How to Rebuild a Car Starter in 8 Easy Steps

If you’re selling a car, pushing it around the block won’t cut it when it comes to maximizing its resale value; it’s still got to start. That’s a job for the car’s starter – unless you’ve been neglecting it, and it’s now a non-starter. Then it would be best if you rebuilt it yourself or found a shop willing to do it for you. Learning how to rebuild a car starter yourself is a great way to stretch your car maintenance abilities and save money. This article will show you how to do it in 8 easy steps. Let’s get started!

Quick Answer to Key Question

Rebuilding a car starter requires knowledge of automotive mechanics and the right tools. Plenty of tutorials online can guide you step-by-step through the entire process.

Parts Needed to Rebuild a Car Starter

When it comes to rebuilding a car starter, attempting such a job requires the proper parts for a successful repair. Generally, these parts can be acquired from an auto parts store or, in some cases, from the manufacturer. Two different major types of parts are necessary for this task: OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and aftermarket. While some people prefer OEM parts due to their compatibility with existing components and long-term reliability, others may opt for cheaper aftermarket alternatives to save money.

Debate: The debate over using OEM parts versus aftermarket parts when rebuilding a car starter revolves around cost versus quality. Some argue that the cost savings associated with aftermarket parts are not worth the potential decrease in quality. Others assert that many aftermarket parts can provide just as much performance and durability as their OEM counterpart while being cheaper.

Either choice has its positives and negatives and ultimately relies on personal preference. For those looking to split costs, a combination of both OEM and aftermarket parts may provide the best results – compatible reliability and cost savings at the same time.

No matter which type of part is chosen, it is important to ensure they are properly sourced from a trusted source before anything else. Assembling a list of these necessary car starter components can help prioritize this critical step in the process and make sure everything is accounted for before beginning any repairs.

Lead into the next section: After determining what parts are required for rebuilding a car starter, the next step is compiling a comprehensive list of necessary tools and components for the job.

List of Parts and Tools Required

List of Parts and Tools Required: Rebuilding a car starter is within the realm of even novice DIY mechanics, but it is important to start with the right parts and tools to make the job go smoothly. Automotive starter rebuild kits vary depending on make and model but typically include new bushings, contacts, and springs that replace the worn ones inside the starter. In addition to this rebuild kit, the following parts and tools are necessary for rebuilding a car starter:


-Rebuild Kit

-New Brushes

-New Starter Drive

-Starter Solenoid

-Car Starter Motor

-Mounting Bolts or Nuts (dependent upon vehicle type)


-Screwdriver Set (Flathead and Philips)

-Socket Wrench and Ratchet Set

-Voltage Tester

-Wire Brush or Sandpaper

-WD40 or Light Oil Spray

Argument: There is some debate as to whether a complete starter rebuild kit is necessary when replacing all major components, such as brushes, terminals, and springs. One opinion holds that buying a complete kit should be more cost-efficient since they come bundled together and waste materials are minimized due to being prepackaged. However, other opinions argue that it is better to buy parts separately since oftentimes, there can be overlapping items in a starter rebuild kit that may not be necessary.

Regardless of which opinion prevails in this debate, gathering the correct parts and tools before undertaking any project greatly increases the chances of success. With the list of necessary parts and tools in hand, the next step in rebuilding a car starter is removed from its host vehicle – a process addressed in detail in the following section.

Removal of Starter From Vehicle

Removing the starter from the vehicle is necessary to begin the rebuilding process. Depending on the type of car you have, this may be a relatively easy task or a more complex endeavor. Before attempting to remove the starter, it’s important to properly assess where it is located and how it is secured in its place.

If your vehicle has a traditional under-hood starter, you may be able to access it easily and take it out yourself, as long as you’re comfortable with the process. In these vehicles, starters are typically mounted directly to the engine block and connected to an adjacent bracket. You should remove all bolts that secure them in place before attempting further removal. Once these bolts are out, pull away from the engine, and it should come free with relatively little effort.

In contrast, some newer models have personnel transaxle starters directed above other engine components, making them hard to access without dismantling other pieces around them. This requires more technical skills and experience and more time and resources to complete. If you find yourself stuck here, seeking another person for assistance could save you time and avoid further damage to your vehicle. It’s best to tread lightly if you haven’t done this before or have the correct tools handy for removal.

Now that you have worked through the removal of your starter from its mounting spot within the vehicle, you are ready to reconnect the battery cables to test its performance before fully reassembling it back into your car.

