Why are you going through starters and flywheels? Shims might be the answer.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1987 Chevrolet Caprice with a 305 V-8 and 51,000 miles. At 32,000 miles,
I started getting a grinding sound when starting the car. I replaced the original
starter, but the problem continued. At 46,000 miles, I replaced the flywheel. The
old flywheel had many teeth that had damage on the forward edge. I still have the
problem, even though I have now been through starters No. 3 and 4. Can you tell
me what I need? -- Richard

RAY: Shims. You need shims, Richard.

TOM: Shims are thin, flat pieces of metal that go between the starter motor and
the engine. You use them to adjust the starter's position so that the gears of
the starter and the gears of the flywheel line up perfectly -- which yours don't.

RAY: You can buy a package of shims yourself at an auto parts store. But if I
were you, I'd take the car to a mechanic who specializes in Chevys. Anyone who's
worked on Chevy starters should be able to take down the inspection cover and see
(and hear) in an instant if the gear mesh is too deep or too shallow.

TOM: And then, by adding -- or even removing -- shims of various sizes, your
mechanic can adjust the position of the starter so the mesh is perfect. Then,
when your car starts, it'll sound like all the other Chevys on the road ... the
ones that aren't grinding up their gears. Good luck, Richard.

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