Starter problem for 2005 Honda Accord

Hi folks,

the starter went in our 2005 Honda Accord with 175k miles this summer. We had it replaced at a large chain place that was recommended by some locals (we had just moved to a new town and didn’t have a mechanic yet). It took them a full day and they said it was very difficult to get at the starter. It cost over $600.

Well, a few months later, the same problem came back; I went to the place and they said the starter had failed again, and was faulty. Under warranty, they are replacing it for free.

Free is great, but the catch is that I dropped the car off on Monday; it is now Saturday. Every day I call in and they say “We’re working on it right now, we’ll update you soon!” They never call me back. I suspect that they are taking their sweet time because it’s a warranty issue.

My questions are:

  1. Is it reasonable to take 6 days plus to replace a starter?
  2. Was it reasonable to charge over $600?
  3. Why did the starter fail so quickly? Does this ‘just happen’, or is it likely that they skimped and saved and bought a pre-built starter that may not have been in good shape? If so, is that normal? Should it have been a brand-new starter?

Thanks in advance… I really appreciate any advice or feedback!

It does not take very long to replace a starter, so you are getting the run around.

For an OEM quality starter the $600 seems reasonable. They are either incompetent or they used a cheap (Chinese?) rebuild that caused the early failure. However, you will not likely get a brand new starter except from the dealer. You should get a quality rebuild, however for $600, which is just as good as a new one.

The same happened to my Nissan Sentra; the shop was competent but the starter was poor quality. In your case it may be a little bit of each.

I would go down as face them and get some action. Fixing a Honda Accord is not rocket science!

Docnick: Thanks for the heads up!
The actual cost of replacement (at $600) involved I think 10 hours of labor, so the starter price was considerably lower than $600! I bet they used some cheapo thing & upcharged us on the labor.
I’m going to head down there & have a chat.

Thank you!

Most experts on this forum will likely chime in with a realistic figure for hours of labor. Ten hours seems excessive, unless you are incompetent and take that long.

10 hours of labor and $600 does not add up. A reasonable labor rate is around $100/hour for most locales, more in some metro areas, perhaps as low as $80 in depressed rural areas.

If yours is the 4 cylinder engine the starter is under the intake manifold. $600 sounds about right for a new or quality rebuilt starter, intake gasket set, and 2.5 hours labor.

It is not easy if you have the 4-cylinder engine. The intake manifold has to be removed. It is easy if you have the 6-cylinder. Still, a professional mechanic with the proper tools should be able to release fuel pressure, disconnect cables, remove the intake manifold, remove the starter,then reverse the process in a couple of hours. It should take less than an hour in the 6-cylinder, including a coffee break.

There may or may not have been a misunderstanding regarding the price breakdown between the customer and the shop, however the shop should not still have the vehicle six days later unrepaired without having provided to him a good explanation (such as difficulty getting the part) and a date when the work will be completed. Knowing when you’ll get the parts isn’t rocket science. Unless they’re searching boneyards… and they should NOT be doing that.

They actually had the starter on hand for this latest, but, they say that there is one bolt stuck that they can’t get out without a special drill.

I think they should have bought the drill right away, but they’ve been trying to get another tech to come by with a drill, and I suspect they just aren’t putting a lot of work into this because it’s not a paid job, but a warranty issue.

They are now telling me that they really think it’ll be done today–hallelujah. Thanks for the feedback, I was a little tougher when I called them this time & they told me today.

I’d say they are giving you the run-around.

I hope they do have it done for you today. At least they could have said "as soon as a work bay is open…we’ll get right to it.

And 6 hours is really padding the bill.
When they gave you the story about the drill, you should have asked them what kind and you’d go buy it for them. Then charge them double for this miracle drill.


$600 is a reasonable price to replace the starter, parts and labor. In fact $600 is a very reasonable price, especially if this install is on the difficult side. On my Corolla it takes me 3-4 hours to replace the starter. An experienced mechanic with all the tools and equipment a shop has, they could probably do it in 1-2 hours. Edit: The mechanic time quoted looks to be 0.8 hours to 1.7 hours for my Corolla.

The “fails to crank” problem is probably the number 1 complaint we see here. Not just on your make, but among all the posts. It’s a tricky problem b/c the cause can be distributed among several problems. Like if you have a weak battery and corroded battery connections and the starter solenoid contacts are a little worn, it might not crank. But if you fixed any one of those, then it would crank. So it is possible to replace the starter motor, that fixes it for a while, but one of the other problems gets worse , so it returns to not cranking. Unfortunately the manufactures don’t provide diagnostic software to monitor the cranking circuitry – like they do for emissions functions – so the owner is basically on their own. I guess the manufacturer figures that when the engine won’t crank, the customer knows there’s something wrong. at that time. Providing advanced warning, that isn’t something the manufacturers do.

And you’ve discovered replacing a starter motor, which is usually a fairly straightforward – although often arduous – job, it can go bad if a bolt breaks in the process or gets cross-threaded, the motor gets cockeyed to its mount, etc. Add to that, replacement starter motors can be bad right out of the box. I’ve had that happen. And it was bad in an insidious way, the coil was shorted apparently, so it would draw too much power, running the risk of damaging the wiring. So it is certainly possible a SM replacement job could turn into a several weeks long ordeal for the unlucky.

