How Much Does a Starter Replacement Cost?

Most vehicles use an electric starter motor to turn the engine over. A typical engine starter is capable of turning an engine at speeds of approximately 200-300 RPM and is powered by your car battery. Any issue with your starter can make it difficult or impossible to start your vehicle. If you have a damaged starter, you need to know how much a starter for a car is. Find helpful estimates and learn where to turn for an affordable, reliable replacement starter.

How Much a Starter Replacement Costs

The cost of rebuild parts for a starter can range from as little as $50 to as much as $350. A brand-new starter can range from $80 to over $350. For a qualified mechanic to replace or rebuild your starter, you can expect to pay between $150 and over $1,100. These estimates vary dramatically depending on the particular issue and the make, model, and year of your vehicle. Many vehicles have a starter that is easily accessible and can be removed and replaced in under an hour – others are far more complicated, as they can be housed other engine components – like underneath the intake manifold.

If you decide on doing your own replacement, a complete starter replacement is a reasonable DIY project for individuals with the right equipment and experience. Ask your AutoZone store about tips on replacing a damaged starter and finding the best starter replacement product for your vehicle.

Factors That Affect the Replacement Cost

The first thing you need to do is determine whether your vehicle’s starting issue is truly caused by a starter. Because of the interrelated nature of many starting system components, your issue may be a number of electrical or mechanical issues outside of the starter. An old battery could also show the same symptoms. If your vehicle has a starter fuse and/or relay, start by looking at one of those.

Determining the exact part that’s damaged can help you or a mechanic compare the cost of rebuilding or replacing your starter. Either way, the starter needs to be removed completely from your engine compartment. A rebuild project can take a significant amount of time, but a replacement project only requires a new starter to be replaced and the bolts tightened to OEM torque specifications.

What are the Signs You Need a New Starter

A starter is critical to the basic operation of your engine starting system, so many issues with starting your vehicle can be signs that you need a new automotive starter. Here are a few common signs that your starter is damaged:

  • Erratic cranking of your vehicle
  • No response when you turn the key
  • Unusual noises when you start your vehicle

You want to learn all the signs and symptoms of a bad starter.

The armature of the starter needs to be free from damage in order to work efficiently. Minor defects with this component can create unusual starting issues. If there are electrical or mechanical faults inside your starter, it may turn too slowly to reach the ideal cranking RPM of your engine. You may hear the engine turn over, but the process is too slow to fully start your engine.

Odd sounds, particularly grinding, could reflect a flywheel ring or starter drive gear failure. These internal components need to be repaired or replaced to restore your starting system. Finally, some internal starter issues can cause your starter to fail completely. If this is the case, turning the key in your ignition won’t produce any sounds or other signs of starting your engine.

What are the Parts of a Starter

starter is made up of several basic parts. Understanding the internal components of a starter can help you find out whether to repair or replace your starter, which can affect the price of this service. Here are the main parts of an automotive starter:

  • Electromagnetic field coils or permanent magnets
  • Armature and commutator
  • Solenoid
  • Shift fork
  • Starter drive gear
  • Brushes
  • Bearings and bushings

The electromagnetic field coils are housed in the starter housing. Depending on your vehicle, you may have between two and four field coils. These are energized by your automotive battery and power the armature to turn over the engine. The armature is a durable component mounted on a shaft and bearings. The armature is wrapped with conductor loops to transfer voltage and retain electrical contact as the armature rotates.

starter’s solenoid is made up of a movable core and two coils of wire. It switches on and off to control the electrical circuit and activate the starter. On starters that have an integrated solenoid, a plunger attached to the solenoid manipulates the shift fork, which is connected to the starter drive gear to turn the engine over when engaged.

Starters come in a wide range of sizes and designs. Not all starters operate exactly the same way, and the location of your starter can vary. Always consult your owner’s manual before purchasing a starter or starter rebuild kit.

Can I Drive with a Faulty Starter?

As the name implies, a starter only operates while you’re starting your engine. Once the engine is running, a starter isn’t necessary for continued operation. However, it’s essential to order a new starter or have a mechanic inspect your starter issue promptly. Once you turn off your engine, a faulty starter may prevent you from continuing to operate your vehicle.

Do I Need to Repair or Replace My Starter?

Check with a mechanic or carefully inspect the entire starting system to determine whether your starter is causing the issue. If it is, you’ll need to inspect your starter to identify the source of the issue. Some damaged starter components are straightforward to rebuild, while others require significant components and time. For major rebuild projects, it may be more cost-effective to replace your starter completely. This will save a significant amount of time whether you are replacing your own starter or working with a professional mechanic.

Find Affordable Starters Today

Shop online or at your local AutoZone auto parts store for great deals on name-brand starters. Now that you have an estimate on how much to replace a starter, sort starters based on your make and model of vehicle to determine the exact cost of this essential repair project. Whether you’re ready for a DIY starter replacement project or planning to visit your local repair technician, you can find the parts you need at AutoZone.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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