Your car's starter is part of your vehicle's ignition and electrical systems and is what actually kicks the engine into gear when you turn your key in the ignition. This makes the starter a small but essential part of your vehicle's internal mechanics. Any sort of damage or malfunction associated with your starter can have serious implications for the performance of your vehicle. Understanding some of the warning signs associated with a malfunctioning starter can help you determine when you should contact a mechanic about having it repaired or replaced.
The first and most obvious sign that you may spot when your starter is operating improperly is smoke coming out from under the hood, even while the temperature gauge indicates that your engine itself is fine. This can happen when the starter stays engaged after the engine has turned on, which means that the engine will in fact power the starter much too powerfully, causing it to overheat and become damaged. This can burn your starter out rapidly, so you should avoid driving until a professional has been able to diagnose and treat the issue.
Another clear sign that your starter may not be working as intended is if you can hear a grinding sound while driving, especially if that sound occurs while you are not accelerating or braking, but instead only maintaining your speed. This is usually caused by the starter staying engaged, causing the flywheel within the starter to spin extremely rapidly and thus degrade quickly due to excessive friction. It can be hard to tell that this is happening short of the sound itself, so it's a good idea to head to a professional auto mechanic straight away to diagnose the issue before the flywheel breaks.
Finally, if you notice that there is oil underneath your vehicle after it has been parked for a while, you may want to have a mechanic take a look at your starter as a bit of preemptive maintenance. Oil leaks can soak the starter, flooding it and preventing it from properly starting the engine. Even if this is not the case, the presence of oil underneath your vehicle will always point to some sort of damage to your engine, an attached hose, or some other mechanical part under the hood that will need to be addressed before it becomes a more serious concern.
Contact a company like AutoMedics to learn more.