How does a car start?

How does a car start?So you just turn the key or push the button, right? Not so fast. While it may seem easy to get your vehicle's engine up and running a complex series of events must occur. Understanding your car's starting system can help you figure out what may be going wrong if your car fails to start. The primary parts that must work together in order to get your engine spinning, which will allow it to suck in air and fuel and run on its own, include the battery, ignition switch, starter relay, battery cables and the starter motor. Here's what they do to get you moving.


The battery is what stores electrical power that is needed to get the other components of your vehicle moving. This power is created by the alternator, which also powers other components of the vehicle when the motor is running. If your battery dies your car won't be going anywhere.

Ignition Switch

The ignition switch is activated when the key is inserted into the ignition. The ignition switch has multiple positions, but turning the key to the on position will supply electricity to the ignition from the battery, in turn forwarding that juice to the starter relay.

Starter Relay

To prevent the need for excessive ignition wiring in and around the steering column a starter relay is used to convert the small electrical current used by the ignition switch into the large amount of current needed to actually start your vehicle.

Battery Cables

The thick, multi-stranded battery cables are designed to hold the ample amounts of electricity that are sent to the starter motor to get it running.

Starter Motor

The starter motor is responsible for getting the engine spinning so that fuel, air and spark can be introduced so it can run on its own. As the engine begins to spin faster than the starter motor a part called the Bendix drive separates the starter from the engine and then your car is ready to be driven.

This is a lengthy explanation for something that seems to happen instantaneously, but it's a pretty amazing system that modern vehicles use to get going. Thank goodness we don't live in the olden days when you had to turn your engine by hand to get it going! Unfortunately modern starting systems still aren't fool proof. If you're having trouble getting your vehicle running and believe that you need auto repair in Denton head to Strande's Garage. Our team of highly skilled auto repair mechanics will be able to quickly identify the trouble and have you on your way in no time. Give us a call at (940) 566-2156 to learn more about our team or to schedule superior auto repair in Denton, TX.