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Old 11-01-2011, 01:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Changing the starter in a 2002 Ford Taurus SES

Our car's symptom:
My wife returned from taking our son to school around 8 am. When she went to leave again at 11 am -- NOTHING. No cranking, no clicking. Starter fails to work. No cranking over and no clicking. Turn the key, lights come on but does not start. Nothing.

Charged the battery and tried again. Nothing. Switched the starter relay with it's mate: nothing. Had the battery checked at Autozone: Battery was okay and fully charged. Assuming it was not the switch or some other elusive thing and to save a trip later, I purchased a replacement starter (2nd one; under warranty) and went back home.

Tools I used:
  • car jack and 2 x 8 wood blocks
  • cardboard sheets (to lay on)
  • 1/4" drive ratchet
  • sockets and open/box end wrenches
    • 8 mm
    • 10mm
    • 13mm
    • 7/32" socket
  • Old men's belt size 42 extended w/ piece of 3' twine
  • Silicone grease
  • 2" wide electrical or duct tape
  • drop lights
  • sledge hammer
Preparations:
I did this repair in September in Indiana in my garage (where the car starter had died), so conditions were pretty good, particularly since I have a low-vision condition leaving me (thankfully) with just 10 degrees of central vision in one eye. Having great light and "comfort" was a blessing.

To get a little extra room to work, I applied the parking brake and chocked the rear driver's side wheel and then jacked the front passenger side wheel up and then let it down to rest on a couple 2 x 8 x 18 inch blocks of wood. DON'T get under a car that's held up by a jack!

Start at the Battery:

Using the 8mm socket, loosen the battery terminals and pull them off the posts. This will prevent shocks when you get down to the starter. Then Loosen top connectors of the vertical wire coming up from the starter. You'll need the slack and to get the wire out of the way. Then move down to where the ground strap attaches to the engine block and using the 13mm wrench, remove the nut so you can disconnect the strap AND remove the bracket off the block.

Remove the splash guard:
This may not be necessary, but it worked well for me to gain light of sight and hand-room to the starter from the front of the car.. My splash guard was held on by 3 - 8mm head screws and 8 - 7/32 head screws. Use the ratchet to remove the screws and move the guard back out of the way.

Disconnect the wires from the starter:
From below, first using the wrenches then ratchet, loosen and remove the 13mm and 10mm nuts holding the wires onto the solenoid at the left end of the starter. Pay some attention to how they go on. Remove the wires from the top and get them out of the way.

Remove the two bolts and the starter:

Using the box head of the 13mm wrench, loosen the top nut (from above) and the bottom nut (from below). In my case, the top nut needed extra effort which I was able to apply by holding the wrench on the bolt head in my right hand and then, using the left hand, "thunking" the bolt loose by hitting the wrench end downward with the end of sledge hammer handle. (Sledge held by the head so the handle was vertical; raise it up 2 inches and "thunk" it.) Loosen and remove the bottom bolt (from below), and, before you crawl back out, run the men's belt through the belt buckle and slide the loop that forms over the left end of the starter body. Get it centered and feed the end upward beside the starter. Then, from above, bring the belt end up so it's accessible and proceed to loosen and remove the top bolt. Just before removing the top bolt, lift upward on the belt so that once the starter is free it won't drop immediately to the floor.

The reason you don't want the starter to drop out by itself, is, unless you are experienced already, you need to get some OJT on how to hold it as it is moving into and out of the tight space it fits into. Get the OJT - gain some "feel" for how the new one will most easily go back into place.

Back down on the floor again, get your lights to illuminate the starter area and pay attention to how the starter is positioned as it comes out and down and out of the opening in the flywheel housing. You may want to hold the starter in your left hand and then hold the actual weight of it via pulling on the belt /twine which can be run up and out the front of the car, down the grill and held in your right hand. (Yes, you are laying on your back on the garage floor -- working alone. The space is or seems tight getting the starter up and into place. Get some practice with it.

Prep the new starter:
With the new starter up on your work bench, apply some lubricant to both bolts and screw them both all the way in, and then all the way out of the casting. This precaution should facilitate a smoother installation. If your old starter and solenoid was oil-soaked from oil coming from the oil filter directly above it, you MAY want to wrap the barrel end of the starter body with wide electrical or duct tape to cover the opening where the ground wire connects from the solenoid. It may help to slow the degradation.

Install the new starter:
Rig the belt loop on the new starter so that the lift will place the solenoid on the top, then place the starter on the floor under the car and feed the twine and belt up through the opening and then back around the grille . Then slide or start the bottom bolt into the bottom hole, and once you're back in position, hoist and guide the starter up into it's position. Piece of cake. Once it's "there", start the bottom bolt and ratchet it in. Like my Dad always said, "Please make sure it's not cross-threaded."

