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Replaced My 1995 Ls400 Starter Today...


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Let me just start by saying that this job is a SLEEPER in difficulty...It SEEMS easy but oh boy.. it isn't.

The issue that I was having was that immediatly after starting the car it would make a high pitched chime or high pitched grind for a half to 1 second that sounded exactly the same as when you turn the key on a car that is already running. Bascially like the starter was not disengaging quick enough.

I read about it every day for the last week, thinking everything was going to be very smooth....

It started off very well

Here is the back of the throttle body, definitely in need of a good cleaning


The upper manifold/surge tank came off relatively easy. The EGR pipe on the back had 2 different sizes of bolts? one was a 12mm and one a 13mm?? This is when I began to suspect something was up.


My game plan was the take off the upper manifold/lower manifold and fuel rail off in one piece... failed

There was no way that was happening... I took them all off separately.

gaskets between surge tank and lower manifold is metal, i got new ones but i bet these would be fine to reuse.

As you can see in the above pic, the upper manifold is off

I removed the injector clips with a small U shaped pick/hook tool, didn't break any :) false hope

I removed the fuel return hose and took off the rail mounting bolts then simply flipped the rail intact over to the driver side of the car.

IMAG0259.jpgFelpro manifold gaskets...as I suspected with the different EGR bolts. Someone had been in here before. I guess what do you expect at 172k... ?


lower manifold off, starter in plain sight now, It had been about 3 hrs, but i was apparently just getting started


I thought i was going to use the harbor freight tool ratchet/t handle tool and remove the starter bolts without removing the rear coolant bridge... YAH... impossible, at least on a 95-97, you see that heater core and heat control valves up there? no way the tool is getting in there. After trying for 2 hrs, and numerous colorful words I was losing hope.

I removed the upper EGR pipe to try and get the HF tool in, nope.

OK so I guess Ill just take out the rear cool bridge... easy right? no

The lower EGR pipe is bolted to the back of the rear coolant bridge, those bolts cannot be accessed from the engine bay as the coolant bridge is in the way.

Ok then so I read online that I might need to remove the passenger cat to access the lower EGR pipe bolts on the rear coolant bridge,...not happening.... thought about it for 30 mins, impossible, not only were the cat bolts old and locked on there. There is no way for a socket(maybe a special sized swivel socket, i dont have one) to even get around them without hitting the cat and there is no way a simple box wrench is getting those suckers off.

After more words and tow truck contemplation i had genius idea, loosen the lower EGR pipe bolts on top of the exhaust pipe and then hope that it gives me enough clearance to pull up on the coolant bridge.

I used the harbor freight t handle thing to remove the 2, 12mm nuts on top of the exhaust freeing up the lower egr tube from below.

This allowed me to pull up an inch or 2 on the coolant bridge and then I could get the HF tool in there again to remove the bolts holding the lower EGR tube to the back of the rear coolant bridge.

finally the coolant bridge was free and I had much better access to the starter bolts.

I put some serious torque on that HF tool to loosen the passenger starter bolt... It flexed and i thought it was snapping for sure but it thankfully broke the bolt loose, I removed it using the same tool while jamming a screwdriver against the bolt to keep tension on it so it didn't spin backwards. I broke the driver side bolt loose with a 3/8 breaker bar and shorty socket( nothing fits in there even with the bridge removed) then finished removing with the HF tool.


Finally got it out


Some wear/chips on the bendix, this starter was definitely not a denso, probably a duralast (I found some pieces of autozone receipt down in the valley)


another shot


best shot I could get of the flywheel, there was a tiny bit wear but nothing like the starter drive, no chips, or missing teeth as i cranked the engine over via the crankbolt


I did manage to break the little connector for the starter solenoid signal, wrapped it up with a bunch of electrical tape... :/

new starter in, bolt reinstall was a breeze by hand, I had ran them through the new starter threads a few times to clean them up and tightened as hard as I could with a 3/8 shorty ratchet (all that would fit)

Now I need coolant bridge gaskets from the dealer and since i didn't plan on removing it i didn't buy them... dumb, if they dont have them in stock maybe I will add some rtv on top and reinstall? they are the same part number but different names on the sewell parts diagram.

Now i just need to put everything back, clean up mating surfaces and manifolds, and rebuild injectors with napa kits, then hope it starts, oh joy

Not recommended for the faint of heart, this really is a big job. I just did my timing belt and I think this was much more difficult.

In conclusion, that harbor freight 98484 "Tbar with flexible 3/8 ratchet" saved my !Removed! many times.

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I feel your pain for I just went through this recently on my 98. Wanted to say don't reuse your coolant gaskets - you're not connecting a transmission pan, its hot water under pressure. I've read too many threads about those who've tried and had to go back in there again to replace once it started leaking shortly / immediately after.

The delay in getting parts is worth the piece of mind that comes from knowing the job is done right and you won't have to go back in there for a long time.

You may want to change your knock sensors while they're accessible as well.

