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A Bendix starter is a type of starter motor that incorporates a Bendix drive mechanism. This mechanism is designed to engage and disengage the pinion gear with the engine’s flywheel efficiently. Here’s a concise explanation:

Bendix Starter:

  • Definition: A starter motor equipped with a Bendix drive, a mechanical system that facilitates the engagement and disengagement of the starter motor’s pinion gear with the engine’s flywheel.


  • Starter Motor: The electric motor that generates the torque needed to start the engine.
  • Bendix Drive: The assembly that includes the helical screw and the pinion gear.
  • Pinion Gear: The small gear that meshes with the flywheel to transfer torque from the starter motor to the engine.
  • Helical Screw: The spiral thread mechanism that moves the pinion gear along the starter motor shaft.


  • Engagement: When the ignition switch is turned on, the starter motor starts spinning. The helical screw mechanism in the Bendix drive moves the pinion gear forward along the shaft to engage with the flywheel.
  • Starting the Engine: The starter motor then turns the flywheel, initiating the engine’s operation.
  • Disengagement: Once the engine starts and the flywheel spins faster than the pinion gear, the speed difference causes the pinion gear to retract along the helical screw, disengaging from the flywheel and preventing damage.


  • Automatic Operation: The Bendix drive mechanism automatically engages and disengages the pinion gear based on the relative speeds of the starter motor and the flywheel.
  • Simplicity and Cost-Effectiveness: The design is relatively simple and economical, making it a popular choice in various engine starting applications.


  • Automotive Engines: Widely used in cars and trucks to start internal combustion engines.
  • Small Engines: Commonly found in lawn mowers, motorcycles, and other small engine applications.

Modern Alternatives:

  • Pre-Engaged Starters: Use a solenoid to move the pinion gear into engagement with the flywheel before the starter motor starts, providing more reliable engagement.
  • Inertia Drive Starters: Designed to improve reliability and reduce wear compared to traditional Bendix starters.

In summary, a Bendix starter is a type of starter motor featuring a Bendix drive mechanism that ensures efficient and automatic engagement and disengagement of the pinion gear with the engine’s flywheel, aiding in the starting process of internal combustion engines.


  • Pre-engaged Bendix Starter
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