How to Change the Starter on Nissan Cars

by Contributing Writer

If you have some electrical and mechanical skills and some tools around the house, you can save money by installing your Nissan car starter on your own. The location of the starter will vary depending on the year and motor. You may have to raise the front end of the Nissan car up and crawl underneath, or you may only have to remove the air duct from above to access it. Nissan car has placed many different motors into the Nissan car over the years, so you may have to refer to the manual to locate it. A good rule to remember is the starter has to be near the transmission flywheel, whether on top or below. Start there and look for electrical wires.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Starter on a Nissan 240SX

Remove the Starter Motor

Detach the black, ground cable from the battery using a back up wrench to hold the bolt head and a wrench to turn the retaining nut loose.

Jack up the front of your Nissan 240SX using a floor jack, and safely support it on two jack stands. If you have a manual transmission model, go to Step 7; otherwise, continue on to the next step.

Support the automatic transmission with a floor jack.

Unscrew the four rear-mounting bracket bolts using a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Lower the automatic transmission just enough to gain access to the starter motor for removal.

Unscrew the oil dipstick tube mounting bolt from the automatic transmission and remove the dipstick tube.

Unbolt the starter support bracket using the ratchet and socket.

Disconnect the wire and battery cable from the starter assembly using the ratchet and socket.

Support the starter motor with the floor jack, if necessary, and remove the starter mounting bolts using the ratchet and socket.

Lower the starter and remove it from the vehicle.

Install the New Starter Motor

Position the starter on the engine and support it with the floor jack, if necessary.

Start the mounting bolts by hand. Then tighten the bolts using the ratchet and socket.

Remove the floor jack from under the starter and connect the wire and battery cable to the motor using the ratchet and socket.

Install the starter support bracket using the ratchet and socket. If you have a manual transmission model, go to Step 7; otherwise, continue on to the next step.

Install the oil dipstick tube on the automatic transmission and tighten the mounting bolt.

Raise the transmission and tighten the four rear-mounting bracket bolts using the ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Remove the floor jack and lower the vehicle.

Attach the black, ground cable to the battery using the backup wrench to hold to bolt head and the wrench to tighten the retaining nut.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Ratchet, ratchet extension and socket

 How to Change a Starter on a Nissan Sentra

Open the hood of your Sentra and remove the negative terminal from the battery using a wrench. Set it aside, positioning it so that it cannot make contact with the battery while you work.

Position a jack under the front of the car and lift it off the ground high enough to comfortably work under it. Position a set of jack stands under the frame to support the car safely while you are working.

Locate the starter on the back of the engine while working from under the car. Remove the electrical connection at the back of the starter with a wrench and lay the wire harness aside for now.

Remove the mounting bolts, starting with the upper bolt, using a socket and ratchet. Remove the lower bolts then slide the starter out of the bell housing and lower it down and out of the engine compartment.

Insert the new starter into the bell housing where you removed the old one and install the lower mounting bolt until it is hand-tight, then insert the top bolt and tighten both bolts to 85 foot-pounds with a torque wrench.

Install the electrical connections to the back of the new starter and tighten the retaining nut with a wrench until tight. Do not over-tighten this nut as the housing on the solenoid is plastic and may crack.

Remove the jack stands from the frame and lower the car to the ground. Reinstall the negative battery terminal on the battery and close the hood. Test the new starter by starting the car.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Socket set

  • New starter

  • Torque wrench

 How to Change the Starter on a Nissan Altima

Disconnect and isolate the negative battery terminal using a wrench or socket and ratchet to loosen the bolt. The cable needs to be set aside in a spot that will not allow it to fall back and make contact with the battery.

Remove the air cleaner and duct work from the engine on models with an automatic transmission. This step is not needed if your car is a manual transmission model. This will allow more clearance to better reach the starter and connectors.

Remove the protective cover over the starter motor harness to allow access to the harness connector. Remove the electrical connector from the rear of the starter motor by unplugging it and lay it aside for now.

Remove the two mounting bolts from the starter motor with a socket and ratchet. Slide the motor out of the bell housing and lift it straight out of the engine compartment.

Position the new starter in the bell housing and install the two starter mounting bolts. Tighten the bolts with a socket and ratchet until the starter is secure. Insert the electrical connector into the socket at the back of the starter and snap it into place.

Install the protective cover over the harness connector. The cover snaps on and must be used to protect the wiring harness and connector on the back of the starter motor.

Reinstall the air filter and duct work on the engine if you removed it, and reinstall the negative battery terminal on the battery. Tighten the bolt using a wrench or socket and ratchet. Tighten it until it is secure but do not over-tighten it, or you could damage the battery terminal.

Items you will need

  • Metric wrench set

  • Metric socket set

 How to Change a Starter on a Nissan Maxima

Park your car in a safe place with enough room for you to work around the front of the car. Open the hood.

Disconnect the black, negative battery cable.

Unplug the mass airflow (MAF) sensor electrical connector, if your particular model is equipped with one. The sensor is located on the air duct of the air intake assembly. Just press the lock tab to release the connector form the wiring harness.

