How to re & re the starter

Wingnut

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 10, 2002
Location
Toronto & Whitby
TDI
Silver 2003 Jetta Wagon
Due to a rash of these starter problems lately, I dug through my old photos from my last starter removal to do another how to.

Firstly, the major problem with these things is that clutch dust accumulates around the starter and causes the gear to stick momentarily upon startup. This causes an annoying screeching or grinding noise. To fix the problem, you have to remove, clean & relubricate the starter.

First thing is to locate the starter. It is located just under the battery tray at the front of the transmission. It is quite simple to remove due to the fact that there is only 2 bolts and 2 wires to remove. But it can be a pain to access. Due to the tight quarters, I was not able to take all the necessary shots, but hopefully the ones I did take will help. I also had assistance with the photos from member dvsails.

So here is the starter from the top:


Kind of hard to see huh? Well, here is another picture with some stuff moved out of the way. I lifted up the wiring shroud so you can see the starter underneath.


This shroud has to be unbolted and removed so that the wires can be moved out of the way to access the top starter bolt. Just pry it up like done above and using a 13mm socket, you can unbolt it. It is actually bolted to the starter bolt. You can see where I put the nut back on the end of the stud.


The next step is to unplug & unbolt the wires connected to the starter. there is a heavy gauge wire that comes directly from the battery and a smaller wire to engage the starter when the ignition is turned to Start. This wire is plugged into the solenoid right next to the main power wire. The plug just comes off by squeezing the spring clips and pulling of. The power wire comes off with a 13mm socket. Here is a view from below:


Here is another angle with the plug disconnected:


And here is the view from above. Once the cable is unbolted, CAREFULLY move it out of the way and do not touch it to any metal parts in the engine bay. This wire is live. Many people say to disconnect the battery to do this job, but if you take care and use some electrical tape to wrap the end of the wire and set it off to the side you should be OK. I have done several starters and have never had a problem. It also goes without saying that you should be careful when using the ratchet to unbolt this nut since it can easily touch some metal and short out the battery.

So now that you have the wires removed and safely set aside, you can remove the top starter bolt. It requires a deep socket since the bolt has the extra stud on it to hold the wire shroud:


Now the top work is done, you need to crawl under the car to access the bottom of the starter. To do this, jack up the front of the car and secure it with a solid jack stand for safety:


You will also have to unbolt part of the belly pan to access the underside of the engine compartment. Once under there, you will have to remove an air-conditioning bracket. Similar to the wire shroud on top, the A/C bracket is bolted to a stud on the lower starter bolt:



Remove the bolt with a 13mm socket and move the bracket out of he way:


Then you can remove the lower starter bolt:


At this time, there is nothing holding the starter, so you may need a helper to assist holding it while you remove the bottom bolt. Or, just leave the top one in till you are done underneath and remove the top one last. Once both bolts are out, remove the starter. It requires some twisting & maneuvering to get it out, but it will come:


You can see the accumulation of clutch dust. This is what caused the starter gear to stick in the engaged position and make all those horrible noises:


If you have some parts cleaner, give it a shot before you take it apart:


Now just throw it on a vice and pull it apart and clean and relube the internals. To do that, you have to remove the casing:


There are 2 long bolts that attach the head to the housing:


Once these bolts are removed, the head should just pop of:


Oh, I forgot to mention that you will have to remove the ground strap too. Then once you have the head off, spray some goo lubricant in the end of the gear from inside. On a recommendation from another member of Freds, I used a chain lube to spray onto the shaft of the main gear. I also used some wheel bearing grease for the internal gears:


Once everything is cleaned & lubed, just reassemble it and put it back in. Installation is opposite of removal.

NOTE: This job is not for everyone, so please read it thoroughly before beginning to make sure it falls within your comfort level. This procedure is also not necessarily going to fix all problems. Some starters may be worse than others and this may or may not work for everyone. It has worked for the few that I have done, but YRMV. Finally, I take no responsibility for anything that happens while anyone is attempting to do any of this work. Please use common sense and good judgement when working with tools and live wires.

