How to Place Shims Behind a Starter

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A starter is an electric motor used for starting engines and was invented in the early nineteen-hundreds. The starter is attached to the engine block and when activated, either by a starter button or a key switch, causes the starter pinion gear to engage the engine flywheel. The starter then turns the engine over until it is running on its own; then the starter pinion gear retracts, and the starter shuts off until it is needed to start the engine again. The starter is installed at the factory with shims so that the pinion gear is lined up exactly with the engine flywheel. When replacing a faulty starter, it must be re-shimmed so that the starter and flywheel are not damaged from misalignment.

Things You'll Need

  • Starter shim kit
  • Auto ramps (2)
  • Wheel chocks (2)
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Purchase a shim kit for your starter (which includes a gauge tool) at an auto parts store.

  • Drive the vehicle onto a set of ramps. Apply the parking brake and chock the rear wheels to keep the vehicle from accidentally rolling. Slide under the vehicle and install your starter using the instructions that came with the starter.

  • Remove the flywheel inspection plate near the starter by backing out the holding bolts with an adjustable wrench in a counterclockwise direction. Set the plate and the bolts aside.

  • Insert the gauge that came with the shim kit in between the ring gear on the engine flywheel and the armature shaft of the starter.

  • Cut a shim in half if the gauge is loose and install it between the outside mounting pad of the starter and the mounting surface on the engine block to move the starter closer to the flywheel. To install shims, loosen the starter mounting bolts with an adjustable wrench in a counterclockwise direction just enough to slide the shim in. The shims are notched, so the bolt does not need to be removed to install the shim. Tighten the starter holding bolts in a clockwise direction with an adjustable wrench before rechecking the clearance with the gauge tool.

  • Note that if the gauge tool cannot be inserted because the clearance is too tight between the flywheel ring gear and the starter armature shaft, use an entire shim slid between both mounting holes of the starter and the engine block to move the starter away from the flywheel. Loosen the starter mounting bolts with an adjustable wrench in a counterclockwise direction just enough to slide the shim in. Re-tighten the starter bolts with an adjustable wrench in a clockwise direction and re-check the clearance with the gauge tool.

  • Add more shims, if needed, to get the proper clearance with the gauge tool. Tighten the starter holding bolts with an adjustable wrench in a clockwise direction. Replace the flywheel inspection plate and tighten the holding bolts with an adjustable wrench in a clockwise direction. Remove the wheel chocks and back the vehicle off of the ramps.

Tips & Warnings

  • Shims are wide enough to fit across both mounting holes of the starter. If the starter only needs to be shimmed on one of the mounting holes, the shim can be cut in half and used on just the affected side.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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