Replacing the starter motor in a ford crown victoria

Below are some pictures and comments about replacing the "3 bolt" PMGR starter motor in the 4.6 modular engine equipped 1992-2002 crown victoria, grand marquis, and lincoln town car.

Most experienced ford mechanics know the "tricks of the trade" and can remove a crownvic starter quickly as long as the bolts don't break or the heads round off. But the task of removing the "top bolt" from a crown victoria starter is typically rather frustrating and unproductive for a casual backyard mechanic that has not done the task before.

If you are working on the ground, you will likely want to remove the front passenger wheel from your crown vic for easier access to the starter components. If you are working in a shop with a commercial lift that can elevate your crownvic a few feet in the air, this step is not necessary

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In this case, a "pre-owned" starter from a 2007 police interceptor with less than 10k miles is going to be installed into a 1998 police interceptor.

Starting in the 2006 model year, ford introduced a new starter motor model: 6W1T-11000-AA. This starter is nearly identical to the earlier F75U-11000-AC model used in the 1997-2005 crownvics, but it's manufactured using "low hex" materials.


Here's a couple closeups of the front d-housing and pinion drive gear.

When actually installed in the car, the bottom two mounting bolts are visible from under the car. But the top bolt is concealed and the only clues to it's presence are:
-a starter that won't come after you have removed the two visible bolts
-carefully running your finger along the d-housing and feeling for the bolt head in question

This sometimes leads to a mechanic thinking that a car has a "2 bolt starter" when it actually has a "3 bolt starter".

And here's the 2007 starter with the 1998 mounting bolts installed.

Some mechanics have been known to leave the top starter bolt out when installing one of these starters and hold the starter in the car with only the bottom two bolts. But this practice is not recommended.

Note that the transmission case is aluminum and the starter bolts steel. Galvanic corrosion happens quickly in areas where lots of chloride salts are used during the winter to clear the roads of salt and ice. Snapped starter bolts, rounded off starter bolt heads, and messed up starter mount threads are common in the northeastern states.

The bottom starter bolt is easy to get to, the top two starter bolts are more difficult though. So a collection of "wobble bar" extensions are going to be used.

A picture of the bars bent into a little different shape

For the project documented here, the wobble bars are "great neck" brand and were obtained from autozone. Each package costs about $15 and contains a 3/8" drive 1.5", 3", 8", and 10" wobble extension bar. You can get similar bars from various suppliers such as harborfreight, mac, snapon, matco, and sears craftsman.

You'll want 3/8" drive wobble bars for this project because:
-1/4" wobble bars at the ~2 foot length needed have too little torque bearing capability to remove the starter bolts
-1/2" wobble bars are too wide to maneuver between the frame k-member and the exhaust manifold

And a closeup of the unique ends of a few of the bars

Here's a regular hand ratchet with the socket, wobble bars, and hand ratchet installed

And with a higher torque 1/2" breaker bar installed. Some people have also reported successfully removing crown victoria upper starter bolts using regular extension bars with some swivel adapters wrapped in electrical tape to stiffen the joints.

A yet longer breaker bar can be installed, but it's questionable if the socket will hold up to all the torque of the bar without cracking.

Since clearance is limited, a pneumatic air ratchet will make the job easier. Just press the handle and the ratchet spins, no need to manually turn the ratchet back & forth with like a manual one.

Here are a few pictures of the engine area from underneath the car. Take note of the front frame crossmember that we are going to pass our wobble extension bars over.

This is an old starter wrench from the 1960's. Cool looking curved design, but the box ends are the wrong size for crown victoria starter bolts. Also the likely hood of rounding off a fastener head is much greater, since this is a 12 point wrench rather than a 6 point wrench.

Due to clearance issues with the frame and the starter solenoid studs, you'll need a thin profile combination wrench to get the nuts off of the solenoid studs. The 6-point box end can transfer lots of torque to the fastener if things are corroded and don't turn easily.