NOTE 2: I will be doing another one this week and will take more pictures. I missed a few steps the last time, so I hope to make this 'how to' more complete once I take more pictures. If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know.
 

MaxThrust

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2003
Location
Twosun, AZ
TDI
99.5 Jetta
Wingnut, you rock buddy. Thanks once again for a super write-up that will benefit many club members.

YMMV

Mike
 

northstar

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 23, 2003
Location
Ottawa, Ontario
TDI
Jetta,2000,sliver,5sp
Once again Wingnut this is an excellent write up. This is great timing as my starter is making noise & I wanted to remove it for cleaning. I have one question. I would like to disconnect the battery so that I don't short anything out & I also wanted to check the connections under the battery at the same time. Do I have to do anything special before disconnecting the battery, Are there any codes to get? I am worried about not being able to start the car after the battery is reinstalled.
 

rmarkw

Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2004
Location
Central KY
TDI
Beetle, 2000, Blue
Wingnut, another great how to.
I would add for the NB owners, that they will have to remove the battery box to be able to access the starter from above. It's a good oppertunity to clean the ground connection under the battery box.
 

tdiflyer

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Location
Montreal QC
TDI
2015 Golf Wagon TDI. Gone to the kids but still maintaining: 2002 Jetta GLS, 2003 Jetta GLS
Thanks for the detailed writeup. I did a starter cleaning and lube on one of my Jettas last summer and they're both in need of it now, so your procedure will be helpful. One caution from my experience - the back-up light switch (shown between the batter box and shift linkage in your second picture) is close to the starter. It's awkward to R&R the starter due to its weight and tight access. Some time after I had done the job, I realized I had no backup lights and found the switch was snapped off - be careful!!

I also have a different explanation for the source of the noise. Mine only happens when the starter is freewheeling at high RPMs just after disengaging. I found a lot of radial free play between the drive gear shaft and the bushing supporting it. I believe the shaft just buzzes in the bearing once it is no longer stabilized by its engagement with the flywheel. If standards have this problem more than autos, it's quite possible that the clutch dust accelerates the wear. I put a good coating of wheel bearing grease on it, but it only lasted 6 months.
 

TDITN

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 3, 2003
Location
Nashville
TDI
'01 Golf GLS
Bolt sizes

Wrench sizes needed:

13mm for nuts holding the brackets on the primary bolts (top&bottom)
18mm deep socket for the primary bolts holding the starter on engine
7mm for the long bolts holding casing on starter
 

Dick_Larimore

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2003
Location
Central Indiana
TDI
'05 GL Passat & '05 GLS Passat & '05 Beetle TDI
Always remove the negative lead from the battery when working on the starting motor. NEVER take the risk that you won't ground out the battery lead at the starter when using a metal socket and ratchet. Grounding that lead can result in a current flow in excess of 1,000 amps. You don't want to be holding the wrench when this happens. It's not worth the risk. This is not a risk of electrocution. It is a problem with very hot metal parts, molten metal expulsion, and damaged battery cables and terminal.

Second, shorting the battery lead to the "S" terminal (terminal 50) solenoid lead will result in the starter cranking the engine. A really bad move if the manual transmission is in gear.
 

ReferenceDesign

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2003
Location
Atlanta, Ga
got the dealer to replace mine first time but I had to record the noise and play it for them to get them to recognize the problem.

Mine is back again. Time to lube rather than replace.

A tip on disconnecting the battery. A good idea but then you loose your adapted settings. Try this. Connect a very small trickle charger to the battery posts before you pull off the ground (-) lead. These chargers are current limited by design and so a short does not cause a 1000A melt down.

