1998 Olds 88LS Starter Solenoid Replacement

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  #1  
Old 06-12-08, 06:22 AM
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1998 Olds 88LS Starter Solenoid Replacement

I have this 1998 Olds 88 car, that seems to have been designed by the devil himself, and I need some help.

The car wouldn't start a while back so I got it towed to my driveway. I've been spending way too much money on this beast's maintenance and thought I'd do the job myself.

I've had the battery tested and it's fine, so I also deduce that the alternator is fine (it's been replaced twice under warranty!)

I have good voltage at the starter solenoid connections, so I'm confident it's the starter solenoid that is faulty. I cannot remove the starter solenoid by itself because they used torx T-25 bolt heads for the bolts securing the solenoid to the starter motor with only 3/4 inch clearance to the mount. They require a torx E-5 socket to remove which I could not find locally and had to order on-line! So the starter motor has to come out to replace the solenoid! There is nothing like having the solenoid mounted by the battery like this old Ford I used to have, lol.

Anyways I went to remove the starter motor and was able to remove the front bolt (a 15 mm hex head) but the back bolt is covered by a plastic part that seems to wrap around the starter motor. It's like I can't remove the motor without removing that plastic part and I can't remove that plastic part without removing the motor !!! Nice GM.....

I was able to remove another plastic part that covers the sprocket that the starter motor drives just behind and adjacent to the one that's killing me thinking that would let me remove the plastic piece around the starter, but no go.

I may have to end up replacing both, but I'd like to try the solenoid first by itself ($15 for the solenoid, $185 for the starter motor!) I called every parts supplier in my area and they all wanted to sell me the combo! Finally found one that would sell me the parts separately (at a better price too!)

But before I can go on, can anyone tell me how to remove this plastic part without breaking it off (just in case it serves a purpose) so I can pull out the starter motor and replace the solenoid?

Thanks,

QC
 
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  #2  
Old 06-12-08, 03:42 PM
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Maybe you would not feel as sheepish by calling a junkyard (rather than service dept. at dealership), and asking them how they strip them off.
 
  #3  
Old 06-12-08, 04:14 PM
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There are three 10mm bolts holding the plastic.....2 on the bottom, and one on the front edge of the transmission.

I'll catch hell for this, ........But if you break the plastic, dont lose too much sleep.

ECMAN...... The junk yards usually lose these lil covers during strip down......Or just Bust them off with a "HAMMER AND PRYBAR"----

GM solenoids very rarely go bad... The "Weak Link" is corrosion on the little pigtail from the solenoid to the starter motor, or the battery ground to the block. It takes 12 volts DC....+ and - to operate electrical equipment.....everyone checks for hot and thats it.....Check your Grounds carefully!!!!!!
 
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Old 06-12-08, 05:48 PM
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Just a thiught ,Quick............but did you try jumping from the main starter post to the terminal that triggers the starter from underneath???.........quick way to determine if the starter itself is bad or there'e a wiring fault
 
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Old 06-12-08, 06:53 PM
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Thanks guys for the quick replies.

Unclediezel, I've taken the two 10 mm bolts off the bottom - that's how I was able to remove the back piece of plastic. It's the other piece that wraps around the starter that's causing me grief - and I could not find any other bolt - so now I know where to look. That piece of plastic does give a bit so it makes sense that it's held on by just one more of those bolts. I'll have a look tomorrow.

I assume the battery ground to the block would also affect other electricals which work, so it must be something to do with the solenoid or starter. I used to have a Ford that went through about three solenoids, but I realize this is a GM and I've never had problems with GM solenoids, but this car has been a total lemon, so I should expect anything, I suppose.

wrench47, I am aware of the screwdriver trick across the terminals of the solenoid and wanted to try that, but the way this car is designed I cannot get a screwdriver in there because of the tight space. The best I'd be able to do is try to do it with an insulated wire to reach the terminals but wanted to avoid getting a jolt! This sucker is hard to get at to disconnect the electricals at the solenoid, and hard to get the motor off, mostly because of the very tight space. I've done another car that was way easier.

