Question about 1989 Subaru Gl Wagon

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I just bought a 1989 Subaru GL turbo wagon with Automatic transmission. The starter motor spins with no apparent bendix drive issues, but the pinion gear isn't engaging the teeth on the flywheel, to turn the engine. The local parts house swear it's the right starter. What else could it be?? Also, there is zero damage to the flywheel, the engine turns over easy using a wrench. Is the flywheel integral with the torque converter, or are they two separate parts? I was thinking that maybe someone installed the flywheel backwards??

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  • Subaru Master
  • 6,826 Answers

It does sound like the flywheel is in backwards,has the engine started before just fine?Or did you just get the car already like this?If the starter worked before(the old starter),then I would say the new starter is defective.

Posted on May 16, 2010

  • 2 more comments 
  • bill2009 May 16, 2010

    I just bought the car like this. The guy claims he drove it like this for at least a month then it just didn't start. I don't know whether to believe him or not. The tranny doesn't show any signs of being removed. The parts house sold me a new starter and it is physically different than the one that came on the car, but both starters exhibit the same symptoms. How can I be sure the flywheel is on backwards before I go to all the trouble of dropping the tranny?

  • Ronny Bennett Sr.
    Ronny Bennett Sr. May 16, 2010

    I would get the old starter,before the auto parts store sends in in(reman core)and find a number on it,let them interchange the number and get that starter,if it is supposed to have the style starter that was on the vehicle,this would explain the problem,seeing that the new style starter is doing the same thing.The flywheel,depending on,how it is made,most of the time the gear around the flywheel should be welded on,toward the engine,or concave shaped toward the engine.

  • bill2009 May 16, 2010

    This makes sense to me that the flywheel is welded on...it is difficult to see using a mirror through the starter opening, but I thought that was the case. So now I'm positive I do not need to pull the tranny. :-)



    Last question...Is there a way to determine what starter really belongs with this transmission and engine?? The starter that came with this car is still in my possession. It does not engage the flywheel either. I had it professionally tested and there are no issues with it...it passed all the tests, but it still doesn't engage the flywheel. If you look at the bendix end of the starter, it appears that the the bendix shaft is exactly in line with the two mounting flange holes. This alignment would cause the 9-tooth pinion gear to slide out on its shaft about a quarter of an inch above the flywheel teeth, when the starter is spinning. The pinion does not seem sluggish, there are no abnormal noises, and the pinion retracts quickly. I think the issue at hand ishow to determine the correct starter is actually being installed. I need to know what engine number, transmission number, and starter number combo are a good match.

  • Ronny Bennett Sr.
    Ronny Bennett Sr. May 16, 2010

    If you will go to napa auto parts,have them i d the starter ,they can tell what the stARTER ACTUALLY GOES TO,AND THE NEW REMAN ALSO,SEE IF THE TWO STARTERS ARE COMPATIBLE THIS WAY If the flywheel is on correctly,and is the right one,it would have to be in the starter,Have you tried shimming the starter?Sorry about the caps here,You can use sae washers to shim,try one washer at a time,on each bolt between the mounting,and the starter,But I still believe it is in the starter,also,is there a shim between the engine and the transmission?It might be that you will have to order a flywheel,for the vehicle year ,make,and model to resolve this issue,but check out the i d on the two starters first,and have them go back a year,and up a year,auto transmission,and manual,and compare the differences between the starters,and the two you have.

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