Then, from above, get the top bolt started and ratchet them both in, tightening with the box head 13 mm wrench.

Putting it all back together:

  • Re-attach the wires to the starter solenoid
  • Re-Attach the bracket and ground strap to the engine block
  • Tighten connectors on the "vertical" wire harness
  • Clean up your battery posts and re-attach the battery terminals
  • Test the starter. (Hopefully this did the trick.)
  • Put the splash guard back on
  • Get the car down off the blocks
  • Remove the chock from the rear wheel and release the parking brake
Hopefully, you're good to go.

Last edited by refrost; 01-16-2012 at 04:23 AM. Reason: Mis-spelled words
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Old 11-01-2011, 02:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great how-to article. Interesting idea with the belt to lower the starter. I would have just gotten under there and dropped it on my head!

Someone should move this to the How To section or add a link in the Topic Finder.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Great write up. Works like a charm!
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimabbett View Post
Great write up. Works like a charm!
all that info for a job a 7 year old can do...wow!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redridinghood View Post
all that info for a job a 7 year old can do...wow!!!!!!!!
glad to see you are back taurusgt (sarcasm)

Good writeup. That belt trick I am going to have to use next time...that's a great idea.
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:26 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by refrost View Post
Our car's symptom:
My wife returned from taking our son to school around 8 am. When she went to leave again at 11 am -- NOTHING. No cranking, no clicking. Starter fails to work. No cranking over and no clicking. Turn the key, lights come on but does not start. Nothing.

Charged the battery and tried again. Nothing. Switched the starter relay with it's mate: nothing. Had the battery checked at Autozone: Battery was okay and fully charged. Assuming it was not the switch or some other elusive thing and to save a trip later, I purchased a replacement starter (2nd one; under warranty) and went back home.

Tools I used:
  • car jack and 2 x 8 wood blocks
  • cardboard sheets (to lay on)
  • 1/4" drive ratchet
  • sockets and open/box end wrenches
    • 8 mm
    • 10mm
    • 13mm
    • 7/32" socket
  • Old men's belt size 42 extended w/ piece of 3' twine
  • Silicone grease
  • 2" wide electrical or duct tape
  • drop lights
  • sledge hammer
Preparations:
I did this repair in September in Indiana in my garage (where the car starter had died), so conditions were pretty good, particularly since I have a low-vision condition leaving me (thankfully) with just 10 degrees of central vision in one eye. Having great light and "comfort" was a blessing.

To get a little extra room to work, I applied the parking brake and chocked the rear driver's side wheel and then jacked the front passenger side wheel up and then let it down to rest on a couple 2 x 8 x 18 inch blocks of wood. DON'T get under a car that's held up by a jack!

Start at the Battery:

Using the 8mm socket, loosen the battery terminals and pull them off the posts. This will prevent shocks when you get down to the starter. Then Loosen top connectors of the vertical wire coming up from the starter. You'll need the slack and to get the wire out of the way. Then move down to where the ground strap attaches to the engine block and using the 13mm wrench, remove the nut so you can disconnect the strap AND remove the bracket off the block.

Remove the splash guard:
This may not be necessary, but it worked well for me to gain light of sight and hand-room to the starter from the front of the car.. My splash guard was held on by 3 - 8mm head screws and 8 - 7/32 head screws. Use the ratchet to remove the screws and move the guard back out of the way.

Disconnect the wires from the starter:
From below, first using the wrenches then ratchet, loosen and remove the 13mm and 10mm nuts holding the wires onto the solenoid at the left end of the starter. Pay some attention to how they go on. Remove the wires from the top and get them out of the way.

Remove the two bolts and the starter:

Using the box head of the 13mm wrench, loosen the top nut (from above) and the bottom nut (from below). In my case, the top nut needed extra effort which I was able to apply by holding the wrench on the bolt head in my right hand and then, using the left hand, "thunking" the bolt loose by hitting the wrench end downward with the end of sledge hammer handle. (Sledge held by the head so the handle was vertical; raise it up 2 inches and "thunk" it.) Loosen and remove the bottom bolt (from below), and, before you crawl back out, run the men's belt through the belt buckle and slide the loop that forms over the left end of the starter body. Get it centered and feed the end upward beside the starter. Then, from above, bring the belt end up so it's accessible and proceed to loosen and remove the top bolt. Just before removing the top bolt, lift upward on the belt so that once the starter is free it won't drop immediately to the floor.

The reason you don't want the starter to drop out by itself, is, unless you are experienced already, you need to get some OJT on how to hold it as it is moving into and out of the tight space it fits into. Get the OJT - gain some "feel" for how the new one will most easily go back into place.

