GM Century/Lumina/Grand Prix/Intrigue 1997-2000

General Information

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The starting, or cranking system consists of the battery, starter motor, ignition switch and related wiring. These components are connected electrically. When the ignition switch is turned to the START position (and the theft protection module recognizes the key code, as equipped) battery voltage is applied to the starter solenoid (through the theft deterrent relay, as equipped) S terminal and the solenoid windings are energized. This causes the plunger to move the shift lever, which engages the pinion with the engine flywheel ring gear. The plunger also closes the solenoid contacts, applying battery voltage to the starter motor, which cranks the engine.

When the engine starts, the pinion will over-run and spin at engine speed (rather than starter motor speed) to help prevent flywheel and starter motor damage. When the ignition switch is released (removing the voltage from the solenoid) the plunger return spring disengages the pinion. In order to prevent excessive over-run, the ignition switch should be released as soon as the engine starts.


WARNING
Never operate the starter motor for more than 30 seconds at a time. Allow it to cool for at least two minutes. Overheating, caused by too much cranking, will damage the starter motor.

The vehicles covered by this guide use several different starter motor applications. When obtaining a replacement starter motor, make sure you get the correct unit. In nearly every case, the starter motor is considered non-serviceable which means they are not user-serviceable and must be replaced as an assembly.

Starter motors do not require lubrication. In general, starter motors give little trouble. Most no-start or hard cranking complaints can be traced to a low battery, poor connections, defective fusible link, engine oil too thick for the weather conditions and other non-starter related causes.

Although different starter motors are used on different engines, the removal and installation procedures are very similar. The main differences are getting to the starter (air dam removal or radiator baffle removal requirements on some applications).

STARTER MOTOR NOISE DIAGNOSIS



High-Pitched Whine During Cranking

A high-pitched whine during cranking (before the engine fires), although the engine cranks and starts okay, means the distance it too great between the starter pinion and flywheel. This distance is governed by thin metal shims between the starter motor and the engine block. Likely a shim needs to be removed. This is often the case after a starter motor has been changed. The replacement starter may not fit exactly as the original so shims are normally used to adjust the starter in or out to get proper tooth meshing.

High-Pitched Whine After Engine Fires

A high-pitched whine after the engine fires, as the key is being released, although then engine cranks and starts okay, is sometime an intermittent complaint. It is often diagnosed as starter "hang-in" or a weak solenoid. This usually means the distance is too small between the starter pinion and flywheel. Flywheel runout (out-of-round) contributes to the intermittent nature of the complaint. Again, shimming the starter correctly should cure the problem. The GM shims are generally 0.040 inch (1mm) thick. Install the shims, one at a time, until the noise is gone. GM recommends that you use no more than two shims and do not exceed 0.080 inch (2mm).

Loud "Whoop" Noise

A loud "whoop" after the engine starts, while the starter is still engaged, often sounding like a siren as the engine RPM is increased while the starter is engaged, is usually a starter drive problem. On starters that can be serviced (very few on the vehicles covered by this guide), a new starter drive should solve the problem. On non-serviceable starters, replace the starter assembly.

Rumble, Growl or Knock

A rumble, growl or in severe cases, a knock as the starter is coasting down to a stop after starting the engine may be traced to a bent starter armature. On starters that can be serviced (very few on the vehicles covered by this guide), a new armature (if available) should solve the problem. On non-serviceable starters, replace the starter assembly.

TESTING



Before removing any component of the cranking circuit, check the following:



Inspect the battery and cables, as outlined in .
 
Inspect the wiring for damage
 
Inspect all connections to the starter motor, solenoid, ignition switch, battery and all ground connections. Clean and tighten as required.
 
Inspect the starter motor and ignition switches to determine their condition.
 

If the battery, wiring and switches are in satisfactory condition, and the engine is known to be functioning properly, the starter may be at fault.

Voltage Drop Test

NOTE
The battery must be in good condition and fully charged prior to performing this test.

  1. Disable the ignition system by unplugging the coil pack. Verify that the vehicle will not start.
  2.  
  3. Connect a voltmeter between the positive terminal of the battery and the starter B+ circuit.
  4.  
  5. Turn the ignition key to the START position and note the voltage on the meter.
  6.  
  7. If voltage reads 0.5 volts or more, there is high resistance in the starter cables or the cable ground, repair as necessary. If the voltage reading is ok proceed to the next step.
  8.  
  9. Connect a voltmeter between the positive terminal of the battery and the starter M circuit.
  10.  
  11. Turn the ignition key to the START position and note the voltage on the meter.
  12.  
  13. If voltage reads 0.5 volts or more, there is high resistance in the starter. Repair or replace the starter as necessary.
  14.  


NOTE
Many automotive parts stores have starter bench testers available for use by customers. A starter bench test is the most definitive way to determine the condition of your starter.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



3.1L, 3.4L (VIN X) and 3.8L Engines


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Fig. Typical starter motor mounting-3.1L engine shown



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Fig. Detach the starter electrical connections . . .



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Fig. . . . then unfasten the retaining bolts and remove the starter from the vehicle



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Fig. Most starter removal requires unfastening the flywheel cover screws . . .



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Fig. . . . then removing the plastic flywheel cover



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Fig. A socket wrench extension is often required to reach the starter motor retaining bolts



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Fig. When removing the starter motor, retain the thin sheetmetal shim(s) as they may be required at installation



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Fig. Typical starter motor mounting-3.8L engines shown


WARNING
Remember that the positive battery cable to the starter motor is electrically "hot" all the time. You must open the circuit by disconnecting the negative battery cable before servicing the starter motor.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Raise and safely support the vehicle.
  4.  
  5. Remove the electrical connections at the starter,
  6.  
  7. Remove the torque converter cover. Usually this is just a few small screws and/or small bolts
  8.  
  9. Remove the starter motor mounting bolts. Use care as the starter is relatively heavy. Do not allow it to fall. Take note of any thin metal shims between the starter and engine block. They may be required during installation.
  10.  

