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Changing the Starter in Honda CRV 2004

Signs of a bad starter in my case:  

Slow starts, random no starter turn when trying to start the engine.

What I tried before changing the starter:

  • I changed the battery and it didn't make a difference.
  • I had AutoZone do a diagnostic test on battery/alternator/starter under the hood, and they said everything looked normal.  The guy said, maybe it is the spark plugs, but he isn't sure and I should have a mechanic look at it.  Looked at the manual, etc and found out it can't be the spark plug since if there was a misfire, etc, there would be an engine code for it.
  • I added a fuel injector cleaner in the gas tank, went through the entire gas tank and it didn't make a difference.

Changing the Starter:

Followed youtube videos and took the starter out to see if I can clean it up or change brushes, etc.  I learned that
  1. It was pretty hard to take the starter out.  Couldn't get it out from the bottom.  Had to take off the top manifold.  From the Top, the bolt on the starter was pretty tight and had to use a pipe extension to take it off.
  2. Not all 2nd Gen CRV's have the same engine configuration and routing.  The routing of hoses and cables are slightly different between different year models.  The video said it is for '02-'06, but I learned that the clearances were different in '04 CRV compared to the one in the video and the top manifold would not come off.  I managed to pull it to the side just enough to get to the starter.
  3. Once I took the starter apart, I realized it is not something that I could repair.  The brushes were crimped/pressed into wires, and a whole section of it needed to be replaced.  There were springs in more than one place, so it wasn't something that I could push back into the casing with my two hands.

I bought a new starter, Premier Gear PG-17844 (which has a two-year manufacturer warranty #ad) from Amazon with next day delivery for a fraction of the cost of a honda one.


  • The car started great.
  • I ended up with an engine code for the idle valve sensor not working, and a rough idle (continues coughing rpm).  After a day, and a trip to Autozone to read the code, I figured out that it was a connector that I had not pushed all the way in.
  • When trying to use the DIY method to read the engine code, I looked at the OBDII connector upside down and connected the wrong pins accidentally causing a spark and a blown fuse that I needed to change.
  • Since part of the engine coolant drains when taking the top manifold off, I had three other learnings: 
    1. I didn't know how to refill the coolant after putting everything back together and was refilling from the reservoir only instead of both in the radiator and the reservoir.  The reservoir kept emptying out after a day of driving etc. Making me think that I had a leak.  I took the entire front of the car (front grill, etc) off again on another day to check for radiator leaks and the potential need for a new radiator.  I thought I might have punctured or cracked the plastic casing of the radiator while pushing and pulling on the other stuff.  There wasn't anything wrong with the radiator or the connections.  The lesson learned was to refill the coolant from both the radiator and the reservoir next time.
    2. It was easy to drop the cap/lid for the reservoir down and losing it under the hood, I had to take off another part of the plastic under shield from the wheel well to fish out the cap in one instance.
    3. The coolant was green instead of blue.  I suspect someone messed up and topped it off with a wrong type of coolant.  Mmmm... Midas would have been the only place other than the dealer that serviced the car and probably made the screw-up.  So I ended up going to a dealer and having them replace the radiator coolant with the honda coolant which is BLUE.  Yes, it is BLUE and supposed to be blue and NOT available at other places like Autozone, etc.  I did some research and found out, you shouldn't use the other stuff other than Honda's which the dealer has for about $20 a gallon (premixed with water).