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Starter Replacement (1994 GS Sedan - Automatic) - DIY

This was done back in 05/2011. I'll try my best to recall the details. I also took my time to finish this job, as I was not in the rush to use the car for some time.

It all started when the car won't start, in a mall parking lot around 9:00 pm at night. Figured the problem is starter, the tow truck driver and I was unable to locate the dang starter under the hood. The car was towed to the nearby friend's house. Few weeks later, jack up the car on the jack stand, by the curbside of the street, located the starter, near the inner end of the left drive axel. Finally, was able to start the car on the first try, after knocking the starter with something heavy. …decided to replace the starter!

HEADS UP WITH QUICK RUNDOWN:

Acura Legend Online Service Manual (Pages: 0934-2690, current: 1030)

The starter is mounted inconspicuously in a tight place, with two bolts and is located close to the inner end of the left drive axle, on the (left) driver side of the car. The lower bolt which runs from front of the car to the back, its head is clearly visible. But the second upper one, which runs from the back to the front of the car, its head is hardly visible from the forward section of the exhaust system i.e. the right side of the left WU-TWC (Warm Up Three Way Catalytic Converter (GS model)).




I took the approach of removing left drive axle and forward section of exhaust system (A or Y pipe, left WU-TWC). The left driveshaft removal (partially, if possible) gives room to remove the starter from under the car. The A or Y pipe and left WU-TWC removal gives room to access the upper bolt of the starter.

Some has suggested in the forums that you can avoid removing the drive axle altogether. I think it is impossible, as far as 1994 GS Sedan is concern. If I remember correctly I tried my best to avoid removing the axel all the way i.e. to remove it partially (only the inner end) but was unsuccessful.

Other has suggested that you can avoid removing the forward section of exhaust system to access the upper bolt. I am not too sure about that. May be if the car is elevated using hydraulic lift, so one can stand under the car. And use power tools with guided swivel socket and wobble extensions to access upper bolt from the right side of left WU-TWC, somehow. Only power tool I have is electric one, which is only good for lug nuts.

I DIDN'T USE ANY POWER TOOL FOR THIS JOB AND THE FRONT OF THE CAR WAS ELEVATED ON THE JACK STANDS.


The toughest nut to remove was the top nut of the left WU-TWC.


I don't exactly remember, but I think I used somewhat the combination of, craftsman 3/8'' 14mm swivel socket, 6'' or so wobble (shorter) 3/8''extension and a 12'' regular longer 1/2'' extension. Use 3/8'' or 1/2'' adapter accordingly, because it's a very tight space. You'll eventually get a good grip of that nut, if you keep messing with the extensions do diligently. Use your hands to reach the nut when needed.

It is good idea to soak all the desired exhaust system nuts (A or Y pipe and WU-TWC) with penetrating oil, I think I used WD-40, hours or a day earlier.

I used the new exhaust gaskets and nuts when needed.

I did strip one of the nuts of A or Y pipe and also unintentionally and mysteriously, end up removing one of the studs of the top end of left WU-TWC nuts.

THINGS YOU'LL NEED:

1 - Common sense, safety measures and precautions as always.
2 - Jack (mine is 2 Ton Aluminum with reasonably good height).
3 - Jack Stands (mine are 6 tons each and I also have smaller one 2 tons each)
4 - Wheel Blocks (I have four of them).
5 - Lug wrench or tire iron (to loosen the lug nuts)
6 - Sockets - 36mm, 19 mm, 17 mm, 14mm etc.
7 - Swivel socket - 14 mm craftsman.
8 - Socket Extensions - Regular and wobble (3/4'' and 1/2'')
9 - Breaker bars - 1/2'', 3/4'' etc.
10 - Ratchet wrench - 1/2'', 3/4'' etc
11 - Torque wrenches or equivalent force
12 - Screw Driver.
13 - Pliers
14 - Hard wire (cloth hanger wire) or thick rope
15 - Hammer.
16 - Punch or chisel.
17 - WD-40
18 - Eye safety goggles
19 - Mechanics work gloves

NEW PARTS:

1 - Starter (Denso)
2 - Nuts (14 mm - Qty 9) for exhaust system (Clean the old one with WD-40, if in good condition)
3 - Gaskets (A or Y pipe, WU-TWC)
4 - Anti-seize lubricant or compound.


