Car Starter

See how to replace auto starters with this step-by-step guide.

Most of the time your starter or solenoid, the switch that supplies the high electrical current to the starter, will give you advance notice that it is time to be replaced. The tell-tale warning signs are slow engine cranking, a starter that takes several attempts with the key to engage, or a clashing sound as the starter engages. If you ignore these signs, you may be stranded at the worst possible time.

Advance Auto Parts has a full-line of replacement solenoids and car starters including high-torque models for tough-starting conditions, along with plenty of other quality auto parts.

When to change your car starter and starter solenoid:

Some auto starters have solenoids that are attached to the starter, while others have solenoids located in a remote location. Solenoids that are attached to the starter should always be replaced with the starter. Remote solenoids should also be replaced when the starter is replaced.

If the solenoid is receiving full power from the ignition switch, but doesn’t click when you turn the key, then the solenoid needs replacing. Car starters that crank slowly, won’t crank at all or fail to engage need to be replaced.

What equipment you’ll need to change a car starter and starter solenoid:

  • Voltmeter or 12V test light
  • Battery terminal brush
  • Battery anti-corrosion spray
  • Starter & starter solenoid
  • Hand tools
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wheel chocks

Do-it-yourself difficulty guide for replacing auto starters and starter solenoids:

Estimated time required - 1 - 2 hours

Save money by changing your own car starter & starter solenoid. Here’s how to do it.

The average do-it-yourselfer can change a starter and solenoid and save a hefty repair bill. Get a repair manual dedicated to your vehicle before attempting this repair.

  1. If you encounter a starting problem, clean the battery terminals, then check your battery to make sure you are getting full power to the starter. (See the car battery replacement article for more information.)
  2. Disconnect the negative cable from your battery and make sure that the cable is secured away from the battery.
  3. Remove the starter retaining bolts and lower the starter to gain access to the solenoid wiring. Note the location of the starter shims if so equipped.
  4. Remove the wires from the starter or solenoid and mark them with tape and numbers. The large positive battery cable fits only one terminal.
  5. Some car starters like this early Ford use remote solenoids located on the firewall or fender well. They are easily accessible to check whether the solenoid or starter is bad.
  6. Install a new starter with original bolts. Reattach the wires to the starter solenoid. Make sure that the wire connectors are not touching each other and are tight.


Connect the negative battery cable and test starter by quickly turning the ignition key and releasing it. If the starter cranks the engine and releases, you’re done.

Head to Advance Auto Parts for quality auto parts on all your vehicle maintenance jobs – like changing a car starter and starter solenoid.