Starter Motor Replacement on the 01 Kia Rio

Andrew Sarangan

The starter motor in the 2001 Kia Rio is in a very awkward position. It is on the bell housing below the intake manifold pipes, and held by three bolts. The two upper bolts can be accessed from the engine compartment from the driver side. The air filter box and the air intake pipes have to be removed to gain access to these bolt. Even then various socket extensions will be needed.

The lower bolt is best removed from under the vehicle. First, the intake manifold brace has to be removed after taking off it’s four mounting bolts. With the brace out of the way, the starter motor becomes easily accessible from below.

Location of the starter motor under the vehicle
Intake manifold lower brace
Starter is much more accessible after removing the intake manifold brace

The starter motor has to be gently lowered to get access to it’s electrical connectors.  There are two electrical connectors – a heavy positive cable that comes directly from the battery, and another small spade connector for the control signal.  There is no external starter relay in this vehicle. The control signal directly activates the solenoid, which then supplies power to the starer.  It is important to disconnect at least one terminal of the battery before working with the starter. If the positive wire accidentally comes in contact with the vehicle, it will short the battery and start a fire. After disconnecting the wires, the starter can be taken out by lowering it. There is no way to take it out from the engine compartment.

The flywheel is visible after the starter is removed

When reconnecting the wires, it is important to remember where the power cable goes. There are two bolts and they are not marked. The one with the metal strap connects the solenoid output to the starter motor. The positive cable from the battery should go on the other bolt.  Additionally, a dirty connection can cause the starter to run poorly. Due to the difficulty accessing the starter motor, the connectors should be thoroughly cleaned before installing the starter back into the vehicle.

The left cylinder is the solenoid. The right cylinder is the starter motor. The left connector on the solenoid is for the positive cable, and right connector internally connects the solenoid to the starter so do not attach anything here.

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