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We have had feed back on the above vehicle having early alternator failure shortly after fitting the unit, this along with the rubber coupling and clutch pulley gear seizing. This is due to incorrect fitment of the unit. It is vital that the bottom bracket is aligned and tightened before the top brackets. If the top bracket is tightened first this will result in the alternator sitting off set which will cause the alternator to fail. Part numbers that are affected are: KS1579RA and KS1580RA.

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Mercedes A Class and Vaneo vehicles are fitted with two types of starter motor. Although many application guides are only showing the one there are actually two! Most suppliers are listing the standard type KS875RS but there is another type KS845RS that has a built in micro chip in the solenoid that communicates with the immobiliser on the vehicle. The KS875RS will fit but it will not work, so is not interchangeable because it will not communicate with the immobiliser giving symptoms of a faulty starter motor. The only way to make sure you supply the correct part is to confirm the original Mercedes part numbers off the old unit

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Starter Motor failure stats.

63% of all starter motor failure is due to a faulty battery. 18% of all starter motor failure is due to poor electrical connections, fusible links, bad battery cables and weak grounds. Cable can be tested by verifying that voltage drop doesn’t exceed ½ volt from end to end. 7% of all starter failure is due to improper timing and overheating. 5% Incorrect fitment for vehicle specification.

NOTE: before installing a starter motor be sure of a fully charged battery.

Alternator Failure Stats.

65% of all alternator failure is due to weak or faulty battery. 9% of all alternator failure is due to belt wear or improper adjustment. 16% of all alternator failure is due to poor electrical connections, fusible links, bad battery cables and bad ground cables. 4% of all alternator failure is due to jump starting another car or improperly ( failure to disconnect connections on alternator will cause voltage spikes).

NOTE: before installing an alternator be sure of a fully charged battery.

“With today’s vehicles becoming more advanced in technology, it looks like it’s a sign of the times”

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Please be aware there are two makes of starter that fit the above vehicles. Some suppliers only list one unit but in fact there are two manufacturers, either Bosch or Valeo. If the incorrect one is fitted you will potentially have problems such as noise coming from the ring gear and/or starter drive area. Before ordering it is important to find out what type of unit has come off the vehicle. This will potentially save a lot of time and stop those dreaded customer complaints

So remember to ask your customer if it’s Bosch or Valeo!!!

They look the same, but they’re different.

There are now a number of vehicles fitted with similar alternators throughout the range that, to the naked eye look identical, but have different pin configurations. If the incorrect unit is fitted it can lead to warning lights not going out or coming on unexpectedly, the unit not charging or showing fault codes via the ECU, or in extreme cases, damage to the motor. The only way to correctly identify the alternator is to cross reference numbers from the customer’s existing unit. With fitting on some vehicles now taking days rather that hours, isn’t it better to spend some time getting a number from the original unit rather than the aftermath of fitting an incorrect one.

Clutch pulley failure?

We have found instances of clutch pulleys collapsing prematurely on the following part numbers; KS540RA/KS541RA/KS542RA, KS859RA/KS860RA. The failure is often due to incorrect tensioning. This can be caused by either 1) the tensioner not working properly and over-tensioning the auxiliary belt or 2) failure of the bottom pulley. The failure of the bottom pulley can also sound the same as a noisy bearing which is also another commonly reported fault. If there is still a noise after the fitting of a new unit, further investigation is required.

These Alternators are mainly fitted to Vauxhalls, either the 1.9 CDTI Diesel or 1.3 CDTI Diesel model.

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It always used to be the old Astras and Cavaliers that used to burn out starter motors due to ignition switch faults. We’ve all seen it; blue or missing teeth from the pinion, bits of armature hanging out, or a worst case, smashed nose cones or casings, plus that all too familiar “flame grilled” smell that hits you at ten paces. Well, twenty or so years on things haven’t changed much. In fact you could argue they’ve actually got worse! With modern high compression diesels and smaller, lighter reduction gear starters, it doesn’t take much for a unit to fail. Faulty ignition switches, excessive cranking and fuel starvation are just some of the culprits. This isn’t just confined to cars and LCV’s but also Heavy Commercials. Mercedes Atego’s, Late DAF’s and Volvo’s all seem to be suffering a similar fate. With starters getting smaller, it doesn’t take much to “cook” a starter motor. So please, when deciding to change a starter motor on a vehicle, stop for a second and ask “why?” Does the unit look or smell burnt out? If it does and the fault that caused it isn’t rectified, you may well be in a similar scenario in the not too distant future.

