How to Replace the Starter Relay in Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Replacing the starter relay on your Vehicles is a fix that will take about five minutes. The relay may vary slightly in design and color, but they all do the same thing. They regulate the current that makes it to the solenoid on the Vehicles which, in turn, activates the starter. The relay plugs into the Vehicles in a box located inside the engine compartment, typically on the passenger's side on the inner fender well.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Starter Relay in a Dodge Intrepid

Disconnect the battery or you run the risk of an accidental electrical surge that could hurt you or cause costly damage to your Dodge Intrepid.

Remove the power distribution box cover, once you have ruled out other possible reasons for the malfunction. Confirm the location of your starter relay, which should be in the cavity designated as #8 on your box diagram.

Unplug the starter relay and set it aside. Verify that all of the relay wires connect completely to the starter relay socket and that they don't accidentally touch at their ends.

Clean or repair any area of the relay or power distribution box, as needed. Plug in your replacement starter relay into the empty relay socket.

Replace the power distribution box cover and reconnect the battery. Try to start your Dodge Intrepid to see if the new relay corrected the malfunction.

Items you will need

  • Owner's manual

  • Replacement starter relay

 How to Replace the Starter Relay in a Mercury Cougar

Disconnect the battery. Keep in mind that if you don't disconnect the battery, you run the risk of an accidental electrical surge that could harm you or damage your Mercury Cougar.

Remove the cover of your fuse/relay box--also referred to as the power distribution box in your owner's manual. Unplug the starter relay located in the top left corner of the power distribution box.

Pull the relay and inspect it and its socket for damage, dirt or corrosion. Clean or repair the relay, socket or box fuse/relay housing as needed and check the socket pins for damage, such as bent areas or irregular pin height.

Replace your Mercury Cougar's starter relay with a new relay of equal amperage. Keep in mind that using wires or a higher capacity relay as a temporary relay "fix" can cause electrical surges that could damage wiring or start a fire. In addition, make certain the relay fits securely in its socket as current running through a loose relay can potentially melt the relay's outer casing, surrounding relay covers and the fuse/relay box cover.

Reconnect your battery, after replacing the fuse/relay box cover and start your Mercury Cougar to confirm the new relay works.

Items you will need

  • Manual

  • Replacement relay

 How to Replace the Starter Relay in a Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Finding the Relay

If you're standing in front of your Sebring, the starter relay is the second relay to the left from the auxiliary battery terminal.

 How to Replace a Starter Relay in a 1996 Camaro

Connect a memory saver according to its manufacturer's instructions. This will eliminate the need to reprogram all of the computer systems in the vehicle. Disconnect the negative battery cable with a wrench and wrap the cable end with electrical tape to prevent the cable making contact while you are working under the vehicle.

Using the hydraulic jack, lift and safely support the front of the vehicle on the jack stands. Spray penetrating oil on and carefully remove the nuts securing the exhaust crossover pipe to the exhaust manifolds, using the ratchet extension and socket set. Remove the exhaust crossover pipe at the exhaust manifolds.

Remove the bolts securing heat shield and starter motor to the engine block. Remove the spacer shims that sit between the starter and engine block. Lower and support the starter while you disconnect the wires attached to the starter. Ensure that you mark the wires, so they will be reinstalled back onto the proper terminals. Remove the starter motor.

Install the wires before installing the starter. Support the starter and torque the inner S-terminal nuts on the solenoid assembly to 25-inch pounds and the inner battery terminal nut to 80-inch pounds. Install the inner mounting bolt to hold the starter in place and insert the starter shims back into place by inserting the slotted ends of the shims into the inner mounting bolt. Install the remaining starter mounting bolts and torque them to 40-foot pounds with the torque wrench and sockets.

Using the socket set, install the starter heat shield and exhaust crossover tube. With the hydraulic jack, lower the vehicle. Connect the negative battery cable and remove the memory saver. Start the vehicle several times. Listen for any odd sounding noise and ensure the vehicle easily starts every time.

Items you will need

  • Metric wrench set

  • 3/8-inch drive metric socket set

  • 3/8-inch drive extension set

  • 3/8-inch drive ratchet

  • Jack stands

  • Hydraulic jack

  • Starter motor

  • Penetrating oil

  • Computer memory saver

 How to Replace the Starter Relay on a Ford

Pop the hood and disconnect the negative battery terminal by loosening the nut with a wrench.

Locate the starter relay. The relay box is on the fender well on the passenger's side.

Unclip the lid on the relay box and remove it. Each relay is clearly marked. Pull the one for the starter out by grasping it tightly and pulling it straight up.

Plug the new relay into place. Press on it firmly so that it seats itself flush in the box. Replace the cover on the relay box then reconnect the negative battery terminal, tightening the nut with the wrench.

Items you will need

  • Replacement relay

  • Wrench

 How to Replace a Starter Relay on a 1997 Nissan Altima

Raise the hood of your Altima. Locate the Intelligent Power Distribution Module, or IPDM, near the battery in the front, passenger side of the engine compartment. Take off the cover on the IPDM by lifting the tab.

Locate the square, starter relay in the IPDM. The starter relay is the only square plug found inside the IPDM. Grasp the relay and pull it straight out.

Insert a new relay into the IPDM. Push the relay straight down into place until it stops. Close the cover on the IPDM, making sure the latch clicks to secure it.

Close the hood of the Altima. Start the engine to test the starter relay.

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