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Because the solonoid is typically what fails on a starter. Wacking it unsticks it sometimes which allows it to function properly. I imagine back when starters had the solonoid on the firewall the actual starter didnt fail very often. I remember when I worked for advance auto parts we sold a lot of ford starter solonoids.

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If I remember correctly when the starter is engaged, the gear comes out to engage the flywheel. When you tap on the starter it would dislodge whatever is keeping the gear from extending out. If I had a spare laying around I would tear it down to peek inside.

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What sticks is the piston. The bore gets corroded. Also the electronic motor doesnt magnetically engage.

Electronic motor pushes a piston with a spinning gear. Spinning gear with compression of engine starts and disengages as the key is let go.

Sent by smoke signals

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When the starter will not work and you give it a good whack, it is the brushes are basically stuck on the rotor. When you whack them it unsticks the brushes. Usually the starter winding start to deteriorate from the heat of exhaust manifolds/headers. When the brushes stick it takes more amperage to rotate the stater but because the windings are week it can not turn the starter.

When the solenoid is on the starter it is usually oriented upward closer to the header/manifold and it too has windings that deteriorate from the heat, so replacing just the solenoid is usually just a short term fix.

My Nova is experiencing this right now, already have a new starter to put in, just gotta get off my ass and do it


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