Since we are jacking up the car from the front, pull the hand brake lever fully.


Block the rear tires. I usually block the tires both sides, wondering why? Don't know.


2 Tons Floor Jack






If you have no prior experience, please consult the Acura Legend Service or Hynes Manual or other sources, before jacking it up on the stand.

Acura Legend Online Service Manual (Pages: 0001-1371, current: 0007)
Acura Legend Online Service Manual (Pages: 0001-1371, current: 0008)

BEFORE LIFTING THE FRONT OF THE CAR:

Using small screw driver, pry out the small circular plastic cover (with ACURA written on it) from the center of front left wheel, to expose the 36 mm spindle nut. Unstake the locking tab on it, using punch or chisel. Break the spindle nut loose with a 36mm socket and large breaker bar with extension (floor jack extension pipe). DO NOT TURN IT LOSE MORE THAN THAT! Also break the lug nuts loose with tire iron (also called a lug wrench) or 19 mm socket and the 1/2'' breaker bar. DO NOT TURN THEM LOSE MORE THAN THAT! Make sure the lug and spindle nuts are only tight enough so they can be break loose with little effort, while the car is jacked up. Trying to break loosen lug nuts while the car is jacked up will cause the tire to spin uselessly, unless you use the power tools.

Place a jack stand next to both support points at the front sides (right & left) of the car. Adjust the stands at desired height. Identify the jack lift platform (at the front center) and start lifting the car using the 2 tons (at least) jack. Lift the front of the car to the enough height, so the jack stand can be inserted under the support point on the front sides of the car. Before u release the jack, make sure to align the stands under the support point, anticipating the backward movement (few centimeters) of the car. Whole strategy is, so that the stands sits firmly either at the center or little bit off towards the back, on the support points, because if the car slides, under regular conditions it will slide backwards, while the front is jacked up.

DO NOT LEAN OR SIT IN THE CAR WHILE IT'S ELEVATED ON THE JACKSTANDS!

Release the jack, make sure both support points are seated comfortably and firmly on the stands, with rear tires blocked and hand breaks pulled. Remove the wheel (front left - driver) after removing the lug nuts all the way. You can also remove the spindle nut at this point. The lug and spindle nuts should be able to break loose easily with little effort.

Also disconnect the negative terminal cable of the battery. I did disconnect the positive terminal cable also. No wonder the battery was dead when I tried to start the car, after done with starter installation.

REMOVING THE EXHAUST PIPE A AND THE WU-TWC (WARM UP THREE WAY CATALYTIC CONVERTER)

Please use all common sense precautions. Make sure the exhaust system has cool down. Soak the exhaust system nuts (A or Y pipe and left WU-TWC) with WD-40 or any other penetrating oil, over night or hours before you are ready for removing them. Wear safety goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands.

There are four points, where you have to remove the group of nuts and bolts.

POINT #1 (A or Y PIPE - JOINT) - BEFORE REMOVAL:




POINT #2 (A or Y PIPE - LEFT LEG & LOWER END OF LEFT WU-TWC) - BEFORE REMOVAL:



POINT #3 (A or Y PIPE - RIGHT LEG & LOWER END OF RIGHT WU-TWC) - BEFORE REMOVAL:



POINT #4 (TOP END OF LEFT WU-TWC) - BEFORE REMOVAL:



My recommendation is to break the nuts and bolts loose first. It will make you gain some confidence. I didn't use any kind of power tools. Keep nut extractor sockets handy, some of the nuts and bolts may be rounded off due to corrosion. Do not rush yourself, take your time and use common sense strategy.

