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1st Gen Durango 1998 - 2003 Durango's

Starter DIY 5.9L and 5.2L

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Old 01-22-2009, 11:29 PM
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5.9L and 5.2L Starter Replacement DIY


After replacing a Starter twice now I have perfected it to a 1 hour procedure. I decided to follow myself around with a camera and write a DIY for starter replacement instructions which should include all the 5.2L and 5.9L for 1998-2003 Durango.

I have a 1998 5.9L with a 46-RE transmission with factory skid plates installed. The fact of the motor is soooo big in such a small vehicle chassis employs some indivative thinking procedures. This is where the back yard mechanic comes to play!

This is the back yard mechanic way and not the full proper way. See a manual or other respective establishment for instructions. With that being said these instructions are a short end version. I or the Dodge Forum are not responsible for any miss haps or other related problems while wrenching. Also may I include we (the forum and myself) are not responsible for knuckle busters, alien abductions, fines, tantrums, whining, drinking behaviors, throwing of tools or other respectable conditions that may occur during this sequence.

There are 2 parts to a starter. The Solenoid and the Starter Motor as well as a Key Switch power lead and a Starter Relay. During key switch operation the key sends power to the coil (small wire) and opens the connection to the Starter Large wire) that is a direct wire leg from the battery and both are located on the coil.

Tools needed:
inch wrench--------box end/open end
8 mm wrench----------box end/open end
5/8 inch socket--------semi deep
5 inch ----------Extension for socket
Ratchet for socket set.
Small cheater bar extinction for Ratchet.
Some sizes may vary.

1. Disconnect the negative cable form the battery. (A MUST HERE!)



2. Jack up and support the driver’s side front wheel and remove.

3. This is a great time to check Brakes, Linings, Tie Rod ends and Joints, Ball Joints, and Control Arm.

4. Place a garbage bag over the Hub and Control Arm assembly. As you reach across this assembly, grease or other contaminates can coat brakes or the clothes you are wearing and cause health or other mechanical problems.



5. Remove the access cover from the inside right of the drivers side wheel well. This is above the Control Arm assembly. Note: This is where the Brake Balancer / Proportioning Valve is located.





6. Reach into the space between the frame and the body to access the starter. There are 2 electrical connections and 2 bolts that install the starter and solenoid.



7. Take the 8 mm wrench and disconnect the forward facing electrical connection. This should be the chrome looking smaller connection. Note: This is the lead from the key switch.

8. Disconnect the larger electrical connection with the inch box end wrench. It should be copper in color and consistency. Note: This is the Battery Cable end directly from the battery terminal.



9. You can see the first bolt on the top of the starter where it mates the starter to the engine block AKA the Dog Ear. There are 2 bolts in all that support the starter. Remove the bolt using the 5/8 inch socket and extension ratchet almost fully but leave a couple of threads still attaching it. This will make sure the starter/solenoid combination doesn’t fall out when the other lower bolt is removed.

10. Now the hard one! Directly below the top bolt is the bottom one. The only way to see it is by looking under the driver’s side foot well or through the control arm on the forward lower portion of the control arm. If you put one hand up through the rear sight point and one through the frame/body cavity you can access it using the extension and ratchet. This bolt is made up by thread stock with a nut on it! You might remove the nut or the thread stock/nut combination. Either way it’s the same.

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Last edited by hydrashocker; 01-22-2009 at 11:57 PM..
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Old 01-22-2009, 11:42 PM
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12. There is the transmission shifting cable that runs through this area so be aware.

13. Hold the starter up and fully remove the upper bolt. Note: The starter/coil is HEAVY so beware!

14. Now the starter can be taken out through the opening between the frame and the body directly above the brake balancer. Great care should be taken when doing this to ensure NO damage occurs with any contact between the two. Take it easy. You will have to pull the plastic wheel well towards you and do some fancy moving to get it out. I tried for hours to find a different way to remove it from the vehicle and this is how you can remove it and install. Take a look at the pictures of me installing the new one for directions and procedures on removing the old one in order. Installing sequence will be in reverse order so look at this careful!











15. Remove old starter.

16. Now it is best to install a NEW starter and get one with a lifetime warranty from your choice of auto parts warehouse. I am against Remanufactured Starters/Coils because I have had them go out a lot but each to their own. But some come with a lifetime warranty so just know that you might do this again. Right now the only one I could get was a remanufactured one so of course I’m installing a different one 50k miles latter. But it had a lifetime warranty. Oh Well……..

17. Check both starters to ensure that it is a direct replacement.



18. On the top of the Starter Housing and under the Coil you will notice a medium sized rubber boot that covers the Starter Lead Wire from the coil. It covers a wire with a lug style connection that is covered by the boot. During installation the rubber boot can be pulled back and expose the connection so ensure after installation that it is covering the connection. You can’t see this connection but you can see the wire on the bottom barely, which is being pointed to.

19. Pull the plastic wheel well covering back and place the starter in the area like shown above and install in the correct order as shown above.

20. Clean wire leads before installing them on the new starter to ensure a great connection. Torque Starter Dog Ear Mounting Bolts to 50 ft. lbs. and tighten the wire leads to 120 in. lbs.

21. Here's what you should end up with.

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Last edited by hydrashocker; 01-22-2009 at 11:59 PM..
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Old 01-23-2009, 09:56 AM
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Nicely done 5 stars
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:43 PM
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Thanks.

The manual has you disconnecting everything in the truck to do it and it can be done in one hour and that was taking the photos.
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Old 01-24-2009, 06:31 PM
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The only photos I see are pictures of some red X.
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Old 12-14-2009, 10:39 PM
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I also have to compliment the effort - very helpful. My minor comments:

The wire from the key switch is a plug for some years/starters (mine is a '99), so you may not need the 8mm. The key on these is to release the plug lock in two steps: Release the red slider (something of a lock to the lock), and then press the release while pulling the plug away. In this configuration, it looks almost exactly like the example provided by hydra, but it is just a tension lock rather than a nut holding it on.

The angle is difficult for getting on the feed from the battery. I found that a smaller ratchet (a 1/4") with a knuckle (aka a universal joint) really did the trick for handling that nut.

For me, the top mounting nut was pretty much immovable. I used some thread eaze and tried several different options, but the angle into the nut provided very little choice for gaining leverage. In the end, I was able to position a 3/8 ratchet with a 5" extension on it, then feed a breaker bar over the ratchet by guiding the breaker bar through the driver's side wheel well. It was tough getting enough room to work, but after a surprisingly loud "crack", the bolt game loose.

I also had a bit of trouble breaking the bottom mounting nut free. For this one I got a bit creative since there was even less room to work with. I used a simple box wrench (which was short enough to move in the space), and wound up placing a floor jack under it with a round piece of pipe pushing against the end of the wrench. In just a few pumps of the floor jack, the bottom bolt was loose.

Thanks again for the guide. I had enough of a fight with mine as it was - I can't imagine if I hadn't had this for a primer.
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Old 12-15-2009, 09:06 AM
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hydra, you forgot to clean your shock...LOL JK! Great write-up! Thanks!
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:57 PM
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Last thing I worry about is lookin good. My thing is watchin people thinkin the can walk on the D, well I like to watch their face as I pull away!
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Old 03-24-2010, 08:07 PM
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Very Helpful!! I just did this a month ago- and it would have been much easier if I had seen this- (ended up taking a crossmember and it's bracket off- bleh!)

Last edited by hydrashocker; 03-25-2010 at 12:28 AM.. Reason: Add on link
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Old 03-25-2010, 12:28 AM
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Well now you know all you have to do is search and there you'll find it!
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Old 03-25-2010, 12:28 AM
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