Starter rebuild kit - asking for trouble?

I have a 2005 Town and Country with about 120K. Recently, and more frequently, upon turning the key, there is a single rather loud click. Sometimes, the starter engages in the next turn of the key but occasionally 5 or 6 are required. I’ve cleaned the connections and the battery is strong. So, I have deduced that the starter is likely the problem.

A rebuilt part is $130-$150; a new aftermarket starter is in the $160 range. Starter rebuild kits are $30, plus/minus a few bucks. I’ve never done anything but change starters before. Am I asking for trouble attempting a DIY rebuild?

How much is your time worth if you end up having to pull the starter again, if the rebuild doesn’t solve the problem? If the starter’s a major pain to remove, then I’d only want to do it once. If it’s easy, then sure, give it a shot.

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I think it depends what’s in the kit. Likely just brushes and bearings. I think your lroblem is in the solenoid though so buy a new one and do the rebuild kit and hope for the best. It’ll be better than a rebuild from az.

I’ve never done it myself, but I’d guess there’s an excellent chance for complete success for an intrepid diy’er. Especially if all that’s involved is replacing the solenoid contacts, and perhaps the motor brushes, and cleaning the armature contact surfaces. . On some Ford starters there may be a final drive assembly that’s also probably replaced. Replacing the starter motor’s bearings would be more challenging, but still diy’er doable if you have the required tools.

I have my Corolla’s prior Toyota starter motor sitting on a shelf, and intend to rebuild it using a kit, so I’ll be looking forward to you letting us know how it goes.

If you decide against rebuilding it yourself, there’s probably some local auto electric shops nearby that will do it for you. If you decide to purchase another unit, suggest to avoid aftermarket versions. Either a new or rebuilt Ford starter motor, while more expensive, is much more likely to work correctly.

How long has it been sitting there?

When do you plan on rebuilding it?

If you’re going to wait until the one in your car dies to rebuild it, why not just rebuild the one in the car when it dies?

It’s been sitting on the shelf awaiting a rebuild for about 4 years … lol … I plan to start rebuilding it tomorrow. Same plan I’ve had for the past 4 years … lol … Actual plan is to rebuild it when current starter begins to fail. Generally it takes several months before the first signs of failure and complete failure, gives me a little breathing room. At that time the current one will move to the shelf , awaiting rebuilding starting tomorrow … lol … The one one the shelf is a Toyota unit, not original to the car, but the first replacement, purchased at a Toyota dealership. The one in the car now is a remanufactured Denso unit, another good brand. So I have two good brands to swap in and out for the future.

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Hmmm. In 60 years I think I’ve only replaced three starters. A $300 one on my diesel, one on the kids Pontiac, and I think there was one on my park ave but can’t really recall for sure. Alternators sure, but starters are pretty robust.

I hate to admit it, but I have chickened out. My new plan is to play it safe. After viewing a video, I’m sure it is a task that could be accomplished. However, the rebuild kit is not all I would need. I don’t have motor grease, dielectric grease or electric parts cleaner. NAPA has a 20% off online promotion. I ordered a starter and it will be here tomorrow. Thanks for your input. I appreciate your repair plan - start on it tomorrow (:

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Ask your parts store if they have a starter motor test fixture. Some do. If
yes", suggest to ask them to test it on their fixture, before installing.

Thank you.

Do you really need all of those things? What’s the dielectric grease for? Did you watch some video by someone who isn’t actually a professional but sort of pretends to be?

I replaced a solenoid part in a Toyota starter 8 years ago and it has been fine since. It took more and more clicks for it to start. It was a $10 thing that was one half of the solenoid on eBay. The other part was only half worn away and I seft that. It was really easy.

Cutting down the mica on the armature can be a big problem. I congratulate you decision to replace the starter.

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I think it is the right move. Clever user name - I like it.

I did watch a video. A couple of them as a matter of fact. IDK if the guy was professional or not but there was a clear difference in the video instructions. I believe the dielectric grease was for the connections from the battery as a bit of additional protection from the elements. Admittedly, there is none of that on the present unitl.

You can bench test it pretty easy with just using jumper cables… lol
I normally only use the jumper cables with out the 3rd wire and can test one (as most can) in a few seconds… But probably better for a DIY to use the 3rd wire…

Short video…

A little longer more in-depth video…

I watched a guy once do a bench test with an unrestrained starter motor…pretty funny (to the casual observers) when it went crazy rolling, shorting out the wires the guy had connected to a spare battery. He didn’t think it was so funny however. It’s not like we didn’t offer some warning prior to the event :grinning: There’s a lot of torque in those motors. I would suggest not doing that test laying loose on a bench but in a vise or some other way to hold it from twisting…


I’m not trying it. Interestingly, I’ve had two instances where starters have passed those parts store bench tests. By process of elimination and throwing other parts at the car, the problem persisted and the starter was the remaining suspect. In both instances, changing the starter solved the issue.

I suppose it could have been a solenoid issue because that got switched out, too, with the starter. But the fact remains, they passed the bench test for whatever that’s worth.

If replacement starters need to be bench tested, you are buying your parts from the wrong store.


I’m guessing it was the old starter that was bench tested and appeared to be good.

Well I think George suggested having the new one tested. I’ve never worked in a parts store or been a mechanic but I do believe I would tire pretty quick from some of this and would head to the back when I saw someone come in again. Hey Joey, you got a customer. I’ve got to check something. What parts were replaced, what is the warranty again, what tools do I need, how do I know it will fit, and on and on. Kind of like getting behind the wrong person in the store.