richard Prince


Can you tell me why the starter in my car is so noisy? I have a 1932 Ford chassis and drive train with a 1949 Ford Flathead engine. A truck bell housing adapts the engine to the 1939 Ford transmission. I converted to a 12-volt electrical system. When the starter cranks it is very noisy. I get a loud grinding, clanking noise. The engine turns smoothly by hand. The starter bushings are OK. The teeth on the flywheel and starter drive are both good.


There are numerous reasons why starter motors make abnormal noises. Most of the time the problem stems from misalignment or some other incompatibility between the starter’s pinion gear and the flywheel’s ring gear.

Internal starter motor problems that normally result in noise include loose pole pieces rubbing against the armature, excessive wear in the armature shaft, its bushings, and/or its bearings, excessive wear in the drive pinion shaft, its bushings, and/or its bearings, a bent drive pinion shaft, and a loose commutator end plate.

If the flywheel ring gear is not true, for example, because the flywheel to which it is mounted is warped, noise will likely result.

Anything that interferes with a rock-solid mounting of the starter motor in correct orientation to the flywheel will cause excessive noise. Look for slop in the mounting holes and any sort of play between the mount points and starter motor housing.