4 Starter Replacement FAQs
Let’s take a closer look at the starter:
1. What Is A Starter?
The starter is an electric motor that spins the engine when you turn the ignition key. The car starter is essentially responsible for getting the engine up and running.
It consists of a DC (direct current) electric motor and the starter solenoid. When activated, the solenoid closes the high current electric circuit and sends the car battery power to the starter motor.
2. How Does The Starter Work?
A small electric current travels to the starter solenoid when you turn the ignition switch. The solenoid energizes, moving to close its contacts, while simultaneously sending the pinion gear to mesh with the flywheel ring gear.
When the solenoid contacts close, battery power is delivered to the starter motor — the motor spins, starting the engine.
Simply put, when the starter receives power from the car battery, it engages the flywheel ring gear and cranks the engine.
Depending on the vehicle, it may have a DD starter (direct drive), PLGR starter (planetary gear), PMGR starter (permanent magnet gear reduction), PMDD starter (permanent magnet direct drive), or an OGSR starter (offset gear reduction).
DD starters have their components attached in a line and run off the armature, while PLGR also runs off an armature but is better at increasing torque.
A PMGR and PLGR starter are similar, except the PMGR uses permanent magnets. Similarly, DD and PMDD starters are very similar, except PMDD uses permanent magnets instead of field coils. OSGR starters don’t run off any armature.
3. How Often Do Starters Need Replacing?
On average, your car starter motor should last between 100,000 and 150,000 miles. In many instances, the car starter will last the vehicle’s life.
Additionally, vehicles that start and stop more frequently, such as newer cars with automatic engine stop-start functionality, are more prone to failure.
4. How To Perform A Starter Replacement
It’s important to note that, unless you’re comfortable with engines and have the proper equipment and know-how, replacing a starter is best left to the professionals.
With that out of the way, the first thing to do is locate the vehicle’s starter.
In rear-wheel cars, you can often find the starter under the passenger’s side of the engine, just below the exhaust manifold. Check on the driver’s side above the transmission or under the exhaust manifold on front-wheel-drive cars.
You’ll also need some tools, including:
- An extra mounting bolt or starter bolt
- A jack or jack stands
- Sockets and a socket wrench
- Battery terminal puller
With these tools in hand, here’s a general guide on how to replace a starter motor:
- Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery terminal.
- Remove the wiring and positive battery cable from the starter solenoid.
- Remove the mounting bolt and the starter.
- Compare the new starter against the old starter to confirm it’ll have the same fit.
- Transfer the heat shield.
- Install the new starter.
- Connect the wiring.
- Reconnect the vehicle’s battery.
For a more detailed guide on how to perform a starter replacement, check out our step-by-step guide.