I bought a '96 Mazda 323 midge without a starter.

  • 1996 MAZDA 323
  • 142,890 MILES
I bought a '96 mazda 323 midge without a starter motor. The car drives fine, even with a few minor repair problems. My question to you: How do I know which starter motor will fit my car? I've heard about eight tooth and 9 tooth starters and frankly this means absolutely nothing to me since I know nothing about cars. Please don't tell me to go to a mechanic because I am a woman and they can tell me anything and I will believe them.
I am here to ask you for help. Please help me.

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have the same problem?
Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 AT 7:57 PM

1 Reply

Being unknowledgeable is not a woman thing. It applies to 95 percent of car owners. Three of my top student were girls, and the guys had a lot of respect for them. Your problem stems from the fact that doctors and mechanics speak different languages than car owners. Doctors earn good reputations when they can switch from talking "doctor talk" with other doctors to talking "patient talk" with the rest of us. Most mechanics don't realize the rest of us don't understand half of what they are saying. Those of us who ARE good at explaining things to car owners know that we are still mistrusted simply because of our profession.

As for your starter, there's a small gear on the end of it that pops out and engages with a much larger "ring gear" attached to the back of the engine. A smaller gear will turn the bigger gear much slower but with a lot more force. Since larger engines require more force to get them to crank, (also called "turn over"), the starter and battery have to be stronger, OR you can use a starter with a smaller gear. That's where the reference to the number of teeth comes from. Fewer teeth means the starter will spin the engine slower but with more force.

If it helps, think of carrying 100 bricks from the truck to your project across the yard. It's pretty easy to carry two at a time but it will take you an hour. You could also carry 20 at a time and get done very quickly but you'd work up a sweat and have to rest. You aren't strong enough to carry 40 at a time so if you tried, the job would never get done.

The next thing you can try is to look up your starter at rockauto on the internet. There's too many variables to consider, plus, I could only find one engine size they sold in the U.S, and they didn't list "Electrical" under that engine, so it must not have been a popular model. They make reference to the build date which you can find on the sticker on the car, often on the back of the driver's door opening. If they show a picture of the front of the starter, you may be able to match the bolt hole pattern to what's on your car. They also list an engine code. A local parts store should be able to help with that.

In many cases you can use various starters even though they're different. One of the things that caused me to fall in love with Chrysler products many years ago is they had many models of starters, each designed for a specific application, but they all interchanged and would work on other engines and years. If there are major differences with starters on your car, you might just have to buy one and try it. Most reputable auto parts stores will let you exchange it if it's the wrong one, especially since you don't have the old one to match up to, and if they can't determine which one to sell you.
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Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 AT 11:31 PM

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