Back down on the floor again, get your lights to illuminate the starter area and pay attention to how the starter is positioned as it comes out and down and out of the opening in the flywheel housing. You may want to hold the starter in your left hand and then hold the actual weight of it via pulling on the belt /twine which can be run up and out the front of the car, down the grill and held in your right hand. (Yes, you are laying on your back on the garage floor -- working alone. The space is or seems tight getting the starter up and into place. Get some practice with it.

Prep the new starter:
With the new starter up on your work bench, apply some lubricant to both bolts and screw them both all the way in, and then all the way out of the casting. This precaution should facilitate a smoother installation. If your old starter and solenoid was oil-soaked from oil coming from the oil filter directly above it, you MAY want to wrap the barrel end of the starter body with wide electrical or duct tape to cover the opening where the ground wire connects from the solenoid. It may help to slow the degradation.

Install the new starter:
Rig the belt loop on the new starter so that the lift will place the solenoid on the top, then place the starter on the floor under the car and feed the twine and belt up through the opening and then back around the grille . Then slide or start the bottom bolt into the bottom hole, and once you're back in position, hoist and guide the starter up into it's position. Piece of cake. Once it's "there", start the bottom bolt and ratchet it in. Like my Dad always said, "Please make sure it's not cross-threaded."

Then, from above, get the top bolt started and ratchet them both in, tightening with the box head 13 mm wrench.

Putting it all back together:

  • Re-attach the wires to the starter solenoid
  • Re-Attach the bracket and ground strap to the engine block
  • Tighten connectors on the "vertical" wire harness
  • Clean up your battery posts and re-attach the battery terminals
  • Test the starter. (Hopefully this did the trick.)
  • Put the splash guard back on
  • Get the car down off the blocks
  • Remove the chock from the rear wheel and release the parking brake
Hopefully, you're good to go.
you used a sledge hammer to change a starter..? WTF....!!!!!
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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a sledge hammer can be used to break free a stubborn bolt. the extra weight is makes it easier to break it free over a regular hammer. the starters location can make it difficult to use a bar or pipe for leverage if you are using basic tools and working in the driveway. so the smarter people in the world use force instead.
now that lilred has been educated about working smarter maybe it will transfer over to other areas in reds life
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Old 01-17-2012, 05:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Refrost--others on forum appreciate your detailed efforts. Giving your time needs to be recognized not admonished. It's hard to explain while people have tongues like flames.

"be slow to speak and quick to listen."

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Old 01-23-2012, 09:20 AM   #9 (permalink)
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> you used a sledge hammer to change a starter..? WTF....!!!!!

Yes, that and some other things. And yes, ...WHAT THE....??!!! A seven year old probably couldn't lift the sledge while holding the box-end of the wrench tightly on the bolt head.

But actually, to loosen the bolt that way, I used gravity. I had no pipe the right diameter and length to fit over my wrench and in the space to get the extra leverage needed. And when I looked around my garage for a length of 2 by 4, I saw my rarely used blue sledge hammer with the fiberglass handle. "Even better," I thought.

With my pesky one-eyed low-vision condition and no peripheral vision [which is what lets us track objects in motion], at those distances, I can't really see well enough to hit the wrench end with a hammer -- not reliably. Since 2008 and the incident giving me ischemic optic neuropathy, for me hitting the nail on the head is a challenge, visually. So, using the big heavy thing, I just had to rest the sledge handle-end on the end of the wrench, get it plumb by balancing it, raise it up 2 or 3 inches and then drop it. Inertia helped keep it in line and the "acceleration of the mass in the gravitation field" supplied the added force.

But, it's also true if, among my tools I had a willing wrench-savvy, 7 year-old, he or she probably would have fit better down under the car without jacking it up. And I might have been able to say, "Go change the starter in the Taurus", and then I could just stay in house doing other things I love to do.

Sometimes you just have to make-do with whatever you have.

Creative, able mechanics like yourself already know that intuitively, but I think other lesser-experienced people might benefit and be able to learn to save a few bucks on doing some repairs themselves if they just had some painfully detailed instructions to follow on their first few repair jobs -- enough to "loosen the bolt" -- to help get them started...

Thanks for your re-quote and comment.

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Old 03-22-2012, 08:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Question Excellent play-by-play

Those instructions were spot on. I opted not to remove the splash guard but this is mute. Instead, I write to ask, how would you solve removing the top bolt when the bolt head is rounded? I made the mistake of using my "cheap wrench" because it was what I had at the time, even though I made two trips home for tools, sleep, and a flashlight. Point being, i stripped the head of the bolt and it's the only thing keeping me from removing the starter. Any suggestions?
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