How to Replace the Starter on Ford Cars

by Contributing Writer

The truck-based Aerostar van had some success in competing against similar truck-based offerings from GM, but the public had already decided it wanted a front-drive, car-based minivan. To that end, Ford car slapped a separate body on its massively acclaimed Taurus chassis, and gave the world the Ford car. By Ford car minivans of all stripes were struggling to adapt to a changing marketplace; evidence the fact that the Ford car top trim item that year was a flip-down LCD television paired with a VCR player. Still, though, the Ford car was the minivan to have Ford car people who still wanted minivans.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Starter on a Ford Ranger

Removing the Starter

Isolate the electricity. Remove the negative and positive lead on the battery.

Locate the starter under the vehicle. The starter will be located to the right of the motor on the bottom. Access the bolts comfortably from underneath the truck.

Remove the bottom bolt with a socket wrench. The ground cable will be attached. Save the bolt for reinstalling the starter.

Unbolt the positive cable on top of the starter. Use a socket wrench to remove the bolt.

Unbolt the top of the starter with a socket wrench. The starter will be loose.

Pull the starter straight out. Use both hands to pull out and forward as the starter is heavy. Pull forward and lower to the ground.

Installing the Starter

Position the new starter in place. Match up the starter to the designated bolt holes on the mounts.

Start the top bolt. Turn the bolt clockwise but do not tighten the starter down.

Start the bottom bolt. Ensure the negative cable is run through the bolt before starting. Do not tighten the bolt.

Tighten the top bolt with the socket wrench. Tighten it snug. Repeat the same for the bottom bolt. Ensure both bolts are tight.

Tighten the positive cable to the starter. Ensure the cable is snug to the fitting.

Connect the terminals to the battery. Ensure the vehicle cranks. The starter will engage without hesitation if done correctly.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench

  • Socktet set

 How to Replace a Starter on a Ford Expedition

Locate the starter on your Ford Expedition. Trace the positive battery cable until it splits. One branch of the cable will travel to the alternator and the other will go to the starter, which is about half the size of a football. The starter is made of two cylindrical pieces joined together, with one cylinder larger than the other. Generally, the starter is between the engine and the transmission. You can also look under your Expedition as well as under the air-intake manifold.

Use a floor jack and jack stands to raise the Expedition if the starter is located under the engine. Prop up one side of the frame by the front driver's-side door with the jack and place a jack stand to support the frame. Repeat the process for the front passenger side. Make sure all four legs of each jack stand are resting on the ground.

Disengage the negative battery cable on the Expedition. This rules out the chance of electrocution and also disengages the battery from the cooling fan, which sometimes can turn on even if the vehicle is turned off.

Expose the starter on your Expedition if there are any parts that prevent you from accessing it. For example, you may need to remove the air-intake manifold on some models and years of the Expedition.

Disconnect the electrical connection tab, which leads to the starter. You may also have to temporarily push some electrical cables and wiring out of the way so you have enough working room to remove the starter. If you have difficulty disconnecting the tab, use a flat screwdriver to gently pry the two pieces apart.

Unscrew the copper bolt holding the electrical wire for the starter in place. This will give you more room to work with for disconnecting the starter from the engine.

Remove the bolts that connect the starter to the flywheel of the Expedition. If the bolts are extremely tight or stuck, you may need to use a torque wrench for extra leverage. Usually, there are two bolts holding the starter in place. However, depending on the model, there may be three bolts.

Remove the starter and replace it with the new one. Secure the starter with the two or three bolts you took out previously. If you find that you are cranking down on the bolts and forcing them into place, then you may not be properly aligning the part with the flywheel. If this is happening, unscrew the bolts and reinsert the starter.

Reconnect the electrical connection tab leading to the new starter and reconnect the negative battery terminal cable. Crank the Expedition to see whether it starts.

Reinstall any parts, such as the air-intake manifold or hoses, that were removed in order to gain access to the starter. If you had to raise your Expedition on jack stands, then lower it to the ground by using the reverse of the process you used to raise it in Step 2.

Items you will need

  • Mechanic's gloves

  • Socket wrench with adapters

  • Replacement starter

  • Flat screwdriver

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

 How to Change the Starter in a Ford E-150

Open the hood on the E-150 and unhook the negative battery cable where it connects to the battery using the battery wrench. Chock the right-rear wheel and then lift the right-front with the floor jack. Lower the E-150 onto a jack stand, positioned under the right-front frame.

