Buying a starter for your car is a relatively straight forward process. In order to ensure the correct starter is purchased, the year, make, model, engine size, and possibly date of manufacture will need to be given to the parts sales person at the auto parts store. If the starter is being purchased from a dealer, then the VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, may be needed. The year, make, and engine size can be found on the VECI, or Vehicle Emissions Control Information, label located usually on the underside of the hood or on the upper radiator support, the metal bracket that is located near the top and in front of, or on top of the radiator. This bracket has the hood latch secured to it. The date of manufacture is usually located on the driver’s door rear edge near where the latch is located. The VIN is located on the VECI label, date of manufacture label, or VIN tag located on the dash at the left lower corner of the windshield.
Starters can be bought from several sources. Factory OEM, Original Equipment Manufacturer, starters can be purchased from the dealer. Buying a starter from a dealer is usually the most expensive option. However, the dealer should be considered because sometimes the dealer starter may be less than what is available in the aftermarket auto parts stores.
Another option is aftermarket auto parts stores such as NAPA, Carquest, Federated Auto Parts, Pep Boys, O’Reilly, or AutoZone. Dealers and aftermarket parts stores offer new or remanufactured starters. Remanufactured starters are used starters that have been refurbished with new parts to bring the starter back to like new condition. New and remanufactured starters almost always come with a warranty. The warranty will vary per dealer, manufacturer, or auto parts store policy.
A third option is a used starter from a salvage yard. This is a “caveat emptor” or “buyers beware” option. When purchasing a used starter, the condition of the starter may not be known, i.e., worn out brushes, bearings, bushings, or starter drive gear, etc. Most reputable salvage yards will offer an exchange within a certain time frame, such as thirty days, if the used starter is faulty.
Generally, in terms of cost, the dealer is the most expensive and the salvage yard is the least expensive. However, when expense decreases then quality also diminishes. When researching the cost of a starter, at least three to five sources should be contacted including a dealer. When contacting these sources vehicle information will be needed, i.e., year, make, model, engine size, etc., and have a piece of paper and pencil ready so that the price of the starter, warranty, and source can be written down. Compare the starter information after contacting the parts stores. Choose the best option and purchase the starter from that source. If the faulty starter has been removed, it should be taken to the auto parts store for comparison to the replacement starter to ensure correct application and also to prevent a core charge if applicable.
Taking the time to research the cost of starter may save a lot of money and not put a crunch on the budget.