Because of the difficulty of getting these parts on and off, I've looked for an easy way to test both the solenoid and starter motor before putting it all back to find that it still doesn't work and I then have to start over to do the motor as well, but the only way that I have found online is to secure the motor on a vice and feed it the juice. That would mean taking the motor/solenoid combo to my basement where my vice is and carrying the car battery down there to do the test. Rather than doing all that, I'll take my chances on having to do the job twice on the car!

ecman51, every time I've called a dealership for car repair help, they just told me to bring it in, so I've given up doing that. That's the reason GM designs these suckers this way to give their dealers lots of work for what ought to be a very small job! Ford isn't any better, just had a water pump replaced on a Mustang - took the repair shop 5 hours; 2.5 hours to do it the first time and another 2.5 hours to do it a second time because the first replacement pump was defective!
 
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Old 06-13-08, 06:15 PM
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I assume the battery ground to the block would also affect other electricals which work,
Not necessarily.....

The "Body Grounds" are Pigtails off of the battery cable..... The main engine ground is for starter and alternator primarily.
 
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Old 06-14-08, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by quickcurrent View Post
ecman51, every time I've called a dealership for car repair help, they just told me to bring it in, so I've given up doing that. That's the reason GM designs these suckers this way to give their dealers lots of work for what ought to be a very small job! Ford isn't any better, just had a water pump replaced on a Mustang - took the repair shop 5 hours; 2.5 hours to do it the first time and another 2.5 hours to do it a second time because the first replacement pump was defective!
And that is why I suggested the junk yard. They might think that maybe you'll even buy something from them someday. Like a new starter, after you smash off that plastic piece.
 
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Old 06-19-08, 07:35 AM
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Thanks for all the responses. Incidentally I got many more here than at automotive forums!

Judging by the interest in this thread, it looks that there may be some that will benefit from a write up of my experience and how I got the car starting again like new, so here goes:

This is for a 1998 Olds 88LS. I thought the solenoid was at fault, but found that I had to remove the starter motor to get the solenoid off of it. To do so, I had to order a set of torx wrenches online. The solenoid is attached to the starter motor with 3 T-25 bolts which require an E-5 torx socket to remove. As it turned out in my case, the motor was looser than a 90 year old woman, so I had to replace the motor (which came with a solenoid attached for $185 after core credit. The solenoid alone was about $13 after core credit). As it turned out I did not need the torx socket, but will probably come in handy one day.

Now to remove the starter motor:

1) Remove the plastic undercover across the front underside of the car.
2) Remove the two plastic parts near the starter motor - one wraps around the motor and the other is immediately behind the first. The one behind is easy to remove (two 10 mm hex bolts underneath). The one that wraps around the motor covers the back bolt retaining the motor and is itself attached with a single 10 mm hex bolt located just above the U-channel bar in front of the motor. You will not see it without an angle mirror. I removed mine with a 10mm open end wrench by feel (it's a bugger to get it out and put it back in). You cannot fit a socket to it because of the tight clearance. Good luck with this one. Once the bolt is removed you need to wiggle the piece of plastic off - it's rather tricky but it will come. Ditto to put it back in.
3) Once the plastic parts are removed, you can remove the two hex bolts holding the motor/solenoid assembly in place quite easily with a socket wrench. Make sure to disconnect the electricals before removing the motor bolts.
4) Put everything back in reverse order.

Hope this helps. I wish I had this information before I started mine. That would have saved me a lot of aggravation and a bit of money.

QC
 
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Old 06-19-08, 04:58 PM
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At least you got it, and did it all yourself?

MY fun yesterday was reassembing my broken in half exhaust pipe under middle of car that sits 5 inches off the ground (at the frame which blocks getting to middle of car, as easy) and I made the whole disassembly of old rusted clamp, and repair one-handed - my crowning achievement, and talk amongst some neighbors who heard of this. (I'm not making this up.)
 
  #10  
Old 06-19-08, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ecman51` View Post
At least you got it, and did it all yourself?

MY fun yesterday was reassembing my broken in half exhaust pipe under middle of car that sits 5 inches off the ground (at the frame which blocks getting to middle of car, as easy) and I made the whole disassembly of old rusted clamp, and repair one-handed - my crowning achievement, and talk amongst some neighbors who heard of this. (I'm not making this up.)
Yes, did it all by myself, ecman51. Only had a family member hand me tools while I was flat on my back under the car.

When it comes to exhaust systems, I just take the car to a shop. There isn't enough savings in that for me to get my hands dirty, lol. But I usually do my brakes (lots of savings there), and I've even replaced a fuel tank (but wouldn't do it again, it's too hard to hold the tank up and fasten the straps at the same time while crap falls into your eyes!).
 
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