Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
October 1, 2002

Horse Sense:
The PMGR starter weighs a paltry 8.5 pounds. This is a reduction of as much as 50 percent compared to the standard '79-'92 starter assemblies (there were two different models, one weighing 19 pounds and the other one weighing 14 pounds).

Ford was really on to something in the early '90s. Permanent-magnet, gear-reduction (PMGR) starters began showing up across many of its car lines, first with luxury products, then with trucks, and eventually with the rest of the corporation's line of vehicles. These starters offered amazing amounts of cranking power with less weight and quieter operation, and they used less amperage too. It would be several years before GM and Chry-sler jumped on the bandwagon with PMGR starters of their own design.

While the PMGR starter didn't show up in the Mustang until 1992-and has been installed as OE on the Mustang ever since-it is quite an easy retrofit to any late-model 5.0 Mustang with an automatic or manual transmission. The PMGR starter can even be used on older Mustangs with an automatic trans and the correct flywheel tooth count. Standard Ford starters put out anywhere from 1.1 to 1.4 kilowatts of power, depending upon vendor, age, windings, and battery voltage. The PA Performance PMGR starter puts out 1.4-1.5 kw with no problems.

PA Performance-known for its high-quality performance alternators built from all new components-added PMGR starters to its line of electrical parts last year and has seen brisk sales of the little wonders. Its best seller is the 5.0 Mini-Starter and Wire Kit (PN PA1806), which retails for $135 both through PA's Web site and its dealer network. In fact, this particular kit is so popular, when we called to order one to replace the weak starter in Editor Turner's purple notch, we were told they were on back-order. While the wait would have been barely a week, PA offered to ship us a kit from one of its dealers. We received our starter the next day from the fine folks at Central Florida Motorsports. (Thanks, Hector!) Imagine that-same price and next-day delivery! The included full-color installation instructions were excellent. However, since there's a trunk-mounted battery with the starter solenoid in the trunk, we had to wire an optional relay into the starting circuit.

PA also offers PMGR starters for vintage V-8s, 460s, and even the 2.3 in naturally aspirated and turbo configurations.

Take a look and you'll see how easy this upgrade is.

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Magnetic Attractions
Just to make sure we keep you fully informed, we asked Rick Harmon, the electrical guru behind PA Performance, why we should be running a PMGR starter on our Mustang. He told us, "There are three reasons the PMGR starter is not as susceptible to hot start problems and works better than a regular starter.

"First, it uses permanently magnetized magnets to provide a constant (and much stronger) magnetic field for the mechanical work of spinning the armature, whereas the old starters used heavy copper field coils. Turning the key sent current to the coils, a magnetic field was made, and the starter spun.

"Second, the actual cranking process on the old starters can draw as much as almost 500 amps initially and up to 400 constant to turn the engine, whereas the PMGR design draws initial current in the mid-300-amp range and settles to about 275 during cranking. The plus to that is the starting process is less taxing on the electrical system. If your car is hot or doesn't already have one of our alternators, it is working a weak system-like running a marathon after going to bed at 4 a.m. No steam!

"Third, the PMGR design turns the engine much faster since the 'gear-reduction' part reduces the armature from 15,000 rpm, which yields a ton of torque and momentum. An engine that turns faster will start quicker and work the entire system less, for a shorter duration."

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