GM Buick/Oldsmobile/Pontiac/Full-Size 1975-1990 Repair Guide

Starter

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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



See Figures 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Gasoline Engines

The starters on some engines require the addition of shims to provide proper clearance between the starter pinion gear and the flywheel. These shims are available in 0.015 in. (0.4mm) sizes from Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac dealers. Flat washers can be used if shims are unavailable.

  1. Important: disconnect the negative battery cable before proceeding.
  2.  
  3. Raise the vehicle to a convenient working height and safely support it with jackstands.
  4.  
  5. Remove the exhaust crossover pipe.
  6.  
  7. Disconnect all wiring from the starter solenoid. Replace each nut as the connector is removed, as thread sizes differ from connector to connector. Tag the wires for later connection.
  8.  
  9. Remove the flywheel housing cover and disconnect the oil cooler lines at the transmission, if necessary.
  10.  
  11. Starter removal on certain models may necessitate the removal of the frame support. This support runs from the corner of the frame to the front crossmember. To remove:
    1. Loosen the mounting bolt that attaches the support to the corner of the frame.
    2.  
    3. Loosen and remove the mounting bolt that attaches the support to the front crossmember and then swing the support out of the way.
    4.  
    5. Install the crossmember and mounting bolts. Torque the bolts to 80 ft. lbs. (109 Nm).
    6.  

  12.  
  13. Remove the front bracket from the starter and the two mounting bolts. On engines with a starter solenoid heat shield, remove the front bracket upper bolt and detach the bracket from the starter.
  14.  
  15. Remove the front bracket bolt or nut. Lower the starter front end first, then remove the unit from the vehicle.
  16.  
  17. Installation is the reverse of removal. Make sure that any shims removed are replaced (please refer to the shimming procedure). Torque the two mounting bolts to 25-35 ft. lbs. (34-48 Nm). Connect the starter wires and install heat shields if removed.
  18.  



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Fig. Fig. 1: It may be necessary to remove the flywheel cover on some models to remove the starter



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Fig. Fig. 2: On some models it may be helpful to disconnect the cooler lines at the transmission before removing the flywheel cover



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Fig. Fig. 3: Removing the starter attaching bolts



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Fig. Fig. 4: To remove the starter from the vehicle, first pull it straight out then lower it away from the vehicle



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Fig. Fig. 5: On some models the connections at the starter solenoid are not accessible when it is installed. Do not let the starter hang by it's wires once it has been lowered from it's mount. Have a helper hold it, then disconnect the wires

Diesel Engines
  1. Disconnect both batteries. Raise the vehicle and support it securely with jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the flywheel cover.
  4.  
  5. Remove the starter heat shield upper bolt and side nut and then remove the shield.
  6.  
  7. Label the wires and then disconnect them, keeping attaching nuts in order. On the Olds 88 and 98 models, it may be necessary to work on the wiring from the front of the engine.
  8.  
  9. Support the starter from underneath. Remove the two mounting bolts that can be reached from underneath the starter, and remove it by pulling it out between the flywheel and exhaust crossover.
  10.  

To install:
  1. Support the starter and connect the wiring harness as previously marked.
  2.  
  3. Position the starter into the mounting area and install the shims (if used) and mounting bolts. Torque the mounting bolts to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Install the flywheel cover and heat shield, if so equipped.
  6.  
  7. Connect the battery cables and start the engine to check for proper operation.
  8.  

SHIMMING



See Figures 6 and 7

Starter noise during cranking and after the engine fires is often a result of too much or too little distance between the starter pinion gear and the flywheel. A high pitched whine during cranking (before the engine fires) can be caused by the pinion and flywheel being too far apart. Likewise, a whine after the engine starts (as the key is released) is often a result of the pinion-flywheel relationship being too close. In both cases flywheel damage can occur. Shims are available in 0.015 in. (0.4mm) sizes to properly adjust the starter on its mount. You will also need a flywheel turning tool, available at most auto parts stores or from any auto tool store or salesperson.

If your vehicle's starter emits the above noises, follow the shimming procedure:

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Remove the flywheel inspection cover on the bottom of the bellhousing.
  4.  
  5. Using the flywheel turning tool, turn the flywheel and examine the flywheel teeth. If damage is evident, the flywheel should be replaced.
  6.  
  7. Insert a suitable prybar into the small hole in the bottom of the starter and move the starter pinion and clutch assembly so the pinion and flywheel teeth mesh. If necessary, rotate the flywheel so that a pinion tooth is directly in the center of the two flywheel teeth and on the centerline of the two gears, as shown in the accompanying illustration.
  8.  
  9. Check the pinion-to-flywheel clearance by using a 0.020 in. (0.5mm) wire gauge (a spark plug wire gauge may work here, or you can make your own). Make sure you center the pinion tooth between the flywheel teeth and the gauge, NOT in the corners, as you may get a false reading. If the clearance is under this minimum, shim the starter away from the flywheel by adding shim(s) one at a time to the starter mount. Check clearance after adding each shim.
  10.  
  11. If the clearance is a good deal over 0.020 in. (0.5mm), in the vicinity of 0.050 in. (1.27mm) plus, shim the starter toward the flywheel. Broken or severely mangled flywheel teeth are also a good indicator that the clearance here is too great. Shimming the starter toward the flywheel is done by adding shims to the outboard starter mounting pad only. Check the clearance after each shim is added. A shim of 0.015 in. (0.4mm) at this location will decrease the clearance about 0.010 in. (0.25mm).
  12.  



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Fig. Fig. 6: Shimming the starter; diesel shown at right



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Fig. Fig. 7: Checking the pinion-to-flywheel clearance

SOLENOID REPLACEMENT



See Figure 8

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Remove the starter motor from the vehicle as previously outlined.
  4.  
  5. Remove the screw and washer from the field strap terminal.
  6.  
  7. Remove the two solenoid-to-housing retaining screws and the motor terminal bolt.
  8.  
  9. Remove the solenoid by twisting the unit 90 degrees.
  10.  

To install:
  1. Install the solenoid and twist 90 degrees. Make sure the return spring is on the plunger, and rotate the solenoid unit into place on the starter.
  2.  
  3. Install the retaining screws and torque to 100 inch lbs. (11 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Connect the field strap terminal, install the starter, connect the negative battery cable and start the engine to check for proper operation.
  6.  



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Fig. Fig. 8: Exploded view of the solenoid assembly

 
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