It seems like a car starter should be a pretty universal part, since they all do the same thing, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Starters are like any other part in the engine compartment. That means some of them are built to suit different vehicles, and some model years of the same vehicle have different requirements. There are a lot of reasons for this, and it’s important to understand the major ones if you are shopping for a new Toyota Camry starter.
One reason why starters differ from one car to the next is the shape of the engine and placement of the starter relative to it. Since starters need to interface with the engine via a series of gears, moving the design location for the starter means building one with a different shape to suit the space.
Even if you look at just one model from one manufacturer, there are still reasons why an engine with the starter in the same place might use different parts for different model years. Toyota is a prime example of this. When you look for a Toyota Corolla starter, you might find that the gear size or power needed to crank the engine are different from one year to the next. That means they each need a different starter with different power levels and gear sizes, even if the starter is in the same place from one design to the next.
While you might find this kind of difference when comparing Corolla to Corolla across different model years, you’re almost certain to find it when comparing very different vehicles within an automaker’s selection, like the Tacoma and the Prius. Both have such different engine designs and power needs from one another that it just wouldn’t make sense for them to use the same starter design.
Like Toyota, Honda’s selection calls for a variety of starters. One thing you might notice, comparing one to the next, is that there are some starters that appear in both the Honda and Toyota sections. This is often due to the automotive design team making use of existing starter designs when the power level and placement allow for it. You see this often with other parts as well. If an existing design can be used, often the OEM contract is awarded to someone who is already making the part.
This is not always the case, though. Sometimes when you look for an Accord starter, your only option is a Honda-manufactured item that suits just the model year you’re seeking out. A lot depends on how new the vehicle is and how much it deviates from other engine designs that are already on the market. Generally speaking, if two vehicles have the same battery requirements and starter location, it would be possible for an automaker to use an existing part number in the engine’s design. That does not guarantee they will do it, but it does make it a possibility.
The long and short of things? It’s easiest to make sure you buy the right part when you use a vehicle lookup to match available parts to your car’s model and year.