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How To Care For Your Car: Starter

December 17, 2019

What is a starter assembly?

A starter assembly is motor that utilizes the electrical system of automobile to spin a gear that is connected to the engine in order to turn the engine and allow it to  come to life. A starter assembly is crucial to the operation of the vehicle as all vehicles must incorporate them into their mechanical design.

How does it break?

Generally speaking, a starter assembly can provide many years of service as long as the vehicle electrical system/battery is properly maintained. A starter assembly is in operating mode for only a brief period of time yet is run at full capacity when it is. The starter assembly can fail due to wear and tear as the internal windings of the motor can deteriorate over time. The starter is a workhorse and such demands all the current it can require in order to operate efficiently.

Unfortunately, over time ignoring battery and battery cable maintenance will cause this workhorse to start to fail. When a starter assembly cannot receive its desired current, it will overheat. This will lead to future starter assembly wear and ultimately a failure to crank properly or not at all.

How do I know if it needs to be replaced?

It’s time to replace a starter assembly when it is cranking the engine slowly or not at all. A symptom of not starting does not always reveal a starter assembly failure. A proper starter diagnosis begins with a testing of entire electrical system. A battery that is weak and battery cables that exhibit too much resistance are often overlooked as unqualified personnel can make recommendations that are unwarranted. A proper impulse signal from the ignition switch itself can be overlooked as well.

How much does it cost and why?

A typical starter assembly replacement can vary greatly according to application. The starter assembly itself usually does not command the greatest portion of the estimate. Starter motor replacements generally can run from $200 — $500 in cost. The labor costs involved in replacing a starter assembly can vary according to accessibility of the part in the engine bay. Many hours can be involved if additional components must be removed and replaced in order to complete a starter assembly replacement. Labor costs can be as high as four hours, making with the part, a repair estimate upwards of over $1,000.

What happens if I don’t replace it?

Very simply the engine will not start and your vehicle will need a tow to a service facility.

Does it differ by car?

Yes, starter assemblies differ in design and capacity across all makes and models. Modern vehicle designs utilize light weight components such as aluminum. This is a plus regarding weight saving for fuel economy but can shorten starter assembly longevity if battery and related electrical maintenance is postponed and ignored.

Can I replace it myself?

Generally, starter assemblies are replaced by themselves given satisfactory condition of the remaining electrical system componentry. In some cases a recommendation of a starter ring gear or engine flywheel may become damaged along with a simple starter failure and take starter assemblies estimate well up into a $1,500 to $2,000. A starter ring gear/flywheel is the driven gear that is actually fastened to the centerline of the crankshaft. This component receives the spinning torque from the flywheel and can be damaged as well when a starter fails.

How can I save money on a starter replacement?

Unfortunately, a short cut in cost is not very possible in regards to a starter assembly replacement. As a qualified technician, I would always recommend a quality part and a quality diagnosis from professional personnel because having to deal with the cost and more importantly the inconvenience of a starter assembly failure is one thing one does not want to experience on a regular basis.