SUBARUPictures of how I replaced the starter solenoid contacts on the Subaru Legacy Outback.

But first, lets pay some bills:

  1. Turn the key, click.
    Turn the key, click.
    Turn the key, click.
    Turn the key, click.
    Battery has 12 volts. That is low, so I jump my pathy battery in, still click. The Google machine says the solenoid plunger and contacts are a weak point. Fleabay sends me some bits of metal, and here I go.

  2. The starter is back of the engine, driver side.
    starter     starter

  3. The 14 mm bolt on top and the 17 mm nut below hold it all on. I had to loosen the mounting bracket of the ground wire and throttle cable to get the top bolt off. The 12 mm nut held the positive cable. The positive cable from the ignition key is clipped on. I squeezed the clip and it slid off easily.
    bolts and whatnot

  4. What the hell is going on in here? Turn the key, and positive current goes in wire 1. Current in wire 1 pulls down plunger 2. Plunger 2 engages the starter to the flywheel, and bridges the gap between contacts 3. Current can then flow through contacts 3, which turns the starter motor. The contacts 3 are damaged because little sparks fly every time they are closed.
    starter diagram

  5. The new plunger and contacts from fleabay.

  6. Taking off the contacts. Lots of little insulating plastic bits to lose and mis assemble.

  7. The old contacts are very bad.

  8. I put all the little bits back on this way and it seems to work.

  9. That's where this little rubber jobbie goes.

  10. The I took the motor out too.

  11. It was pretty dirty, so I cleaned it up.

  12. Some tape to protect the insulated wire.

  13. The brushes looked good, lots of material left

  14. so I just cleaned up the edges a bit with a file.

  15. and installation is the reverse of removal.

  16. Next I sold out to make 02ยข so I can fulfill my lifelong dream of owning a 1986 944 with blown head gaskets.

    But no minivans!

  17. Then I finished my beer.

About a year later I had the same problem. I took it apart again, sanded the contacts, which did not look that bad.

and sanded a new shine on every connector I could find. That seemed to do it.

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Think: Cars are expensive, powerful, and heavy.   Before I start work, I face the possibility that I will destroy my vehicle, my own life, and innocent pedestrians' lives.   If anyone messes with a 4000 lb machine capable of 100 mph, these are real possibilities.   If I get in over my head, I call a professional mechanic.   The information on this website is provided only for entertainment purposes, and it is not intended as advice on how to service a vehicle.   For all you know I made this up.   Don`t believe everything you read on the internet.

Disclaimer: The technical information in these documents is provided without any warranty whatsoever and at no cost.   All information is in general terms and is not meant to apply to your particular situation, be current at the time you read it, or even be correct in the first place.   Improperly maintained vehicles can lead to serious injury, death, or unavoidable accidents. The author is not responsible for any errors on this site, and does not make any claim at all about the validity, safety, or veracity of the information contained on this website. Any work you choose to do or not to do on your vehicle is done at your own risk. The information on this site is not intended to serve as a replacement for professional advice, professional workmanship, dealer service, union labor, or psychological counseling.   The author disclaims any and all liability directly or indirectly arising from the application or use of any information or idea contained on this or any other web site.   By opening this page, you agree to never sue anyone ever or allow anyone to be sued on your behalf.   The appropriate professional should be consulted regarding your specific condition. does not take responsibility for the information posted on other sites to which it links.

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Last modified: 11/25/2014