08 Ltd 4.6 needs starter. How to remove top bolt. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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08 Ltd 4.6 needs starter. How to remove top bolt.


Well-Known Member
March 20, 2011
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Year, Model & Trim Level
08 LTD
08 Ltd 4.6L needs starter. Connections are easy, Bottom bolt: Easy. Side bolt: Difficult but looks do-able. Top bolt: Holy $h1+....

I took the passenger wheel off, removed most of the inner fender, I can see the top bolt, I can get a 13mm socket (short or deep) on it with difficulty, but have no swing room. I tried various combinations of extensions, deep/shallow sockets and wobble extensions. I can't get any swing or leverage. I am limited in length as the top part of the control arm mount is only about 4-5 " away.


I going to look for a 13 mm ball swivel socket and try that. Otherwise, I am afraid I have to bring (tow) it to my favorite wrench.

Any suggestions welcome.


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Would lifting/tilting the motor allow for better access? There are 2 nuts for the motor mount behind the strut tower. Need something like18 mm socket or wrench.

I just went through this on the manifold replacement but I don't remember exactly how I got it off. I do remember that I put it back on with a quarter inch ratchet - not as much torque needed. I may have used my 3/8 flex head ratchet with a 3/8 to 1/4 adaptor. Try using a short socket with an extension to get the head of the ratchet closer to the end of the starter - I recall that the bolt head is very close to the starter body.

It's tricky but not that hard.
Disconnect the battery !!!!
I remember them 2 being 13 mm and one 10 or 8mm.

Got it done this AM. Used a 24" 3/8 extension, with a 3/8 universal and 13 mm 6 point on the end. I also used a very small, powerful LED flashlight so I could see exactly what I was doing. Before reassembly, I cleaned the threads of the 3 bolts on a wire wheel, and put a couple drops of oil on them. I was able to start them all by hand, and tighten up with myriad wrenches, sockets, extensions, universals. I'd love to post a pic or two, but I can't figure out how.

It's tricky but not that hard.
Disconnect the battery !!!!
I remember them 2 being 13 mm and one 10 or 8mm.

Yes, I always disconnect the Battery. and Yes, all 3 were 13mm. The solenoid had one 13mm and one (very rusted 10mm). It broke off.

The replacement (on the solenoid) has a 12mm and an 11mm. REALLY? How difficult could it be to keep the same size? The threads are the same.....

Pjw -

you were right, the top bolt is a major PITA.
Just did the same thing last Friday, I had no issues with my starter, but I am replacing the critical components since many of them are still original and at 252k, I am not taking any chances.
I have done it number of times, and I just forgot how difficult it is. I had it out when removing the engine (twice), when replacing stupid manifold, and I thought i would be done in an hour, ended up being 3 hrs for another reason, so this is also a warning for others :)
Somehow, using a 13 mm 12 point shallow socket and a breaker bar, I was able to break the top bolt loose, and then used an air ratchet to get it out. And yes, you need a light to see anything in there.
I installed the replacement unit, and I am thinking I am 10 minutes away from being done. Started bolting back the starter with the 3 13 mm bolts (one is a stud), got the negative tighten with the 13 mm nut, got the pos battery tighten same way with the 13 mm nut. Put the positive solenoid cable on, 10 mm nut and used my air ratchet - BAD IDEA !!!!!!!
It snapped the positive stud off the solenoid, how stupid can you be I asked myself ????
Removed the new starter, to see if I can repair the connection, it was just soldered to the metal plate, but I was able to thread it with a 6mmx1 tap, and I had a 6mm bolt in my garage. Cut the head off, used a locking nut to make it thight, and then reinstalled it again. So far so good, but don't make the mistake I made :)

Old starter still in the car:

Old and new

Back of the transmission, I think the picture is rotated:

The fixed positive stud

What worked between the top bolt and the engine mount:
shallow socket and 1.5 wibble extention.

Now, when I look at the pictures, am I missing a manifold flange bolt ......?

Now, when I look at the pictures, am I missing a manifold flange bolt ......?
If one photo was taken from above and another was taken from below then it sure looks that way. The stud appears to be broken?

Just did this job last night on my '07 V8. That top bolt was a pain. I got mine with a deep well 1/4 drive socket to a wobble to an 3/8 to 1/4 adapter to a 6" 3/8 extension to the 3/8 ratchet with a flex head. That got it to pop (all working from underneath). Then I could use all 1/4" drive ratchet (basically 13mm socket deep or regular to a wobble to extension) and undo and redo everything.

What a pain...

My method that gets them out in about a half hour -

Remove the flap from the wheelhouse, but leave the rest of the wheelhouse liner...no need to remove.
Disconnect battery.
The top and side bolts will be attacked through the opening that you made when you removed the flap in the wheelhouse.
Use an air or electric ratchet with a 3/8 to 1/4 adaptor, and a short 1/4" 13MM socket - this is for the top bolt. The length of the assembly is what you are after....a short is too short, and a deep will hang you up on the engine mount bracket. Bust it loose, reach in, spin it out by hand.
Use a 13MM deep on the side bolt, blast it out with the ratchet.
Go under, and pop the battery hot, start signal and ground wires off, fold them back away.
Remove the bottom bolt, and drop out the starter.

Did it twice in the last week, LOL.