Starter problems with Nippondenso starter—Toyota/Chrysler/Mitsubishi DIY fix
You don’t need a new starter, you need new contacts and a new plunger.
When you energize the starter a solenoid (electro-magnet) pulls the plunger in. The plunger has a round copper disk at its edge and as it pulls in, the copper disk touches two copper contacts. This setup acts as a heavy duty relay to supply battery current to the starter motor. But like all relays, the contacts get pitted because of electrical arcing.
You can buy replacement contacts ($10/set) and a replacement plunger ($16.95) at www.nationsautoelectric.com. Go onto their site and look up the starter model for your vehicle, then order the contacts and plunger from them.
To install the parts, start by disconnecting the negative battery cable. Then jack up the car and put it on jack stands. Depending on which engine you have, you may or may not have enough room to do the replacement with the starter still attached to the engine. The solenoid sits on top of the starter and has a removable cover plate. Remove the screws to the cover plate and pry it off gently. There’s a rubber gasket on the plate and that sometimes holds it in place. If the gasket gets damaged, you can use RTV silicone to repair it, BUT make sure the RTV is electrically compatible! Do NOT use household silicone caulk—that stuff is corrosive to copper.
As you remove the cover, the plunger will want to pop out—so be prepared to catch it. Once the plunger is removed, you’ll see the pitted contacts. Replace them with the new parts. Do NOT fool yourself into thinking that you can get by with simply filing them. It won’t last. Then, install the spring on the new plunger and insert it back into the solenoid. Replace the cover and screws. You’re done—and you just save about $300.
For more information on this repair or any others for your vehicle, buy an online subscription to either Alldatadiy.com or eautorepair.net. Click on this link to compare the two services: Compare Alldata and Eautorepair.
If you just need information for a single repair and want to save money,eautorepair offers a lower price 1-week subscription for only $11.99. Or, if you’ll be working on this vehicle in the future, you can buy a 1-year subscription (Alldatadiy.com for $26.99, or eautorepair.net $29.99)
© 2012 Rick Muscoplat
Alldata and Eautorepair are both professional grade shop manuals. You’ll find more in-depth information and more complete wiring diagrams, along with descriptions of how the systems work. And, you’ll get all that at a price you can afford. Check them out!
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