And here's a closeup of the 6-point box end

Road salt used to clear snow & ice from the highways in the northeastern winter sure does corrode metal parts fast in relation to parts from southern states not exposed to chloride salts.

Take note of the plastic safety cap that covers the solenoid starter studs so that stray metal objects won't accidentally contact live battery feeds.

And the back of the starter

A closeup of the front of the safety cap. Note that 1992-1995 crown victorias will have a slightly different cap.

And the back of the safety cap

And the safety cap removed alltogether

To start engage the starter, momentarily connect the "S" terminal to the "B" terminal. This will engage the starter and crank the engine over regardless of the status of any aftermarket car alarm starter kill circuits that may have been installed. But do be aware that the starter will also crank even if the transmission gear shift is in "drive".

Also, the starter motor will spin if the high current "M" feed is connected to the high current "B" feed. But the pinion gear won't jump forward to contact the flexplate ring gear because the solenoid hasn't retracted. So if these two terminals were connected together, you'd hear the starter spin but the engine wouldn't crank over. But this procedure might be useful as a diagnostic step if worn electrical contacts were suspected inside the starter solenoid though.

And the cap off, with the wrenches ready to remove the starter terminal solenoid nuts

And the terminals from a wrecked 2007 ford crown victoria. Note that these terminals will vary a little bit in cosmetic appearance between the years. And that the 1992-1995 crownvics will have a troublesome push-on 1/4" spade "S" terminal rather than the much more reliable eyelet ring "S" terminal used in later vehicles.

If you want extra clearance for access to the middle starter bolt, you can remove the starter solenoid from the starter.

You'll want an L-shaped torx 25 wrench to remove the solenoid as space between the solenoid fastener heads and catalytic converter is tight

If you plan on re-using the starter, make not to break the motor feed wire off the solenoid terminal

And a couple pictures of the driver set that was used to remove the solenoid

And here's a few pictures under a 1998 ford crown victoria

(picture of 2001 crown victoria starter courtesy of Chevyguy on

The passenger side valve cover on this car is leaking oil a little bit. But the oil leak isn't bad enough yet to adversly affect the operation of the starter motor.

Removing the catalytic converter->exhaust manifold nuts on this car would be rather challenging without an acetylene torch and pneumatic air impact tools.

Here you can see the protrusion on the back of the engine block which partially covers the top starter bolt

The whitish mineral deposit on the engine block is a collection of chloride road salts

If the air conditioner compressor is removed from the engine block, there is more space to fish your ~2 feet of extension bars in between the passenger exhaust manifold and the frame kmember. Note that you do not have to discharge the a/c refrigerant for this procedure:
-remove electrical connectors for engine crank position sensor and a/c compressor clutch
-loosen the nut in the engine bay which holds the muffler to the engine block
-remove serpentine accessory drive belt from a/c compressor
-remove the 3 bolts which retain the a/c compressor to the engine block
-rest a/c compressor on idler arm and transmission cooler lines

Here's some pictures of 1992-2002 panther platform vehicles with the powertrain removed.

The arrows in the pictures depict the rough path that you'll want to pass your extension bars through to remove the upper starter bolts.

The crownvic frame below was a little rusty, but the car had over 300k miles on the odometer

And here is a picture of the rear of a crown victoria engine with the transmission removed. Take note of the bellhousing ground ring terminal and also of the intermediate alignment plate in between the engine block and the flexplate.

And here is the front bellhousing of a crown victoria transmission without the torque converter installed. Take note that the intermediate plate seen in the pictures above is not present either.

And a couple pictures of a 1999 crown victoria engine in the area where the starter mounts.

Take note that the engine mount, tranny cooler line bracket bolt, and a/c compressor have been removed.

A couple pictures of the intermediate alignment "block plate" that's normally wedged in between the engine and transmission.

