GM Full Size Vans 1987-1997 Repair Guide

Starter

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The starting motor is a specially designed, direct current electric motor capable of producing a great amount of power for its size. One thing that allows the motor to produce a great deal of power is its tremendous rotating speed. It drives the engine through a tiny pinion gear (attached to the starter's armature), which drives the very large flywheel ring gear at a greatly reduced speed. Another factor allowing it to produce so much power is that only intermittent operation is required of it. Thus, little allowance for air circulation is required, and the windings can be built into a very small space.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



See Figures 1 through 6



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Fig. Fig. 1: Disconnect the negative battery cable before removing the starter cables



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Fig. Fig. 2: Unfasten the starter retaining bolts



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Fig. Fig. 3: Remove the starter retaining bolts



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Fig. Fig. 4: Remove the starter from the van

The following is a general procedure for all vans covered in this guide, and may vary slightly depending on model and series.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable at the battery.
  2.  
  3. Raise and support the vehicle.
  4.  
  5. Disconnect and tag all wires at the solenoid terminal.
  6.  

Reinstall all nuts as soon as they are removed, since the thread sizes are different.

  1. Remove the front bracket from the starter and the mounting bolts. On engines with a solenoid heat shield, remove the front bracket upper bolt and detach the bracket from the starter.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 5: Starter mounts - 4.3L and 5.0L engines



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Fig. Fig. 6: Starter mounts - 5.7L and 7.4L engines

  1. Remove the front bracket bolt or nut. Lower the starter, front end first, then remove the unit from the van.
  2.  

To install:
  1. Position the starter and tighten all bolts to 35 ft. lbs. (45 Nm)
  2.  
  3. Reconnect all wires.
  4.  

SHIMMING THE STARTER



See Figures 7, 8 and 9

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. (0.3mm) 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 most auto tool store or salesperson.

If your van'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 screwdriver 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. (1.3mm) plus, shim the starter towards the flywheel. Broken or severely mangled flywheel teeth are also a good indicator that the clearance here is too great. Shimming the starter towards 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. (0.3mm) at this location will decrease the clearance about 0.010 in. (0.2mm).
  12.  



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Fig. Fig. 7: Shimming the starter



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Fig. Fig. 8: Meshing the starter teeth



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Fig. Fig. 9: Check the pinion-to-flywheel clearance

SOLENOID REPLACEMENT



  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Remove the screw and washer from the field strap terminal.
  4.  
  5. Remove the two solenoid-to-housing retaining screws and the motor terminal bolt.
  6.  
  7. Remove the solenoid by twisting the unit 90 degrees.
  8.  
  9. To replace the solenoid, reverse the above procedure. Make sure the return spring is on the plunger, and rotate the solenoid unit into place on the starter.
  10.  

 
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