can't find starter motor on 1988 Mazda 626

Hello.
I have a 1988 Mazda 626. The car intermittently doesn't turn over the starter (at all) when the key is turned to the START position. I don't hear
the solenoid clicking when this happens so the problem must be either at the ignition switch, the inhibitor switch (what's that for?), or the connection to one of these items, the battery or starter.
My present problem is just locating the damn starter. I'm assuming it's on the driver's (left) side, adjacent to, and left of, the flywheel. I think I see the flywheel and see something cylindrical-looking attached to it but I see no solenoid-looking device on top of what-I-think-is-the- starter.
Does the solenoid cylinder sit on top of the starter motor on the 1988 Mazda 626?
They've really hidden the starter well on this model - so well, I just may have to take the car to a mechanic to get this problem resolved even though I really don't want to since I need the money. Has anybody here had this problem with a Mazda 626 (or similar car) before?
I did a search of newsgroups using google for this particular problem. One person said it was the ignition switch while another said a wire that's part of the "neutral inhibit circuit" (whatever that is) had a plug at the end that was making intermittent contact with whatever it plugs into.
This same person said it also could be "the switch mounted to the side of the transmission on the gear selector shaft which seems to last about 5 years." He said he lived in Ottawa, Canada and experienced problems with this switch on very cold days.
If it's the ignition switch, is that a bitch to replace? My level of expertise on this car is fixing the front brakes, changing the oil and filter, and changing the alternator.
Any help in answering my question on if the solenoid is indeed on top of the starter motor and/or what is the probable cause of it (in your opinion) or any other help would be greatly appreciated by me. Thanks a lot for your help. Please post replies here.
Bill
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I don't know about the '88. But I can tell you about '86 and '89. It's located aproximately in line with the driver feet. It's on the firewall side of the engine-tranaxle. The solenoid is on the starter. You'll probably have to get it up on ramps and look up in there between the engine and the firewall from the bottom.

One died on an '89 MX6. At first things were ify and the battery cables didn't look good so I replaced those, then the starter up and died completely, and I replaced that.

Both these sound like some sort of neutral safety switch type thing. What prevents an AT car from being started in drive.

Never did it on a mazda, required a steering wheel puller and some inginuity to create a home made lock plate depresser on a GM car. The problem with mazdas is that they are built for assembly. A quick look in the '86 shop manual doesn't show any instructions on it's replacement.
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"Brent P" wrote

Mazda
First, thanks a bunch for answering my questions. And I think you're right, I will have to lift it to see the starter-solenoid. I should have mentioned it's a manual tranny.

may
though
this
I've had this car do this in the past a couple of times years ago (each time separated by a long time from the other). That's why I don't think it's the starter or the solenoid though perhaps it's the connection to the starter. I'm pretty convinced there's a bad connection somewhere.
If I locate the starter-solenoid, I'll keep some jumper cables in the car (assuming it starts again without anything being done) and attach one end of the jumper cable to the + side of the battery and the other end to the solenoid to see if it starts then. If it starts, this would confirm the problem is prior to the solenoid-starter.

One
part
end
of
with
Since I have a manual tranny, this wouldn't apply to me. That's good to know.

Hmm - not looking forward to messing with the ignition switch. The person on the newsgroup that I found using google who said it was the ignition switch suggested to rattle the wires at the ignition switch and see what effect that would have when it wouldn't start. This would I guess give some idea if it was the ignition switch - at which point I would take it in and have a shop fix it (assuming I was convinced it was the ignition switch).

Thanks for checking the manual and the info you provided. Take care,
Bill

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Maybe an '84 is, but I sure do love wrenchin' on my '82. There's really only one bolt on the whole darn thing that's actually a pain to get to. Everythng else is your basic cake-walk. The one bad bolt? Top-center tranny bell-housing to engine - The gap between engine and firewall is too narrow to get a wrench onto it from above and still have any room to turn the bolt, it's impossible to reach it from below unless you've got a joint in the middle of your forearm, and even if you can somehow *GET TO IT*, once you're there, you've got no space to swing a wrench. I generally put about 4-6 feet (yes, FEET) of extensions together, using either "wobblies" or black-taped u-joints (to make them not QUITE so "floppy") at about every second connection, then thread the whole mess of socket and extensions up and over the tranny from back near the diff, and put the ratchet there. Awkward as hell, but it's only one bolt, so...
I sometimes (mainly when I'm trying to turn the darn thing) think that this one bolt was put where it is *SPECIFICALLY* to make up for all of the rest of the car being so easy to wrench on. :)
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"Indian Summer" wrote

Likely
First, thanks for replying to my last post. It's a manual tranny - would that have a neutral safety switch? (don't know what the nss is for)

at
Thanks for the suggestions. I was going to use the resistance setting on a voltmeter and test the resistance between selected points to see if there's an open circuit (or one acting like an open circuit due to a bad connection).

didn't
a
Thanks for the warning! I'm calling the mechanic right now! :^) (kidding)

Well it's good to know so vent all you want. :^) Thanks again for the info you provided. Take care,
Bill

think
but
may
this
One
end
of
with
or
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It might have a clutch safety switch. It's purpose in life is to prevent you from starting the engine with the clutch pedal out. (car lurches forward quite nicely when that happens) If you have it, it's on or near the clutch pedal.
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you
I don't think I have one since I'm pretty sure I have gotten that pleasant sudden lurch forward feeling with it. But thanks for the info.
Bill
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<snipped some content>
First, there was a factory recall on these ignition switches. Call a dealer with you VIN number and see if you can get one free.
The ignition switch is cake to install, no pulling the steering wheel required. I don't remember the exact details of the removal but I could look them up if need be.
When I worked in the Mazda dealership, we replaced at least one of these ignition switches a day. The warranty time on the replacement was twenty minutes.
I'd really look at the ignition switch before I paid for a new starter.
Good Luck
Dave in Columbus
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Dave, thanks a lot for the great info and reply.
Bill

hear
the
connection
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