Remove the air intake assembly. On some models, you will have to remove hose clamps and mounting bolts securing the air intake assembly to the engine and engine compartment. Depending on your particular model, you may need a screwdriver, Phillip's screwdriver, a wrench, or a ratchet and socket. Once you remove the assembly, you should be able to see and have access to the starter motor.

Disconnect the power or battery cable form the starter solenoid using a wrench or ratchet and socket. The starter solenoid is mounted on top of the starter. To have access to the cable connector, lift the protective rubber boot, then unplug the electrical connector form the wire coming out of the starter solenoid. Just press the lock tab to release the connector from the harness.

Remove the two mounting bolts form the starter motor using a ratchet and socket. On most Maxima models, take note of each particular mounting bolt location since one is shorter than the other one and can only be reinstalled on the same location. You might need a ratchet extension to reach the mounting bolts.

Remove the starter motor off the engine compartment and set the new motor in place. Make sure the motor mounting surface is flush against the surface mounting base. This will avoid the starter pinion gear grinding against the flywheel gear and subsequent damage to the starter motor and flywheel.

Install and tighten the two mounting bolts. Plug the wire electrical connector and install the power cable to the starter solenoid.

Install the air intake assembly, and plug the MAF sensor electrical connector. Then connect the black, negative battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver Phillip's screwdriver Wrench set Ratchet and socket set Ratchet extension

 How to Replace a Starter on a Nissan Sentra

How to Replace a Starter on a Nissan Sentra

Locate the starter. The two most common places for the starter in a Nissan Sentra is below the air duct on top of the transmission (which requires removing the air duct piping from the air box to the throttle body) or underneath the Sentra on the low driver's side undercarriage, beneath the intake manifold between the firewall and engine where it meets the transmission. This would require lifting the vehicle and crawling underneath to remove and replace the starter.

Position the Sentra where you need to in order to remove and replace the starter. If you need to lift the front end, drive it up on the car ramps, apply the parking brake and place a wheel chock behind a rear tire. Otherwise, remove the air duct piping to access the starter from above and skip Step 4.

Remove the negative battery cable from the negative battery terminal using a hand wrench or the ratchet and a socket once you've located the starter.

Crawl under the Sentra (on a creeper, if you have one) with the tools and the new starter or go to the engine compartment to remove the starter.

Disconnect the wire to the starter by removing the nut that holds it onto the stud using the ratchet and a socket. Remove the upper and lower starter bolts holding the starter to the engine. Remove the starter.

Install the new starter and replace the upper and lower starter bolts to secure it to the engine. Replace the starter electrical connection wire and tighten the nut with the ratchet and a socket. Reattach the negative battery cable to the negative battery terminal and tighten using a hand wrench or the ratchet and a socket. Remove the wheel chock and lower the Sentra, or replace the air duct piping in the engine compartment.

Items you will need

  • Safety glasses

  • Hand wrench set

  • Car ramps (optional)

  • Wheel chock (optional)

  • 3/8-inch drive ratchet

  • 3/8-inch drive metric socket set

  • Replacement starter

  • Creeper (optional)

 How to Replace the Starter on a '98 Maxima

Connect a memory saver per the manufacturer's instructions; otherwise, you'll lose your factory computer and radio presets when you disconnect the negative battery terminal. Do so now, using a ratchet and socket, and lay the negative terminal cable well away from the battery post.

Unclip the four clips that hold the top of the air filter box to the base, and unplug the wiring harness from the mass airflow sensor adjacent to it. Use a pair of pliers to loosen and slide back the clamps on the two large hoses going to the center of the air duct, then loosen the hose clamp connecting the duct to the engine's throttle body. Pull the entire duct assembly off the car.

Locate the starter in the cavity under where the duct assembly was, near the firewall, on the back of the engine. Fold back the rubber boot on the starter solenoid, and use a ratchet to remove the nuts that hold the wires to the starter solenoid. Fit an extension and socket to the ratchet, and use it to remove the two bolts that hold the starter to the engine, and remove the starter from the vehicle.

Install the new starter, install its bolts and torque them to 27 foot-pounds each. Install the wire leads, and tighten the nuts just snug. You can now reinstall the air intake. Slide the duct back on the engine, plug the two hoses in and clip the upper box half to the lower. Plug the MAF sensor in, and slide the hose clamps into position and tighten them. Reconnect the negative battery terminal.

Items you will need

  • Memory saver

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

  • Screwdriver

  • Pliers

  • Ratchet extension

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace a Starter on a Nissan Pickup

Set the parking brake, place chocks in front and back of the front wheels and raise the front end up with the floor jack. Lower it down onto the two jack stands. It is best to place the jack stands as far apart as possible, but make sure their placement doesn't interfere with access to the starter.

Disconnect the negative battery cable, using the battery wrench. Make sure to move the cable end to a position where it will not contact the battery terminal.

Climb underneath and disconnect the starter wiring, using the socket set. The starter is located where the engine and transmission meet. Familiarize yourself with the appearance of your replacement starter so you know what you're looking for when under the Nissan pickup.