If you do short you will loose your settings so try not to crowbar the charger. Turn off all interior lamps, radio etc so a door opening does not kill the voltage.

car on jack stands always, emergency brake set and rock that puppy with your hip before you get under. Better to find a sliding jack stand while not looking up at it.

Charlie
 

moogleslam

Active member
Joined
Dec 5, 2006
Location
New Hampshire
TDI
2000 Jetta TDI (manual)
unfortunately, with my starter dead, i can't drive it up on ramps, and i'm not in the greatest spot to jack it up either.... but i'll give it a try i guess. i just bought one off ebay, brand new, same part number as the bosch remanufactured one, for $120 - yeah, more than just the noise problem - just clicking, but this guide is useful anyway. also, though i have a jetta, i'm gonna have to take out my battery/battery box as i have a greasecar conversion kit, and the filter is right in the way
 

LNXGUY

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jan 10, 2004
Location
Barrie, Ont, Canada
TDI
'05 Jetta TDI Wagon
volmaniac said:
the bentley manual says that a bushing should be replaced when reinstalling the starter.... has anyone done this and does anyone have a part number for the bushing?

and belated thanks to wingnut for another awesome how to.
I dunno what bushing they'd be talking about.
 

ymz

Top Post Dawg
Joined
May 12, 2003
Location
Between Toronto & Montreal
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI Wagon, 2003 Jetta TDI Wagon
LNXGUY said:
I dunno what bushing they'd be talking about.
On the old models, there was a bushing in the bell housing to accept the end of the starter shaft... I don't know about the modern ones as I haven't needed to r/r a starter in a while... (the original one on my last car lasted about 630,000 km and I wasn't the one who replaced it...)

Yuri.
 

codeblue

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2003
Location
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
TDI
98 Vento GLX TDI
Just wanted to say that I did this today on my A3 and when I was taking the little electrical strap that goes between the starter and solenoid off it just shriveled and crumbled into peices. It was just a crappy bare wire!

I had to make up some crappy new wire to connect the two peices, but the part where it goes onto the casing, there is nothing to attach to, or screw into, it looks like the strap is integral to the casing and it may be necessary to replace the whole starter just to get the stock strap back on there.

I tried soldering too but it didn't really want to stick to the casing.

For now its bare wire wrapped around it and it seems to work. But has anyone else run into this problem before?
 

j3ff

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2003
Soleoid-to-starter wire

Hey Codeblue,

Looks like this thread got a little stale but I just had a very similar problem today. I got in my car and tried to start it, and it cranked slowly then stopped, and a large puff of some came out of the engine. It took me a while, but I eventually traced it down to the strap between the starter and solenoid. It looks like mine corroded about halfway, and then melted the rest when the remaining functioning segment was small enough.

The starter is on my workbench now, I'm going to pull it apart and see if I can figure out a way to replace that wire; I don't want to replace a perfectly good working unit just because of one crappy exposed connector.

I'll let you all know how it turns out...

Jeff
 

codeblue

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2003
Location
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
TDI
98 Vento GLX TDI
I actually ended up purchasing a new starter, from a 2002 TDI, with a functioning bare wire. I made sure to spray it with a lot of deoxidizing solution and then afterwards put some protective electrical grease on it. I guess another solution would be to put some electrical tape on it as well.

Even after lubing up the A3 starter it was still squeeling. This new mk4 starter starts up nice and fast and noise free now.
 

kane

New member
Joined
Jan 10, 2007
Location
sydney nova scotia
TDI
2000 beetle
This is not why you get the grind at start up. There is a bearing right behind the teeth on the starter witch get bad in these cars. The reason why I know is because I tried this before and it would cure it for a little while but would always come back. I took the starter off for the third time and said the hell with it and took it to a starter shop. At last the guy found the bad bearing and that was 40000 kms ago with no problems. Best thing is it only cost 80$ to fix.
 

je

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2000
Location
Chesterton Shores, Ontario
TDI
-
spray some goo lubricant in the end of the gear from inside.
What do you mean by "goo lubricant"? What would I get from the store?
Also - may be this is a good thing to bold, so it doesn't get missed taking the starter out and cleaning it. :eek:

Im not sure it's clutch dust, it seems to be that the bushing for the gear shaft gets worn, the shaft jams, holding the starter gear on the flywheel after the engine starts.

