• 2019

Try This for Starters

Replacing the starter can really get your engine running.

If you want the engine to turn over, the starter is imperative. Generally, the starter is a very reliable component, but at some time, after a long service life (beyond 100,000+ miles), the starter may require replacement.

Replacement of this important part is pretty straightforward on most vehicles. But there are some older vehicles in which replacing the starter can be a bit more complicated. This usually occurs  because other components, such as an engine mount, block access to the starter. Let’s look at some of these problems and examine what it takes to access the starter on any vehicle in order to  replace it. But, first: some basic diagnosis and testing.

Diagnosis and Testing

A Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) usually isn’t needed to tell the driver the starter is bad. When the ignition key is turned and nothing happens, it becomes very clear that there’s an issue with the starting system. Such an issue can generally mean two things. One, the battery is dead; or two, the starter is bad.

So, start by checking the battery. Turn the headlights on. If the lights are dim or don’t illuminate, it’s likely a battery issue. If it’s clear there’s not enough current to start the vehicle, the dead — or almost dead — battery might be the result of a charging problem. A thorough check of the battery and charging system is in order and will eliminate these two components systems as the diagnosis of the starting problem.

Once it has been determined that the battery and charging system are good, check the starter solenoid. This test will help pinpoint the source of the problem. On most vehicles, this test can be performed without removing the starter. First, disconnect the solenoid connector wiring from the starter motor. Using a multimeter, set the multimeter dial to continuity mode, connect the  multimeter probes to the solenoid terminal post (the one used to connect to the motor body) and the solenoid swell.

1) If there is a resistance, then the holding coil is good.

2) If the resistance is  zero, then the circuit might be shorted.

3) If the resistance is infinite, then the circuit could be broken.

If there is a short circuit or broken circuit, you should replace the starter solenoid.

The other starting system test requires that the starter be removed from the vehicle. Let’s assume the starter has been removed to review this simple test.

Mount the starter motor securely in a soft-jawed vise. The vise jaws should be clamped on the mounting flange of the starter motor (never clamp on the starter motor by the field frame). Connect a volt-ampere tester and a 12-volt battery to the starter motor in series. Set the ammeter to the 100 ampere scale. Then, install a jumper wire from the solenoid terminal to the solenoid battery terminal. The starter should operate. If the starter motor fails to operate, replace it. It’s that simple.

2010 PT Cruiser Starter Motor Replacement

There are two vehicles, in particular, that present some challenges in replacing the starter — the 2010 Chrysler PT Cruiser and the 2011 Jeep® Grand Cherokee. Let’s start with the Chrysler PT Cruiser.

The 2.4L inline 4-cylinder engine is the mainstay of the Chrysler PT Cruiser (there is also a turbocharged version of this engine that is available in this car).

In most cases, you’re going to find one of these two engines in a PT. When replacing the starter for either engine, the air cleaner box must be removed, along with the engine structural collar. On  the turbo motor, additional components must be removed before that collar can be removed.

The inner cooler hose must be pushed up and out of the way to remove the upper starter bolt and ground wire. Raise the car on a hoist and then remove the inner cooler lower hose from the inner  cooler. Then loosen the studs that secure the power steering lines. Relocate the power steering lines. Now you can remove that collar.

It’s important to note that for either version of this engine, the car must be raised on a hoist. For the following directions, refer to Figure 1. Remove the bolts attaching the bending strut (4) to the engine and the engine to the transaxle (1).

Remove the bolts attaching the structural collar (2) to the engine, oil pan (3) and transaxle. Remove the strut and the collar. With a manual transaxle, the clutch slave cylinder must be removed  first.

With the collar removed, the bad starter can be removed and the new one can be installed rather easily. Disconnect the starter motor wiring, remove the starter mounting bolts, then remove the starter.

When the new starter is installed, tighten the mounting bolts to 40 ft.-lbs. and tighten the solenoid battery cable nut to 90 in.-lbs. To finish the job, re-install the structural collar, relocate the power steering hoses and install the inner cooler hose. On the turbo engine, lower the vehicle and install the air cleaner box.

2011 Grand Cherokee Starter Motor Replacement

This starter motor replacement procedure requires the removal of several components in order to gain access to the starter motor itself. And, to make things a little trickier, this vehicle is equipped with one of three different engines: a 3.0L diesel, the 3.6L V6 and the 5.7L HEMI® V8 engine. The components that must be removed are different for each engine.

On the 3.0L diesel engine, raise the vehicle, then remove the front suspension skid plate, transmission skid plate and transfer case skid plate. Next, remove the left engine mount. Using a suitable lifting device, raise the engine slightly. Disconnect the B+ cable and solenoid connector wire harness and remove the mounting bolts to remove the starter.

On the 3.6L V6 engine with the larger starter, remove the left engine mount insulator (4) and engine mount bracket (1) as shown in Figure 2. Items (2), (3) and (5) are mounting hardware. In order to remove the insulator bracket, the engine has to be lifted high enough to gain enough clearance to remove the mount. Refer to the appropriate service manual for the details of that task. Disconnect the solenoid connector wire harness, remove the battery cable from the solenoid stud, then remove the mounting bolts to remove the starter.

On the 5.7L HEMI V8 engine, the left front catalytic converter must be removed to gain access to the starter motor. Removing the converter requires removal of the skid plates (if equipped), the transmission crossmember reinforcement brackets, the lower heat shield (if equipped), the front driveshaft and the oxygen sensors. With the converter finally out of the way, disconnect the  solenoid connector wire harness, remove the battery cable from the solenoid stud, then remove the mounting bolts to remove the starter.

When installing the new starter motor on all three of these engines, be sure to tighten the mounting bolts to the correct torque. Also, do not overtighten the electrical cable nuts. Once the new  starter is in place, all the components that were removed must be re-installed. Refer to the specific service manual for the specific tasks.


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