To install:

  1. Position the starter motor, including any shims found at removal, to the engine block and install the mounting bolts. Tighten the bolts to 32 ft. lbs. (43 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Install the torque converter cover and tighten the torque converter cover screws to 89 inch lbs. (10 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Position the wires to the starter. Tighten the starter solenoid "BAT" (heavy cable) nut to 84 inch lbs. (9 Nm). Tighten the starter solenoid S terminal nut to just 27 inch lbs. (3 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Lower the vehicle.
  8.  
  9. Connect the battery negative cable. Start the engine to verify correct operation.
  10.  

3.4L (VIN E) Engine


Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Starter motor arrangement-3.4L (VIN E) engine shown


WARNING
Remember that the positive battery cable to the starter motor is electrically "hot" all the time. You must open the circuit by disconnecting the negative battery cable before servicing the starter motor.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Raise and safely support the vehicle.
  4.  
  5. Remove the front lower air deflector panel by locating the deflector retainers. These are push-in retainers and should be carefully pried loose. Remove the ambient temperature sensor, if equipped.
  6.  
  7. Remove the two torque converter covers. They are retained by small screws.
  8.  
  9. Remove the starter solenoid "BAT" terminal nut (the large one) and disconnect the battery positive cable from the starter motor. Remove the S terminal nut and disconnect the solenoid wire.
  10.  
  11. Remove the starter motor mounting bolts. Use care. The starter is relatively heavy. Do not allow it to fall. Take note of any thin metal shims between the starter and engine block. They may be required at installation.
  12.  

To install:

  1. Verify the correct starter motor has been obtained. Position the starter motor, including any shims found at removal, to the engine block and install the mounting bolts finger-tight until seated. Torque the bolts to 32 ft. lbs. (43 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Position the wires to the starter. Install the nuts finger-tight, then tighten the starter solenoid "BAT" (heavy cable) nut to 84 inch lbs. Tighten the starter solenoid S terminal nut to just 20 inch lbs. (2.5 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Install the torque converter covers and tighten the torque converter cover screws to 89 inch lbs. (10 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Install the front lower air deflector panel by pressing in the plastic retainers.
  8.  
  9. Lower the vehicle.
  10.  
  11. Connect the battery negative cable. Start the engine to verify correct operation
  12.  

3.5L (VIN H) Engine


Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Exploded view of the starter motor -3.5L (VIN H) engine shown

The PG260 M1 starter motor used on this engine is not serviceable and must be replaced as a complete unit.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Raise and safely support the vehicle.
  4.  
  5. Remove the front radiator lower air deflector (sometimes called an 'air dam' or 'spoiler'). The bolts should go through the deflector vertically to the substructure.
  6.  
  7. Remove the S terminal nut and disconnect the solenoid wire. Remove the starter solenoid "BAT" terminal nut (the large one) and disconnect the battery positive cable from the starter motor.
  8.  
  9. Remove the torque converter cover, retained by small screws.
  10.  
  11. Remove the starter motor mounting bolts. Use care. The starter is relatively heavy. Do not allow it to fall. Take note of any thin metal shims between the starter and engine block. They may be required at installation.
  12.  

To install:

  1. Verify the correct starter motor has been obtained. Position the starter motor, including any shims found at removal, to the engine block and install the mounting bolts finger-tight until seated. Torque the bolts to 37 ft. lbs. (50 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Install the torque converter cover, tightening the screws to 89 inch lbs. (10 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Position the wires to the starter. Install the nuts finger-tight, then tighten the starter solenoid "BAT" (heavy cable) nut to 84 inch lbs. (9 Nm) Tighten the starter solenoid S terminal nut to just 20 inch lbs. (2.5 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Install the front radiator lower air deflector. Tighten the bolts to 15 ft. lbs. (20 Nm).
  8.  
  9. Lower the vehicle.
  10.  
  11. Connect the battery negative cable. Start the engine to verify correct operation
  12.  

SOLENOID REPLACEMENT



All of the starter motor and solenoid assemblies used by vehicles covered by this guide are non-serviceable starter assemblies, with the exception of some 3.8L engines using GM's SD255 starter motor.

3.8L Engine With SD255 Starter Motor Only
  1. Remove the starter motor from the engine as outlined earlier in this section.
  2.  
  3. Remove the starter solenoid screws.
  4.  
  5. Rotate the solenoid 90 degrees ( 1 / 4 turn) and pull the solenoid out of the starter.
  6.  

To install:


NOTE
Use only GM Part Number 10477431 grease to lubricate the solenoid core. This grease is specially formulated to aid plunger movement and dampen vibration of the plunger as the engine runs. Other greases may eventually degrade and prevent proper plunger movement, causing starter failure.

  1. Clean all parts well. Lubricate the solenoid core. Apply one complete packet (1 gram) of GM Part Number 10477431 grease evenly around the inside edge of the solenoid core. Apply all grease thickly to the first 1 / 2 inch (13mm) inside the edge of the core. Plunger movement will distribute grease properly. Avoid getting dirt or other contamination in the grease before installing the solenoid to the starter.
  2.  
  3. Assemble the solenoid over the plunger by compressing the spring and aligning the solenoid motor field terminal with the field lead on the starter.
  4.  
  5. Tighten the starter solenoid to starter motor screws to 58 inch lbs. (6.5 Nm). Tighten the solenoid motor solenoid to field terminal screw to 65 inch lbs. (7.3 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Install the starter motor using the procedure described above.
  8.  

 
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