Essential Information

Depending on the type of car you have, it may be either easy or difficult to remove the starter from the vehicle to begin the rebuilding process. Traditional under-hood starters are mounted directly to the engine block and connected to an adjacent bracket, while some newer models have personnel transaxle starters directed above other engine components. Before attempting to remove the starter, it’s important to properly assess where it is located and how it is secured in its place, as well as ensure that you have the right tools and skills before proceeding. Once all bolts that secure the starter in place are removed, pull away from the engine, and it should come free; then, you can reconnect the battery cables to test its performance before fully reassembling it.

Disconnecting the Battery Cables

It is important to begin the starter rebuild by disconnecting the battery cables. Failing to do so can create a potentially dangerous situation and cause injury. The negative cable should be disconnected first, followed by the positive cable. Next, all the wiring connections to the starter should also be disconnected. This will ensure that any remaining electrical charge in the system cannot activate the starter once it is removed from its mount.

When removing and replacing the battery cables, use one wrench for both ends of the terminal. Do not allow any of the metal pieces from either end to accidentally come into contact with each other during this process; otherwise, a spark could be created that could damage vital parts of your starter. Additionally, to avoid accidental reactivation of your starter during the rebuilding process, use tape or wire ties to secure the wrenches and cables away from each other and out of reach during your service and inspection.

Now that you have successfully disconnected all cables and wires connected to your starter, you can move on to inspecting and cleaning the starter before doing any further work. In the next section, we will discuss how to properly inspect and clean your starter housing and motor before assembly and installation.

Inspection and Cleaning of the Starter

Before attempting to rebuild a car starter, it is important to inspect and clean the starter. Doing so can help to understand the extent of the damage or malfunction, as well as prevent further damage from dirt and debris.

Begin by disconnecting the wires from the terminal post on the starter. Use a brush to clear away dust or buildup around the mounting bolts and terminal screws. Using a cellular phone flashlight, visually inspect all terminals for signs of wear or damage. If there’s corrosion on them, use an aerosol contact cleaner to clean these areas. If necessary, use a file to smooth out any physical deformities in the terminal area or other mounting components. Pay close attention to the solenoid shaft, brushes, and springs for worn or broken parts and replace them if needed.

Some argue that it is not necessary to clean out dirt and debris before dismantling the car starter, while others disagree. Those opposed argue that there could be potential damage to some of the inner parts during dismantling due to debris still being present in certain components. However, proponents believe that cleaning prior can better identify even small amounts of dirt inside and allow for the earlier replacement of parts before rebuilding begins. Ultimately, it is up to the individual mechanic’s preference.

Now that the inspection and cleaning are complete, it’s time to move on to reassembling and installing the starter to address any underlying issues discovered during the inspection.

Reassembling and Installing the Starter

Now that all the parts have been cleaned and inspected, it’s time to put them together again. Start by threading the solenoid to the starter, connecting both power wires, and placing the relay back into its housing. Once the starter is in its original form, secure it onto the car using bolts or screws, depending on what type of car you own.

Once connected, attach one of the ground wires that runs from the starter to an unpainted part of the car’s frame. Then make sure to attach the other remaining wire connection—from the battery or fuse panel—to complete installation. Disconnect any loose wires that may be causing a short circuit which can prevent electric flow or start activates when turning the key.

Debate: Some might argue that novices should leave starter inspection and reassembly up to a professional due to certain difficulties they may encounter. Opposingly, many drivers are comfortable handling electrical systems as long as they have access to online tutorials and videos detailing each step of starter assembly.

Make sure all connections are tight and secure before giving it a test run! When ready, close off the hood before entering your driver’s seat for installation evaluation. The last step is to install the starter solenoid properly for full functionality.

  • According to research, the average cost for a starter rebuild ranges from $120-$400.
  • The average labor time required to rebuild a starter can range from 1-2 hours.
  • Rebuilding a starter requires specialized tools and knowledge of automotive electrical systems.

Installing the Starter Solenoid

Installing the Starter Solenoid is the sixth step in rebuilding a car starter. Before beginning, make sure to have put all the previously mentioned parts back together, ensuring that everything has been cleaned and lubricated where necessary. The following items are necessary for this stage: a starter solenoid, bolt, nuts, and a wiring harness.

Using the bolts and nuts provided, attach the new starter solenoid to its designated place on the vehicle. Make sure to mount it securely with enough torque, but be careful not to overtighten it, which can damage the threads of the mounting points. Take time to ensure proper alignment and that it is secure and has no wiggle room.

Once securely mounted, reattach the wires from the old starter solenoid onto the new one by matching colors and numbers or location colors if applicable for your vehicle’s wiring connections. If there is any doubt, refer to the vehicle’s service manual for specific instructions concerning wire routing and connections. Reattach our battery lead onto the starter solenoid itself, making sure not to cross-thread these posts as this can result in a short circuit or other electrical issues when starting up your vehicle.

