One of the things I love about this 35-year-old Wagoneer, and one of the reasons I hate to be selling it, is that it's so easy to work on. With the 2" lift it had when I bough it, the chassis sits up just high enough to provide easy access when you have to crawl underneath it. The engine bay is also pretty uncluttered, which means removing the starter only takes about 5 minutes. One 1/2" nut secures the battery cable, and two 9/16" bolts (one from each direction) hold the starter to the transmission bellhousing. A wobble joint and about 16" of extension bars did help gain access to these bolts for my ratchet handle.
Upon arriving at Advance Auto, the employees all marvelled at the 12-year-old receipt that I brought in. Of course, I had kept it in the vehicle all this time, just in case. I had paid $30 for the starter, and it now cost $50, so I'm glad I'd kept the receipt.
The starter nose was covered in metal dust, part of the nose housing had been ground away, and the starter rattled loudly inside when you shook it, so the employee didn't even bother trying to test it before agreeing to replace it.
Unfortunately, starters for 35-year-old Jeeps aren't in as high a demand as they once were, so none of the local parts stores stock them any more. This is supposedly a Ford starter, but the mounting ears are different for the AMC bellhousing. They'd have to ship one half way across the country (from Virginia), and it would take three days.
Remember that our other family-sized vehicle was also out of commission at the same time, leaving our family of five with just my four-seat Wrangler in the interim. I'd be riding to work on my bicycle for a few days, it appeared.
When I arrived the next morning, the manager looked up the part and found that one had already been shipped to their Kansas City warehouse that morning. He could have that one sent up to us in Lincoln, Nebraska, the next day without incurring any additional shipping fees. Bonus!
|Three bolts secure the starter (viewed from below)|
|Starter mounting location (viewed from front)|
The second replacement starter sounded better. It's been running now for over a month. It still has a little bit of that same post-start whine, but not enough to make me pull it back out again. I think the quality control of these replacement starters isn't what it used to be. I'll keep my fingers crossed, and keep the receipt handy just in case.
If you've got any questions or comments, or if you'd like to share your own vehicle repair woes, please speak up in the comments below.