That is very unlikely to happen with an experienced mechanic though. If you notice this kind of thing at the shop you use frequently happens, ask around, friends, co-workers, etc which local mechanic they use to fix their cars. You may discover there’s a consensus, and it is not the shop you are using.

Starter motors are not as simple as they used to be I think. Broken bolt, it was ok last time, maybe cross threaded. `I put a new starter motor in my car, sounded terrible, out of alignment shims needed or whatever, pulled it, then thought, ok I should video this so napa knows the issue, replaced it, and it started fine, 3 years and counting!

Thanks folks!

The saga continues.
We’re now over a week out. I do trust the guys, but I think it’s outside of their pay grade; apparently, a steel bolt broke while they were removing the starter. The steel bolt is in the aluminum motor block. So, they called friends at a local machine shop, & have been toiling away trying to remove it, and said they’ve now broken 6 machines.

They said they can’t drill it out without risk of damage to the motor block.

They’ve now removed the front half of the engine to clear space, and said that they think they have the right machine now; they keep buying something more expensive/higher end as they escalate it.

We leave town early AM tomorrow, so I rented a car :(. Not the end of the world, but definitely frustrating!

I appreciate people chiming in with stories of bad starters from the start; I kept my sense of humor when talking to the guys.

We won’t go back to the shop again, but I don’t think they are lying or trying to give us a bad deal, after reading some of your comments & reviewing what they’ve done. It sounds like they are just in a little bit over their heads & trying everything they can to deal with a pretty bad situation!

Thanks again; they promised to have the car ready for me for Monday, even if they have to pay to tow it to a machine shop :D. So, keep your fingers crossed, and enjoy your weekends!

Here is another vote for “They are in over their heads.”

Replacing a starter on a Honda Accord is no where near rocket science. Find a good independent mechanic and never darken the door of any chain shop…especially transmission and oil change places. Good luck.

It’s good that they’ve given this problem to the staff at a-- presumably - good machine shop. Machine shops can do amazing stuff, stuff like you’d think was near impossible. For example if you break off a hardened gadget like an EZ-Out inside a threaded hole, flush, they have special drills , sort of like hole saws you’d use for drilling big holes in wood, that can drill non-hardened metal in a circle around the hardened bit, but not touching the center hardened part.

There is no way that they have been spending all this time on this one vehicle.
When they are finished with one car and waiting for parts for the next… they wander over to it and scratch their heads again. Then try drilling for 15 minutes until their arm is tired. Then they go to the next car that’s ready.

I’ll bet that they have not spent 2 hours on that bolt…actually doing something. Not including time scratching whatever itches at the moment.

I know someone here mentioned it and I agree that they must have cross threaded that bolt when they replaced the starter before. Only this would seize that bolt into an aluminum block like that. Especially over less than a year.

I think that when they hand you the bill, you should not have to pay more than their quote for replacing the starter. The entire broken bolt fiasco was caused from their poor job in replacing the starter before. And you had to rent a car too. That should be discounted from the bill also.


If the replaced the starter this past summer there’s no way any bolt corroded into place that quickly and which requires a special drill to remove.
If a bolt was stuck then it was likely stuck because someone cross-threaded it the first time.

There are several reasons why a starter may be inoperative with the starter not being at fault.
What was the symptom that led to a bad starter diagnosis?

Engine cranking sluggishly, click sound only, no noise at all when the key was turned, etc?

I always hesitate to lay the blame on someone due to unknowns but due to the time and tales involved I tend to think that you’re being yanked.

This only got worse!

It ended up being a total of 2 weeks and one day.

OK4450: I really feel badly for these guys, but i’m starting to think that they might have screwed up more than just the cross-threaded bolt.

They said that they had to hire a special machinist in the end, and it’s done, but when I went to pick up the car tonight, it wouldn’t start. They jumped the battery & it started. I only live 5 minutes from them, so I drove to home, and figured I’d leave the car running for sometime for the battery.

The car is INCREDIBLY loud now, and when I parked it & put it in park, the engine started revving like crazy.

I’ve included a video of the sound.

IS this normal? Do you think they might have messed up the actual engine or transmission when they were in there drilling holes and machining things? Maybe they put the manifold back on wrong?

I’m definitely taking it to an independent shop, we got a great recommendation last week for a local mechanic who is really liked.

Oh, and OK4450, the diagnosis for bad starter was because the car was kind of shakey when starting, and making an awful metal/grinding noise, and having a hard time starting.

I’m afraid I may not be of much help while listening to noises through PC speakers. I have a roughly 60% hearing loss in both ears with Tinnitus to boot. If I was physically present next to the car I might be able to make more sense of it.

After listening to it as best as possible half a dozen times it certainly does not sound anywhere near normal as best as I can tell. Hondas are generally quiet as a church mouse while that one is clattering and there seems to be a disturbing somewhat loud clink sound about the 6-7 second mark.

My suggestion is to get it to an independent shop as quickly as possible because subdued noises often morph into louder and more serious ones later.

I don’t know what these guys did but it seems to me they’ve botched something and I would suspect it goes back to the first repair. Best of luck and keep us informed.

Will do, and thank you!
We’re taking it to a shop tomorrow AM that was highly recommended by many local people to us; hopefully we can get this resolved.

If it turns out it was bolloxed up by the first shop, do we have legal options? I assume we can sue/etc?