Put the creeper on the ground near the passenger side, lay down on it and slide underneath just behind the right-front wheel with the socket set and remaining jack stand.

Unbolt the starter wiring from the back of the starter using the socket set. Move the wiring aside so it doesn’t interfere with starter removal. The starter is alongside the transmission and engine—where they bolt together—on the passenger side.

Support the weight of the starter with the other jack stand, then remove the starter mounting bolts with the socket set. Hold onto the starter with one hand as you pull the bolts out with your other hand.

Take the starter down from the jack stand and roll out from under the E-150 with it. Compare it with the replacement starter to make sure the replacement is physically identical to the old one. If not, take them both to the auto parts retailer and exchange the replacement for one that matches the old starter.

Roll back under the truck with the replacement starter. Position it in place, holding it there with the jack stand, and thread the mounting bolts into position by hand. Tighten the mounting bolts with the socket set.

Move the jack stand out of the way and then reattach the starter wiring with the socket set.

Lower the truck back to the ground after removing the jack stand. Reconnect the negative battery cable, close the hood and remove the wheel chocks.

Items you will need

  • Battery wrench

  • 2 wheel chocks

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Creeper

  • Socket set

 How to Change the Starter on a Ford Explorer

Ensure the truck is on a flat and level surface. Raise the hood for access to the engine compartment.

Locate the battery on the driver side of the engine compartment. Disconnect the positive and negative cables with a socket wrench.

Crawl under the passenger side of the Explorer to locate the starter mounted between the engine and the transmission. The starter is secured by two bolts.

Unbolt the nut on the stud at the top of the starter to release the positive cable. Slide the lead off the stud.

Loosen the two bolts with a socket wrench. Place the wires that are bolted to the bottom bolt to the side.

Pull the starter down from the engine compartment. Replace with the new starter. Start both bolts by hand. Ensure the negative lead wire is pushed onto the bottom bolt before tightening. Secure both bolts with a socket wrench.

Unscrew the stud on the top with a socket wrench. Push the remaining lead onto the stud. Tighten the nut over the lead with a socket wrench.

Connect the positive and negative cables to the battery with a socket wrench. Close the hood once the battery is connected.

Start the truck to ensure it starts correctly.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench

  • Socket set

 How to Replace a Starter in a 2001 Ford Expedition

Drive the Expedition’s front wheels onto the ramps. Set the parking brake and open the hood.

Disconnect the negative battery cable using the battery wrench and move the cable to a position where it cannot accidentally come into contact with the negative battery terminal until you are ready to reconnect it.

Slide under the passenger side of the Expedition and locate the starter, which is mounted alongside the engine where transmission bell housing bolts to the back of the engine.

Unbolt the starter wiring using the socket set. Support the starter body with one hand and remove the starter bolts with the socket set. The starter is very heavy, so be prepared to support the full weight when the bolts are removed. Allowing it to hang from either bolt can lead to damage to the starter, the truck or you.

Compare the old starter to the replacement unit and make sure they are identical in design, length and girth.

Hold the replacement starter in position and thread the bolts in with your other hand. Once the bolts are in, tighten them down with the socket set. Do not stop supporting the starter’s weight until you have both bolts tightened down.

Reconnect the wiring to the starter in reverse of how you removed it.

Reconnect the negative battery cable and start the Expedition. Release the parking brake and drive it down off the ramps.

Items you will need

  • Ramps

  • Battery wrench

  • Socket set

  • Replacement starter

 How to Replace the Starter on a 2000 Ford Expedition

Raise up the front of the vehicle using the jack and set it on the jack stands. Make sure that the vehicle is solidly on the stands before crawling underneath it. Disconnect the negative terminal of the battery, then the positive terminal using an open-end wrench.

Crawl underneath the SUV and locate the starter on the engine. Remove the terminal cover using your hands. Label each wire on the distributor using the masking tape and permanent marker so that you don't get them confused.

Unbolt the wiring from the starter terminals using the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket or an open-end wrench depending on accessibility. If your Expedition has a ground cable on it, disconnect that as well using the wrench.

Unbolt the starter from the engine using the ratchet and pull it away from the motor. Put the replacement starter onto the engine and bolt it in place using the ratchet as well.

