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The 14MM Ratcheting Wrench

May 23, 2022


That’s how much it costs to replace the starter in a Toyota Corolla. At least that’s what my daughter’s friend Samantha was quoted. Samantha and her husband are a young married couple.

My daughter reached out to me.

Hey, Dad. Samantha is looking to see if someone could replace her starter. She was quoted $600. Is that something you could help with?

My daughter didn’t want to commit me without asking. Samantha used to be our neighbor. Her dad and I were good friends when we lived in the same neighborhood.

Of course. You can tell her I’d be happy to help.

I’ve never replaced a starter on a Toyota Corolla. But, I’ve replaced one on similar style cars. Starters are fairly easy to replace. Typically only a couple of bolts and an electrical connection.

Samantha’s car was stuck in her work parking lot. I told I’d come fix it in the parking lot. I loaded up my rolling toolbox, a jack and ramps. But, first I did was every backyard mechanic does. I went to Youtube and watched a video on how to replace a starter on a Toyota Corolla.

It was just as simple as I expected. The mechanic on the video pointed out that you needed a 14MM ratcheting wrench. A ratcheting wrench acts similar to a socket wrench. You put the wrench on the bolt and you can turn the bolt without removing the wrench between turns.

Did I have a 14MM ratcheting wrench?

Nope. But, I had a 14MM solid wrench. I was sure that would work.

A starter costs about $200 for the parts. If you think about it, $600 is not too unreasonable. Two hundred to two the car to a shop. Two hundred for parts. And $200 for labor. Not too much.

Good thing she had a friend who’s dad would do it for nothing.

Saturday, I got the part and headed out to her work parking lot. I got the car up on the ramps and located the starter, right where the video showed it was. And suddenly I understood why the mechanic had said this job required a ratcheting 14MM wrench. The bolt was located in a spot that was too tight for a socket to reach. And sure, I could put a wrench on it, but there was only enough room to make about a 1/16th of a turn before I had to readjust the wrench.

The bolt was 3″ long. Do you know how long it takes to remove a 3″ bolt when you can only turn 1/16 of a turn at a time? I don’t know how long it takes either. After about 30 minutes of frustration and less than an inch of the bolt being removed I drove to Home Depot and bought a ratcheting 14MM wrench. At that point the job went very quickly.

The car started right up after the new starter was put in place.

Samantha’s job is a hair stylist.

So, I spent a couple of hours helping a friend’s daughter and I got a haircut out of it.

Oh, and a new 14MM ratcheting socket wrench.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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