As a certified mechanic with over 20 years of experience, I often get asked “Can a mobile mechanic fix a starter?” The short answer is yes. Mobile mechanics are fully equipped to diagnose and replace faulty starters on-site, getting your engine turning over again without the hassle of towing your car into the shop.
In this article, I’ll walk you through what’s involved when a mobile mechanic fixes your starter. We’ll cover troubleshooting common starter issues, the tools and parts needed for the repair, steps to remove the old starter and install a new one, and tips to prevent future starter problems.
Now back to the article, my goal is to give you everything you need to know about having a mobile mechanic get your car started again. Let’s get your engine turning over smoothly!
What is a Starter and How Does it Work?
The starter motor is responsible for turning over the engine when you twist the ignition key or push the engine start button. It is essentially a powerful electric motor that engages the flywheel, spinning the engine up to 200 RPM so that combustion can begin in the cylinders.
Without a working starter, your engine would never “turn over” and start. Starters engage a small gear called a Bendix drive that meshes with a ring gear on the flywheel. This transfers power from the starter to the engine. When powered, the starter turns the flywheel, which rotates the crankshaft, allowing the pistons to begin firing.
Common Signs of a Failing Starter
As a master mechanic, I know the telltale signs of a bad or failing starter:
- Grinding noise when starting: If you hear a grinding sound when engaging the starter, the Bendix gear is likely damaged. This typically indicates internal damage.
- Engine cranks slowly: As starters wear out, they draw more current and lose torque ability. You may notice very sluggish cranking when trying to start the car.
- Intermittent operation: Flaky electrical contacts inside the starter solenoid or motor can cause intermittent function. Sometimes the starter engages, other times nothing happens when you turn the key.
- Clicking noise but no cranking: If you hear a click but the engine doesn’t crank over, the solenoid or relay contacts could be damaged or worn out. Time for a new starter.
- Smoke or burning smell: Extremely worn brushes and armatures in the starter can cause overheating. You may see smoke or get a burning odor.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to have your starter inspected and repaired by a professional mechanic right away. Driving with a failing starter can leave you stranded.
Can a Mobile Mechanic Replace Your Starter?
Absolutely! With the right tools and expertise, an experienced mobile mechanic can diagnose and replace a faulty starter on location without the need to tow your car to a shop.
Here are some of the benefits of using a mobile mechanic service for your starter repair or replacement:
- Convenience: The mechanic comes to your home, office, or location of your choice. No need to arrange towing or worry about a rental car.
- Cost savings: Mobile mechanics have lower overhead than repair shops. Their rates are often very competitive if not cheaper than shops.
- Efficiency: The mobile tech can get started right away without wait times for bringing your car into a bay at a busy shop.
- High quality: Reputable mobile mechanic services employ master technicians with all the necessary tools and diagnostic equipment. You get dealership-level expertise at your location.
As a lifelong mechanic, I feel confident that a knowledgeable mobile tech can tackle any starter replacement job. With some perseverance and the right tools, most starters can be accessed and swapped out in just a few hours.
Starter Replacement – Step-by-Step
For those curious about the starter replacement process, here are the basic steps a mechanic will perform:
- Safely elevate and secure the vehicle if needed to gain access to the starter. Ground the battery terminal to avoid sparks.
- Locate the starter on the engine block or transmission housing. It’s usually near the bottom of the engine.
- Disconnect all electrical connectors going to the starter. Label wires for easy re-installation.
- Remove the starter mounting bolts. These are typically 14 or 15mm bolts. Have a wrench ready.
- Wiggle the starter free from the mounting surface. You may need to maneuver it around other engine components.
- Compare the old starter to the new one to ensure the correct replacement. Transfer any shims or spacers.
- Install the new starter, securing all mounting bolts to OEM factory torque specs. Do not overtighten!
- Reconnect all electrical connectors and terminals. Verify the starter is grounded properly.
- Reconnect the battery and test the starter. It should crank over the engine with no unusual sounds.
And that’s it! While having some mechanical skill helps, you can see that a trained mobile mechanic can handle a starter replacement using standard automotive tools.
Starter Rebuild vs Replace – Which is Better?
When your starter goes bad, you have two main options – rebuild the current starter or replace it with a new one. Here’s my take as a seasoned mechanic on the rebuild vs replace decision:
Rebuilding the starter involves disassembling it, inspecting and cleaning components, and installing new brushes, bearings, bushings, and any worn parts like the armature or solenoid. This requires specialized starter repair knowledge and skills.