Reconnect all electrical connections to the starter per the labels you made in step 2 using an open-end wrench or the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket. Then reconnect the positive then negative battery cables using an open-end wrench. Lower the vehicle off of the jack stands using the jack and start the vehicle several times to ensure that the starter motor is working correctly.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Masking tape

  • Permanent marker

  • Open-end wrench set

  • 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set

  • Replacement starter

 How to Change the Starter on a 2000 Ford Windstar

Put the wheel chock behind one of the rear wheels, set the parking brake and then roll the floor jack under the front end of the Windstar. Lift the minivan with the jack and place the jack stands under the front frame on the right and left sides.

Install a memory saver device per the manufacturer instructions. This will retain your radio and computer settings. Open the hood and disconnect the negative battery cable from the negative battery terminal with the battery wrench.

Climb underneath the Windstar in the passenger-side front area. Locate the starter, which bolts to the side of the engine where the engine and transmission meet.

Disconnect the starter wiring with the socket set. Hold the starter up with one hand while you use the socket set to remove the starter mounting bolts with the other hand. You will need to completely support the starter during this step; never let its weight come down on the mounting bolts once they’re loose.

Lower the old starter down and insert the new one in the same orientation and position.

Hold the new starter motor in place with one hand while you thread the mounting bolts in and then tighten them down to 33 foot-pounds with a torque wrench. If you don't have a torque wrench, just hand-tight with a standard ratchet will suffice. Remember to never let the starter hang down on the mounting bolts.

Reconnect the starter wiring in reverse of removal. Climb out, reconnect the negative battery cable and then lower the Windstar off the jack stands.

Items you will need

  • Wheel chock

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Memory saver device

  • Battery wrench

  • Socket set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Starter in a 2003 Ford Focus

Removal

Disconnect the car's negative battery cable.

Raise the car's front end with its floor jack and support it on axle stands; make sure you set the parking brake first.

Disconnect the air cleaner's outlet tube from the throttle body if your model has an SPI engine; loosen the hose clamp with pliers.

Unbolt and disconnect the power-steering pump using your wrench and set the pump aside. Do not disconnect or stretch the pump's lines. This should only be needed if your Focus has a 2.3 liter engine.

Unscrew the starter motor's mounting bolts using the wrench and then pull the motor off the dowel sticks on the transmission housing; you might need to angle the motor to remove it. Unscrew the nuts and disconnect the motor's wiring.

Installation

Connect the wiring and nuts to the replacement starter motor and slide it onto the dowel sticks, then tighten the mounting bolts with the wrench.

Reconnect all components that were disconnected--bolt the power-steering pump in place and connect the air cleaner outlet tube using its clamp.

Lower the car off the axle stands and reconnect the battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wrench

 How to Replace a Starter in a 1997 Ford F-150

Raise the front end of the F150 off the ground with the floor jack. Place the two jack stands under the front portion of the F150’s frame and then lower the truck onto the jack stands.

Open the hood and disconnect the negative battery cable end from the battery using the battery wrench. Push the cable off to the side where it can’t accidentally contact the battery during the repair process.

Climb under the front passenger side of the F150 with the socket set. Locate the starter, which bolts to the side of the engine, where the transmission bell housing meets the back side of the engine block.

Unbolt the starter ground wire and wiring harness using the socket set. Move the wires aside.

Hold the body of the starter with one hand while removing the two starter mounting bolts with the other, using a socket set to do so. Never let the weight of the starter bear down on the loose bolts.

Pull the starter out by hand once you have removed both of the mounting bolts. Compare the old starter to your replacement, making sure they are physically identical before proceeding with the installation of the replacement unit.

Hold the replacement starter in position and thread the mounting bolts through the starter flange and into their mounts. Tighten them down with the socket set. Remember to never let the weight of the starter hang on the loose bolts.

Attach the ground wire and starter wiring harness in reverse of disconnection.

Lower the F150 off the jack stands with the floor jack and then reconnect the negative battery cable using the battery wrench.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • 2 Jack stands

  • Battery wrench

  • Socket set

 How to Replace a Starter on a 1995 Ford Taurus

Raise the hood and disconnect the negative cable from the battery with your socket wrench. The negative cable on the battery should be all black and have a small (-) minus symbol next to the post where the cable connects to the battery.