Some of the part numbers affected are:

KS1461RS Late Nissan Micra

KS1244RS Nissan Navara D22

KS1354RS Nissan Navara D40

KS1170RS/KS853RS Mercedes Atego

KS1174RS Iveco 75E15

KS1441RS Volvo FH/FM series 2000 on


We wrote last time of problems with premature failure of pulleys on KS540RA/KS541RA and KS542RA alternators due to tensioner/bottom pulley issues. We have now discovered later models of the same vehicle are suffering a very similar failure. Please check the clutch pulley on the alternator that has been removed from the vehicle. If the pulley is seized or spinning freely in both directions without the alternator turning, collapsed or completely missing, this will indicate a vehicle fault which has caused the failure of the Alternator. Fitting the new Alternator without rectifying the vehicle fault will result in premature failure of the new replacement Alternator. Please check the belt tensioner for correct operation and confirm that the belt has been correctly routed. T he par t number affected by this very common issue is KS2360RA, KS2403RA and KS2359RA.


In the near future we will be marking our units affected by serious warranty issues that are caused by vehicle faults, with a yellow warning label on the box an another yellow label on the part itself advising that there is important warranty information regarding the part in the box. Failure to take note of the enclosed information may lead to premature failure of the unit and that the warranty of the part may be affected.

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Landrover 2.7TD

This one is nice and straight forward. There are two types of alternator fitted to these vehicles (despite certain suppliers listing only one….). The difference being, those vehicles fitted with ACE are fitted with our part number KS2364RA whilst those vehicles without ACE are fitted with a KS2361RA.

Now for your “starter” for 10, what does ACE stand for? Well it’s “Active Cornering Enhancement” (no, we are none the wiser either).

LDV Maxus

Again there are two different types of alternator fitted to this vehicle. However this one doesn’t seem to have any vehicle differences associated with it. The LDV Maxus can be fitted with either a Bosch or an Iskra alternator. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is the plug. The Bosch unit (KS2405RA) has an oval plug as part of the plastic backing, however the Iskra unit (KS2195RA) has a rectangular plug sitting proud of the back.

They are not interchangeable and the only way to tell which one is fitted is either O.E. numbers or the plug type and location.

Mondeo ST220

This vehicle is fitted with two different options of alternator. These look identical except for the fact that one has a two pin plug and one has three. If the incorrect unit is fitted the warning light will stay on, however because the unit looks identical the fitter may start to look for all other possible problems (wiring etc). These units MUST be applicated by O.E. numbers to guarantee the correct part is supplied. Below are the part numbers concerned.

TX4 Taxi

We have found that TX4’s have two different engines, the LDV Maxus unit and a Chrysler unit. This has in the past caused issues with wrongly applicated starters as some suppliers only list one unit and as we all know taxi drivers are some of the most reasonable of customers when they receive incorrect parts…….

It is very important to get the O.E. numbers to guarantee the correct unit is supplied and your customer keeps his happy smiling face.

Mazda RX8

The Mazda RX8 can prove troublesome. Firstly we are aware that many of the old units come back completely burnt out. This should obviously raise alarm bells. We are now aware that this engine often loses compression over time, so when starting the starter motor sounds “lazy”. It is also prone to flooding, causing excessive cranking upon start up, particularly on short journeys. The Dealers in their wisdom have tried to overcome this with a higher KW version, however this is only a temporary solution and in many cases the engine requires further attention.

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Smart Cars

This is one of those units that must be applicated with O.E. numbers, especially as the alternator options look almost identical apart from an extra terminal, the PHIN terminal (Phase input/internal) located on the back of the KS314RA/KS384RA unit.

As the task of changing the alternator is reported to take upwards of three hours, it is vital to get the correct unit as they will both fit onto the car, the brackets, fittings etc being identical.

