How to Replace the Starter in a Hyundai Santa Fe

You discover that the engine in your Hyundai Santa Fe won't start. According to the battery test, there are no problems there. You just replaced the alternator last year. Therefore, chances are your starter is the problem. While you could have a mechanic replace the starter for you, that can be rather expensive. Instead, follow the steps below to replace the starter in a 2001 to 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe yourself.

Park your Hyundai Santa Fe on a level surface, activate the emergency brake and place blocks behind the back tires for safety. Disconnect the negative battery cable with a terminal puller and wait three minutes before proceeding.

Raise the front end of the car with a jack for easier access to the starter. Remove the speedometer and shift cables from the transaxle.

Disconnect the wires connected to the starter motor. If you are unfamiliar with the wires or you may forget where they go, it's a good idea to label them as you disconnect. Use masking tape and a permanent marker.

Unfasten the starter mounting bolts and put them in the baby food jar to prevent loss. Remove the starter from the engine.

Take your malfunctioning starter to the parts store with you. Aftermarket distributors remanufacture most of the starters they sell, so you can likely obtain a partial credit toward your new starter by exchanging your old one. Be sure that you take care not to damage the starter in transit, because the better condition it is in, the more you can get for it.

Purchase a replacement starter that has the same or higher cranking capacity (power rating) as the original starter in your Hyundai Santa Fe. Also, match the bolt patterns, drive gears and electrical connections. Your owner's manual may list specifications or the auto parts technician will help you determine them. Download an 2003 or newer owner's manual on the My Hyundai website.

Reverse the removal process to install the new starter. Torque the starter mounting bolts between 20 and 25 foot pounds (27 to 34 Nm). Lower your Hyundai Santa Fe back to the ground. Reconnect the negative battery cable. Turn the key in the ignition to see if your new starter motor functions correctly.


Always inspect the battery, solenoid and alternator to be certain they are working properly before replacing a starter. When an engine fails to start, many do-it-yourselfers misdiagnose the problem as the starter and replace it unnecessarily, only to find that the vehicle still won't start. If you believe your starter is in the problem, use a bench test to see if the starter motor spins and how well the starter is performing. A bench test will check the amp load, voltage and RPMs. If the starter is good, it will draw 60 to 150 amps with no load and up to 250 amps under load. For older models and/or those with higher mileage, replace the solenoid too.


Disconnecting the negative battery cable may cause the on board computer system to reset. Your Hyundai Santa Fe may have to relearn some information when you reconnect the battery cable. Never operate the starter for more than 30 seconds at a time. Allow the starter motor to cool for at least two minutes in between starting attempts to prevent permanent damage. The starter replacement process is different for later models the 2001 to 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe. Consult your owner's manual or a mechanic for details.

Things You'll Need

  • Battery terminal puller
  • Car jack
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Wrench
  • Baby food jar
  • Torque wrench
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