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How do you change a starter on a 1999 Toyota Tacoma?


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2010-12-19 00:23:54
2010-12-19 00:23:54

I found that removing the driver side front wheel was the best way to gain access to the starter which is right there. After removing the bolts there was a lot of twisting to get it out.

Howdy Motorheads, I just emerged from garage after finally removing starter from the V6 model '99 Taco 4WD. This is a time consuming and sometimes frustrating job. Took me 4 days working on and off. Starter is buried deep with very little working room. The above suggestion left by another contributor is for the 4 cylinder. The following steps are for the V6 version.


The downside of remanufactured aluminum components is the threaded holes you will depend on to bolt the starter back in place. I suspect better remanufactuers are doing the right thing and using threaded steel inserts. For my $100 Ultima reman. starter they just left the threaded holes in the housing flange as is. Those threads proved to be well worn. The Toyota tech manual for this vehicle gives a torque value of 29 ft. lbs. Mine would hardly take 15 ft. lbs. I snugged them up best I could and will hope for the best.

I hope the remanufacturing community hears this. USE THREADED STEEL


In the aftermath, I wish I had piled down and got the $220 Toyota reman. starter. Motorheads, even with all the bad press that Toyota has gotten I strongly suspect that the quality control at Toyota remanufacturing sites is heads above what you will find at Mexico based after-market remanufacturing plants.

Note: My Toyota dealer could not find a quote for a brand new starter. I suspect those all go to the new vehicle assembly line.

Those of you that just like to wrench but have the dough, skip all the following and just go to the dealer or local mechanic and HAVE IT DONE FOR YOU. This was not an enjoyable job.


I suggest that you remove the old starter first.* The steps follow.

*I suggest this so you can take the top starter mounting bolt with you when you look for a reman. starter and test the threads prior to purchase. Clean off the tiny hunks of aluminum stuck in the threads of this bolt with a wire brush first. You should be able to screw the bolt all the way in with your fingers. They should feel like normal threads allowing full insetion. This said, carry on Motorheads.

No real need to remove right front tire and rubber mud shields. If you do you will get another view, might be helpful.

1. VERY IMPORTANT: Disconnect negative lead to battery. Insulate it and tuck it away. We don't want any arcing and welding do we? NO!

2. Remove both metal mud shields from bottom of truck.

3. Starter is under exhaust manifold on passenger side. Disconnect the big wire from the starter. It is held on by 12 mm nut.

4. Disconnect the smaller multi-wire connector from starter. You have to squeeze and pull on connector. Don't pull on the wires.

5. There are 2 bolts that hold on the starter. Both are 14mm. Lower one is straight forward. For the upper I used a 1/2" drive ratchet, 1/2 X 3/8" adapter, two 3/8" X 6" extensions, a 3/8" universal joint and a 14 mm socket.

6. Now you have a loose starter. If you are real good at Rubik's cube you might figure out how to get it out in one piece. I was not that smart. So, after 2 days of trying I split the old starter into 2 pieces.

7. Remove the 12 mm nut holding on the wire that goes from solenoid half to the armature half.

8. There are 2 long bolts that mount the armature and frame to the starter solenoid housing. Use an 8 mm socket to remove them.

9. Carefully remove armature and frame from the solenoid unit. The armature and frame assembly will try to separate into two pieces if you pull from the end. Carefully remove it in one piece.

10. Now you have 2 smaller pieces that will come out the bottom without having to move brake lines or headers, etc. Bolt them back together and go claim you core refund. You earned it!

11. The installation is basically the reverse of the above steps.

12. Take your "new" reman. starter and remove the nut holding the wire connecting the armature and solenoid unit and remove the wire. Remove the two long bolts holding the armature and frame to the solenoid unit. Remove the armature unit from the solenoid unit. Again take care with the threads. I used duct tape to keep the armature housing from splitting into two pieces.

13. Put the two starter pieces up into the that tight place under the exhaust manifold and then reassemble. Again take care with the threads. I suspect that some nickle based anti-sieze compound on the bolt threads might stiffen up over time and provide a bit more integrity to the threaded unions.

14. Mount the starter with the two bolts. Again, use nickle anti-sieze on the threads. Tighten carefully while taking care to sense the strip point for the threads. The recommended 29 ft. lbs. may not be achievable.

15. Reconnect the small multi-wire connector, then the big wire.

16. Reconnect the negative battery cable.

17. Take a deep breath and crank it over. If the engine starts, YOU BE THE MOTORHEAD!! Pour a beer and come back tomorrow.

18. The next morning look at the garage floor and bolt back on all the left over bits and mud shields.

19. Roll on Motorheads, you be finished.

*** NOTE ***

While following the above suggestion on my 1999 Tacoma 4x4 V6, I stumbled upon a removable access panel behind the rubber splash shield in the passenger side wheel well. Before trying the above suggestion, remove the rubber splash shield inside the front passenger wheel well and see if there is a removable access panel behind it! If it is there just remove the 5 10mm screws and remove th starter, it will save a lot of time and frustration.


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