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Yeah I would not re-use the coolant bridge gaskets unless they are in near perfect shape which I doubt. I just recently changed mine out on my 98 also and while it was difficult the first time, it was a breeze when I had to pull it off again immediately because just changing out the contacts did not work. It would spin but not engage the flywheel. I just got a reman Denso from Amazon and called it a day. I would rate the TB job more difficult just because you have to keep track of so many parts and it's time consuming. I did lift the manifold as one piece and reused the gasket since it looked to be in good shape. If it does not hold I'll just order new ones and pop it off and back on.

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Good write-up, Bryan. I am definitely with you on the difficulty issue. I would much rather do the timing belt than starter. There are just so many little, breakable connectors on the manifold. Neither job is a cinch. You must have a lot of perseverance to do either...and not be prone to throwing tools.

I would not recommend re-using any critical gasket no matter how it looked. Just me.

Also, I would recommend a quick starter 'bump' to test it out before you button it back up. Wouldn't it be a real kicker if you got it all back together, turned the key and....nothing? You have to be careful doing the bump so as not to energize the fuel pump and have fuel spraying everywhere. Key off and in your pocket(;-), battery posts reconnected, manually touch starter solenoid signal to battery +. I used a simple 'alligator' clip test wire to reach the battery.

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I have to agree with landar on reusing critical gaskets but others have reused the manifold gaskets with success so I took my chances. I did that bump test and everything looked good. The starter gear popped out and spinned like it was engaging the flywheel but once installed it would just spin. Lesson learned, the just replace the contacts method does not always work.

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I put everything back together yesterday and it works GREAT! Starter turned over strong and quietly and most importantly with any high pitched chime (delayed disengagment) of the old starter.

I went to the dealer yesterday and bought new coolant bridge gaskets, they were acutally cheaper local than from sewell even before shipping.

It took me FOREVER to reconnect the lower EGR pipe to the back of the coolant bridge. Like a few hours just for that one step. SO frustrating.

I used new gaskets for the head to manifold and manifold to surge tank, as well as a new throttle body gasket.

I also used the reman DENSO from amazon per sha400's recommendation. although the reman denso from rockauto was cheaper and they will take the old core back for like a $32 refund

I did not test before reintalling everything... :0 dumb/lucky me

I bought rebuild fuel injector kits for $2 each from Napa. worked great. The old injector grommets were rock hard and cracked each one

I changed the PCV valve, grommet, and hose. The grommet was literally rock hard, I used pentrating oil to loosen it and then stuffed a towel into the hole and then pryed/broke it out with some screwdrivers. THen pulled the towel out with all the pieces caught in it.

I bought another set of distributor rotors from sewell since if you recall I put the first set of new ones in backwards when doing my timing belt last month and have been using the old ones until I opened up the engine again.

So last night at 11pm I opened the "new" distributor rotor boxes and they look just like the ones I put in backwards last month. The rotors wiper friction material look to have been shaved off and it is missing the sandpaper like material. They are very smooth without grit.

I emailed sewell today,

Even so now I have to go in AGAIN with new rotors at some point, this will be the 3rd time I change them... I have it down to a science. I gently pull back the timing cover and slip the new ones in. Only requires draining a tiny bit of the radiator and taking off the bolts from the upper timing covers. I leave the serpentine belt on too.

old on the left and "new" on the right, someone must have returned the rotors and they repackaged them and gave them to me.... GRRRR. it was the icing on the cake of frustration yesterday.


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Congrats on getting it all back together and fired up. I know what it means to get frustrated. I started off the summer with the timing belt, water pump job with the intention of doing my cam seals at the same time. i took me a whole week and lots of head scratching mainly because the cam seals on the 98 and up can't be changed unless you remove the cams. That was a real scary experience for me but landar came in and gave me lots of encouragement. The TB teardown was pretty straight forward for the most part though. I was thinking about my starter the whole time but did not feel like adding that on since the cams were giving me fits, mainly because I could not find any real world how-to explaining it precisely. I ended up just doing exactly what the FSM ( factory service manual ) said to do plus read bits and pieces of tips from other owners with VVT-I engines. Mainly IS and GS models. I promised landar I would do a proper write up for the VVT-I cam seals when I get the chance though. I ordered the starter from Amazon because it was 3pm and I needed it the next day. Since I have prime it was only like an extra $9 and it was in my hands 10 the next morning. That's why I get all I can from Amazon and if there's a problem I can send it right back with no problem.

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I def see what you are talking about. I guess over time the gear sometimes does not come all the way out. I forget what that particular part is called but I did feel like waiting for it since the only place tat had it was the dealer. I know a shop could have did the rebuild but that would have defeated the whole DIY thing and the consesus was that it would cost as much as a reman starter.

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It's nice to know that someone came along and did replace the starter. That will give me encouragement to do it when happen. It took me about 16 hours on the timing belt. It was not easy but straightforward. The instruction I found on the web was for models between 90-94 so there were different. I don't mind paying someone to do the job, but worst case is to tow to a shop. At least, It has not happened yet.

Thanks for the write up.

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