How to Remove a Bendix Starter Motor

Written by chris stevenson
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How to Remove a Bendix Starter Motor
Starter motors must exert tremendous rotational force to turn the engine over. (Auto Engine image by Andrew Breeden from

The Bendix-style starter has been used efficiently in vehicles since its invention. Most cars today use the Bendix drive starter for its ruggedness and reliability. Starters work under tremendous loads, having to spin the engine over fast enough for the spark to ignite the combustion chamber. With age and constant usage, the starter can weaken due to interior mechanical damage of the gears, or wear on the armature. The procedure to remove the starter can be relatively simple if the vehicle owner pays attention to a few steps and gathers the necessary hand tools.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Owner's manual
  • Combination wrenches
  • Shop light
  • Socket set (1/2-inch, 1/4-inch drive)
  • Socket extension

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  1. 1

    Place the vehicle in park or neutral with the emergency brake set. Raise the hood and use a combination wrench to remove the negative battery terminal cable.

  2. 2

    Use the floor jack to raise the vehicle high enough to place two jack stands under the front part of the frame near each wheel. Place two more jack stands under the rear part of the vehicle under the frames near each wheel. Four jacks will allow extra stability and provide more clearance than two up front.

  3. 3

    Slide under the vehicle and place a shop light that will illuminate the underside of the engine. Refer to your owner's manual for the precise location of your starter. Most starters are located at the rear of the engine, next to the bell housing, or where the transmission meets the engine block. Remove any splash shield or cross member frame bolts that will allow you access to the starter motor. Use the floor jack to support a heavy cross member once you loosen it.

  4. 4

    Hold the shop light near the starter motor once you have it in view. Study the mating surface where the starter housing meets the engine block, or the bell housing backing plate. If you see any gap in the mating surface, it means the starter motor has shims (spacers) between the mating surface. Keep this in mind when loosening the starter--they might fall down.

  5. 5

    Use a small 1/4-inch socket to remove the starter wires on the back of the solenoid (if they have nuts on the terminals). Some solenoids have pull-off spade connectors. The largest wire will be the battery wire. Remember the exact location of each wire and what terminal it fits on.

  6. 6

    Use the correct size socket to loosen and remove the starter mounting bolts. Most starters have two bolts, but some models have three. The third bolt might be hidden and require a socket on the end of a long extension. Remove that bolt first. Keep the bolts in order and remember what location they came from. Pull the starter free from its mount. You might have to twist and turn the starter to thread it down through the undercarriage.

  7. 7

    Count the shims if any have dropped during the starter removal. They usually come in even numbers. For example, if you have six shims for a three-bolt starter mount, it will mean that two shims fit back onto one mounting bolt when you reinstall it.

Tips and warnings

  • To replace the starter, reverse the procedure in which you removed it. Don't forget the spacer shims.

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