Apply the emergency brake and then raise the front end of the car with a hydraulic jack. Set a jack stand beneath the frame rail on the driver and passenger sides then lower the hydraulic jack until the car completely rests on both jack stands.

Slide under the Taurus and locate the starter near the flywheel. The starter looks like a can of soup, but without the label, and it has a smaller metal cylinder attached to it, which is the solenoid.

Remove the smaller push-on wire from the solenoid first. Grasp the rubber boot on the wire and gently squeeze it, then pull the wire straight off its connection.

Remove the red, rubber safety cap covering the other solenoid wire’s nut by simply popping it right off by hand. Then remove the nut holding the wire onto the solenoid, using your socket wrench. Slide the wire off its terminal stud and tuck both wires out of the way.

Remove the upper starter mounting bolt at the base of the starter. Support the starter with your free hand and then remove the lower starter mounting bolt. Carefully lower the starter using both hands away from its position, down, and out of the car.

Raise your new starter into the same position as the old starter. Thread both upper and lower mounting bolts by hand then tighten them until snug. Set the 3/8-inch drive torque wrench to 20 ft-lbs. and completely secure both mounting bolts in place.

Place a small dab of dielectric grease on both sides of the terminal for the push-on wire, then reinstall the wire by pushing it back on until it clicks in place. You should hear a small click when the wire engages. Check the connection by tugging on the wire gently.

Place the second solenoid wire back onto its terminal stud and hand-thread its retaining nut until snug. Set your 1/4-inch drive torque wrench to 120 in-lbs. and hold the wire in place while you tighten its nut until secured. Put the red, rubber safety cap back over the nut. The cap pops back on just as it popped off.

Raise the Taurus again with the hydraulic jack and remove both of the jack stands. Lower the car completely, remove the hydraulic jack, and release the emergency brake. Reconnect and secure the negative cable back to the battery. Start the 1995 Ford Taurus to make sure the starter is functional.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench set

  • Hydraulic jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • 3/8-inch drive torque wrench

  • Dielectric grease

  • 1/4-inch drive torque wrench

 How to Replace a Starter on a Ford F150

Disconnect the cable from the truck battery's negative terminal. Raise and secure the F150 on jack stands.

Disconnect the wiring from the starter motor solenoid. Remove the hex nut holding the cable to the B+ terminal and remove the cable. Do the same with the cable connected to the S terminal.

Disconnect the starter's ground cable from its lower mounting stud by removing its bolt, then remove the mounting fasteners attaching the starter motor to the engine. The starter has two or three bolts depending on the engine, with the lower bolt being a stud bolt. Remove the starter motor.

Install the new starter motor and torque the mounting fasteners to 18 foot-pounds each. Reconnect the ground cable to the lower mounting stud, then reconnect the wiring to the S and B+ terminals on the solenoid.

Lower the F150, reconnect the negative battery cable and test the starter with the ignition key. Connect a voltmeter or test light to the solenoid's S terminal, and make sure the starter receives voltage at that terminal when the ignition switch is in the on position.

Items you will need

  • Jack stands

  • Hex wrench

  • Stud wrench

  • Starter motor

  • Voltmeter/test light

 How to Replace a Starter in a 1993 Ford Explorer

Removing the Old Starter

Raise the hood to locate the battery. Disconnect the battery before attempting any work on the electrical system.

Crawl under the vehicle on the passenger side. Locate the starter between the engine and the transmission.

Unscrew the positive wires on the starter with a socket wrench. Unscrew the nut and pull the wires off the stud. Screw the nut back onto the stud for safekeeping. Place a piece of masking tape on the positive leads to remind you which wires are which.

Unscrew the negative terminal on the starter and pull the wires off the stud. Screw the small nut back onto the stud.

Unbolt the starter from the frame. There will be a bolt at the top and another at the bottom. Undo these bolts with a socket wrench.

Pull the starter away from the truck. The starter may be stubborn to remove. Tap it with a hammer to free it from the frame if necessary.

Place the old starter in the box the new starter came in. You will need to save the starter to return it for a core credit.

Installing the New Starter

Mount the new starter to the frame with the socket wrench. Make sure that both bolts are tight.

Unscrew the small nut on the positive terminal. It will be designated by a plus symbol. Peel the masking tape off the positive wires then tighten the wires onto the stud.

Unscrew the nut from the negative stud. Place the negative wire onto the stud. Tighten the nut over the lead with a socket wrench.

