CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Why did I get three bad starters in a row?

Since this was my experience I am questioning if indeed teh diagnosis is correct. Any ideas?

There can be a major variance in the rebuilds, both by warranty (less warranty, generally less items inside replaced) and by actual workmanship/rebuilder reputation. In the mid-90’s, one alternator repair required the mechanic to get three alternators. First two were defective, and the third finally worked correctly. This was from a reputable auto parts store.

I try to get some level of recognizable brand for these items, and make a value judgement as to length of warranty offered compared to extra cost. In general I will not touch a one year warranted alternator or starter. I think it is just asking for extra trouble, inconvenience and drama I don’t need.

If you saw the assembly line on which most starters are rebuilt, you would understand how you can get 3 bad ones in a row…

I may add that simply because the clerk at AutoZone says 'OK I will warranty it" that the starter really was bad, these people want to please you by giving you warranty consideration for your starter, it does not mean it really was bad.

Most Camrys use a starter relay. If it’s bad you will have bad starters until the relay is replaced or decides to work again on it’s own. The original starter may not have been bad at all. I always test any starter before I install it.

Maybe the original diagnosis was incorrect and you never needed a starter to begin with. The odds of misdiagnosis are far greater than getting 3 bad starters.
Starter relay, ignition switch, neutral safety switch, battery cable ends, etc, could be reasons for an inoperative starter.

So what was the car not doing when it failed to start; no noise or click sounds at all, sluggish cranking or grinding, etc.?