2001 Ford Mustang GT. Note the outline of where the starter would mount is visible on the left.

1995 mercury grand marquis. Note the outline of where the starter would mount is visible on the left.
(picture courtesy of mrbear3800 on

1995 mercury grand marquis. Note that this side of the block plate normally faces towards the transmission.
(picture courtesy of mrbear3800 on

And here are a couple pictures of a 1995 mercury grand marquis with the transmission present, but the engine and 7007 blockplate removed.
(pictures courtesy of mrbear3800 on

Tips if the starter fastener heads are "rounded off":
-The bottom starter bolt is really easy to access. You can use a hammer to pound an undersized socket onto the remainder of the bolt head
-The fastener in the middle is more difficult. But if you remove the solenoid with a right angle torx driver, there is lots of space to get at this fastener and pound on an undersized socket. If the solenoid fasteners are corroded, some people have reported successfully removing the starter solenoid using a hammer to break the aluminum casting of the starter. Use caution with the hammer method as there is a possibility of breaking the aluminum transmission housing too.
-The top bolt is extremely difficult to access with the starter installed. You might have luck getting better access to the top fastener by removing the two through bolts that hold the field case to the front d.e. housing of the starter assembly and then disassembling the starter while still installed on the car. Also, some mechanics have reported successfully getting better access to the top starter bolt by removing the bottom two bolts that hold the starter to the transmission, and then using a long prybar to break top mounting ear off of the starter. Use the starter ear breaking method as a last resort, as there is a possibility of cracking the transmission bellhousing around the mounting bolt hole or damaging the intermediate alignment plate wedged in between the engine and the transmission bellhousing.

Most ford shops in the northeast keep a supply of starter bolts on hand.

Part #

W506510S-437M factory installed in model year 2006 and later crown victorias
10mm bolt head
bolt hardness grade 10.9
(sold in a package of 4 bolts)
(see pictures below)
N807182-S36 M8-1.25x41 with a flanged head
10mm bolt head
bolt hardness grade 9.8
(sold in a package of 3 bolts)
superceded by W506510S-437M

If you are going to remove the a/c compressor, you might want to have the compressor->engine block bolts on hand too.

Part #

N806184-S437 M8-1.25x110
bolt hardness grade 9.8
N806184-S M8-1.25x113.5
bolt hardness grade 9.8
superceded by N806184-S437

It should be noted that the starter motor in 2003-2009 crown victorias is much easier to access than in the 1992-2002 crownvics.

2008 crown victoria

1998 crown victoria

Replacing the PMGR starter motor on a 1990-1991 crown victoria is easier than on the later crownvics because these cars only use two bolts to hold the starter in place rather than the 3 bolts that you'll find on later vehicles, and there's more open space around the top starter bolt to maneuver your tools in.

(1991 crown victoria pictures courtesy of andymac0035 on

Prior to installing the new starter motor, inspect the spade terminal solenoid trigger setup that connects to the starter for signs of corrosion. Click this link to view further information about this topic.

(1991 crown victoria pictures courtesy of andymac0035 on

This car uses two starter solenoids, one on the fender, the other on the starter motor itself. Part way into the 1992 model year, the starter solenoid on the fender was deleted from production vehicles.

-if the vehicle's starter was defective, then the car's battery is likely to be depleted so low that the new starter will not start the car either. You will likely have to charge the vehicle's battery prior to sucessfully utilizing your new starter motor.
-if you are removing the starter, make sure to disconnect the negative terminal of your car's battery from your vehicle's electrical harness before beginning  the project. The positive feed to the starter can carry thousands of watts of power, which can make metal tools hot enough to burn skin on your hands, cause airborne debris of molten metal, and light nearby flammable material on fire.
-crown victoria starters are mounted directly to the intermediate alignment plate that's wedged in between the engine and transmission. These starters do not use external mounting "shims" like you'll find on some older general motors vehicles.
-there is some debate about whether to apply antiseize compound to the starter bolts. from the factory, these cars come with a zinc coating on the starter mount bolts to slow corrosion but this coating usually wears away after a few years. antiseize can be applied to the bolts so they won't seize in place as quickly in the future. but applying antiseize will also increase the risk of the starter bolts loosening up and causing damage to the flexplate or starter bendix gear.
-do not drop the starter motor while handling it. the ford permanent magnet gear reduction (PMGR) starter motors have brittle magnets inside that can shatter.

