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I have a Ford Bantam 1.3l pickup (South African) with 31 000 km on the clock.

This morning when I tried to start the car (cold start), it made a loud scratching/screeching noise (like when turning the key in the ignition for too long and engaging the starter for too long), although this was a bit of a higher pitched scratch/screech (but not like a fan belt slipping, it's definitely closer to the scratch of the starter). I immediately turned the engine off, but the screech still continued for half a second or so after that.

I tried to turn the engine on again, and while it did start fine, the engine idled high for half a second or so, before dipping quite low and I had to engage the accelerator a bit to keep it going. After a few seconds, everything stabilised and I was able to drive off.

The car went for a general service about 2 weeks ago, and there haven't been any other issues since the service (or before).

Any ideas and advice would be appreciated. I should add, I'm not an expert when it comes to the inner workings of a car.

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I think you're spot on with the 'engaging the starter for too long' thought - I suspect it got stuck and didn't return properly. Hopefully it won't have damaged anything, but if it continues you might find it wrecks the starter...

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I suspect your starter failed to disengage from the flywheel even after the engine started. The screech was probably from the starter as it suddenly began to spin at a rate much greater than it was designed to do. This shouldn't hurt the engine or flywheel, but it will shorten the life of the starter if it continues.

If you're lucky, this may not happen again. If it does, I suspect you'll need to buy a new bendix drive for the starter (the mechanism that engages and disengages the starter from pressing against the flywheel). Usually this is not expensive, although I recently replaced the starter assembly on my Infiniti, which ran $500 in parts. (Yes, it was overpriced.)

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It can be an issue with your fan belt. Try to observe that area once in idle start-up and confirm please.

  • Please realize, you're answering a question which is over three years old. If the OP's point total is any indication, I doubt they spend much time on SE, so your sub-question wouldn't get answered. Plus, the OP has already selected another answer as "the answer", which is totally different from what you've posted. While we appreciate you being here and posting answers, you might want to consider these things prior to posting something up. Also, when answering, it's good form to not only post an answer, but also tell us why it's the answer as well as what can be done to fix the issue. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 24 '18 at 13:13

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