Also from me - where does one get this bushing?
 
Last edited:

drakeo0

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Location
cambridge, ma
TDI
golf 99.5
Just wanted to say that I did this today on my A3 and when I was taking the little electrical strap that goes between the starter and solenoid off it just shriveled and crumbled into peices. It was just a crappy bare wire!

I had to make up some crappy new wire to connect the two peices, but the part where it goes onto the casing, there is nothing to attach to, or screw into, it looks like the strap is integral to the casing and it may be necessary to replace the whole starter just to get the stock strap back on there.

I tried soldering too but it didn't really want to stick to the casing.

For now its bare wire wrapped around it and it seems to work. But has anyone else run into this problem before?
Same thing to me... once it corroded down small enough the rest just melted. Hopefully this is the problem.

Now the fix?

Andrew
 

drakeo0

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 29, 2007
Location
cambridge, ma
TDI
golf 99.5
I ended up cutting up some power cables and lacing the insides together, ripping apart all that cruddy leftover braided wire and ran the new copper directly from the screw on the solenoid to the starter, where I soldered it. Started right (almost, a little chuggy like always) up.
 

rampage

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Location
Rustville, MI
TDI
1998 Jetta
I'm having the same problem with my starter gear hanging up for a split second after it starts.

Here's the question I have, is the starter gear hanging up going to wreck the ring gear, or will the starter just die eventually?
Has anyone else had good results with just cleaning the starter, or is it better to replace? I seem to see a mixed set of opinions...
 

imperium

Veteran Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Location
Poulsbo, WA
TDI
'98 New Beetle
I am in the process of doing this on my Beetle. I can reach the bolt underneath and am hoping to just remove it from topside. The only problem I foresee is the massive bundle of wiring sitting above the starter. Are these clipped to the starter at all, or do they just sit above it?
 

paramedick

TDIClub Enthusiast, Vendor
Joined
Jul 29, 2001
Location
Versailles, Kentucky
TDI
2015 Audi Q5 TDI, 2000 New Beetle
imperium said:
I am in the process of doing this on my Beetle. I can reach the bolt underneath and am hoping to just remove it from topside. The only problem I foresee is the massive bundle of wiring sitting above the starter. Are these clipped to the starter at all, or do they just sit above it?
Joy, they wiring bundle is attached to a little tray. The little tray is secured with a 13mm nut to one of the starter mounting bolts. Just remove the nut with a socket/extension and move out of the way.
 

imperium

Veteran Member
Joined
May 8, 2006
Location
Poulsbo, WA
TDI
'98 New Beetle
paramedick said:
Joy, they wiring bundle is attached to a little tray. The little tray is secured with a 13mm nut to one of the starter mounting bolts. Just remove the nut with a socket/extension and move out of the way.
Thanks, boy did I feel stupid but it sure did come off nice and pretty. I have the starter in the process of being torn apart now! :D
 

Jasper J

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 30, 2003
Location
Draper, UT
TDI
2015 Toffee Brown Beetle Convertible 6M
moogleslam said:
is there anyway to get to the bottom bolt without getting under the car?
I did it all from the top using a variety of extentions... just be careful not to drop anything you don't want to fish out of the belly pan.
 
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Location
calgary
TDI
2000 jetta`
thanks lot of the great info.......the started in my jetta crapped out just before christmas...and were were planning a drive from alberta to ontario.....i ended up changing the started in the dark on the street with a flash light....i would have never been able to do it with out you detailed pics and walkthrough.........tanks again you might just have saved my christmas...lol....
 
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