: Replacing the starter on a 1987 Cadillac Eldorado with 4.1L V8

05-12-10, 10:39 AM
Replacing the starter on a 1987 Cadillac Eldorado with 4.1L V8

The tools, techniques, and strategy detailed below should be considered a GUIDE only. You situation may require a different approach.

Factory service manual
Bottle jack (optional)
7mm and 8mm flex head ratcheting wrenches (I used Gear Wrench brand)
13mm and 15mm sockets (3/8 drive)
13mm and 15mm swivel sockets (3/8 drive) (got mine from Sears)
10mm, 13mm and 15mm flex head ratcheting wrenches (I used Gear Wrench brand)
various socket extensions 3" to 10" long (3/8 drive)
brake cleaner
various blocks of wood
flat bladed screwdriver (long shank)
MAPP gas torch or propane torch (propane is old school these days!)

If possible - actually you HAVE TO raise the car in the air so you can use a creeper to get under it.

Setup: You may choose to raise your car however you like - this is how I did it.

1. Parking brake on.
2. Disconnect battery.
3. Position hydraulic jack under forward subframe crossmember, and jack the car high enough to put jack stands under rocker panel frame rails (cushioned by wood blocks between jack stands and frame rails).
4. Remove jack so you have clear access under the car.

Getting access to the starter to allow for removal and replacement

I studied the access problem for a couple of hours, and this is what I came up with. You can of course create your own strategy.

Remove fan from inboard side of radiator
Remove 2 10mm bolts.
Pull the fan up and it will release from the bottom mounts.
Remove the wiring from the fan motor, and lift the entire fan assembly clear of the car.

Remove the 10mm nut securing the top of the heatshield.
With the fan removed, you can now access the 10mm nut securing the top of the starter’s heatshield.
Then remove the 2 nuts securing the lower portion of the heatshield, may be 7mm or 8mm.

Remove the bolts securing the front exhaust pipe
Remove the 2 bolts holding the front exhaust pipe to the front exhaust manifold. I think these bolts are 13mm. They should come out fairly easily.

Remove the saddle clamp securing the front exhaust pipe to the Y-pipe
Heat the clamp bolts and nuts with the torch until nice and red. Hit’em with a 15mm box wrench and hope for the best! The nuts on your saddle clamp may or may not be 15mm – you’ll have to check.

You may need to perform a couple of heating/cooling cycles and use liberal amounts of WD-40 to get the nuts to come loose. I was able to remove the nuts successfully and re-use the clamp later.

Remove the front exhaust pipe from the Y-pipe
After the pipes have cooled completely, you’ll need to vigorously shake/jiggle/twist the front exhaust pipe to loosen if from the grip of the Y-pipe joint. I had to use some gentle hammer tapping, soaking with WD-40 overnight, and then more shaking/jiggling/twisting the next morning, and the pipe finally pulled out of the joint. Set the pipe aside. Now the starter is completely exposed and ready for removal.

Remove the 2 bolts securing the starter to the engine block
Using your 15mm socket, ratchet, and your favorite extension, remove the bolts. Be careful to catch the starter as it is heavy and will fall out into your hands.

Optional step: you may want to remove the bolts securing the front engine mount, and then jack the engine up 3-4 inches to give you more clearance. You can use a small bottle jack and a block of wood to spread the load across the oil pan.

You may want to temporarily re-install the longest bolt to hold the starter in place as you work to free the wiring.

The nuts holding the wiring (positive cable at solenoid, purple signal wire at the solenoid, and negative cable at the engine block) are probably going to be tight!!! My car’s positive cable was so tight that the solenoid stud broke off as I was trying to remove it.

Please note the positive cable has a skinny locating tab of it that will mate into a slot on the new solenoid – be sure and line the tab and slot correctly to avoid breaking things later!

The negative cable is secured to a stud that is screwed into the engine block. The entire stud came our when I tried to remove the nut securing the cable. This worked out fine.

Re-installing the starter….
Be sure to LOOSELY install the L-shaped bracket to the rear of the starter before your start securing everything. Also, first install the stud back in the engine and be sure the L-shaped bracket fits over it before you start buttoning up the starter. The LONG end of the stud goes into the engine.

Attach your cables, and tighten them up, remembering to align the tab and slot for the positive cable.

Install the 2 long bolts into the engine block and secure the negative cable to the engine block.

Last steps…
Re-install the heatshield
Re-install the exhaust pipe and saddle clamp
Re-install the fan assembly
Test the starter!