The main culprit is the top nut of top end of left WU-TWC, as shown below. I forgot to record it but you definitely need combination of 14 mm swivel socket with some wobble and regular extension to reach it with solid grip. Use your hands to adjust long extensions to reach the nut. You'll be working in a very tight space.


Remove the A or Y pipe and WU-TWC.

POINT #1 (A or Y PIPE - JOINT) - AFTER REMOVAL:



I found the broken bracket. I guess it was to tug in place the A pipe joint with transmission body. It's bolted with big bolt. The broken parts of the bracket are still connected, to this day. Pry out the old gasket and thoroughly clean the mating surface with refine damp sand paper and clean rag.

POINT #2 (A or Y PIPE - LEFT LEG & LOWER END OF LEFT WU-TWC) - AFTER REMOVAL:


POINT #3 (A or Y PIPE - RIGHT LEG & LOWER END OF RIGHT WU-TWC) - AFTER REMOVAL:


POINT #4 (TOP END OF LEFT WU-TWC) - AFTER REMOVAL:


As you can see I end up unbolting somehow, one of the bottom studs of the top end of left WU-TWC. But that was not a problem, its get tightened with the nut. Pry out the old gasket, the mating surface should be already pretty much clean.

Now you can see clearly the head of upper bolt of the starter. Break loose (ONLY) both the lower and upper bolt, but do not remove them as yet. The starter is heavy and it's going nowhere until you remove its bracket and left axle inner end.

REMOVING THE LEFT DRIVEAXLE INNER END (INBOARD JOINT).

The goal is to remove the inner end (inboard joint) of left driveaxle out of the way, so the starter can be pulled out from under the car. I don't remember what minimum stuff you can take out to achieve that goal. The following photos will give you better idea.





As you can see the intermediate shaft hole, covered with plastic bag. The driveaxle is not visible anywhere!?

Acura Legend Online Service Manual (Pages: 0554-0566, current: 0556)

Remove the spindle nut. Disconnect the damper fork from the shock absorber and the lower control arm, by removing the damper fork nut and the damper pinch bolt. I am not too sure whether you have to separate the knuckle and lower control arm. Swing the knuckle/hub assembly out (away from the vehicle) until the end of the driveaxle is free of the hub. Support the outer end of the driveaxle with a piece of wire or rope to avoid unnecessary strain on the inner CV joint. Use a large screwdriver or a prybar to pop the inner end of the driveaxle from the intermediate shaft bearing. To prevent damage to the intermediate shaft seal, hold the inner CV joint horizontal until the driveaxle is clear of the intermediate shaft. Support it somehow, out of the starter way. Cover the intermediate shaft empty hole with plastic bag using rubber band.

OLD STARTER REMOVAL

Acura Legend Online Service Manual (Page: 1030)





Disconnect the battery negative (-) cable (Please make sure you have the radio code). Be sure to label or remember before disconnecting the wires from the terminals on the starter motor solenoid. I remember little awkwardness and difficulties during removing the starter motor brackets, etc. Remove the starter cable from the starter motor bracket. Disconnect the starter cable from the B terminal on the solenoid, and the BLK/WHT wire from the S terminal. Remove the starter motor bracket.

Also remember for some reason I end up removing some kind of thick cable (Ground Cable?), not related to starter. It was in the way to remove starter or something.

Finally, remove the starter mounting bolts (Upper and Lower), which were already loosened and carefully maneuver the starter out from under the car.


NEW STARTER, INSTALLATION.



Installation is the reverse of removal. You'll need to turn the gear teeth of the starter if it failed to fit first time. When installing the starter cable, make sure that the crimped side of the ring terminal is facing out.











Don't forget to put back the ground cable if you have taken it out! Torque all nuts and bolts to the specified torque.

INSTALLING THE LEFT DRIVEAXLE INNER END (INBOARD JOINT).

Please note: you can skip this step and go to "A or Y pipe and WU-TWC" exhaust system installation. That way you can test the starter by actually starting the car. DO NOT LEAN OR SIT IN THE CAR WHILE IT'S ON THE JACKSTANDS!

