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I am having a problem with my starter on my 500 Classic.
The starter will turn but not engage. Which part is bad? Do I need to replace the whole starter?
 

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Its either the armature or the ring gear. Take it off and have a look. Best bet would be to replace the whole starter. Check ebay or post a wanted ad on a few of the forums and you may find one cheap.
 

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Could be a starter bendix malfunction.

When the ignition switch is placed in the start position the starter spins at a high rate of speed, centrifugal force moves the spring loaded bendix forward and engages the ring gear teeth which turns the engine to initiate the start.

Usually the first indication of a malfunction is when you attempt to start the engine, the starter spins with no load and sounds like an electric motor running (which it is). When this happens the bendix spring or retainer washer on the end has usually broken.

I'm not sure if you can buy just a replacement bendix or not.
 

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What the Addict said, except before you start buying. Remove the starter and clean the end where the gear and spring are. It may be as simple as some crud in there that is holding up the engagement. After cleaning it, you can hook the power back on and see if it engages.
 

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^^ +1

If yours is like my arctic cat starter motor thats how it works. If my battery power is weak, it won't spin out far enough to engage. That spring goes to hell too.

I would tear it apart and figure it out first.
 

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bendix is a good start.
you said the starter is spinning you didn't mention a grinding or squealing noise.
so your bendix isn't engaging the ring gear. this is caused by dirt, binding/malfunctioniing bendix, or not enough speed from starter(low battery, faulty wiring, or bad brushes/ armature). usually if the spring breaks the bendix won't retract.
first thing as said ^^ clean the crude out of the bendix. make sure the bendix is free. if it still won't engage take the starter off, and hook up jumper cables to a good 12 volt battery(car battery is fine) hook the positive on the nut(not the stud) and bump the body of the starter with the ground. if this throws your bendix you can bet its a battery or wiring issue. if not you probably have bad brushes or armature. your dealer can rebuild your starter, or i could tell you how.
let us know how it turns out.
 
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