by Larry Paulick in the December 2003 RootesReview

The Tiger has a good starter, but if you have increased your compression, have a newer engine, or are noticing a slow start when the car is hot and sits for a while, then you might want to look at a High Torque Starter for your Tiger.

The Problem

I have a 1990 5.0L Mustang engine in my Tiger, and replaced the existing starter with a rebuilt starter, only to have the same problem. It started verrrrrry slowly after it sat for a while, after running, during the summer time. Yes, I had a good battery, the solenoid was good, and so were all the connections, The engine when hot will increase the compression in the cylinders, due to the heat that is soaking the engine, being hot. This raises the compression, and as I said, it sounds like the battery or starter is on its last leg.

The Solution

The solution is easy. A High Torque starter, from Ford or several after-market manufacturers that offer the following advantages:

  1. The torque is greater, with a 4.4:1 gear ratio, for compression ratios of up to 10:1,
  2. The starter is 40% lighter and 1?3 smaller than stock,
  3. Most have a full ball bearing construction,
  4. There is increased oil pan and header clearance,
  5. And most take fewer amps to turn it over.


There are several choices:

  1. A Ford rebuild for about $105 at McParts,
  2. A new Ford SVO starter with new wiring harness and no core charge for about $155 at Summit,
  3. Various after-market starters starting at about $160 and up at Summit, and other suppliers.

Not needing another Boat Anchor, I swapped my old starter for a rebuilt Ford unit from McParts.


The new High Torque starter has a drive gear with 10 teeth that is meant to drive a ring gear with 157 teeth on the flywheel.

Warning – The 1982 forward engines have 157 teeth on the flywheel and will work with this starter. I do not believe the older flywheels have the same teeth count, but have 164 teeth, and will not work.

The best way to check is to disconnect the battery, remove the starter, and manually turn over the engine to count the teeth on the flywheel ring gear.
They must match. You may not know what engine you really have in your Tiger, as the previous owner may have changed something, including the engine, or flywheel and the ring gear.

Don’t trust that it will fit, unless you are really sure, as it means a new ring gear, including removal of the engine. Just check it out first. Funny, the 1982-92 starter has 9 teeth on the starter drive gear, but the 10-tooth High Torque starter on the later Ford engines matches the 157 teeth on the ring gear on the flywheel.


  1. Disconnect the battery.
  2. If you have headers, you will have to disconnect the header on the right side to gain clearance to remove the old starter.
  3. Disconnect the heavy wire from the solenoid to the starter at the starter.
  4. Disconnect the heavy wire from the solenoid to the starter at the solenoid, and move this wire to the same post as the battery wire.
  5. Remove the 2 bolts holding the starter to the bell housing, and remove the old starter.
  6. Install new starter, and connect the heavy wire from the solenoid to the starter connection.
  7. You will have to make up a new wire from the old solenoid to activate the solenoid on the new starter, which has its own solenoid.

Note – You are now bypassing the old solenoid, and using the solenoid on the new starter, by this connection. Use a 14-gauge wire, with connection to match each end, and run the new wire from the post on the old solenoid that has the blue/red wire to the connection on the new starter.

Note – Use tie wires to connect the new wire from the old solenoid to the new starter to the heavy wire from the old solenoid to the new starter. This will prevent this wire from touching the headers or exhaust system.

8. Connect the battery, and test the new starter. Notice the difference in starting?

Congratulations. You are now finished.

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