Remove the Starter from a 1998 Tacoma 4X4 V 6

Replacing the starter in a Tacoma 4X4 V-6, a challenge to your automotive repair abilities. If you desire the challenge then proceed, otherwise, take it to the shop, this repair requires extensive patience and strong small hands and wrists.


  1. Read through these instruction thoroughly. especially the section about physically removing the starter from the engine compartment. This should help you decide whether to take the vehicle into service vs doing this yourself.
  2. Remove the negative battery lead.
  3. Jack the car up, place very secure jack stands under the frame and forward of the wheel, on the passenger side, and remove the front passenger wheel. You will be in and under the wheel well most of the time.
  4. Remove the rubber splash guards from the inner wheel well, forward, and aft of the wheel. you can remove the plastic rivets with a large screwdriver or stretch the rubber guards over the heads of the rivets.
  5. Find the brake line securing bracket and with the 12mm ratcheting wrench, remove the 12 mm bolt holding it in place to the back of the frame. (just aft of the strut). The starter will not fit through this space without moving this brake line first.
  6. Be aware - Auto Transmission only. Through the engine compartment, remove the securing bracket for the transmission fluid dip stick (a 12mm bolt), remove the dip stick, then remove the top section of the dip stick guide. It is held in place by an O ring. twist and pull the upper section up. It comes out reasonably easy, plug the top of the bottom section with a paper towel as to not contaminate the transmission fluid.
  7. Using a 12mm ratcheting box wrench remove the positive lead to the starter.
  8. Use a 14mm flex socket (a flex adaptor will not work) and a 6" extension, and a swivel head ratchet, to remove the lower starter bolt. You will have to go under the truck and come in from behind the starter through a maze of brake lines etc. The swivel headed ratchet makes this job MUCH easier. Using a {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} extension and the same 14mm socket and swivel ratchet remove the top bolt.
  9. Reach through the wheel well openings under the suspension yoke behind the brake line and over the frame and behind the strut and rotate the starter so that the ignition control plug in can be observed. Depress the plastic locking key and slide the plug out. Fortunately this removed easy, because there is little room to maneuver and no room to use pliers. If you had to use force there is no room for leverage.
  10. Remove the Starter from the engine compartment. THIS IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF THE JOB. If you are unable to do this yourself you might end up having to have a Toyota Service supervisor come to your home and assist you. The supervisor may state only two of his three techs are able to perform this task. The starter needs to be removed gears first, through the wheel well opening, it needs to be lifted (gears up) and rotated toward the opening so that it is removed not quite horizontally. As the starter is moved toward the opening it has to be rotated so the positive battery lead bolt can clear obstructions. The starter is then advanced in position and rotated opposite direction. Advance the starter in position and wiggle it in position until it can be removed. This is MUCH more difficult than it sounds.
  11. Choose between replacing or rebuilding. With the starter out, you must decide whether to replace it or rebuild it. You will need an impact driver to take the starter apart and check the bushes (also called lunge contacts). The brushes are usually just over an inch long and spring-loaded, if they appear to have plenty of carbon left then look to your stator. Bluish burns on the copper windings indicate bad spots, and the starter should be replaced. As difficult as this job was, replacing the starter is worth every dime. After market starters are approx. $100. Toyota I believe is closer to $300.
  12. Have the starter in hand, go through the wheel well gears out. wiggle it around until it goes into the engine compartment, maneuver the starter until the gears go into the flywheel housing then line it up and push it into place. It is difficult to tell whether the gears and flywheel mesh, but rotate the starter back and forth and the gears should mesh. Using a {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} flat piece of anything, prop the starter up so that you may start the bolts into the starter housing. You may have better success with the lower bolt first, try pulling the starter up to the flywheel housing cautiously to check the gear mesh. Leave the lower bolt loose and start the top bolt. After re-installing the starter, you may have difficulty tightening this top bolt. Try reaching this bolt through the wheel well (with no extension or flex socket) for final tightening. Tighten the bolts checking the gap between the flywheel housing and the starter to ensure the gears meshed properly. If they are coming together unevenly remove either bolt, loosen the other bolt and rotate the starter back and forth until it goes into place. The limited access to the starter makes this process more difficult because of lack of mobility of the starter. Repeat the re-bolting process, and tighten down the bolts. If you do not know the torque values use the tight is tight, too tight is broke, method.
  13. Replace the positive battery lead to the starter, replace the top section of the transmission fluid dip stick and rebolt it to the engine block. Rebolt the brake line bracket, replace the negative battery lead and start the truck. If the truck starts, shut it off, remove the jack stands, replace the wheel, remove the jack and tighten down the wheel bolts.

Things You'll Need

  • 12mm flex socket
  • 14mm flex socket
  • 6" extension, 12-14 ' extension
  • 3/8 " swivel head ratchet
  • 12mm ratcheting box end wrench
  • 14mm ratcheting box end wrench

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