Renault Trafic Vauxhall Vivaro Nissan Primastar 2.0 Cdi

Here is a vehicle with a few issues. A quick glance through the various online forums highlights numerous problem areas, including gearbox, injectors and of course starters and alternators.

The starter motor issue on this vehicle is obvious from looking at the old units that are returned to us. They are all, almost without exception, burnt out. Whether this is an ignition switch or wiring fault that causes the problem remains unclear at this time, so please check the switch and wiring thoroughly if the starter motor has failed.

The alternator problem is a clear issue caused by contamination by power steering fluid. We have had a large number of old and “warranty” units returned covered in a red “oil” which we now know to be P/S fluid. This makes it’s way onto the brushes and slip ring and, to not put to fine a point on it; completely destroys them both. Obviously the leak needs fixing before a new unit is installed.

Chrysler 300C

The Chrysler 300C has an issue with contamination of the alternator. We have learned of a problem with the fuel pipe and an elbow joint directly above the alternator. The pipe and joint fail and leak diesel fuel directly on top of the alternator. This literally floods the alternator, contaminating the brushes and the slip ring, causing them the disintegrate and leading to no output. We have also had a number of units returned as “warranty” in the same condition. Clearly the initial leak hasn’t been rectified and caused the alternator to fail again.

Mercedes 2.2-3.2 Cdi 02

Quite simply, this type of vehicle MUST be applicated with O.E. numbers. There are two types of units fitted and whilst they look identical they work in two very different ways, one being a DFM type, the other being a COM terminal (Computer controlled). As these are generally a three hour plus job to remove and install it is vital to get the right part, first time.

Does your supplier have…….

1) over 35 years of supplying rotating electrics?

2) over 4500 part numbers catalogued?

3) a fleet of vans for same day delivery?*

4) full testing facilities to be certain your unit needs replacing?

5) a technical help line?

6) a full rebuild service for those “hard to get” units?

7) telephone sales with vehicle registration look up?

8) access to over 70,000 old core?

9) a website with 90,000+ x-ref’s, technical bulletins and more?

10) Full cataloguing via MAM and Activant.

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Ford ST Models

In technical bulletin 4 we spoke about the different alternators fitted to Mondeo ST220’s. This time we’ll look at the other ST models. Firstly the Fiesta ST150 has an alternator all on it’s own; KS2384RA. It has the usual 3 pin smart charge system, but is unique to this car.

Secondly is the Focus ST 2.5. This vehicle has a couple of options, either 120 or 150 amp units. Part numbers are KS2554RA for the 120 amp and KS2317RA for the 150 amp unit.

Lastly, one that catches many a parts person out is the Focus ST170. This again has it’s own unique unit KS2443RA with 110 amp output and slightly different layout to the other ford 2.0 petrol units.

“My starter looks different!”

This is one query we get very often. Be it different looking or different number of teeth. One particular unit where this happens more than most is KS608RS. There are a number of different manufacturers such as Bosch, Valeo, Mitsubishi and Nippon Denso. Despite any uncertainty on whether these units do or do not interchange, they all do. The important part is the actual pitch of the drive NOT the size or number of teeth.

When O.E. Numbers go wrong!

Firstly we must point out that this doesn’t happen every day of the week, but when it does it can cause all sorts of problems. What are we talking about? Body swops on rebuilt units. This is where a unit has been rebuilt in the past and due to damage of the existing body, it is swopped with a donor unit with different O.E. numbers. Of course in a few years time, when the customer requires another unit, they may well quote the numbers on the unit, which now relate to the donor and not the original.

This is often found on plant machinery or tractors, especially where the unit is particularly old and the parts are harder to come by, so donor replacement parts are more common as new are just not available anymore. IF the rebuilder has done their job properly they will often put a row of X’s across the old part number to show it has been reused.

Imported vehicles

Always an area of discussion and one that can either be very straight forward, or only rectified with the reconditioning of the customers unit. Certain vehicles and units are very simple. The Toyota Estima/Lucida starter motor KS202RS for example is a popular unit and one part number fits all models from 1990 to 1999.

Another simple to applicate unit is on the Mazda Bongo. The alternator is part number KS1413RA. Again one number fits 2.5D models from 1995 to 2003.