Now that your starter solenoid is properly installed, it’s time to move on to testing and troubleshooting your vehicle’s starter.

Testing and Troubleshooting the Starter

After rebuilding a car starter, it is important to test it and troubleshoot any possible problems. First, check that the battery connections are secure and inspect all the wiring to the starter to ensure they are not loose or frayed. Then turn the ignition key to start the engine. If it doesn’t start, then the first step is to test the battery voltage. Make sure that it has over 12 volts available. If there is enough voltage, check for voltage at the starter solenoid terminal with a voltmeter when trying to start the engine. If there is a sufficient voltage drop when engaging the starter, this indicates that the current is flowing properly from the battery, and further tests may be needed.

It may be possible to detect an issue with the starter by connecting a jumper wire across the S terminal on the solenoid and ground. If the starter motor spins but does not engage when testing with this method, this suggests an issue with the engaging mechanism itself, such as worn or seized components. The starter should also be tested by listening for unusual noises when cranking, such as grinding sounds which can indicate issues within the starter gear system.

Finally, suppose all of these tests have been performed, and there are still issues with starting. In that case, it may be necessary to remove and disassemble the starter again or take it to a mechanic to resolve any faults present. Removing and disassembling can allow further inspection of components, such as checking whether piece springs have become weak or bent. This could lead to intermittent connection issues making turning over difficult. Ultimately, thorough testing and troubleshooting can help diagnose potential start-up issues quickly so it’s in functioning order again as soon as possible.

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

What tools are needed to rebuild a car starter?

To rebuild a car starter, you will need several specific tools. These include a ratchet, sockets of various sizes, flathead and Phillips screwdrivers, a grounding strap, electrical tape, dielectric grease, and other small hand tools. Additionally, some specialty tools may be required, such as a puller or press to remove the starter motor housing. Other items such as sealant, lubricant, and bearing replacement parts may also be necessary. Having the right tools for the job is essential for successful starter rebuilding, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements for your car before beginning.

What are the common causes of a car starter needing to be rebuilt?

Common causes of a car starter needing to be rebuilt can include the following:

1. Worn brushes: The commutator and brushes are part of the armature assembly in the starter, which can become worn due to heat and electrical sparks over time. This can cause an excessive draw on the starter current resulting in a slipping or intermittent engagement when starting.

2. Stuck solenoid: Over time, dirt and grime can settle in the solenoid contacts, preventing them from operating correctly. This will cause the starter to stay engaged when cranking, resulting in excessive wear on the pinion gear or linkage components.

3. Bad connections: Corrosion build-up can cause bad connections between the starter and battery terminals, resulting in weak starting power and potentially leaving you stranded without any power.

4. Weak battery: If your battery is weak or drained due to prolonged periods of non-use, you may need to rebuild your starter as it cannot produce enough voltage during startup.

What are the steps involved in rebuilding a car starter?

1. Remove the old starter: First, you will need to locate and remove the existing starter. This involves disconnecting the battery, grounding the negative battery cable, removing any brackets connected to the starter, then unbolting the starter from its mount and pulling it out.

2. Clean and inspect the starter motor: Once the starter is removed, it needs to be scrutinized for signs of damage or wear. Any components which appear to be worn or damaged should be replaced. The starter should also be cleaned with an appropriate solvent before being reassembled.

3. Replace any worn parts: During the inspection, replace any worn or damaged parts in the starter assembly. Check for cracked or broken brushes, as well as worn armature or commutator springs and bushings. It’s also essential to check for arcing on the relay contact points.

4. Reassemble the starter motor: Once all components have been checked for wear and replaced if necessary, reassemble the starter motor according to manufacturer specifications. Make sure all connections are tight and secure.

5. Install a new solenoid: A new solenoid should be installed at this point to ensure reliable starting performance. Before installation of the new unit, take measurements of the current amperage draw and make sure it’s within factory specifications.

6. Install new wiring: New wiring may be necessary if there is evidence of short circuits or burning on existing wiring harnesses or if voltage drops have been detected with a voltmeter test during the diagnosis of your starting system problems.

7. Reattach the starter: Once all of these steps have been completed, the starter can now be reinstalled by reversing the procedure used to remove it initially – bolting it back into place and reconnecting the negative battery cable after properly grounding it against the engine ground block first.

8. Test Starter: Finally, test that everything is working correctly by starting up your vehicle again – if it turns over with no issue, you’ve successfully rebuilt your car’s starter!