Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How To Replace The Starter on a First-Generation Cummins (Dodge)

The first-generation Cummins diesel engine that was available in 1989 through 1993 Dodge three-quarter-ton and one-ton trucks used a robust, reliable Nippon-Denso starter. Like all electrical devices though, the starter eventually wears out and needs replacement. Symptoms of impending failure include slow starter operation and a clicking noise when you first turn the switch. If your truck begins occasionally displaying these symptoms, it is only a matter of time before the starter fails altogether.
Fortunately, starter replacement is not beyond the capabilities of the average home-garage mechanic who owns a basic selection of tools.
You Will Need:
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • 1/2-inch combination wrench
  • 1/4-inch-drive ratchet handle
  • 8mm socket
  • 12-point Metric combination wrench set
  • 3/8-inch-drive, 12-point Metric socket set
  • 3/8-inch-drive, 10-inch extension bar
  • 3/8-inch drive ratchet handle


  1. Set the truck's parking brake.
  2. Disconnect the negative battery cable. Use the 1/2-inch wrench to loosen the terminal nut. Push the terminal out of the way so it cannot come in contact with the negative post of the battery.
  3. Disconnect the small solenoid-control wire from the top of the starter. Use the 8mm socket and 1/4-inch ratchet to remove the nut that holds the wire in place.
  4. Place the floor jack under the front suspension crossmember if the truck is two-wheel-drive, or under the front axle if four-wheel-drive. Raise the truck high enough to permit working underneath, and place the jack stands underneath the frame rails.
  5. Climb underneath the truck behind the left front tire. Slide to a position under the starter, with your feet pointing toward the rear of the truck. This will allow you to work on the starter with both hands.
  6. Disconnect the battery cable from the starter. Use a 15mm wrench to remove the nut that secures it.
  7. Place the closed end of a 10mm wrench on the starter mounting bolt nearest you. The bolt has a star head, so the wrench must be a 12-point. Slip the closed end of a 14mm wrench over one prong of the open end of the 10mm wrench so it locks when you pull it counterclockwise. That is a trick I learned years ago. The bolts are very tight, and the 14mm wrench will add leverage to enable you to loosen the bolt. It is not critical that the wrench you use is 14mm, but 14mm is best because it is the largest Metric wrench that will fit correctly on the 10mm wrench. Once the bolt is loose, remove the 14mm wrench and use the 10mm wrench to remove the bolt.
  8. Place the 10mm wrench on the second bolt, located between the starter body and the engine block. This is a tight fit, and you will only be able to turn the bolt a few degrees. Again, use the 14mm wrench for leverage. Once the bolt is loose, use a 12-point 10mm socket on the 10-inch extension bar to access the bolt from the far end of the starter. Use the ratchet handle to remove the bolt.
  9. Place the 10mm combination wrench on the third bolt in a horizontal position. The third bolt is on top of the starter, and you can access it by reaching inside the truck frame with your left arm and outside the frame with your right arm. Use the 14mm wrench for leverage to loosen the bolt, then support the bottom of the starter with your left hand while you remove the bolt with the 10mm wrench in your right hand.
  10. Slide the starter towards the front of the truck and down to remove it.
  11. Follow the steps in reverse order to install the new starter.


Chrysler Full-Size Trucks 1989-96 Repair Manual; Jaffer A. Ahmad; 1996

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