How To Align Starter With Flywheel

How To Align Starter With Flywheel

Do you get that horrible grinding noise when you start your car? You’ll imagine it’s coming from the starter and flywheel engagement.

If that is the case, you will need some alignment adjustments to fix the issue. So, the challenge is how to align the starter with the flywheel.

Aligning Starter with Flywheel

Aside from the noise, your car can become difficult to start each time if the starter and flywheel are not correctly aligned.

Hence, finding ways to align the starter with the flywheel is crucial.

This guide will dive deep into the steps to follow to align the starter with the flywheel.

The Starter Motor Working Mechanism

A starter motor is an electric motor that rotates an internal combustion engine to initiate the engine’s operation.

This electric device is specially designed to crank the engine to start.

A starter motor is a crucial part of the ignition system in a car.

It consists of several components like the pinion and armature, but the main ones are the starter solenoid and a DC electric motor.

The starter motor is expected to engage whenever your turn on the ignition. If it does engage, it turns the engine over so it can suck in air.

This process is associated with combustion engines.

Every vehicle has an ignition system that turns the engine over when the key is turned. During this process, the engine is expected to crank as it turns over.

It means there’s no airflow into the engine if it doesn’t. A suction has to be created when the engine turns for it to crank.

If there’s no airflow into the engine, it means fuel won’t combust. If fuel can’t combust, the engine will not turn over, and the car will not start.

It’s a serious issue you don’t want to face.

To fix this issue, you have to check your engine. When you check the engine, a flywheel (with ring gear attached around its edge) is fitted to the end of the crankshaft.

The flywheel’s ring gear plays a vital role as it allows the pinion on the starter to fit into its grooves.

If it doesn’t, it means the starter and the flywheel are not correctly aligned.

Aligning Starter Motor With Flywheel

The starter motor is responsible for turning the engine over during ignition.

When you turn the ignition switch, the electromagnet in the body engages and pushes out a rod with the pinion attached.

Then, the pinion meets the flywheel, and the starter motor turns.

This engagement spins the engine over while sucking in air and fuel. As the engine is spinning, the starter motor will disengage, and the electromagnet will stop.

Then, the rod retracts, and the pinion disengages from the flywheel. It will complete the entire process.

The process seems straightforward, right?

That’s how it should be if the starter and flywheel are correctly aligned.

The Step-By-Step Guide On How To Align Starter With Flywheel

With the steps highlighted in this guide, you can learn to align the starter motor with the flywheel.

Step 1: Diagnose The Improper Alignment Issue

The first step toward aligning the starter with the flywheel is to check what is causing the improper alignment.

With a good idea, fixing the alignment issue will be pretty straightforward.

Here are some of the diagnostic scenarios:

  • The teeth on the ring gear of the flywheel might be damaged
  • The face of the starter drive gear could be rough with run-ins
  • The mounting bolts holding the starter might be loose or broken

Step 2: Fix The Loose Or Broken Mounting Bolt

Once you diagnose the improper alignment issue, the next step is to fix the issue.

If you’re dealing with broken bolts, you should get the broken piece out with a screw extractor. You must ensure that the engine is in place while executing this process.

Drilling the broken bolt out can be pretty tricky. Sometimes, you might need to pull the motor to fix the bolt hole.

Once you’re done, tap the bolt or get a new one and mount it back in the hole.

Step 3: Replace The Ring Gear On The Flywheel

If the diagnosis shows that the teeth on the flywheel’s ring gear are damaged, you will have to replace the ring gear. It is a simple and quick swap.

But you will need to take your time.

Remove the flywheel and beat the damaged ring gear off. Please get a new ring gear and heat it in.

This process involves heating the new ring gear in the oven and dropping it onto the flywheel.

Ensure the ring gear sits appropriately on the shoulder of the flywheel.

How to Align Starter with Flywheel

Step 4: Line The Starter Up With The Flywheel

Once you replace the ring gear on the flywheel, lining the starter with the flywheel is the next step. You will have to line the starter up with the flywheel at this stage.

There should be shims on the starter to line it up with the flywheel. If there are none, you have to fix that.

It involves shimming the starter motor by taking the starter off. When you take the starter off, you will then need to use some shims to bolt it back.

It will eliminate the noises that the starter emits. Lining the starter with the flywheel will ensure that the starter is not too far or too close to the teeth of the flywheel.

Note: you might not need to shim in some cases, but it is necessary to provide clearance between the flywheel and the pinion gear.

So, it would be best if you learned how to install a starter shim.

Once you follow these steps, you’ll be able to align the starter with the flywheel without hassle.

Starter Motor Components And Functions

The starter motor of a vehicle has different components.


The armature component present in a starter motor is an electromagnet. This component is mounted on the drive shaft and bearings to provide support.

It comes as a soft iron core that is laminated and wrapped with multiple conductor windings.


The pinion makes up a unique combination of gear and springs. It is designed to fit into the grooves of the ring gear.

When the ignition switch is turned, the starter gets engaged. Then, the gear is extended into the gearbox, and the pinion meets the flywheel to turn the starter motor.


At the rare starter motor housing, there’s a section known as the commutator. Brushes run over this section by making contact with the commutator contacts.

It is the part where electricity is conducted.


The commutator is the section of the shaft where the brushes run to connect electricity. This component is made up of two plates attached to the axle of the armature.

These plates ensure the connection of the electromagnetic coil.


The solenoid is a component that consists of two wires wrapped around a moveable core.

Its function acts as a switch that connects the starter motor to the car’s battery. It is a vital component found in starter motors.


The plunger is the starter motor component that engages the pinion.

It is designed to work using the solenoid and the connected vehicle battery to push the pinion forward.

Also, there’s a lever fork attached to the plunger to ensure the pinion is activated after being pushed forward.

Field Coils

The field coils found in the starter motor housing are connected in series. The coils convert into an electromagnet that turns the armature.

It creates a magnetic field around the armature.


A common problem with cars not starting is that the starter motor is not aligned correctly with the flywheel.

This problem is caused by a broken bolt or damaged ring gear on the flywheel.

So, you will have to fix the broken bolt or damaged ring gear. Then look to line the starter with the flywheel.

Aligning the starter with the flywheel shouldn’t be difficult if you follow the steps discussed in the guide. Once you sort this out, you will have no issue starting your vehicle.