Starter Engages But Does Not Turn Flywheel: What To Do?

If your starter will spin and engage but don’t turn the flywheel, you might have a problem. There are a lot of car drivers who have experienced this situation. Most of them don’t know what to do. 

So what can you do if your starter will engage but it does not turn your flywheel? Check your battery voltage, check for battery corrosion, and check your starter motor. You can do all three so that you can eliminate the possible reasons and you will know the sole reason for the problem.

This is a stressful situation. You have to be somewhere really fast, but you turn the ignition on, and nothing happens. You might hear that starter spinning, but it isn’t engaging the flywheel. 

The most common reason if your starter is engaging or not engaging is a low battery voltage. You might also have a faulty starter motor solenoid. There might also be something wrong with the literal parts of your starter motor. 

The bottom line’s that there are lots of reasons for this scenario.

In this article, we will be talking about what you can do if your starter will engage but does not turn the flywheel. Let us start.

Starter Engages But Does Not Turn Flywheel

Why Won’t Starter Engage Flywheel?

Here are some reasons why your starter will not engage your flywheel.

1. You Might Have A Low Voltage Battery

If you are having battery problems, the first culprit is your battery voltage. Therefore, this is the first thing that you should check. Your battery is the one that powers your starter. 

If the battery is not working, then your starter will not be able to engage. Therefore, you have to charge your car battery. You can also replace the car battery if you have a spare one. 

You can also jump-start your vehicle. You can also check your battery terminals are corroded. 

With this, you might observe that there is a white or a green substance on your terminals. If you’ll have corrosion on your battery terminals, you can remove the battery cable clamps and remove the terminals.

2. Check Your Starter Solenoid

The starter solenoid can be found on top of the starter. If you turn the key on, it is the starter solenoid, pushing the plunger inside the starter motor. 

It will then push the pinion into the flywheel. You can use a jumper wire so that you can ground the solenoid to a bolt. 

3. Pinion Or Your Starter Motor Plunger

If your starter solenoid is doing good, you might have a problem inside your starter motor. This is in the starter plunger or the starter pinion. You can untangle the starter and check for your pinion gears. 

4. Faulty Wiring To The Starter

There is a scenario where the starter will get electrics to produce a sound. However, it is not enough to turn the starter. This will happen if there is a lousy starter cable between your car battery and the starter.

5. Flywheel Damages

You can identify the flywheel as the big wheel. You can find it in between the transmission and the engine. 

The starter pinion gears will engage it so that the engine can start. You must look for damaged gears or defective flywheels.

How Does A Starter Engage Flywheel?

If you turn the key in your ignition, your engine will turn over, and then it cranks. But the cranking process has more components involved. It will need a flow of air into the engine. 

This can happen if there is suction. If your engine is not turning over, there will be no air. If there is no air, then it means that the fuel can’t combust. 

The starter motor is the one that will turn the engine during the ignition process. If you turn the engine on, the starter motor will engage, turn the engine over, and allow it to suk air. The flywheel in the engine has ring gear connected around the edge and is fitted to the end of the crankshaft. 

The pinion on the starter is produced to fit into the grooves and curves of the ring gear. If you turn the ignition switch, the electromagnet that is in the body will engage. It will then push out the rod where the pinion is connected. 

The pinion will meet with the flywheel, and the starter motor will then start. This will then speed the engine over, and it will take all the air. 

If the engine turns over, the starter then starts to disengage. As a result, the electromagnet will stop.

How To Fix When A Starter Engages But Does Not Turn Flywheel?

If your starter will engage but does not turn the flywheel, here are some things that you can do. 

1. Check Your Battery Voltage

You need to check your battery if your battery has rough voltage to power up your engine. If there is not enough power, it means that your starter will fail. If you want to know if your battery has power, you can use a voltmeter. 

2. Check For Battery Corrosion

If your car battery is corroded, there will be some green and white deposits. If you want to clean this, you can use a water solution mixed with baking soda. The ratio must be one part baking soda and three parts of water.

3. Check Your Starter Motor

You can tighten the mounting bolts and some other connecting wires. If the mounting bolt is a bit loose, the flywheel will not be adequately engaged.

In addition, there will be a grinding noise. 

How Do I Know If My Starter Or Flywheel Is Bad?

If your vehicle does not start after turning the ignition switch on, your car battery might be dead. So a lousy starter has a grinding noise. There will also be freewheeling. 

If you turn on your ignition switch and hear that whining sound and the engine is not cranking, your starter gear might not engage the flywheel. 

The starter must be replaced. There can also be smoke. There might be smoke with the starter problems. 

The smoke is a common sin if there is a lot of power taken from the battery of your starter. 

Finally, there might be oil soaking. Your starter is in the bottom of your engine; it can be risky for oil or leak in the fluids.

How Do You Turn A Flywheel Manually?

The flywheel is in the rear of the crankshaft, and it is bolted there. If you remove the spark plugs from your engine to take that compression, you will be unable to turn the flywheel over by hand. Instead, you will have to use the starter. 

You can rotate the engine by hand by placing a large socket on your front crankshaft bolt. Link the long ratchet wrench and then rotate the crank.


In summary, you might find yourself in a situation where your starter will engage, but it does not turn the flywheel. There are a lot of causes for this to occur. 

It might be the battery or a starter, or some other components. It’s good to have your vehicle checked with an expert. They can determine the problem.

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Image credits – Canva

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My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more