Unfortunately we also have more difficult imports to deal with. A prime example is the Toyota MR2. This cars alternator isn’t great to look up, even on a UK vehicle, however when it’s on an import we seem to get even more options. O.E. numbers are a must! However it is often best to get the customers original unit rebuilt and returned as good as new.

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Warning tag information

We now have around 120 different part numbers with associated vehicle induced faults. Whether it’s clutch dust causing the drive to jam, tensioners to fail causing pulley and bearing problems or fluid leaks directly onto the unit causing it to fail, we have them all logged. Now you can have that information too! Just drop an email request to and we can send you an excel file with all the part numbers and associated vehicle induced problems. This will enable your parts people to relay the information to your customers; hopefully improving supplier/customer confidence and at the same time reducing the potential for warranty issues occurring.

Stop/Start alternator Application

For some time now identifying which alternator is fitted to a vehicle has required O.E. numbers. With the onset of Stop/Start technology this is now even more important.

With some fitting times now up to several hours, it is vital to have the correct part. So why it may seem awkward to ask the vehicle owner or garage for the original part number, it will be even more awkward when they return an incorrect alternator.

Below are just some of the plug connections you may encounter; all of which communicate with the ECU/control unit, in one way or another.

Clutch pulley application

The clutch/free wheeling/ over-running pulley is an important component in many modern day alternators. The reason? Clutch pulleys are there to take away stress and strain away from the belt and the rest of the system (water pump, tensioners, pulley wheels etc) Over 1 MILLION clutch pulleys are sold every year. To make sure you get your share, log on to our website and look under clutch pulley in the alternator specification for details.

My alternator says 12V, yours says 14V

We are often questioned on the above information and believe it or not, the answer is they are one and the same! A fully charged battery should be around 12.6 volts (2.1 volts per cell). In order to keep the battery charged the alternator needs to operate above this to “push” the current round the system. A healthy alternator normally charges around 13.5-14.5 volts; hence the 14V. It’s the same for 24 volt systems which charge at around 28 volts.

My starters got no nose……

Despite the two starters below looking completely different, they do in fact interchange. Whether you have the conventional type on the left or the gear reduction shown on the right, you can happily fit either and know that not only do the interchange, but that they are fully backed up by Universal Rotating’s four decades of experience.

Vauxhall Astra 1.7 Diesel choice of Alternators.

Despite these vehicles being around for many years we still get a fair few incorrect application with Astra “G” and early Astra “H” chassis vehicles. As a general rule if it’s an Astra G with a Y17DT type engine then it’s a KS1311RA. If it’s an Astra H with a Z17DTH type unit, then it’s a KS1548RA or KS1549RA (with or without clutch pulley). There are a few Astra G car fitted with a clutch pulley type unit. This is normally a KS2352RA. However, if in any doubt get the O.E. Numbers and stick them straight in our website as these units look virtually identical and although they all fit on, warning lights will stay on an the unit will not charge if the incorrect unit is fitted.

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Is it left or right hand?

So the customer is at your counter with his alternator in hand. You might even recognise it as a 17ACR or an A127 Lucas type alternator, however what hand is it, left or right? Here’s how to tell. Firstly with the pulley pointing towards you, put the double (front and rear) bracket at 12 o’clock. The other single bracket will then be either at approximately 4 o’clock or 8 o’clock, the 4 o’clock unit being the right hand version and the 8 o’clock unit is the left hand alternator.

More warning tag information 

Please be aware we have two more warning information numbers; WI12 and WI13. Firstly the Vauxhall Astra 1.7 diesel G and H chassis ranges as the alternators look almost identical, will fit on the both vehicles, but work completely differently. Secondly are the part numbers KS608RS and KS1158RS. Both these part numbers have a number of different OE uni ts (Bosch, Valeo, Mi tsubishi etc) that all look slightly different and have different size drives. Despite any uncertainty on whether these units do or do not interchange, they all do. The important part is the actual pitch of the drive NOT the size or number of teeth.

When fitting an alternator…….

