Replacement starter motor at 70,800 miles

8 November 2016 - Filed under: Repairs

The MINI has had intermittent start motor issues for a while now. The starter wouldn’t always engage correctly with the flywheel leading to a horrible grinding noise. Switching the ignition immediately off and then trying again usually worked. I assumed this was a symptom of the dying battery that I replaced a while ago as the issue went away for a while once the replacement was fitted. However, it returned with vengeance on nearly every start once autumn arrived and temperatures dropped.

I’d purchased a replacement a while ago, and had one attempt at fitting it only to give up due to how tricky it was to access the existing starter. I was planning to get a professional to replace the starter as I didn’t like the idea of my wife using a car that at times seemed unlikely to start. However, the purchase of a new Clubman (more on that later) left the R56 as a fourth car, so I figured I didn’t really have much to lose by having another go at the replacement.

As predicted it was a horrible job to replace. The inlet manifold had to come off to gain access, unclipping the loom from the manifold was particularly awkward as you’re often working by touch and the loom is held on with lots of very well-secured cable tie clips.

The original was manufactured by Bosch in Hungary, The Starter Motor and Alternator Company supplied a Japanese made Mitsubishi replacement. The casting was a different design in places but all of the mounting holes lined up correctly. It seemed like a better-finished part so I was quite happy to not fit OE.

An E10 (female Torx) socket is required for the star shaped bolts that hold the starter in place. Once removed I had to move the metal collar thing that can be seen on the bottom left of the original starter over to the new. It was corroded in place but came loose with some heat and persuasion. This appears to help the starter align correctly during installation.

I was a little nervous firing it up for the first time once everything was reassembled as there were a lot of connectors to reconnect and not all of them could easily be seen. Thankfully it worked and seems to have continued to work. Not a nice job, but quite rewarding now that it’s done.


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