1991 4Runner 3.0 V6 Starter Replacement

Kevin (jimrockford on the forums) shows you how to pull a starter and replace it.

Time Required
  • 1-3 hours

Tools Needed

  • Lug Wrench
  • Ratchet
  • 10mm Socket
  • 12mm Deep Well Socket
  • 14mm Deep Well Socket
  • 24" Extension
  • Universal Joint
  • Screwdriver


The starter on my '91 4Runner started acting up several months ago. At first, it was very intermittent; failing to start only once in a while. Soon, though, things got worse. Turn the key and all I'd get was a click. Try twenty times, and it'd start. I replaced the contacts as suggested in the forums, but that didn't resolve the problem.

Eventually, I broke down and bought a new starter. I scoured the Internet, the YotaTech forums, and looked through my shop manual. I found enough information to get the job done, but still felt like there were several steps I had to figure out on my own. You know, the "how the hell can I get a wrench on that?" or "that's supposed to fit through there?" type of questions. Since I went through it, maybe you won't have to. Hopefully this article will clear up the fuzzy points and make a bitch of a job just a little easier.

Fair warning: I'm not a mechanic and I usually learn by breaking things. Take this article for what it's worth. My vehicle may be slightly different than yours, and my techniques may not apply to your situation. That said, let's break some stuff!

Step 1: Disconnect Battery

  • Disconnect the positive battery cable from the battery. The starter's got a constant flow of juice going to it.
Step 2: Remove Front Passenger Tire
  • Loosen the lug nuts with a lug wrench.
  • Raise the vehicle. A shop with a lift stall is preferred, but the dinky jack under your rear seat will do the job. Block the rear tires if you go the jack route.
  • Remove the wheel and set aside.
Step 3: Remove Wheel Well Access Panel Cover


Remove the far left plastic clip holding the end of the splash guard in place, and the four 10mm bolts holding the access panel cover.

Step 4: Locate Starter


Marvel at the lack of access available through the access panel...

Step 5: Disconnect Positive Cable From Starter


Unbolt the power cable and cable bracket. The nut is hard to get to from this angle. See the next shot for help. Move the power cable out of the way. The "hidden connector" is underneath and behind the starter. We'll get to this later.

This shot shows the power cable connected to the starter from beneath the vehicle. This is the easiest way I found to get to it. Run a 12mm (?) socket on a 24" extension up behind the frame to the power cable from underneath.

Step 6: Locate Bolts Holding Starter In Place


Two bolts hold the starter in place. The top bolt connects to the block from the front of the truck; the bottom bolt from the back. Both bolts are difficult to reach.

Step 7: Loosen Top Bolt


The top bolt is accessed from beneath the vehicle as well.

Use a deep well 14mm socket to get to this bolt. You'll only have room for a few clicks of movement so be patient. Loosen it but don't remove it yet.

Step 8: Remove Bottom Bolt

  • The bottom bolt is a bitch to get to. Remove the front skid plate for easier access.

This shot is from the front of the vehicle looking through the steering components to see the bolt.

Use a long (24") extension and a universal joint to snake a 14mm socket to the bolt from the front of the vehicle. Remove the bolt and set aside.

Step 9: Reposition Cables


Next, you'll need to reposition the cables and hoses obstructing the area where you'll remove the starter. Use the photo as a reference.

Step 10: Remove Top Bolt And Free Starter
  • Remove the bolt that you loosened in step 7. You should be able to back it out by hand.
  • The starter should detach from the block. Locate the "hidden connector" from step 5 on the bottom of the starter and remove. Use a screwdriver to depress the tab on the plastic connector and pull the cable out of its housing.
  • Unfortunately, I don't have a picture for this next step...
  • Work the starter around to bring it through the access panel to freedom. I read posts that suggested prying on the motor mount with a pry bar, or removing a heat shield to get the starter out. I managed to get it out without any extra help. It doesn't look like it'll fit, but it does. It just takes a little coaxing.
Step 11: Reverse Removal Instructions To Install New Starter
  • The new starter goes in the reverse order the old one came out.
  • Make sure to reconnect the "hidden connector" before attaching the starter since it is difficult to get to once the starter is in place.
Step 12: Start Vehicle
  • After verifying that everything has been reinstalled correctly, fire it up. No doubt it'll start the first try.
  • Take a test drive down to the corner market and pick up a case of your favorite imported adult beverage. You deserve it.
  • Don't wash your hands. Chicks dig grease.

For more info on Toyota starter replacement and solenoid contact repair, check out these pages:

If you choose to do this mod good luck, and if you have any questions  (jimrockford) on the YotaTech Forum.

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