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George H.
George H., ASE Certified Technician
Category: Buick
Satisfied Customers: 18761
Experience:  ASE Master 15+years
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How do I remove (replace) the starter in a 1996 LeSabre (3.8L).

Customer Question

How do I remove (replace) the starter in a 1996 LeSabre (3.8L). Apparently are two bolts that go in vertically to mount it, but the bolts are nearly covered by sheet metal piece(s). These may actually be the same piece. It's hard to tell because one bolt is in front of and the other behind a cross frame member. The frame member can't be removed because it's welded in on one side. Does the engine have to be raised to get the bolts high enough to get them out? If so, how?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Buick
Expert:  George H. replied 7 years ago.

Hello I will help you with your question,


If you have the plastic rock shield off this is half the battle.


Remove the negative battery cable


Remove the two large bolts from the starter housing and catch any shims that may be in the starter to block mating surface.


The starter will come down at this point and you have to support it while you remove the large battery cable and the small switch wire from their terminals on the starter.


Reinstall without the shim and without the plastic rock shield.


Try the starter if it grinds install the shim and try again.


You may need more than one shim or you may have to shim only one bolt. This is a try and see situatiuon.


Those are my instructions, these are GMs


When removing starter, note if any shims are used between the starter and mounting surface. If shims are found, reinstall in original locations. If starter is noisy during cranking, remove one .015 inch double shim or add one .015 inch single shim to the outer bolt. If starter makes a high pitched whine after engine start, add .015 inch double shims until noise ceases.

  1. Disconnect battery ground cable, then raise and support vehicle.
  2. Remove starter braces, shields or other components that may hinder starter removal.
  3. Support starter and remove mounting bolts.
  4. Lower starter and disconnect solenoid wires and battery cable.
  5. Remove starter from vehicle.
  6. Reverse procedure to install.

Let me know if you have further questions about this


Thank you



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Remove the two large bolts from the starter housing...

The whole point of my question is that I can see these bolts but they are obstructed such that they can't be backed out. The rear one I can see only the side of the head of the bolt. I need to find out how to get these obstructing pieces out of the way. Do I need to jack up the engine to get at them?
Expert:  George H. replied 7 years ago.

Then you do not have the plastic shield out. Remove the two small 10 mm bolts. These have to be loosened with a open end wrench and they take forever to get loose enough to pry thr plastic piece out of the way.


Let me look and see if I can find a picture of the shield. I curse the engineer everytime I have to do one of these



Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The shield is off. Again, the problem is that I can't get to the two bolts that hold the starter in place. One is in front of the cross frame member and the other behind it (to the rear). There is a sheet metal piece (perhaps a thin casting section on the front one - it's dirty and hard to tell) that will not allow these bolts to be backed out. I can see the bolt heads, but I have to get these pieces of sheet metal out of the way. How?????
Expert:  George H. replied 7 years ago.

Sorry there are no pictures, the shield is held by two blots that you can get to to remove and one you have to loosen as much as possible then pry the shield out of the way. If you can clean the area with some spray brakeclean you will be able to see that shield. The bolts are removed with a gear wrench or an open end wrench . I am going to OPT OUT of your question and maybe another expert can give you clearer direction than it seems I am able to.


Don't reply or it will delay another expert from answering you


Sorry I was not much help to you