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
- 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
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.