Your vehicle’s electrical system takes a ton of abuse. Constant temperature changes can affect this system more than any other on your vehicle. It doesn’t help that a lot of the components of this system are located in your engine housing, the one place that exhibits the most temperature changes on your vehicle. Your vehicle’s starter is part of this system. It not only suffers the wear and tear of constant temperature change, but it also uses excessive amounts of torque to be able to turn your vehicle’s crankshaft every time you start it. It’s one of the hardest working components of your car, and it can get replaced quite often. Knowing the cost of this replacement will give you a little heads-up before you hop in your car and hear the dreaded click-click of a dead starter.

What All Is Replaced?

This is one of the few repairs that can be made to your vehicle which probably won’t require any additional parts. If your starter fails, your starter gets replaced. It’s that simple. The trouble can happen if your starter has been doing what is known as “grinding” for an extended period of time. Sometimes a starter will get weak before it completely fails. It takes a lot of torque to turn your engine’s crankshaft, and when your starter becomes weak it may kick out the bendix gear to turn the crankshaft and end up simply grinding that gear against the ring gear of the flywheel instead. If this happens it could be doing a lot more damage than you think.

What Kind of Damage?

First off, let’s talk about the ring gear. Your ring gear is attached to the flywheel on your vehicle. The flywheel is a large circular disc attached to the back end of your engine’s crankshaft. When you turn your key to start the vehicle, the small gear inside your starter kicks out roughly an inch or so to mesh with the ring gear and spin the crankshaft. If this ring gear suffers too much damage at the hands of a bad starter, it will need to be replaced. If this happens, the engine and transmission must be separated to gain access to the flywheel. That can run your labor costs up quite significantly.

What if I Don’t Need a New Ring Gear?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, this is the actual case. As we said before, when a starter fails it’s typically only the starter that needs to be replaced. Most starters run in the neighborhood of $50 to $100 depending on the year and model, but can reach as high as the $200 range. Add a couple hours of labor time to that and you’ve got a total of around $200 to $350 for the whole job. Now there are certain vehicles that can be a bit higher, basically because the cost of the part is excessive. However, most vehicles have a fair amount of access space to get to the starter, and the labor shouldn’t be too overwhelming.

What if I Do Need a Ring Gear?

Well, on most vehicles the easiest way to access the ring gear is by removing the transmission. Needless to say, this is never a zip-zap procedure. In most cases you’re looking at an additional four or five hours of labor time (on average) plus the price of the gear itself. There are also flywheels that do not come with a removable ring gear, meaning you would need to replace the entire flywheel. These flywheels can range in price from $100 all the way past $300, plus the labor. In most cases, however, you’re simply looking at a couple-hour procedure to replace the starter alone.

(Please remember that these repair prices can also fluctuate based on geographic location, as well as vehicle make and model; and that these numbers represent averages, not actual prices offered at any specific repair facilities.)