About a month ago, my starter started not starting with every first turn of the key. Every 5 or 6 starts I would just get the "whiiiiirrrrrr" of the starter motor with no engagement. Usually, the second turn of the key fixed it. Nevertheless, I did not want to get stranded somewhere.
Advance Auto had this sale around new year's that was 20% off anything over $100 plus a $50 gift card for a future purchase over $100. I saw that they had a Denso unit in their selection. Personally, I have mostly heard good things about Denso so I decided to bite and take advantage of the offers. The starter was marked at $190 (free shipping to my door). After 20% off I was at just over $150. When I take my old core back I get another $35 back so that puts me out of pocket only $115.
When the starter came, I noticed two things:
1. The starter motor was much smaller than the unit in the car. I called a friend of mine who does more "mechanic'ing" than I do and he said Denso starters are typically smaller than Bosch and not to worry.
2. A prominent sticker on the box said "Remanufactured in Germany". I was expecting China to be honest. Since we all hold parts manufactured in the fatherland to a higher standard, let's hope it rings true here.
Anyway, this is not so much a DIY as it is a source of information. To be honest, the process of starter R&R is pretty straight forward. The FSM has all the basic steps. I'll just add in a few details. I had the same problems everyone on the web has. Getting the top bolt off can be a bitch. Luckily getting it on was no problem.
About three feet of extensions
20 breaker bar
19mm open end
12mm ratcheting box end
10mm Hex Socket
10mm Long Ball Hex Socket
Air ratchet (optional)
Torque wrench (if you want to follow the FSM to the letter)
Step 1: Disconnect battery
Step 2: Jack front end up and turn wheels all the way to the left. Please use all traditional safety precautions (stands, chocks, etc) when working under your car.
Step 3: Get under the car and undo the power cable (12mm) and the solenoid wire (phillips)
Step 4: I started with the bottom starter bolt. I used 1 12" extension, a universal, and my 10mm hex head socket on an air ratchet. Came off pretty easy. The rear of the bolt is captured by a 19mm nut and washer. You may need to hold back on this. This bolt also captures the ground wire. Remove and push to side. At this point, I was 15 minutes in and was only 1 bolt from having the starter off.
Step 5: The top starter bolt is a doozy. Luckily, this bolt is captured by threads on the starter and not an unreachable nut. Problem is it is very hard to reach on top of the starter. In theory, if you dropped the exhaust, this would be 10x easier. If I ever have to do this again, I may just do that. The challenge is the bolt is high up in the cavity and there is no room to turn your ratchet. I could not actually even get my air ratchet in there to simply push a button. What you have to do is link a bunch of extensions and a universal together so you can get 2.5-3 feet back and angle the extension downward so you can actually turn your ratchet. Once you figure this out, it's cake. Unless, like me, your top bolt is frozen. Out comes the breaker bar. Trying to loosen this bolt on mine put two of my universals to rest (thank god for Craftsman tool replacement). After breaking the two universals, I decided the try a different approach. I decided to try getting a long neck 10mm ball hex socket on the fastener along with my three feet of extentions and my breaker. I knew I was playing with fire here but at this point, if this did not work, it was going to have to go to the shop anyway. Well, those starter bolts must be made of some pretty high grade steel (plus kudos to Craftsman's ball-end hex socket) because literally pulling with all my might, on my side, out from under the car (I hate being under the car when I am really pulling on something) I finally broke the connection. It was a lound bang and all my tools snapped apart so I did not know until I got up in there if I broke the socket, the bolt, or had success. Success it was. Once the freeze was snapped, the bolt pretty much turned by hand.
Step 6: Remove the starter from the bell housing. Lots of stories on the internet said people had problems with this and they talk about removing the steering link. I had no problems and the starter that was in there, presumably original, was huge. The key is in step 2, turn the wheels all the way to the left. There is a 1/2" thick spacer bracket and a metal gasket between the starter and the bell housing. They should come out with the starter but make sure they did not stick to the bell housing and get left behind. See pics of spacer and gasket below.
Basically, now it is reverse of the above. Putting mine back was much easier since the frozen bolt was my nemesis getting it out. Plus, since my new starter was so small, and much lighter, that helped as well. I cleaned up the spacer and gasket with steel wool since mine were a little rusty. I put anti sieze on the bolts in case this needs to be done again.
Step 7: Re-install starter. I just hoisted it up there and got the bottom bolt started to hold it. Used my extension and universal set up to start the top bolt.
Step 8: Reconnected wires at this point. My unit came with new hardware but I re-used my old as it was just fine.
Step 9. Torque the bolts. This was a little tricky just because of lack of room. The torque spec is 55nm. I hate torque'ing things when using exptensions and universals because I am afraid not all the torque is transferring to the fastener, but I had no choice. Again bottom bolt torqued fine, but top was a bit more challenging.
Whole job took just under 2 hours not including two trips to Ace.
New starter works great. Seems to spin the engine faster. Also, and I know this is trivial, I like the sound of the new starter. It's a higher pitched sound that almost chirps starting the engine. Sound like a more modern car. My old one was that lower pitched sound and old car makes!
Pic of old and new starter. New one quite a bit smaller:
Pic of space and gasket: