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Starter Replacement


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I've done pretty much all the research on this topic such as what Snap on tools to buy ahead of time to make the job easier. I have step by step instructions along with the factory service manual. My last question is... Is replacing the starter relatively easy along as you have the necessary tools.

And is everyone complaining/stating that it's just a "pain in the !Removed!" b/c of how much you have to remove to access the starter. Just trying to figure out whether or not its a difficult task or if its just the fact that so much has to be removed in order to access the starter between the valley of the heads.

Last time I checked Lexus wanted $1000 for labor to replace the starter.... I'd like to blow that kinda money on something worthwhile. I'm guessing that its just the amount of stuff you have to remove to gain access to it. I have replaced many starters in as little as 20 minutes, but it appears that this may take longer, much longer. Good thing I'm patient.

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From looking at the Service Manual it doesn't look all that bad, just time consuming. I would plan on whole weekend to do it just so I wouldn't be rushed. Other posts indicate that you will need to replace the intake manifold gasket and the throttle body gasket. So, if you have more time than money, a garage to do it in (I wouldn't want to do this in a parking lot) go for it. Take lots of pictures and share them with us.

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yea its just time consuming as with everything if you have the time why not do it yourself! its a good learning experience! plus if you run in to problems we are always here to help!

I replaced the starter on my '92 SC400 about 2 years ago and there is no difficult steps, but it did take 3 days, and you will need intake and TB gaskets. There were two difficult steps as I remember - disconnecting the injector harness (the plastic was VERY brittle broke two connectors and had to replace them) and reaching two of the rear facing bolts (one for the harness and one for the coolant pipe). I would certainly do it again if necessary, but I also hope it's not! I recommend you go for it.


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Thanks, thats the kind of info I'm looking for. I do plan to do it myself. Just want to know as much as I can before I do the job so it won't take any longer than it already should be. Thanks for everyone's replies so far. If anyone else has completed this task and has anything to add that would be very useful for myself and other members attempting to tackle the starter. Factory service manuals will be useful also.

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So I will need the 2 intake manifold gaskets (17171-50010), throttle body gasket (22271-50010), and then the Denso remanufactured starter (28100-50020-84). If this is correct and I don't need any other parts it should be a total of $242.89 to replace the starter. These part numbers are for a 94 SC400.

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I replaced mine, and more of a slow and steady job on this one - and have some free space in your garage to layout the parts - you don't want to have a left over piece after putting it all together.

Recommendation - clean Throttle body and both manifolds (I removed the carbon gunk build up and the car ran much smoother afterwards) Good luck, and take your time.

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Hey, silly question here, but how do you know when it's time to replace your starter? Seriously now. And before some wise guy replies, "when your car no longer starts", let me qualify that question. My car's taking about 7 to 10 cranks to fire-up. I just replaced my battery for one with 875cca @32 degrees (I think the stock one is 700cca), so it cranks up twice as fast as it did when I bought the car over 2-years ago. But it still takes 7-10 cranks before the engine fires up.

How many cranks is it taking some of you guys for your engine to start? I'm really curious to know because from the time I bought the car ('93SC4) I thought the engine took much longer than normal to turn-over. Could this be a sign that my starter is on it's way out?

Thanks a bunch - I just hope it holds out through winter. Even though I've got an attached garage to work in, it's not heated and daylight from an open garage door is always better to work by than 1000-watt halogen floods casting shadows everywhere.

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  • 10 years later...

Apparently there are some super techs posing as shadetree mechanics here if SC400 starter replacement TO THEM is  "just time consuming " and "there is no difficult steps."  Either that or I am a very, very bad auto technician.  And Lexus dealerships "only" want $800 in labor strictly because they're greedy.  Not!    Here's my write-up. 

