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New starter or scam?

My car (1999 Subaru) would once or twice a day not start when I turned the key- only the dash lights on, no clicks or failed turn-overs, trying a couple more times it would always start… the mechanic said it was a bad starter, went to replace it for 400 bucks, came back 2 hours later saying the hadn’t noticed it was a manual (???), tried to install an automatic starter but it didn’t fit, so the old one is back in (and a new one ordered). Now, a week later, the car has never repeated the ailment and starts fine? Was it really the starter? Should I still get the new one?

It could have just been a loose connection that has now been tightened. Of course, it could still be a problem with the starter that will come back later. I’d wait and see.

Could be an intermittant contact on the clutch (have to push it in to start, right?). Could be some other loose connection. No noise at all when you turn the key doesn’t sound like a bad starter.

I’m going with a bad connection down on the starter itself. Don’t buy a new starter unless it acts up again. If things worked out differently, they would have replaced the starter, and since they loosened and tightened the wires, you would have been happy with their fix, not realizing the new starter didn’t fix your problem. So unless you enjoy spending money, at the repair shop, don’t go back for this. An honest mechanic might have told you if he found a loose wire on the starter when he pulled it off. But giving the mechanic the benefit if the doubt, maybe everything was tight, just a little corrosion not visible. There are things like voltage drop checks, current checks, etc that a competent mechanic can do to trouble shoot a bad starter. Most just change the starter and while it fixes the problem, it might not have been the root cause.

I wouldn’t. As others have said, it could have been a simple poor connection.

I would bet it was a poor connection at the starter. At any rate, I would not buy a new one until it happened again.

I’m gonna go against the crowd on this one. I predict that within a few weeks, the problem will return and you will end up with another starter. I’m not certain, of course, but I would bet a beer that you have a new starter within two months.

I agree-- it’s probably an internal problem with the starter that jostling it temporarily fixed. It’s a very common mode of failure for these things and some times people can nurse them along for years by whacking them with a wrench when they misbehave.

Ditto. I had a connection problem that was fixed by fiddling with the starter and wires. 6 months later, the starter failed.

Maybe the OP will get lucky, but his 9-year-old starter has had a longer life than any of mine.