Rebuilding is great for saving money if the starter case and motor are still in good shape. The cost is usually 40-60% less than a new starter. However, the rebuild process takes 2-3 hours and there is no warranty from the manufacturer. An incorrect rebuild could fail quickly.
Replacing with a new starter gets you a fully warrantied, pre-tested starter that bolts right in. OEM quality replacements ensure many years of reliable cranking power. The cost is higher than a rebuild but you get peace of mind knowing it was installed correctly.
For most customers, I recommend replacing rather than rebuilding the starter. New starter technology makes replacements very affordable. And you avoid potential issues from an DIY or subpar rebuild job. When you need to get back on the road, a quality new starter is the way to go.
Mobile Starter Replacement Costs
As a master technician, I’m often asked – how much does it cost to replace a starter using a mobile mechanic? The prices can range quite a bit based on your vehicle make and model, the mechanic you use, and the area you are in. As a rough example in the US, here are some estimated starter replacement costs:
- Toyota Camry (4 cyl): $350 – $450
- Ford F150 Pickup: $375 – $525
- Honda Civic: $300 – $425
- BMW 328i: $650 – $850
- Dodge Ram 1500: $425 – $600
These estimates include the cost of the new starter, labor for replacement, and any minor supplies like connectors or mounting hardware. Of course, every quote is customized to your specific vehicle, your area, and the service needed. Worth noticing, the repair cost can vary widely depending on the work you need, for example, the cost to have a mobile mechanic to fix a flat tire, will be much cheaper than a starter motor replacement.
Getting an upfront quote for mobile starter replacement can help you budget for the repair. And you avoid the guesswork of how much your final invoice will be at a repair shop. Knowing costs ahead of time provides peace of mind.
When to Contact a Mobile Mechanic
Has your vehicle ever failed to start, leaving you stranded with a faulty starter? As a top-rated mobile mechanic service, YourMechanic can come to your home or office to quickly diagnose and replace bad car starters. Their ASE-certified technicians utilize state-of-the-art diagnostics to evaluate your starter. If replacement is needed, their mobile mechanics can perform the repair right on site, getting you back on the road.
Convenient, affordable starter repairs from mechanics you can trust. The next time you have starter troubles, skip the tow truck headache and request a quote from YourMechanic online or in the app. Their mobile mechanics provide the expertise of dealership technicians right at your location.
Being left with a no-start condition due to a failed starter is never fun. But calling a mobile mechanic for on-site service offers huge advantages over towing to a repair shop. Mobile techs have the skills to efficiently replace starters, alternators, batteries and more. Convenience, cost-savings, and quality work – you get it all without even having to leave your driveway. For starter issues large and small, a mobile mechanic should be your first call for help.
Can a Mobile Mechanic Fix a Starter Frequently Asked Questions
Can a mobile mechanic fix a starter motor?
Yes, most mobile mechanics are equipped to diagnose and repair starter motor issues. They will have the necessary tools and expertise to test the starter, solenoid and electrical connections and can replace parts like brushes, bushings or the starter itself if needed. Using a mobile mechanic for starter repairs can save time and money over having the vehicle towed to a shop.
Can a car starter be repaired?
In many cases, a failing car starter can be repaired rather than completely replaced. A technician can test the starter motor, solenoid and electrical connections and replace any worn brushes, bushings or damaged components. However, if the armature or internal windings are damaged, it typically requires complete starter replacement.
Is a bad starter expensive to fix?
The cost to repair a bad starter motor will depend on the specific repair needed. Simple fixes like replacing brushes or solenoid may cost $100-$200. For more extensive repairs or full replacement, it typically ranges from $200-$500 for parts and labor. The starter itself may cost $100-$350 for most vehicle models.
How long will a bad starter motor last?
With a failing starter motor, it’s difficult to predict exactly how long it will last. Warning signs like slow cranking can indicate it may fail soon. However, a bad starter can sometimes continue working intermittently for weeks or months before fully failing. Once significant symptoms appear, it's best to have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible to avoid being stranded by a non-starting vehicle.
How much does it cost to fix a starter motor?
The average cost to fix a starter motor ranges from $200-$500 depending on the specific repair needed. Minor repairs like brush or solenoid replacement may cost $150-$250. For full starter replacement, costs typically range from $350-$500 for parts and labor. The starter itself may be $100-$350 depending on the vehicle. Luxury or high-end models may be more.