I made the mistake of buying a BMW when moving to the Caribbean. It ran very well and has had a quarterly service every year. (We basically live on a permanent hill, very steep up and down)

Last week it was difficult to start the car, with the turnover seeming to take a very long time to be effective. Now the car just makes a whirring sound when trying to start it. Almost like the starter has no teeth.

As we have no BMW mechanic on island, I am looking to find out which part (s) I need to ship in to make it work again. Battery is fully charged, and I have tried to jump start with leads and starter pack. Will replacing the starter motor solve the problem, or could it be more simple?

Many thanks in advance.

  • When I had a problem with the starter of my 1994 Toyota Celica, a mechanic recommended that, instead of replacing the starter, I could try just hitting it with a steel bar (like the wrench of the spare tire toolbox) and it may come back to life, at least temporarily. Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 20:31
  • How did you verify the battery is fully charged? Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 10:31
  • Gabrieldiego - I am going to give that a try in the morning, thanks😊👍🏻 Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 1:30
  • Paulster2 - the battery charger/starter gave a 95% reading after 6 hours of charge. I only put it on charge as I thought trying to start may have drained it a bit... Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 1:32

1 Answer 1


it sounds like your starter motor splined shaft isn't engaging

The starter motor has a component called a bendix gear. It engages a pinion gear on the shaft with the ring gear that's on the outer edge of the flywheel. Once you let off the key in the ignition and it snaps back to 'On' the pinion gear shaft on the starter retracts so the flywheel outer gear doesn't overspin and destroy the starter.

It sounds like that pinion gear isn't coming out of the starter to engage the flywheel gear. In that case, you would need a new starter.

  • Can you upvote my response? Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 19:53

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