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Old 02-04-2018, 02:13 PM   #1
beechburg
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Default Starter replacement on 2002 Vue with 3.0 V6.

Saturnfans.com has been an invaluable resource for me for many years (and yes, I am one of those guys who read but rarely post). I'm posting this because my search here and elsewhere (like the Haynes Manual) yielded nothing useful about the specifics of starter replacement on the 3.0 Vue motor.
The evil engineer who placed the starter - which, by the way, is TWO HUNDRED BUCKS at the local parts store - on the back side of the engine between the block and the firewall should certainly have been made to change one out personally, or at least be drawn and quartered. That said, it IS possible to do this yourself with ordinary tools, and here's how.

Tools required:
10mm 1/4 drive socket, 6 inch extension, 1/4 drive ratchet
13 mm 1/4 drive socket, 3 inch extension
E16 3/8 drive Torx-ish kind of socket, 6 inch and 9 inch (I used a 6 +3) extensions, 3/8 ratchet.
A friend who is a competent mechanic, and presumably unemployed or retired so they have all day to help you.
Ibuprofen

1. Disconnect the negative terminal on the battery

2. Raise the wretched lifeless hulk to about 18 inches clearance and set the front end on secure jack-stands. Too high and you won't be able to reach the starter - too low and you won't be able fit under the damn thing. Remove the passenger side front wheel.

3. Make absolutely sure you actually do need a new starter because if you don't, you will slash your wrists after replacing the thing unnecessarily. Presumably you have found the starter by now. TEST IT by removing the purple wire that goes to the top of the solenoid and installing a test wire long enough to reach the battery. Use the same general gauge wire with a ring terminal on the end. You will know the wire is purple because the black plastic wire loom cover will crumble away in your hand. If you are double jointed and have a small mirror you may even be able to see the 10mm nut that holds the wire onto the stud. It is directly above the solenoid body and closer to the bell housing than the larger battery cable nuts. Your friend (soon to be former friend) will move the socket, extension and ratchet toward the nut by reaching through the wheel well and stretching like crazy, and you will guide it onto the nut entirely by feel with your left hand from underneath. Reconnect the battery, MAKE SURE THE KEY IS OFF, and, touch the other end of the test wire against the positive terminal briefly. If the starter runs and spins the engine over, it is OK and you are leading a charmed life. The problem is a bad neutral / safety switch, or ignition switch, or something else that is not the starter itself. These issues are beyond the scope of this article, but I suspect a "permanent" hot wire could provide solution.

4. OK, if the starter does not fire by "hot wiring" it directly, you will have replace it. It's only a total of 4 fasteners: the 10mm solenoid lead, the 13mm battery / alternator lead, and two E-16 mounting bolts. You and your friend should be able to do it in a day or so. Disconnect the battery again.

5. Now that you are an expert on removing the solenoid lead, do it again to remove the test lead. Try not to drop the nut. Maybe I should add "magnet" to the tools required list.

6. Use the 13mm socket and 3 inch extension to remove the battery / alternator leads. There are two wires under the same nut. You want the one closer to the front of the car, the rearward 13mm nut (on the left side viewed through the wheel well) need not be removed. Again you will guide the socket from underneath while friend loosens the nut through the wheel well. If you have forgotten to disconnect the battery you will discover that now. Try not to led the blood from his knuckles drip into your eye, and for God's sake keep your mouth closed.

7. So, that's the easy part. Now for the mounting bolts. It is actually possible to see the lower one through a gap between the cross member and the transaxle. No human being has seen the upper one since the car was built. By stretching your left arm once more between the sway bar and the firewall and even further around the top of the solenoid you will be able to touch the top bolt head with one finger. This is important because, again, you will guide your patient colleague to the head of the bolt while you are both completely blind. They may find it easier to assemble the ratchet to the 6 inch 3/8 extension after the socket is on the bolt head and being held by you. In this awkward and cramped condition, one of you will somehow be able to put enough force on the ratchet to break the bolt loose.

8. The lower bolt presents a different challenge in that while you can see it (barely) there is no way in hell to touch it. Now, if through some miracle your friend is still willing to help, they will push the socket & 9 inch extension into the crevasse between the starter body and engine block, and further impeded by the trans-axle mount, and be able to wave it around in the vicinity of the bolt head. You will shout words of encouragement such as "more to the left" and "back up 1/4 inch then go up 1/2 inch, ok now push!" Once on the bolt head, see above paragraph on loosening.

9. Remove the starter. It is possible to weasel it through the space between the sway bar and the firewall if you get it oriented just right.

10. Now for the part where the manual typically says "Reassemble in reverse order". This is true, but with a couple caveats. First there are several wires that can easily become pinched or trapped by the in-going starter, so use the mirror and fingers to make sure you are not about to make things even worse in this profane location, Second, these torx-ish bolt heads are not well suited to being held by the socket while extending, blindly, at arm's length, into a hole that you cannot see. I have found that a bit of heavy paper torn from the cover of the useless shop manual can be placed over the socket and the bolt head then tapped into the socket will hold well enough. Be sure to trim all excess paper off, and yes the socket may be stuck onto the bolt head but you can pry it off after the bolt is started, and before it is tight. Also, my Vue is an AWD model, but I've had the driveshaft off it for years now. I do think all of the above can be accomplished without removing it however.

My apologies for the long-winded article, and best wishes for success!
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Old 02-04-2018, 08:14 PM   #2
oldmanina2005vu
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2008 SKY Red Line
Default Re: Starter replacement on 2002 Vue with 3.0 V6.

Great write-up. I would never attempt this because I would never purchase or accept as a gift a Vue with the 3.0L V6. It ranks right up there with the infamous VT25 transmission as GM's worst engineering mistakes.

Your sense of humor is priceless. Post again sometime
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