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Published 9th November 2013 by

How to remove the Defender TD5 starter motor either to replace the unit or to refurbish the solenoid. Reports into the difficulty of removing the starter motor are greatly exaggerated.

My Defender was starting to suffer from starter solenoid contact failure - a single click from the engine bay when trying to start. Turning the key back to off, then trying, again and again, several times, each with nothing more than a click, eventually, she fires into life as if nothing was wrong. Each day was getting progressively worse, and sometimes taking up to 10 attempts.

I ordered a new set of contacts and a new plunger from RepairKitsUK as recommended on the Land Rover forums, for £12 delivered. Despatch and delivery were quick and prompt.

The forums contain many threads with people saying that the TD5 starter motor is difficult to remove, and that the top nut is "from hell", and that the only way to do it is by removing the belly pan and going in from underneath, but I was able to do this relatively easily, from the top of the engine bay with a 15mm 3/8" socket, extensions and ratchet. This is my most major task that I have done my myself on a vehicle.

Defender TD5 Starter Motor Solenoid Repair

Defender TD5 Starter Motor Solenoid Repair

Firstly, disconnect the battery. We are potentially dealing with live 12 volts and lots of amps. Best not take any risks.

I found it easier to remove the engine cover and the flexible air intake pipe from the airbox to the solid intake pipe as that gave me more room for access. After disconnecting the live and earth wires, attach the 15mm socket to the extension and slide it in parallel and over the top of the starter. You can then put the socket on the nut. Next, slide in the ratchet and connect the two. Space is limited here, but you should be able to get some leverage and crack the nut loose. After this, it is easier to undo by hand, approaching from behind under the wiring loom. The other two bolts are 13mm and easy to reach from on top.

The starter motor is now free and can be pulled out past the wiring loom towards the suspension strut.

To replace the solenoid contacts, remove the three bolts holding the cover in place. Be sure not to lose the rubber gasket underneath as you will need it to reassemble.

When the cover is removed, you can pull out the old plunger, it is not held in with anything. Be careful not to lose the long spring that is on the shaft of the plunger. You need to put this on the new plunger. You can now start to replace the contacts, one at a time so you know which one is which. Undo the nut (14mm) on the outside, then pull it through from the inside. The live side of the solenoid has a connector to the motor, so undo the first nut (12mm), remove the connector, then undo the next nut (14mm).

Remember the order that you remove the nut (14mm), washer, plastic thingy and o-ring, as you should reassemble in the reverse order. On the connector side, its nut (12mm), connector, nut (14mm), washer, plastic thingy, o-ring.

Once these have both been tightened so that there are no gaps, you can replace the cover and start reassembly. Once you feed the starter motor back in place, slide the small back earthing cable back onto the connector. It's easier to do now than wait until it's bolted back on.

I found it easier to get the middle bolt on tight first, then the bottom one. To put the nut back on the top, attach the nut to a 1/4" extension with a little blue tack, then using the same process as getting the extension onto the nut, place the nut on the bolt. You can reach in and hold the nut steady while you turn the extension. Once the nut has taken the thread, you can hand tighten the nut, and once tight you should be able to get the socket back on to fully tighten.

Connect up the live power cable. Remove all tools and check for any disruptions in the engine bay, connect up the battery and try and start. Fingers crossed yours will start first time, just like mine!

7 thoughts on “Defender TD5 Starter Motor Removal
  • 28th February 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks for the advice to use a 3/8” driver for the top nut! I used a 1/4” and it was easier than frigging around with the large 1/2”!
    Also, put the jack stands on the chassis not the axle as this gives you more room to work and extract the starter.

  • Michael Ferrier
    12th August 2017 at 12:00 am

    Thanks for that - my TD5 has just started playing up as you describe and before I read this article I was considering raiding the piggy bank and getting the local garage to have a look.

  • 22nd July 2016 at 12:00 am

    Very helpful thanks

    My 2000 TD5 Defender 90 fails to start from time to time, but I don't get the familiar click click of a dodgy solenoid - i get no noise at all. It is always cured by getting a push and turning the engine over.

    Do you think that the solenoid repair kit is what I need?

    • 5th March 2018 at 12:00 am

      Hi John,
      i came across your post regarding your Defender not starting and no clicking from the starter motor, i have the same problem on my Discovery td5 but can't do the push start as it's an auto, did you ever get to the root of the problem, i'm hoping to get this sorted once and for all,
      thanks in advance for any help you can offer if any.
      best regards,

  • 22nd February 2015 at 12:00 am

    Thank you! This is the only post I've found that actually highlights the symptoms and the complete fix. I took your instructions, link to the solenoid kit and sorted my starter motor in less than 2 hours. Now starts first time every time. The old solenoid was in a worse state than the images you have shown. I'm now going to link to this from a 4x4 forum, which talks about wiring, earth straps etc. so others can see the real problem and how to fix it. Thanks again

  • 25th March 2014 at 12:00 am

    Thank you, using your comments I reluctantly undertook to replace my Solenoid on my Discovery. I had put it off for months despite purchasing the repair kit RepairKitsUK. I was hesitant about trying it, but having been told by my local garage that a new starter motor was required I decided that enough was enough. Years ago, yes many years ago I recall changing thge Solenoid on my old Ford Anglia, but that was before I decided that I don't like getting dirty. But I did it, the nut from Hell wasn't so bad, getting it loose was the hardest part. Replacing it was fairly easy. The Solenoid Repair Kit from RepairUk was fantastic. I admit I did find it awkward to hold the starter motor up and try and get the bolts in. But I did it. Unless my vehicle is different nowhere have I seen people mention a bracket that supports pipes running underneath? Once again thanks to links everywhere about RepairUK, where would we be without them.

    • 28th February 2020 at 12:39 pm

      Ha! Yes! I discovered the bracket holding the pipe too! Also used a 1/4” drive to give more space! Worked a treat!


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