Question & Answer:

This starter replacement writeup looks really intimidating. Is changing a starter in one of these cars really this difficult?

This job looks worse in print than it really is.

Should I bring my car to a mechanic to have my defective starter replaced?

A skilled mechanic should be able to swap out the starter motor in your car in under an hour as long as the bolts don't break. So labor costs on this job should be reasonable if things go well.

How likely am I to snap a bolt or two when removing the starter?

If you live in the saltbelt northeast or midwest united states, you are very likely to break a bolt or two. By the time a car needs a new starter installed, the vehicle is usually several years old with significant corrosion on undercar parts. If you live in a dry arid desert environment, your likelyhood of shearing off starter bolts is greatly reduced.

Will a professional automotive repair shop install my new starter if i've already sheared off a starter bolt or messed up the threads in the transmission case?

Many professional repair shops won't want to touch the car if you've already attempted a botched repair job yourself. Some will repair the car, but at rather high labor costs. If you had brought your car to a professional repair shop in the first place for the starter motor repair, the mechanic who broke the parts would likely feel somewhat guilty and give you a good deal on the labor.

Why did my mechanic use a large hammer during the installation of my starter motor?

This was likely to break the solenoid off the starter for additional space to access to the top two starter bolts. Do note that your autoparts store is unlikely to pay the core return fee when recieving a starter in this condition. But this quick & dirty method labor saving method can make ecomonic sense with car repair shop labor rates around $100 per hour. If using this method, use caution not to damage the transmission bellhousing.

Do I have to purchase 3 new starter bolts from my local ford dealer prior to replacing my starter motor?

No. But the starter->transmission bellhousing bolts often seem to get damaged during removal and having new starter bolts on hand could lower vehicle downtime. Also, new bolts have new anti-corrosion coatings which could make removing the starter bolts easier in the future.

Should I remove the starter wiring harness before or after removing the starter motor bolts?

Remove the starter wiring harness before attempting to remove the starter bolts. Having the wiring harness installed will make it difficult to properly maneuver your tools over the front frame crossmember.

Do I have to remove the engine or transmission like the pictures above show?

No. Those are reference pictures to show you how the engine, transmission, and starter are mounted in your crown victoria.

Do I have to remove the passenger's front tire to replace the starter motor?

No. But if you're working in your driveway without a professional shop lift, removing the tire will give you easier access to the area that the starter is mounted on. The wheel is simple to remove, just spin off five nuts and it slides off car.

Do I have to remove the air conditioner compressor to replace the starter motor?

Maybe. If you are working in a professional shop environment with a commercial lift and pneumatic air tools, dropping the a/c compressor is not required. For the home mechanic without air tools or without a lift, you will probably want to drop the a/c compressor off the engine block though. Refer to this picture for a visual representation of how limited your space is to maneuver handtools in front of the frame crossmember with the a/c compressor still installed.

I installed a new starter and a new fully charged battery, but my starter just clicks when I turn the ignition key to start. Why is this?

This is likely caused by something with your battery cable harness terminal ends. On 1990-1995 vehicles, also look closely at the starter solenoid trigger setup portion of the transmission harness. There are other causes of a no-crank condition, but the two listed above seem to be the most common culprits on these cars.

I attempted to print this document out and my printer required over 50 sheets of paper. Is all this information really necessary?

After you have replaced the starter motor on a couple of these cars, you won't need this tutorial anymore. The purpose of this tutorial is to teach unskilled shadetree mechanics the secret starter removal tricks that most ford dealership service technicians already know.

Are there other cars that are more difficult to replace a starter on?

Yes, some car manufacturers place the starter motor underneath the engine intake manifold in certain models