I just completed replacement of the starter on my '96 SC400. I'm an experienced tech and this job is a bear. +1 on the Harbor Freight t-handle "articulated" 3/8" ratchet.  No, a flexhead GearWrench will NOT get you home. Without the HF tool (and luck) the job would have been utterly impossible. My guess is that 7/10 shadetree mechanics who start this job never complete it. Pay a shop whatever they want to do it for you, but MAKE SURE they've done one before or you are going to get a phone call saying they can't do it for the price originally quoted.  Expect labor costs of $500-800.  p.s. the "Alldata" instructions on how to do this job are incomplete and incorrect, and the diagrams damn near useless!    The coolant bridge gaskets are NOT available from Lexus, you may find some on eBay IF you plan to remove the bridge.  Some techs do, some don't, removing the LOWER EGR bolts in order to do so might take you an hour apiece or more.  That's ASSUMING you can lift the bridge sufficiently to swap the gaskets out, I could not. Starter replacement is quite obviously the Achilles heel of this otherwise fine car.  But nooooo! I read 3 or 4 stories on the Internet of guys who managed to change them out, like the posters above who stated "it's not too difficult!"  Guess what. The guys who failed trying probably didn't post anything. This job took me approximately 8 days calendar time, 10-12 hours under the hood, ALONG with replacement of a half dozen rock-hard coolant and vacuum lines, TBI cleaning, trips to O'Reilly's, Internet research (where the @#$@!!! does that vacuum line go! To the power steering pump, where else!) etc. My stress level was a 13 on a scale of 10 when I realized you simply could NOT move out of the way all the things in the way of reaching those damn starter bolts. These ARE 20 year old cars, baked plastic parts like the VSV ports and the release "triggers" on electrical connectors (e.g. injector connectors) ARE going to break on you.   And for some you can't get replacements! You DO need to replace the o-rings and gaskets on your injectors, or just pop $100 for a set of replacement injectors on ebay. SOME guys reportedly lower the rear of the tranny and use a six foot collection of swivels and extensions to loosen the starter bolts.  That's probably the way to go, provided you have a lift and an impact gun, and a wingman "up top" to guide the socket onto the bolts. When you are all done you PROBABLY need to smoke the intake manifold and pressure test the cooling system BEFORE you start the car up, esp if you removed the bridge or recycled any gaskets.  Expect a long crank as it has to re-pressurize the fuel rail, lines, etc.

Seriously.  If you don't know how to use the release "triggers" on electrical connectors, or how to use a PICK when they don't work right STILL without breaking them, you have no business under the hood.  Try pushing IN on the connector FIRST, THEN press the trigger and pull out.  And before you put them back on goop 'em up with dielectric grease, silicon goop, spark plug grease, it's all the same stuff.  Get a $10 tube from NAPA and use it on connectors, hose insertions, spark plug boots, light bulbs... For rock-hard vacuum hoses and water lines, first CUT them off 1" away, then SLIT them with an eXacto knife, and then unwrap them from brittle vacuum ports (nip*ples).  

  Picture #1 shows you all you'll see of the handle of a "long" 3/8" ratchet on the bolt.  Think you're strong enough to break that loose?  Picture #2 is overview.  Coolant bridge NOT removed.  Picture #3 lets you actually SEE those starter bolts on an engine removed from vehicle.  Ignore red/green highlighting.  Do you even SEE all the crap that's in the way of getting a wrench on those bolts???  Now put that motor back in the car and put a firewall, brake lines, and everything else under Heaven between you and those bolts.  The scabs on my hand/forearm are just now coming off!  Picture #4 is the Harbor Freight wrench you need.  IF you  get lucky it won't SNAP during the attempt.  (I actually broke them loose with other tools and obtaining a 10 degree "swing" spent a half hour unthreading each. 


Seriously. If you haven't been wrenching 10 years, possess every 14mm tool known to man, have the patience of Job, and are a registered mazzochist, DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS REPAIR.  I 100% discount the postings above suggesting it's "not too hard" and Lexus dealerships are "just being greedy" asking for 6+ hours of labor.  (I could do it in six NOW given no broken plastic or hoses, etc) Decide for yourself which poster(s) is more credible.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS:  " if you have the time why not do it yourself! it's a good learning experience!"  and  "From looking at the Service Manual it doesn't look all that bad"   Is there perhaps a reason we never heard from that poster(s) again???   



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  • 7 months later...

