Here’s a helpful post with a step by step procedure on how to remove a starter for replacement. Also let us help with diagnosing your starter issues by symptom and get helpful advise with starter testing.

Reasons for Replacing

The first thought that you might have a problem with your starter would be the fact that your car either cranks slow with no loss of other electrical consumers or it becomes noisy when turning the key to start the engine. As starters age they become very tired, just as you will when you get older.

The amount of electricity that passes through a starter in it’s lifetime is amazing. A known good starter draws about 150-200 amps during cranking. When they wear out they begin to increase the amount of amperage by 2 to 3 times(400-600 amps), assuming that the battery can handle it. Think about the number of times you turn the key on your car every day, year, or decade. Chances are, if you’ve owned a car longer than 10 years then you’ve had a starter fail or give you problems at some point during that time. If not, then your on borrowed time.

Starter Testing

If your starter is drawing a large amount of current, refer to the Battery, Starter, and Alternator Testing to learn how to perform a test and read the results for the starter current draw.

Starter Recommendations

From my observation over the years, I truly believe the factory starters that originally come on your car are the best and longest lasting starters ever. Regardless of the manufacture. Yes you can go and get an aftermarket re-manufactured starter for 1/3 the cost of a factory starter, but they do not last as long. Look at it this way, if you really like the car and plan on keeping it for a long time use a factory starter. If it’s a car that you just want to get rid of, save yourself the expense of a factory starter and buy an aftermarket one.

Advanced Car Repair

Difficulty Scale

This is an advanced skill level job. It requires access from under the vehicle when removing the starter and it’s mounting bolts.

Tools for the Job

  • 1/4″ ratchet
  • 5/16″ socket
  • 3.8″ drive ratchet
  • 10mm socket
  • 13mm socket
  • 3/8″ extension 12″ long
  • 10mm wrench
  • 13mm wrench

Prep for Starter Removal

Locate the starter to be removed. Once again the subject being worked on is a 1995 Monte Carlo with a 3.1 liter V6 engine. Even with very little access, the starter is only held on with 2 mounting bolts, 1 trim cover, and 2 nuts for the wiring.

Locate Starter Motor

The starter is located toward the front of the vehicle close to the bottom of the engine.

Note: If you don’t have an automotive lift for accessing removal of the starter, refer to the How to use a jack and stands article for helpful knowledge on using a jack and stands to aid in the replacement of the starter.

Considering that we are working with a component that is wired directly to the battery, the first and most important thing to do is to disconnect the battery before servicing the starter.

Disconnect battery

All side post batteries have a 5/16″ or 8mm socket size to remove the battery cable.

Unhook negative terminal

Important Electrical Caution!!!

Always remember, when disconnecting the battery remove the negative terminal/ground cable first!!! This is to prevent any possible contact with surrounding grounds.

If you touch a ground no problems can occur if your removing the ground cable. On the other hand, if you contact a ground while removing the positive of a live battery you can short circuit the battery and do significant damage to the vehicles electrical system.

Removing the Starter

After disconnecting the battery, use the 13mm wrench to loosen and remove the nut holding the battery positive cable to the starter.

Disconnect B+ cable nut

Remember that if the battery was not disconnected this would be a live wire and could short to ground if inadvertently touched when replacing.

Use the 5/16″ socket with ratchet to remove the S terminal wire from the starter.

Disconnect S terminal

After jacking up and supporting the vehicle, now is when you need to access the starter from underneath the car. Once under the car locate the starter bolt cover.

Locate starter cover

Using a 10mm socket and ratchet, remove the cover hold down bolt. This will allow access to the main starter mounting bolts.

Remove bolt

Remove the front starter bolt with the 13mm socket, extension, and ratchet.

Remove front mounting bolt

Remove the rear starter mounting bolt.

Remove rear mounting bolt

Be prepared to support the starter when removing the last bolt. Now the starter just need to be removed.

Remove starter from engine

Noisy Starters Take Note:

Whether the starter that you are replacing was making a loud grinding noise or not, it’s always wise to check the teeth on the flywheel for wear.

Before you install the new starter, check the flywheel teeth where the starter mates up to for turning the engine.

Flywheel teeth

Rotate the engine from the front crank bolt while watching the flywheel teeth looking for any shiny or worn spots. Most of the time when the starter makes a grinding noise it’s damaging the flywheel teeth when they mesh.

By carefully looking at all of the teeth you can make sure that no damage is present that could cause damage to the new starter. Worn flywheel teeth can damage and/or shorten the life of the new starter.

The down side to needing a flywheel is that the transmission will need to be removed for access to replacing the flywheel. Yet another post that will soon come.

Re install the new starter in reverse order and re-test using the Battery, Starter, and Alternator Testing post to test the new starter for proper operation.

Estimate for Repair

(check with your local parts stores for current prices)
Parts to replace
Using aftermarket parts you can purchase a remanufactured starter for around $90. New starters around $200.
Labor to replace
This job should cost approximately .5 hr. labor to test the starting system and 1.5 hrs. to replace the starter assembly. (Example: 2hrs.@ $80)
Parts and Labor
Re-man price/ $250
New price/ $360
Note: Factory parts and shop labor rates will be higher depending on type of repair shop and location.
Time to replace
This job should take an experienced technician approximately 1.5 hours to complete