Starter - replace or repair with kit?

My 1997 Toyota Tercel (automatic), after sitting for 3 days, would not turn over. The lights and dash light were shining so I figure it had to be the starter. With a suggestion from my uncle, I got my friend to give the starter a “love tap” when I cranked it. Sure enough it cranked right up. I know I need to get this thing replaced ASAP, but my burning question is this: Should I replace the whole starter or (this is something I read on the interwebs, so forgive me) should I get a repair kit and try replacing the plunger and contacts myself (is it worth it?)?

Thanks guys!

If this is the original starter…I would replace it. If you don’t have the equipment or the experience to rebuild the starter properly then it would be a waste of both time and money.

Just replace the whole thing. You will get a remanufactured unit, have it bench tested before taking it home to install.

Ok sounds like a plan. I’ll just replace the whole thing; it looks like a bear to get to at any rate, haha. Thanks much guys! :slight_smile:

Im not sure about that year and make but normally a starter rebuild will do the trick. the brushes are worn

Often the contacts in the solenoid are all that are needed but finding the correct ones and properly repairing the starter are not a sure thing. If you are in no hurry attach a photo of the contacts and I’ll mail you a set for free. The plunger can be polished and re-installed. But for most DIYers replacing the starter is the best bet.

Given the importance of a starter would you feel comfortable with the starter on your vehicle being rebuilt by a unsupervised student, even if it was you? Since you don’t have the option of “bump” starting your car you are at the mercy of your starter.

I’ve done both on my Toyota (Lexus ES300). First time I replaced the solenoid contacts at about 70k, then the starter at 100k. The mistake I made was just replacing the side contacts (as some web sites describe), and not the center round disk, so it lasted about half as long. At that point I figured I might as well put a rebuilt one in.

So, if it’s hard to get the starter out, then replace it, if it’s easy, do the contacts, but make sure you get the center round disk/rod assembly too.