Changing a starter on a 98 SLS
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Cadillac Seville / Cadillac Eldorado Forum Discussion, Changing a starter on a 98 SLS in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; Everyone~ I've just been informed by my mechanic that they will charge me for four hours of labor to change ...
  1. #1
    paddyshap is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    Everyone~

    I've just been informed by my mechanic that they will charge me for four hours of labor to change the starter on my 98 SLS. Being a poor grad student, I don't know if I can afford $400 for labor. I was hoping someone has done this before and could talk me through it.

    Is it even feasible without putting the car up in the air? Do I need special tools beyond a good ratchet set? Y'all been very helpful in the past, and I'm praying that my good luck on the forum continues.

    Thanks so much,
    Patrick

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  3. #2
    JimD is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    What diagnostic steps brought you to the "replace starter" solution?

    There are several electrical conditions that have to be satisfied before the starter motor will spin up.

    And you don't want to be under the car for a starter replacement. The starter motor for your engine is under the intake manifold.

  4. #3
    paddyshap is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    A mechanic ran down all the connections, ran the codes and came to that conclusion.

    I've heard it's more difficult to get to the starter through the intake manifold than it is from underneath. Is that true?

  5. #4
    JimD is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    Quote Originally Posted by paddyshap View Post
    A mechanic ran down all the connections, ran the codes and came to that conclusion.
    Details would be more helpful; which codes and which connections?

    I've heard it's more difficult to get to the starter through the intake manifold than it is from underneath. Is that true?
    Not true.

    It is impossible to access the starter on your engine from "underneath" the vehicle.

    At the risk of repeating myself, your starter motor is located under the intake manifold.

    Whoever is feeding you this information is not experienced with Northstar powertrains and that would put the entire diagnosis in question.

  6. #5
    Ranger's Avatar
    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    Certainly not a 4 hour job. 1-2 at best.

  7. #6
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    cadi509 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    Ya its not hard to take the intake off to get to the starter I personally think I'd rather do 5 N* starters than 2 starters underneath a car I absolutely HATE working underneath any car dirt falling in my face pisses me off.

  8. #7
    STSMadness is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    Is it always a no crank issue? I had what I thought was a bad starter problem, but realized after a little more diagnosis that I had lost my Engine Ground. The braided groundstrap on the right side front of the engine had torn, and I actually installed an old battery cable from the frame to a bolt on the cylinder head.

    Hope this helps....

  9. #8
    paddyshap is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    For the sake of argument, let's say I'm 100% sure that it's the starter that needs replacing. Should I disconnect the manifold entirely and remove it from the car, or is it enough to just lift it out of the way?

    Thanks.

  10. #9
    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    I have heard and seen pictures of it just being lifted at the front (passengers) side and propped up with a stick (if you have the nylon fuel rail).

  11. #10
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    Submariner409 is offline If it won't run, chrome it
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    There have been instances of either loose starter solenoid IGN connectors or even the large positive cable itself.

    The entire fuel rail and intake manifold should be removed. Bleed off the fuel rail, pop the two quick disconnects (tool from NAPA), remove the 4 retainer nuts and lift the rail and injectors as a unit. (Oil the O-rings before you drop it back in). Remove the PCV vacuum lines, unbolt the manifold, disconnect it from the throttlebody and lift it off. The manifold bolt torque is only 89 in/lb; about 7 ft/lb. DO NOT overtorque them or you'll crack the manifold bolt bosses. Given the age of the car i would use new manifold gaskets.

    These are from a 2002, yours has a slightly different connector between the manifold and throttlebody.

  12. #11
    paddyshap is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Bad connection or new starter?

    My '98 SLS is starting inconsistently. Sometimes, when I turn the key over, I get one single "click" but the engine doesn't crank. Radio, lights a/c all work fine. If I let the car sit for a few hours, I'll turn it over and it will roar to life. It doesn't crank slow, so I'm not convinced that I need to replace the starter. The battery is fully charged, so that's not it.

    I took it to a mechanic, and he ran a half-assed electrical check and told me that I needed a new starter. Doesn't a starter degrade slower, ie it cranks slower as it's dying? Anyone have any ideas where I should check the connections?

    Thanks,
    Patrick

  13. #12
    paddyshap is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    I got a second opinion on this. I explained to a mechanic friend back home, and he thought the diagnosis sounds wrong. He says that a starter will crank slower as it degrades. Since the car roars to life in those rare occasions when it does start, it may not be the starter after all. It could just be a bad connection somewhere.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this? Where should I start checking the connections. The lights/dash/a/c work fine when I start it up, so I don't think it's a bad battery connection (slightly corroded, but still okay).

    Thanks again.

  14. #13
    JimD is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    Quote Originally Posted by paddyshap View Post
    ....Anyone have any thoughts on this? Where should I start checking the connections. The lights/dash/a/c work fine when I start it up, so I don't think it's a bad battery connection (slightly corroded, but still okay).
    Do you have another key? If so, are the symptoms the same when you use either key?

    There are two relays in the underhood fuse box labeled START 1 (#36) and START 2 (#35). Remove and install those relays several times each to wipe any possible corrosion from the connector pins.

    The road map for the locations is on the inside of the fuse box cover.

  15. #14
    Ranger's Avatar
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    Re: Bad connection or new starter?

    I'd suspect the battery or cables first. Do the headlights go real dim when it fails to crank?

  16. #15
    paddyshap is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Changing a starter on a 98 SLS

    The headlights don't go real dim after it fails to crank. It's just one single "click" when I turn the key to crank, and nothing. Like I said before, the radio, a/c lights all come on, so it's getting enough power.

    I checked the relays for the start. They seemed clean. The car started fine a few times after I reconnected everything, but this morning, it took a dump on me again. I shifted the car into neutral, tried to start it. Nothing. Shifted it back into park, and it started right up. I have a suspicion that that was just dumb luck, though. Again, when it does crank, it doesn't turn over real slow or anything, it starts right up.

    Do you think this might be a solenoid issue?

    Thanks again.

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