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When you turn the key all the way forward to start the vehicle, that not only turns your ignition system on, it also engages the starter and bendix drive. When you release the ignition switch, it returns to the position where the ignition is still hot, but the power to the side of the solenoid that engages the bendix drive is dead.

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Q: How does the bendix solenoid know when to retract so the gear will not grind in the flywheel?
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Why does the starter for a Chevy 350 grind but will not engage the flywheel?

It could be the starter drive, the solenoid, or the ring gear itself. Best to pull the starter out of there and see what's going on.

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