how to fix an oil soaked starter

If your starter motor has become oil-soaked due to a leak or spill, it’s important to address this issue promptly to prevent damage to the starter and ensure the proper functioning of your vehicle. Here are the steps to fix an oil-soaked starter:

Materials You May Need:

  1. Wrench and socket set: To remove the starter.
  2. Cleaning supplies: Degreaser, rags or shop towels, and a wire brush.
  3. Replacement gaskets or seals: If necessary.
  4. Starter motor cleaner (optional): Specifically designed for cleaning starter motors.
  5. Sandpaper or emery cloth: To clean electrical contacts (if needed).
  6. Starter motor paint (optional): To protect the starter from future oil exposure.


  1. Safety First:
    • Ensure the vehicle is in a safe and stable position, and the ignition is turned off.
  2. Disconnect the Battery:
    • Disconnect the negative terminal of the vehicle’s battery to prevent any accidental electrical contact while working on the starter.
  3. Locate and Remove the Starter:
    • Locate the starter motor in your vehicle. It is typically located near the engine or transmission.
    • Use a wrench and socket set to remove the mounting bolts that secure the starter in place.
    • Carefully disconnect any electrical wires or connectors from the starter motor.
  4. Clean the Starter:
    • Take the oil-soaked starter to a well-ventilated area.
    • Use a degreaser or starter motor cleaner to clean the oil-soaked areas of the starter. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the cleaner you’re using.
    • Use a wire brush to scrub away any stubborn oil or residue. Ensure that the starter is completely clean and free from oil and grease.
  5. Inspect for Damage:
    • Examine the starter for any damage or wear, including electrical contacts. If any components are damaged or worn, they may need to be replaced.
  6. Clean Electrical Contacts (if needed):
    • If the electrical contacts on the starter are contaminated with oil, gently clean them using sandpaper or emery cloth. Be careful not to damage the contacts.
  7. Replace Gaskets or Seals (if needed):
    • If the oil leak was due to damaged gaskets or seals, replace them with new ones. Ensure that all seals are in good condition to prevent future oil leaks.
  8. Reassemble and Reinstall:
    • Reconnect any electrical wires or connectors to the starter motor.
    • Carefully reposition the starter motor and secure it in place using the mounting bolts.
  9. Reconnect the Battery:
    • Reconnect the negative terminal of the vehicle’s battery.
  10. Test the Starter:
    • Start the vehicle to ensure that the starter is functioning correctly. Listen for any unusual noises or issues.
  11. Prevent Future Oil Exposure (optional):
    • If the oil leak is an ongoing issue, consider taking steps to prevent future exposure of the starter to oil. This may include addressing the source of the oil leak, adding protective shields, or using starter motor paint to create a barrier.
  12. Monitor for Leaks:
    • Keep an eye on the starter and surrounding area for any signs of oil leaks in the future. If you notice new leaks, address them promptly.

If you are uncomfortable or unsure about any aspect of cleaning or repairing the starter, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of a qualified mechanic or technician. They can diagnose and fix any issues related to the starter and ensure that your vehicle starts reliably.