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Starters and Ignition Systems
Geo Prizm
Ford F-250

How do you replace a starter on a 1993 1994 1995 1996 or 1997 Geo Prizm?


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2011-09-12 20:46:59
2011-09-12 20:46:59

I have a 95 and am working on this right now. This answer should apply to years 93-97.

As many of you probably know, most of the time it goes bad it is not the $150 starter itself, it's the $5 contacts (just hit 80K mi?). Good news is, these are easy to replace ... once the starter is off.

Bad news is two-fold, although references to these contacts or 'brushes' are numerous, they are difficult to track down. The other bad news is actually accessing the mount bolts to physically remove the starter is challenging.

The top bolt is located on the backside of the engine, closest to the windshield. Hard to describe without a photo, but it's about the center of the engine, towards the bottom. It is next to a similar looking bolt, but the one you want is closest to the windshield. It is almost a necessity to remove the pair of hoses that connect from the engine to the heater. Use a pair of pliers to get at the clamps, then wiggle them free. Coolant spillage will ensue. Loosening a couple of other elictrical connections helps marginally, such as the obvious one to the distributor cap. In fact, taking out the air filter and its housing will also give you a little more space and is easy, but isn't necessary. Be prepared, you will most likely need a pipe attached to your wrench to create the torque to crack the bolt head.

The vehicle must be lifted (safety please!) w/ either a lift or ramps to access the bottom bolt. After the car is on the ramps or before it goes on a lift, this is the time to disconnect your battery. Theres not much else there; if you know what your starter looks like you should be able to see it along w/the batter connections. The bottom bolt head faces the opposite direction of the top. You will need to work towards the passenger side wheel, and find the room w/ your wrenches and extensions to create the necessary torque with both the exhaust manifold and the suspenion/axle in the way. I recommend disconnecting the two battery hook-ups first.

Once its free, actually sliding it out requires careful manuvering. A mechanic recommended taking it out through the topside(hood), but I had success manuvering the contraption out throught the suspension, around the manifold, through what can best be described as the most obvious spot. Tricky.

There are instructions on the net for rebuilding the starter in detail, as most of the nippon denso fail for the same reason. Quick synopsis: remove the tree smaller bolts on the pentagon shaped cover to the solenoid. CAREFULLY remove the nuts that hold the many parts onto the bolts (don't brake the small wires inside!), and remember their order/positioning. Your looking to replace the copper contacts that have a ridge worn in them (notice the battery side is more thoroughly worn).

Once you've identified and replaced, hooking it back up is easy enough.

I've relaced several of these starters and have never had to take the coolant hose off from the heater! It does help, but it's absolutely not necessary. The first one I did take off, it took me about 30 minutes. You definitely want to take the starter out from underneath.

There is also an alternate method to replace the starter without lifting the vehicle.

Please see the question "How do you change the starter on a 1996 Toyota Corolla?" Many of the instructions are the same for Corolla and Prizm since they are based upon the same development platform.

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