Several posts on this forum have lamented the dearth of instructions for SC430 starter fixing, and Wadenelson's notes plus
photos are useful. In particular, his showing the Harbor Freight tool required for just that last actual starter bolt is spot on.
But the whole job invites a better outlining, since the factory manuals need elaboration. This is a major undertaking, but can
be done by the medium experienced. Much shop time cost can be saved!
Removal of the main cover and various hoses plus one electrical connector to the throttle body is normal.  One of those hoses
is on the underside and most easily unhooked as you are removing the entire assembly.  But in the first contrary instruction, it
is not necessary to take off the throttle body if you are careful; it can be left on the manifold assembly the entire time.  This
saves the cost of replacing its gasket.  Likewise, do NOT remove the many plenum bolts on top of the manifold assembly
unless you somehow want to replace that gasket as well. 
BTW, I suggest you number the V-bank cover brackets when removing, to correspond to the manual's numbers.  Or take a
photo of the whole thing from above after removing the big plastic cover..
The main fuel line must be disconnected as instructed, but they do not mention that it's also useful to disconnect it from each
side fuel rail; this because the thing juts under the wire harness and won't allow upwards motion of the assembly when you
finally take it out.  The manual insists on O-gasket replacements for this fuel pipe, see below.  There is also a small 6mm bolt
way in back  of the pipe to remove. As long as we're mentioning the two fuel rails, also refrain from removing the two bolts on
each side that hold them [and the injectors] down.
The manifold assembly can be removed by swinging it toward the right side [instead of upwards], thus slipping the fuel line out
from under the left wire harness. But this is tricky, and extra help is advised - access is very awkward.  What really helps is to
have removed the right rear engine hoist hook; you will probably never need it, and it can be put back on at a later time. But
of course, you have to remove the intake and plenum assembly at least once to get to the bolts holding this item.
Now about those fuel injector connections:  I hereby place  a curse on the Lexus manual editor who, with 4+ inches thick of
paper, could not find a way to explain how to disconnect them.  Most other connectors on the car come off with some sort of
 finger pinching. Not the injector ones.  I finally found a good way to get them off carefully [Do NOT break one!]. This is best
done with [again] Harbor Freight long-nosed large pliers. From the back, insert one jaw into the plastic recesses, and the
other under the connector. Squeeze and pull gently.  They have tiny wires. I will try to imbed a photo.
The manuals do not say, but you will also have to take off the 6mm bolts [using a 10mm socket] that hold down the wire
harness, and two more for the part in back.  This harness must eventually slip over the left engine lift hook; [left as facing the
front of the car, as usual termonology].
There are various hoses to slip off, and nuts and bolts on each side of the manifold as well.  Those bolts take the usual 12mm
socket, and this is easiest to use. A T40 Torx socket fits in the middle of the bolts, but there's often too much dirt in there, too.
 I found it a good idea to get out the old air hose and blow off this entire area before taking them off. Not only does it clear
out the torx hole, but also removes stuff that might fall into the intake holes later.   
Then you can also have a shop vac on hand to suck up all the debris that lies under the manifold.  Mine included rodent seed
storage and snail shells.
Prying up the manifold will bring to light several hoses or connectors that you missed.  Then you will likely find the connector
UNDER the manifold with a 6mm bolt holding on the wire.  
The assembly is somewhat heavy, and a two person job.  OR, do as I did and make a bracket to bolt on the back, then use a
hold down strap between that and the hood catch.  Then raising the hood brings up the back of the assembly, and you can
just left the front by hand, and swing the thing forwards - over the cardboard protecting piece you laid down.
You will want to remove the back coolant crossover, but it's not necessary to do anything with the long front-to-back one
which lays between the cylinder banks.
The connectors for the starter itself are easy, except the main positive lead, which can come off after you loosen the starter. I
never did disconnect the battery cable itself from the battery. You can leave it on if you're careful - I suggest at least covering
the positive terminal with a cloth.  Otherwise, it's major spark time. The left starter bolt [remove it first] is very hard to reach
with a tool, although once started with the ratchet mentioned above, you can just use your fingers. Putting it back later was
not as hard, but I suggest you install the right bolt first.
Now about the starter itself:  They are very robust, except for the two brass solenoid contacts.  My local starter fixer
declared the rest of the starter bullet proof, and  just replaced those contacts. This has an ancient heritage:  I worked on
solenoid contacts  50 years ago.
Before reassembly:  you will want to  go get the necessary gaskets, which include the intake manifold ones and the two for the
coolant crossover pipe; these can come from a regular auto parts store.  Also get the one for the throttle body if you removed
it.  Now comes, if you removed the fuel connector, an annoying trip to your Lexus or Toyota dealer to replace the little crush
washers that fit around the fuel pipe fittings to the injection rails. I did later find them online, but oddly more costly.  At least it
saves you some trips to the dealer's. You'll need two each of #23232-41081 and 90430-12026.  This latter one especially is
annoying for just a small washer, but consider that it holds back 40 pounds or so of fuel pressure....  It's nice to have the
correct part.  And yes I know it's tempting to re-use the old ones, which may or not work.
DO attach the positive cable to the starter before putting it in place.
DO install the fuel line [if removed from the fuel rails] just as you have the manifold assembly hovering almost in place; this line
needs to be routed carefully in back as well as UNDER the wiring harness.  If you don't follow this, and start bolting the
manifold down before the fuel line, you'll just have to pry the whole thing up again.
Other than that, reassembly is pretty easy.  For working on a Lexus, I like to have a small 1/4" drive torque wrench, but a
regular one will do.  The two fuel pressure units that use the above mentioned crush washers want to be torqued in place, but
obviously no socket will work. The hex under the bulbous part is US 7/8" and I guess you could estimate it, but it also works
well to use a crowfoot to torque them.
The mainfold bolts are more easily inserted into place using one of those small telescoping magnets.
Don't forget to put the coolant back in before trying out your repair. And watch out for two of the hoses that connect to the
throttle body. These carry coolant and if they come loose later, you'll have a nasty surprise.  I did!



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