How To: change the starter in your S-series Saturn - Saturn Forum - Saturn Enthusiasts Forums

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Old 02-15-2009, 05:23 PM
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Location: Canada
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Exclamation How To: change the starter in your S-series Saturn

How To: change the starter in your S-series Saturn
(for this example, I used a 1995 Saturn SL1 but the others should be similar if not the same)
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(this picture is when I first got the car many moons ago)

What you’ll need:
The tools I used were:
3/8 ratchet
2 different sized extenders
short 10mm socket
deep 10mm socket
short 13mm socket
deep 13mm socket
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and you will obviously need a new starter
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1)Start out by lifting the car up. The higher the car is the better. I could only get to lift the front enough so I could slide under the car, but if you get the car higher, it will make the job a lot easier.
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2)Now disconnect the battery.
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3)It is time to get on your back and locate the starter. If you know where the oil filter is you’ll be able to find the starter a lot easier.
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(I found it and know why the car wasn’t starting, it’s kind of hard to see I the pictures because a lot of them are blurry (due to how close I was) but the leads are corroded in rust and mold… the joys of living in Canada)

4)Take the purple wire off first, this takes the long 10mm socket to do so.
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5)Now take the other nut off, this takes the short (or long) 13mm socket.
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These are the nuts that you are taking off

6)Now the fun part, trying to find that “hidden” bolt that is behind the starter. You will need your long extension to do this. I don’t have any pictures of it because I could barely get my fingers in there to find the bolt, let alone a camera. Once you find it, loosen the bolt all the way; be careful not to drop it.

7)What I did was I took one of the leads (the one with the lease slack) and attached it back to the starter to hold the starter up while I took the last bolt off. This way when you do take the last bolt off it won’t fall on your face.

8)Now take that last bolt off, I could get a picture of this one.
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9)Remove the lead (if you put it on) and take the starter out.
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(quite the difference)

10)While there is no starter in place, if you are like me and have a lot of rust on the tips, take some sandpaper and sand them down
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(these are the leads (tips) you might need to sand)

11)Put the new starter in place, attach the leads (do not tighten the bolts, just enough so they won’t come off), and screw the bottom screw in place with your fingers (again, not tight, just enough so the starter doesn’t wobble around).

12)Now you have to get that “hidden” bolt in place. I took just the socket and extension with the bolt in the end, and felt around until it felt like I was in the right hole, then used my fingers and the extension to tighten the bolt in place

13)Now just torque everything down nice and tight

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Nice new starter!!

14)Lower the car, connect the battery and away you go.

Edited by: Kasper_B

Last edited by sw2cam; 01-10-2012 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: United States
Posts: 14

oh god, i have a 98 sl2. the starter was a pain to change. it was easy getting it out. but getting the new one in was difficult. my arm doesnt bend like a snake =/
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:21 PM
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Location: Arizona
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The starter is easy to swap out. Nothing to it, maybe you should have tryed moving your body into a better position.
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Old 06-11-2009, 12:31 AM
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Location: Inver Grove Heights, MN
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i did mine today if you have acess to a stuby ratchet use it long trow sucks in for the bottom or a air ratchet if you have one and a compressor... was quick and fairly easy i also got to use a lift
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Old 03-11-2010, 04:41 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 4

Hey Kasper B ,

I want to commend you on the fine job of describing how to r & r the stater and the good pics . Maybe u should write a repair manual . lol
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:38 PM
RjION's Avatar
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Location: Arizona
Posts: 2,026

Originally Posted by scrapmedallord View Post
oh god, i have a 98 sl2. the starter was a pain to change. it was easy getting it out. but getting the new one in was difficult. my arm doesnt bend like a snake =/
Thats why they have tools
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:17 PM
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snake shaped tools -- indeed
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Old 06-15-2010, 06:58 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 4

I did one on my '93 SW2 yesterday. It was really a pain to get that top hidden bolt out (and back in) that is under the intake manifold. Not much room in there to turn a rachet handle. Maybe a long extension would have helped.
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Old 11-20-2010, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 35

Gott"a hand it to kasper B for the detailed "pics well done!!"
i got mine changed back in june after it did not start!! what saved
me from calling a tow truck when my starter failed was my two daughters
in the car "andreia 14 years old and my oldest nicole 16 years old" that just by luck
happened to be with me "ended up pushing the old saturn to a start while daddy had it in 1st gear and popped the clutch on it" and she started took
it down to my local john & barton garage where good old Burt diagnosed it
and called me later on saying you need a starter .
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Old 04-21-2011, 09:11 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Southern NJ
Posts: 246

Great write up and pictures. I wish I found it before I did mine. The only thing I can add is to have a mirror on a stick to see behind the starter and use a socket with a magnet in it to hold the bolt in the socket while you feel around for the hole. The higher you can jack it up the easier it will be.
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