How to Install a Car Starter in a Pontiac Sunfire

by Robert MooreUpdated July 05, 2023

The starter on your Sunfire’s 2.2-liter engine is located on the front of the engine, just above the oil pan. It might look like it is difficult to remove the starter, but if you remove the support brace that is underneath it, you’ll find there is just enough room to drop the starter out of the engine bay. This procedure will work for any Sunfire that came equipped with the base, 2.2-liter engine.

Things You'll Need:

  • Memory saver
  • Battery wrench
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Socket set
  • Ratchet
  • Box-end wrench set
  • Torque wrench


  1. Connect a memory saver to your Sunfire according to the instructions from its manufacturer. Open the hood, then disconnect the negative battery cable with a battery wrench. Isolate the negative battery cable from the battery.
  2. Position the floor jack under the front reinforcement ribs of the front suspension crossmember. Lift the front end with the jack, then slide jack stands underneath the subframe rails. Lower the front end onto the jack stands and remove the jack. Identify the cylindrical support brace on the front of the engine -- it runs from one side of the engine to the other, directly underneath the starter. If equipped, remove the two end bolts and the center bolt at the rear of the starter using a socket and ratchet. Remove the brace and place it aside.
  3. Remove the bolts that secure the inspection plate to the transmission bell housing. Disconnect the battery cable and solenoid wire from the starter assembly. Remove the bolt that secures the ground wire to the body of the starter motor, if equipped. Remove the bolt for the starter’s rear support bracket from the engine, if equipped. Remove the two starter mounting bolts.
  4. Pull the starter toward the passenger side of the vehicle until you see the nose cone clear the bell housing, then lower the starter from the engine. Remove the bolts from the rear support bracket on the starter, then remove the bracket.


  1. Compare a new starter with the one you just removed. Transfer the stud bolts from the old starter to the new starter, if the new starter wasn’t equipped with them. Install the rear support bracket to the starter and loosely install the bolts, if equipped.
  2. Lift the starter assembly into position, then guide the nose cone into the bell housing. Install the starter mounting bolts and the bolt that secures the rear support bracket to the engine block. Tighten the starter bolts to 30 foot-pounds, using a torque wrench. Snug all three rear support bracket bolts.
  3. Connect the battery cable and solenoid wire to the terminals on the starter solenoid. Tighten the battery terminal nut to 13 foot-pounds and solenoid terminal nut to 27 inch-pounds. If the new starter doesn’t include a provision for the ground wire on the body of the starter motor, install the ground wire to the studded bolt on the back of the starter motor.
  4. Install the inspection plate to the transmission bell housing and snug the mounting bolts. Install the brace to the engine block and tighten the bolts. Lower the front end to the ground. Connect the negative battery cable to the negative battery terminal. Tighten the bolt to 13 foot-pounds. Remove the memory-saver device.


The battery cable to the starter is always hot. To prevent accidental electrocution, do not attempt to remove the starter without first disconnecting the negative battery cable.

Video demonstrating how to replace the starter in a Pontiac Sunfire:

Comments on this video:

  • For anyone who has the starter only accessible from the bottom such as my 2.2L with DOHC, this is the process you want to follow. The tools needed are appropriate size sockets and wrenches and an elbow socket extender. There will be one bolt right in the open on the actual starter on the bottom, the other one is in an awkward spot above it. Use the elbow socket extender the get the proper position on it. Hope this helps anyone.
  • Very well done. Thank you for the time that you invested in sharing this with us!

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