How to Replace the Car Starter

Removing the starter requires a certain level of mechanical aptitude -- this task should not be attempted by someone with no prior mechanical knowledge.

Things You'll Need:
Vehicle ramps
1-ton or greater capacity jack (if ramps are not available)
2 jack stands (if ramps are not available)
3/8-inch drive ratchet and socket set, with 6-inch or longer extension
New starter
Stpes as following:
1.Raise the front of the Grand Am, utilizing vehicle ramps. If ramps are not available, lift the front of Grand Am, using a jack. Place jack stands beneath the frame rails on either side of the engine. Lower the vehicle down onto the jack stands, then remove the jack from your work area.

2.Raise the hood of the Grand Am and locate the battery on the passenger's side of the engine compartment. Remove the negative (black) battery cable from the battery, using an 8-mm open-end wrench. Pull the battery cable free from the battery, then tuck the cable to the side of the battery, so that no electrical connection is accidentally made during this project.

3.Lay beneath the front bumper of the car and slide your body into position to physically access the engine starter. Loosen the wire hold-down nut from the positive post of the starter, using a ratchet, socket and extension -- the positive post is the post that protrudes from the center of the starter outwards, and sticks out farther than the negative post. Completely remove the wire hold-down nut, then remove the positive starter wiring from the starter. Tuck the positive wiring upward into the front frame rail to separate it from other wiring you are going to remove.

4.Remove the negative wire hold-down nut from the starter, using a ratchet, socket and extension. Remove the negative wiring from the starter and let the wiring hang freely, but push it away from the starter body.

5.Remove the small plastic shield located at the base of the starter, where the starter joins to the transmission housing -- this is on the opposite side of the wired end of the starter. Use a ratchet and socket to remove the single bolt from the plastic "U"-shaped shield, then completely remove the shield.

6.Remove the starter bolt from the starter that is positioned farthest forward on the car, by pulling it upward. Use a ratchet and socket to remove the front starter bolt. Remove the rear starter bolt, using a ratchet, socket and long extension. Place one hand beneath the starter once you have begun loosening the second starter bolt, so as not to let the starter fall from its position and possibly strike you.

7.Remove the starter by pulling it horizontally out of the transmission housing. Visually inspect the position of the starter solenoid, which is the smaller cylinder attached to the large starter body. The new starter will have to be mounted in the exact same position.

8.Mount the new starter into the transmission housing horizontally, making sure that the solenoid is facing the same direction that the old starter was facing. Install the rearmost starter bolt, and start the bolt into the hole by a few threads. Align the starter and install the forward starter mounting bolt, tightening the bolt a few threads by hand. Tighten both starter bolts to 32 foot-pounds, using a torque wrench, socket and extension.

9.Install the plastic shield around the base of the starter, and install the shield mounting bolt. Tighten the shield mounting bolt until it is snug, as no torque is needed to hold this bolt in place.

10.Install the negative lead wires onto the negative post of the starter, which is the more recessed of the two starter posts. Tighten the wire tie-down nut, using a ratchet and socket, until the nut is snug. Turn the nut 1/4-turn farther to complete the tightening process known as "snug-and-a-quarter." This tightening process is used when torque is not needed, as torque can actually damage parts during installation.

11.Install the positive lead wires over the positive starter mounting post. Install the wire tie-down nut, and tighten the nut using the same "snug-and-a-quarter" method shown in Step 10.

12.Reinstall the negative battery cable onto the battery, and tighten the cable lead with an open-end wrench. Test the vehicle for starting capability. If the engine turns over, then the starter installation was a success. If the engine does not turn over at all, double-check your wiring to the starter, and possibly use a multimeter to check that the starter wires are receiving an electrical charge.

13.Raise the vehicle off the jack stands if you utilized them during this project. Lower the vehicle to the ground, then shut the hood of the vehicle.