Starter motor repair corrects many starting problems without even having to install a new starter. When looking to fix a bad starter, you have two choices. You can decide to take your car to a starter motor repair shop or opt to do everything yourself. This chapter will help you fix the starter without professional help. Learn the steps to fix the motor, starter solenoid, and other parts of the starter assembly.
Starter Motor Problems That Can Be Fixed
Problems that you can correct instead of replacing the starter include if you have any of the following;
- The starter motor jammed due to a stuck pinion gear
- The starter motor not working as a result of faulty field coil or armature coil
- Starter motor noise from worn brushes or worn Bendix drive
- Low starter motor rpm when you have a failing battery or faulty connections
- The starter motor not spinning because the solenoid is not working
How to Fix a Starter Motor on a Car
The starter repair process mainly involves disassembling the assembly and cleaning the parts. You may also need to change faulty parts in what would be called rebuilding the starter. Before we can look at the procedure itself, the things you will be using to carry out the repairs.
Wrench and socket set, Pliers, and screwdrivers
Rags, wire brush, and sand paper or emery cloth
Degreaser and contact cleaner
Starter motor repair kit
A flat working surface or bench
Jack and Jack stands if necessary depending on your type of car
With the above tools and materials, you are now ready to starter the repair process. Here is how to fix a starter motor without replacing it.
Caution! Disconnect the battery completing before starting any repairs or working on any electrical component under the hood
Starter Motor Repair Procedures
Step 1 Disconnect the Battery
Start by disconnecting the battery to prevent accidents. To avoid shorting, remove the negative or earth cable first as explained in this video.
Step 2 Remove the Starter Motor
Locate the starter motor assembly. Different vehicles have it in different places. The level of difficult to remove the motor also varies. In some vehicles, it’s fairly easy. Generally, you only need to loosen and take out the mounting bolts. Start by removing the cables that bring power to the assembly then unbolt and lift out the assembly.
Step 3 Check the Starter Motor Wiring and Battery
Some problems with the starter are actually wiring issues. Start by checking the cables and wire connections for corrosion or dirt. Clean them and, if necessary, replace them. Check the battery too, if it’s healthy and providing 12 Volts. Use the multimeter (switched to measure voltage) to test the battery voltage. Check out this video. Alternatively, you can use a battery from another car to see if your starter is working.
Step 3 Disassemble the Starter
On a flat surface or bench, take the starter apart using the tools mentioned earlier. To disassemble the starter, start by removing the screws or bolts that hold the casing together. The assembly should come apart easily. After that, you only need to remove clips and other fasteners to disassemble the starter.
Step 4 Inspect and Clean Starter Components
Inspect every part of the starter motor for damage, dirt, and corrosion. Spray degreaser to the parts that contain grease and clean them with a piece of cloth. For electrical components such as armature, use contact cleaner to remove dirt and grime. Use sand paper and tooth brush to clean the commutator including the spaces between the plates. Clean the starter motor and solenoid housings, too.
Check the coils for damage such as stripped insulation or breakage. Other parts that require checking include the pinion gear. All these parts are replaceable. In you find them faulty, consider purchasing new ones. Or better still, have with you a starter motor repair kit. If your starter comes with a gear reduction drive, check the gears for damage and clean them.
Starter motor brushes are among the components that need changing during repair. Check them for water and replace as needed. Ensure that you install them properly for proper starter motor operation. While also on the issue of worn parts, check the flywheel ring gear for broken teeth. You do not want to carry out a starter motor repair then install the fixed assembly to rotate a worn flywheel gear. You will still experience starting issue.
Step 5 Test the Starter Armature, Field Coil, and Solenoid
How to test a starter armature– Set the multimeter to the measure the least resistance or ohms. Connect one probe to the shaft and the other commutator plates in turns. There should be no continuity, or the commutator is shorted. Measure also, the resistance between the individual commutator plates. The resistance should match the manufacturer specs. Alternatively check for drastic changes in the resistance to indicate shorting.
How to test starter field coils- connect the multimeter probes to each coil end and read the resistance. Use the manufacturer specified ohms to check for shorting and replace the coils if need be. An open circuit indicates a broken wire, a “too low resistance shorting”. If you read a “too high resistance”, the coil is still faulty. Replace it.
How to test the starter solenoid-connect one probe to the solenoid casing and the test probe the small post or terminal. The resistance should match the manufacturer’s specifications. If too high or too low, the coil is faulty. Also if you read continuity.
Next, check the solenoid contacts (that switch on current to the motor) by connecting the multimeter to the large posts and testing for continuity. If there’s continuity in the circuit, the contacts are likely welded together. If not, push the plunger into the solenoid and test the contacts again. You should read continuity now. If not, the contacts are faulty. Replace the solenoid.
Step 6 Replace Bad Parts and Assemble the Starter
Change all the bad parts before assembling the starter. During assembly apply grease to every moving part or mechanism. Use high quality grease that will not dry up quickly and affect the starter motor operation soon after repair. Finish the starter motor repair process by installing the assembly, taking care to mount it in its correct position and orientation.
How much does it Cost to Repair a Starter Motor?
The starter motor repair cost depends on many factors such as your location and your type of vehicle. Typing “starter motor repair near me” will the repair shops around you and, possibly, their rates. But that may not provide the specific costs because the charges also depend on the number and types of starter components that need to be changed.
Sometimes, the starter itself is not the problem but other starter system components such as starter switch or starter relay and cables. Generally, the cost to repair starter motor ranges from around $100 to $200. It depends on your car make and model and the faulty parts. If you do the repairs yourself, you will only need a starter motor repair kit, which costs between $30 and $50.
Starter Motor Repair Tips
When fixing your motor, follow these tips to ensure a smooth process and the right results.
- Always disconnect the battery before anything else, starting with the negative terminal
- If you just stopped your vehicle, avoid working under the hood until the engine cools
- Some types of starter motors require lifting the vehicle to access them. Ensure utmost safety when using the jack and jack stands
- Avoid using parts from a different starter motor model to fix your starter
- You may want to consider painting to the starter housing to prevent corrosion
- If unsure about the starter motor repair procedure, always take your car to a mechanic
- In most cases, repair does not offer lasting solutions, or costs almost the same amount as replacement. It’s good to weigh the options and only choose repair if it offers more benefits
When your starter shows signs of wear or damage, you can choose to either repair or replace it. Fixing a bad starter motor offers several advantages. First, it saves you replacement costs, which can be as high as several hundred dollars in some cars. Second, it extends the starter motor lifespan when a replacement is not readily available. But repair is only possible with some starter problems and not others. In some instances, you can only replace the entire assembly. Learn how to do it in the next chapter.