Fix my car? Yeah, I can do that!

Howdy all you in the blog-o-sphere! Sam here with a short how-to/ramble. So, this summer has been an incredibly busy and awesome one so far, and it’s still rolling on. You know, strikes and gutters and all that. Anyway, I recently had the starter in my 2001 Honda Civic EX go bad (gutter-ball). Now, I’m not mechanically inclined (the most complicated thing I’ve done to my car is change the brake pads) so at first I was a little worked up about the whole situation. On top of that, I work as a delivery driver and cook over at Blue Mountain Pizza when I’m not arting around so I really kinda need my car.

So after a little panic followed by a little thought, I said to myself “Screw that! I’ve got this.” And dove into some online research on my car’s symptoms. I found out how to test whether or not it actually was my starter that went bad, which only works for manual transmissions. The test is try to roll-start your car. This will get your car going by bypassing the starter. Luckily, mine is a manual and it started right up after some heavy pushing. If it hadn’t started, I would have been totally lost.

After identifying my problem I jumped over to YouTube to see if it was something I could fix myself, and found this well done video on exactly my issue. It also had me saying “Starter bolts!” in a Boston accent. Anyway, the only difference between my car and the one that he was working on is that his car was an automatic. Turns out there isn’t any difference in the process, just in the part you buy.

It looked intimidating at first, but I figured I should be a man and establish dominance. All you have to remember is that you can do anything you set your mind to as long as you have the right attitude and motivation. Now on to the process. If you are reading this to fix your car yourself, I recommend watching that video after reading this.

Here’s the old girl now:

And here’s under her hood.
Yeah, she’s seen better days but she’s still running strong, bum starter aside.

Now grab your tools and get ready to get dirty. All I needed was a Phillips head screw driver, a ratchet with a few different sized heads, and some of this tasty stuff:

So first, disconnect the car battery since the starter has a power cable going to it. No matter what anyone tells you, getting electrocuted is never any fun.

Alright, now that the battery is unplugged, you need to free up the throttle cable so you can take out the air intake and filter housing. The throttle cable is held down by just two bolt caps below each end of the filter housing. Remove those and pin the cable down somewhere out of the way.

Now take the cap off of the air filter housing and remove the filter. The cap is held down by six bolts around its edge and one in the middle. Here’s the cap:

Now that the top is off and the filter is out, you need to unplug the sensor. (the plug connected to the right of the housing)

And loosen a gasket clamp located under the filter housing. This is a little hard to find, but not too tricky to unscrew (of the two screws you can see is this picture, it’s the upper one)

And disconnect the hose connected to the engine. This just slides off.

Now unscrew the two lower bolts holding it down as well as the one in the upper left connecting the air intake and the filter housing and you can pull the filter housing up and out!

Next you need to remove the air intake box. This is easier to do than the last part you just pulled out. First, there is a clip holding a tube of wires to the side of the intake box that needs to come off. This is connected to the upper right side if the box, in between it and where the filter housing used to be. This is what it looks like:

Now remove the two bolts on either side of the lower end of the intake box and yank that sucker up and out. This clears the way for you to get to the starter. Here’s the hole left from taking that stuff out:

The starter is located under the pipes that are in the center of the previous image, connected directly to the left side of the engine with just two bolts and two electrical connections. First remove the two electrical connections. One is just a plug, and the other is attached with a nut. The two connections are on the opposite side of the starter is this picture (I was racing an incoming thunderstorm at this point in the repair job, so apologies for the poor quality)

Now that the power is unhooked, reach your hand down in there and feel around for where the starter connects to the engine. There are just two, and they are located on opposite sides of the starter. I couldn’t get my phone in there to get a picture of these, so refer to the video if you are having trouble. Even there it was hard to see where they were, so feeling around ended up being the easiest thing for me. Anyway, take those bolts out and the starter comes off and out with almost no resistance. Here’s the busted junk right now:

Now it’s time to purchase a new starter, which conveniently enough most major auto part stores carry. Just make sure that you get the right one because the sales associate at the place I went almost gave me the wrong starter. The only thing to note is that there is a metal bracket attached to the head of the starter that was not included with the new one I purchased. It just attaches to the new one in the same spot, no big deal. Just make sure not to throw the old starter out before taking this piece off. Here’s a shot of the bracket, which is the L shaped metal piece above my thumb.

Last thing to do is to put everything back together in the reverse order you took them apart, crank the car, and pose like a badass because you just fixed your car!

I hope this will help anyone out there with the same problem as me, or at least give you the confidence to tackle a problem you might think is out of your league. I thought I was at first, but look at me now, cruising the streets with my self-repaired car.

See, people? You can do anything.



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