Your customer’s bought a new alternator from you; great news! He can now go and fit it and forget it right? Well not exactly, no…….. An alternator is designed to keep a fully charged battery charged. It is NOT designed to a) charge a flat battery and b) run all the vehicle electrics too. There is a good chance that if the new alternator is fitted to a flat battery, the rectifier will become overloaded and blow. We often hear the comment “my new alternator is getting red hot!”. That’s simply because it’s being overloaded.

New Jaguar part number

We have discovered an issue with the Jaguar X-Type 2.0 and 2.2 Diesel alternators. Normally this vehicle shares it’s alternator with the Ford Mondeo, however on certain Jaguars this has caused dash light problems. We have found it necessary to use a different regulator to solve this. Therefore if you require this alternator for a Jaguar, please specify part number KS198JRA


We do appreciate that the mere mention of the word “warranty” can bring fear and dread to a parts person, however if handled correctly it needn’t be a problem. At this point we must point out that just because the customer says it’s a warranty, it more often than not isn’t. Well over half of all returned units are working and add to that many “faulty” units have problems caused by the vehicle, be it a starter that’s been overcranked or an alternator contaminated with oil. This is where we sometimes find an issue. It is vitally important this information is relayed down the line to the fitting garage or end user. We have experienced of late a reluctance to tell the fitter/end user that the unit isn’t faulty, but has a vehicle induced fault, for fear of upsetting them. This has a number of consequences:

1) Failure to fix the issue will result in another faulty unit.

2) An unnecessary negative opinion of the product.

3) An unnecessary negative opinion of both the supplying Motor Factor and Universal.

It’s far better to inform the customer of a vehicle related problem once, than have repeated warranty issues.

A broken nose!

We occasionally receive “warranty” units in various states of disrepair including broken nose cones as in the pictures above. Please note that this is NOT a warranty issue, but a vehicle/engine induced failure. This type of failure is caused by either the drive being engaged whilst the engine is running, or some form of “kickback” due to timing or other engine problems. Please make any relevant customers aware.

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O.E numbers

We are often asked to cross reference part numbers from the original manufacturers to one of our own. Obviously having the right O.E number is critical, however we often find that with VAG numbers the last digit or two is left off, possibly as they are letters and not numbers. Below are a couple of examples where the end letter(s) can make all the difference!

Burnt out and exploded starters

With starter motors getting smaller we are seeing a large number of old units coming in either burnt out or “exploded” due to running in mesh. Here is a brief explanation of the two conditions.

1) Burnt out: This generally occurs due to a poor starting or fuel starved vehicle, where the unit has been excessively cranked. This causes the components to become over heated and burn out, melt and or become distorted. This is NOT a fault of the starter, but simply the unit has been over-worked causing damage. Generally a very distinctive burnt smell accompanies the damage.

2) Exploded! Here the feed is maintained to the starter, even when the engine is running. This is normally down to a faulty switch or wiring fault. Centrifugal force eventually blows the starter apart. Again this is clearly NOT a starter fault or a warranty issue

Stop start starters motors: what really is the difference?

So the starter motor in it’s current form has been around for many years, so how can it be improved to cope with the rigours of stop/start technology? Well firstly the power or torque is uprated via a number of improvements, such as better gearing through the planetary gears, upgraded and strengthened commutator and bearings strengthened to cope with the heavy loading. The most visible difference however is the brush holder which often goes from the standard four brush set up to six. This not only increases the power but also the life of the starter.

Despite all this, due to the huge workload a stop/start unit may go through, we do expect a relatively short life expectancy on these units, judging by the large number of units being sold.

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We have been aware for some time that getting the application right for Mercedes Sprinters is really only possible via O.E. numbers, but we still have the odd occasion of customers saying they can be noisy on the ring gear. So here is our quick guide to help you supply the right starter, first time!

Firstly this is for non stop/start sprinters from around 2000 on. If O.E. numbers are unavailable we would suggest counting the teeth on the drive. Then applicate as below:

10 tooth drive KS1215RS

11 tooth drive KS1318RS

12 tooth drive KS1710RS

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If the dowel fits….

There are a number of starters that use a dowel to help them locate into the gearbox correctly. When the old starter is removed the dowel either stays in the gearbox or comes out with the starter as shown.