Unbolt the starter from the engine, using the socket set. Make sure to support the starter body with one hand while you pull the bolts out with the other hand. Even though this starter is smaller than most, it can still cause injury if it falls on you.

Climb out from under the pickup and compare the old starter to the replacement starter. Make sure the connections, bolts holes, nose cone and Bendix drive (the metal gear in the nose of the starter that pushes out to engage the flywheel when you start the truck) are all located in the same positions.

Hold the replacement starter in position with one hand and thread the bolts back in with the other hand. Tighten the bolts down using the socket set.

Reattach the starter wiring using the socket set. Reconnect the negative battery cable.

Lower the Nissan pickup off the jack stands and start it up.

Items you will need

  • Wheel chocks

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Battery wrench

  • Socket set

  • Replacement starter

 How to Replace a Starter on a 1990 Nissan Pickup

Removing the Starter

Open the hood to disconnect the battery. Unbolt the negative and positive cable from the battery with a socket wrench. This will isolate the electrical power from the vehicle.

Chock the back wheels and ensure the parking brake is set. This will prevent the truck from rolling back when it is raised.

Place a jack under the front crossmember. Raise the truck high enough off the ground to place jack stands under the front doors. Lower the truck onto the jack stands.

Crawl under the passenger side of the truck and locate the starter bolted to the transmission bell housing. The starter is secured by two bolts.

Unbolt the two bolts with a socket wrench, freeing the starter from the truck. Tap the starter with a hammer to free the seal created from being mounted to the truck.

Unbolt the positive and negative wires from the top of the starter with a socket wrench. Wrap masking tape around the positive cable to help identify the correct wires during installation.

Installing the Starter

Bolt the positive and negative wires to the battery. Tighten with a socket wrench to ensure the wires are securely mounted to the starter.

Position the starter to the truck. Start both bolts by hand. Do not tighten either bolt until both are started.

Tighten the bolts with a socket wrench. Ensure the starter is tight by shaking it by hand to ensure it is secure.

Raise the vehicle with a jack to remove the jack stands. Lower the truck to the ground once the jack stands are removed.

Connect the battery by bolting the positive cable to the positive terminal. Bolt the negative cable to the negative terminal.

Start the truck to ensure the starter is working adequately. Close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench

  • Socket set

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Hammer

  • Masking tape

 How to Replace a Starter in a Nissan Truck

Locate the starter. Generally, the starter is located between the engine and the transmission of a vehicle. Another way to positively identify the starter is to follow the positive battery cable to where it splits; one side runs to the starter, the other to the alternator. Look for a part that is about half the size of a football and looks like two cylindrical pieces joined together (one cylinder is larger than the other). If the starter is located toward the bottom of the engine, you must raise the truck on ramps or jack stands.

Remove the negative battery terminal cable from the truck's battery, using a socket wrench. Wait 15 minutes before doing any work around the truck's engine to allow any charges to dissipate.

Remove any parts that prevent you from accessing the starter on your Nissan truck, if necessary. (For example, the starter may be located underneath the air intake system, which can often be removed by unsnapping a couple of clips, hoses and screws.)

Disconnect the electrical connection tab leading to the starter.

Use a socket wrench to undo the bolts holding the starter in place. Generally, there are two bolts securing the starter; sometimes there are three, depending on the model of the starter. Be sure to put the bolts in a place where they will not be lost or dirtied.

Install the new starter into place, making sure that the bolts go in easily and smoothly. If they do not, that may be an indicator that the starter is not lining up correctly with the flywheel of the car. If the starter is not aligned properly with the flywheel, it will not start the car when it is cranked.

Reconnect the electrical connection tabs and the negative battery terminal cable. If you removed any parts in order to access the starter, reinstall them in the correct order and placement. Lower the truck if you had to raise it on ramps or jack stands in order to access the starter.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench with adapters

  • Replacement starter

  • Mechanic's gloves

  • Flat-head screwdriver

 How to Replace a Starter in a 1999 Altima

Open the engine compartment and disconnect the negative battery terminal with a wrench. Remove the air duct assembly by disconnecting the hose clamps with a screwdriver and unclipping the air box. The air cleaner is a black box to the left of the battery.

Place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels and raise the car up with the automobile jack. Place a jack stand under the frame and raise it as close to the frame as possible.

Tag the wires on the starter and the solenoid with a marker and masking tape. Remove the wires from the starter and solenoid with the wrench.

Remove the bolts from the starter with a ratchet and socket then pull it away from the engine.

Install the new starter in place and tighten the bolts with the socket and ratchet. Reconnect the wires according to how you marked them and tighten the nuts with the wrench.

Remove the jack stand from under the car and lower it to the ground with the jack.

Mount the air box back into place, clipping it in. Reconnect the air duct and tighten the clamps with the screwdriver.

Reconnect the negative battery terminal and start the car to test it.

Items you will need

  • Automobile jack

  • Jack stand

  • Wheel chocks

  • Marker

  • Masking tape

  • Screwdriver

  • Metric socket set

  • Metric wrench set