Starters and flywheels

based on your advice I had my starter replaced (it was making that terrible noise every once in a while that sounds like you’re trying to start the car when it’s already on). $427.00. Sheesh! Then the mechanic said that because we drovwe with the starter problem we damaged the flywheel and that that’d cost $1100 to replace. He said there are 4 teeth missing from the flywheel and that if we keep driving it unrepaired we’ll damage the new flywheel. Questions: 1) does this sound legit? 2) do I need to get it fixed right away? That trip to Nova Scotia is just about cancelled. . . .

It’s legit and a common problem on some car models, of which you have not told us the make yet.
Some starter motors, especially some GM vehicles, may require the use of a shim kit when installing a starter to get the right starter gear to flywheel teeth mesh. Failure to do so will damage the starter, knock teeth off of the flywheel, and at some point the missing teeth are going to stop at the starter teeth.
This means the engine will not crank over unless the engine is rotated by hand to bring some good teeth into play.

  1. yup.

  2. yup. Or live with intermittant starts and the resultant higher final repair cost.


Yep. I had to replace both on my Dodge. I saw the evidence. Bad teeth on the starter can chew up the teeth on a flywheel. Eventually your car will refuse to start because the starter is trying to engage the flywheel in its bad sector.

Thanks, folks. Oy. By the way, it’s a 6 cylinder Camry [1998] with 118K miles.