Connect the battery by tightening the positive cable onto the positive terminal with the socket wrench. Connect the negative (black) wire to the negative terminal.

Start the truck to ensure the starter is functioning correctly. The truck should start as soon as you turn the key.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench

  • Socket set

  • Masking tape

  • Hammer (optional)

  • Replacement starter

 How to Replace a Starter on a 1997 Ford Taurus

Open the hood and unbolt the negative battery cable end from the negative battery terminal using the battery wrench.

Lift the front end with the jack and then lower it onto the jack stands. Make sure to position the two jack stands under the right and left front frame for best stability. Put the wheel chock behind either of the rear wheels to prevent the Taurus from rolling.

Climb underneath the right-front side of the Taurus, with the socket set. Disconnect the starter-motor ground wire and wiring harness using the socket set. The starter is located where the engine and transmission join.

Support the weight of the starter with one hand while you remove the starter retaining bolts with the socket set. Don't release your support of the starter until your remove both bolts and you can lower the starter down by hand.

Compare the old starter to your replacement starter to make sure both are exact in every physical detail.

Hold the new starter in position and thread the retaining bolts in by hand. Continue to hold the starter in place while you tighten down the bolt with the socket set.

Reattach the ground wire and starter wiring harness in reverse of removal. Climb out and reconnect the negative battery cable.

Lower the Taurus off the jack stands, using the jack.

Items you will need

  • Battery wrench

  • Jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Wheel chock

  • Socket set

  • Replacement starter

 How to Replace the Starter on a 2005 Ford Focus

Accessing the Starter

Disconnect the car's negative battery cable.

Set the parking brake, raise the car's front end and support it on axle stands or jack stands.

Remove the air cleaner outlet tube from the throttle body by loosening its clips. This is needed if the Focus has a 2.0 liter SPI engine.

Detach the MAF sensor, PVC pipe and upper bolts with a wrench if the car has a Zetec-E engine. With the car raised, disconnect the electrical connectors and remove the lower bolts.

Unbolt the power steering pump with a wrench if the car has a 2.3 or 2.0 liter engine. Set this pump aside without disconnecting its lines.

Remove the intake manifold on a Duratec engine. You'll need to remove the cooling fans and shroud, oil dipstick tube, air intake pipe and vacuum hoses. Disconnect all related wiring harnesses and electrical connectors, unscrew the bolts connecting the manifold to the cylinder head, disconnect the PVC hose behind it and withdraw it.

Changing the Starter

Unscrew the mounting bolts for the starter motor, which may require a Torx wrench.

Release the starter from the dowels on the transaxle housing, unscrewing the nuts and disconnecting the wiring as you do this. You may need to angle the starter to withdraw it because of its close quarters.

Insert the new starter motor in place, screwing the nuts in place and connecting the wiring. Tighten the mounting bolts to 18 foot-pounds.

Re-install the other components that were removed for access. This can include the intake manifold, power steering pump, MAF sensor and air cleaner outlet tube.

Lower the car and reconnect the battery cable.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands or axle stands

  • Wrench

  • Torx wrench

  • Starter motor

 How to Change the Starter on a Ford 7.3 Diesel

Open the Ford's hood to expose the 7.3 diesel engine. Unbolt the 7.3's negative cable from the battery on the driver's side of the engine well using the battery wrench.

Climb under the Ford truck's passenger side just behind the front tire with the jack stand and socket set. Place the jack stand directly under the belly of the starter and lift the jack stand head until it's touching the belly of the starter.

Unbolt the starter wiring from the back of the Ford truck's starter using a socket set. Disconnect the ground wire from the starter with the socket set.

Extract the bolts holding the starter to the engine using a socket set. Lower the starter off the jack stand with both hands; use caution as the starter weighs approximately 45 pounds.

Set the replacement starter onto the jack stand with both hands. Slide the starter against the backside of the engine, making sure the holes in the starter flange align with the mounting holes in the engine block.

Thread the starter bolts through the starter flange and into the engine block by hand. Tighten the bolts with a socket set. Connect the starter ground wire and starter circuit wiring with the socket set.

Remove the old starter, jack stand and socket set from under the truck. Bolt the battery cable back onto the driver's side battery using the battery wrench.

Items you will need

  • Battery wrench

  • Jack stand

  • Socket set