Starter/flywheel grinding

I have an '02 Taurus. For the last year or so it has intermittently produced a metal on metal grinding noise while failing to start up. I’m told this is due to teeth being missing on the flywheel between the starter and the transmission. It’s taken as many as six tries to get the car going. But the car has always started in the end. The Ford dealer quoted me $1100 to replace the flywheel (pricey, because the transmission must be pulled). During this period I’ve had a starter fail (Aug. '11), which was a replacement for the original (March '09).

My questions are: Is the problem flywheel worth replacing at this point at this price? Is it likely to fail totally any time soon?

Also, might the March '09 replacement starter be implicated?

Thanks in advance for any help…

Could be the Bendix on the starter.

Was this diagnosed by a mechanic or a friend. Any decent mechanic will know immediately if it’s the starter.

Were The Flywheel Ring Gear Teeth Actually Inspected Or Is The Flywheel Assumed To Be Shot ?

The way to destroy this gear is to continue to let it intermittently grind when a starter is failing. They have to be repaired / replaced ASAP. A screwed up flywheel can also cause starter problems.

The car possibly needs another starter and may or may not need a flywheel, but it likely does by now. Sometimes if just slightly burred they can be “cleaned up,” instead. Now the starter should come off, be tested / inspected, and the flywheel gear inspected.

I’d get some other guesstimates for diagnosing and / or replacing the flywheel. Try a couple of local reputable independent shops or local community college / high school auto class.


Thanks for the answer, CSA. But what are the odds that a starter newly installed 2 months ago would be bad? Would the flywheel have degraded it that quickly?

I’ve got the same problem in my truck. I’ve had this problem for almost 3 years now… but I’ve got a special trick to keep the grinding to a minimum:
When you turn the key and hear the grinding noise (or sometimes no noise at all), pop the hood and find the big belt that connects everything together… then yank on it until it moves an inch or so. This should manually turn the flywheel to a spot that does have teeth. It works like a charm!

I’d be looking at the starter. If you have an automatic transmission, then you don’t have a flywheel. The ring teeth are on the torque converter.

The problem with the starter can be a weak bendix spring or it might be the wrong starter, wrong length of the part that houses the pinion gear. Could even be a case of loose bolts.

Are you using a reman starter? What brand?