This MUST be removed and refitted into the new starter. Failure to do this will make the starter become noisy in operation, could cause premature failure and also void the warranty. The latest unit to suffer from this is our part number . These will now be tagged with all the relevant information.

Pulleys, bearing and tension.

We have seen a good number of alternators in recent years where incorrect belt tension has caused failure of the clutch pulley. Often the pulley is blamed, but this is normally incorrect. When changing an alternator with a failed pulley we would alway suggest thorough examination of the belt and associated pulleys and tensioners.

When you look at the arduous route auxiliary belts often take, it is not surprising something in the system fails. So things to look for are:

1) Noisy tensioner.

2) Worn idler bearing.

3) Rust contamination.

4) Cracks in any housing, brackets, pulleys or even the belt itself.

5) Failure of the tensioner arm and spring.

The latest to fall foul of this is our part number , predominantly associated with the Renault 1.5dCi engine from around 2003 on.

Packaging and returns

We have always spent a great deal of time and effort making sure our units don’t get damaged in transit. For example if our units go out to an external courier they are double boxed, with two lots of packaging in place for protection; once around the unit and again around the inner box, as shown here.

Unfortunately we regularly receive units back that are, shall we say, less that appropriately protected. An example is shown below. This can lead to a number of issues, from broken brackets, caps and plugs, to a worse case scenario of us never receiving the unit as it has fallen out of the box. In this particular instance the paperwork had fallen out, resulting in some major detective work to find the sender!

Renault and Volvo commercial.

Please be aware that on certain Renault and Volvo commercials there are some alternators that look identical, but the plug has a different configuration.

The relevant part numbers are , KS2677RA, KS2678RA and KS2679RA that have plug 145 and part numbers and that have plug 98, the difference being plug 98 has a DFM terminal instead of a dummy (D) terminal.

The vehicles affected are predominantly Renault Premium, Magnum and Kerax and the Volvo FH and FM series.

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 it a starter? Is it an alternator? It’s both!

The i-StARS starter-alternator replaces a standard starter motor/alternator set up. The engine is started immediately and silently thanks to the belt that permanently links the system to the crankshaft.

There are a number of benefits including:

The engine is cranked more rapidly. Fuel consumption is reduced, both on start up, normal driving (2-3%) and particularly in traffic (up to 15%).

We have offered these units for a while, however recently we have noticed a marked increase in sales as the vehicles are reaching the age where the units are starting to fail.

Part numbers begin “KS” and we currently have 5 part numbers (001-005) available fitting Citroen /Peugeot, Mercedes and Smart vehicles.

Landrover tensioner issues.

It has come to our attention that certain Landrover alternators are being returned with either damaged clutch pulleys or excessively worn and damaged bearings.

The vehicles and part numbers affected are the Discovery 3 2.7TD and the Range Rover Sport 2.7TD from 2005-2009, fitted with KS2361RA or KS2364RA. When changing an alternator on these vehicles please inspect the clutch pulley for any damage and that it’s functioning correctly.

If there is an issue it probably indicates that a vehicle tension fault needs rectifying before the fitment of the replacement alternator.

This will now be covered by our latest WI information; WI-14 which will accompany each unit.

Toyota charging problems.

We have had an increasing number of phone calls about problems with Toyotas failing to charge. After following the standard procedure of checking connections, it appears that across the Toyota range there is an issue with losing the feed to either the “IG” (ignition) or “S” (battery Sense) terminals. IG should be 12V ignition live and S should be a permanent 12V feed.

Volvo & Scania starter motor problems.

We already knew that Scania Commercial vehicles have starter motor and ignition related problems. Unfortunately we need to add another manufacturer to the list. We have had increasing numbers of Volvo KS1115RS “Bosch” starters coming back burnt out.

The last unit had been running for so long it had completely welded the contacts in the solenoid on top of other internal damage. This will now have a WI (warning information) attached to the part number.

This part number joins the Scania commercial units KS703RS and KS1441RS which already have the WI tags attached. Things to look for are discolouration of the pinion, damaged teeth, heat “bubbling” on the body (labels), burnt terminals, rattling internals and that very distinctive burnt out smell.

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