Pry out the old spring clip from the outer end of the intermediate and install the new one. Lubricate the intermediate shaft seal with multi-purpose grease and raise the driveaxle into position while supporting the CV joint. Insert the inner CV joint into the intermediate shaft and make sure stopper ring locks in its groove. I tab the other end with hammer, once the whole driveaxle is perfectly align with the intermediate shaft (you may end up squeezing the boots little bit, but thats OK!).

Apply the light coat of multi-purpose grease to the outer CV joint splines, pull out on the strut/steering knuckle assembly and install the outer CV joint splines into the hub. Insert the stud of the lower control arm balljoint into the steering knuckle and tighten the nut, to the specified torque. Be sure to use a new cotter pin. Install the damper fork.

Install the spindle nut, and then tighten it securely. Don't try to tighten it to the actual torque specification until you've lowered the car to the ground. Grasp the inboard joint housing and pull out to make sure the driveaxle has seated securely in the transaxle.



INSTALLING THE EXHAUST PIPE A AND THE WU-TWC (WARM UP THREE WAY CATALYTIC CONVERTER)

Installation is the reverse of removal. Inspect, clean (with kerosene, WD-40) or replace the nuts and bolts when necessary. I did replace all the 9 nuts and gaskets related to A or Y pipe and WU-TWC. Clean the mating surfaces when required. Use anti-seize compound on all the studs of A or Y pipe and WU-TWC, as shown below.

Loosely tightened the nuts and bolt with ratchet wrench, till A or Y pipe and WU-TWC snug in place. Torque them to the specified torque afterwards.



You can test the starter at this point, by starting the car. DO NOT LEAN OR SIT IN THE CAR WHILE IT'S ON THE JACKSTANDS! Do not let the car warm up all the way, while inside the closed space, like home garage.

FINALLY, THE END!!!


Install the wheel and tightened the lug nuts securely as much as you can. Raise the front of the car further, with the floor jack, till the jack stands are released. Remove the jack stands and everything else, from under the car. Release the floor jack pressure to lower the front of the car back to the ground.

Tighten the lug nuts to the specified torque. Tighten the spindle nut to the specified torque. Using the hammer and punch, stake/bent the spindle nut tab to the grove in the driveaxle. Install the round plastic cover.

STARTING THE CAR

Make sure things are dry under and around the car. No flammable fluids leaking/sitting including, the gas or WD-40.

Finally when I cranked the car, it didn't start. The starter only made the metallic noise, oops!!! Tried few times more, nothing happened. Checked the battery, it was totally dead. Charged it or replaced it, the car started!!! Successful installation!!!

If you did this while the car is still on the jack stands, do not let it warm up all the way, if you are in a closed space, like in the home garages which are not properly ventilated. The exhaust gases, hot vaporizing chemicals like WD-40; carbon-monoxide can be very hazardous, and fatal.

Go to previous steps to install the drive axle and wheel (if not already) to be able to move the car in an open air space.

When the car was warming up, to the operational temperature (in an open air space), I noticed the light pulsating smoke rising from behind the engine bay, exactly where the left WU-TWC is located. It seems like some fluid was dripping and hitting the hot exhaust manifold components. It took me a while to figure out that the coolant was dripping from the seal behind the engine, as clearly visible in the photo and as ari_one has mentioned.


The dripping stopped as soon the engine, hit the normal operating temperature. It didn't happen again to this day.
 

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Very comprehensive write up.:bowdown: As you mentioned at the beginning, it can be done without disturbing the pre-cat and it saves quite a bit of time and potential problems by not dealing with the pre-cat. However, you do need a 14 swivel socket and a variety of flex's heads and different size extensions cobbled together to be able to get to the rear starter bolt.
 

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I replaced the starter in my 1993 Legend LS a couple weeks ago. I didn’t have to remove any of the exhaust however, I did have to remove the driver side drive shaft
 
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