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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After running for 160,000+ miles my 2008 US 451 had no starter. No prior symptoms, just one morning turning the key gave an assortment of clicks and hums but no starter. Once in the air I pressed in the tab and pulled off the small wire to the starter solenoid. A meter showed 12V when the key was turned to start, which was a great relief. I was worried that some sensor or SAM logic gate had failed an I was in for a bill greater than whet the car is worth.

Jumping the solenoid terminal to the 12v supply at the solenoid confirmed, a click of the solenoid but no motor turning.

Pulling the started is documented elsewhere and I'll comment that it's one of the easiest I've seen. (Pros only, If you are comfortable with your psycho-motor skills, you can remove the 12V cable and wrap it in a piece of duct tape long enough to loop around a brake line to hold it out of the way. This is risky for a novice, who I still advise to remove the ground from the battery before starting any electrical work.)

The rest is a description of how to access the brushes for inspection and cleaning. I doubt the brush plate can be purchased separately but a shop specializing in starter rebuilds (if these guys haven't all retired) might be able to help you find one. So, nothing to see here unless you are just curious.

With the starter out I opened the brush cover. Those with a good eye will see in the photo why it was a waste of time. This flaw was not apparent when I started work.

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I removed the long 8mm head bolts first, then the two #2 Phillips head screws. They required a dot of Liquid Wrench and some light tapping with a hammer to break loose. With the four fasteners removed the end cap can be removed. The photo shows reassembly with a tiny bit of moly grease added to the bearing. This grease should be pushed in deeper by the armature shaft so that grease doesn't contaminate the brushes and commutator.

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I pulled the brush plate to view the brushes. I neglected to measure them but mine were still quite long enough to make good contact and there was no evidence of arcing on the commutator. In the next picture note that two of the brushes carry power from the solenoid and have a braided cable that passes through a rubber bushing that you can see coming away from the housing. The two brushes that ground through the carrier plate will come fully out of their holders when you remove the plate so do this in a place where you won't lose the springs that go behind the brushes.

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Putting the brush plate back into their holders and slipping the carrier back over the commutator is a bear. I finally chose to remove the connection at the solenoid terminal so that I could take the brush carrier out to work on it. This is when I found the problem. If you look back at the first picture you can see the braided cable has corroded completely through. This was not evident until I removed the not holding the terminal.

So, brushes not being the problem, back they went. It's a lot easier to get them back in their holders on the bench before moving them back over the commutator. I used a Mac 5/8 socket and worked them in one at a time. It's still tricky. I then slid in a socket just slightly smaller than the commutator.

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Use the socket to hold the brushes aside as you start with one brush going down over the commutator, then work around to the others. Make sure the rubber bushing goes in correctly. The end cap has a notch that aligns with the rubber bushing. Remember the tiny bit of grease. Push the end cap on and see if the holes for the two Phillips screws are aligned. You may have to work the brush plate around a bit and try the cap again. Install the screws, then the two long bolts.

At his point I knew the source of the problem and did the "not to be done". I did a crude solder to reconnect the two bits of cable that had separated. It takes a big iron to get them hot enough and a lot of flux. Last two pics are of the solder and of the simple test bed before reinstalling. It worked but I nonetheless have a reverse engineered new Chinese starter from Rock Auto on the way. I'm tempted to see how long the repair lasts before failure but my luck it would be far from home in the snow.

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Update: I got the Chinese new starter sold by Rock Auto (WAI Global brand). It installed without issue but seems to turn the motor over at about half the speed of the original starter. I'm waiting to see if it loosens up after a number of starts.
 

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I doubt it will loosen up. If it was made in China. Maybe your car battery is low now!
 
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