Install Tech Tips Choosing a starter for your BluePrint Engine

Choosing a starter for your BluePrint Engine

One of the most frequently asked questions we get from BluePrint’s customers is about starters. Do I  need a mini starter? Or, a high torque starter? Or, will my old starter work? There are several factors to consider before buying a new starter for your new BluePrint engine. We will cover them here.

First, let’s give you some information on what necessitates a performance starter over a stock replacement starter.

  1. High compression engines:
    Many race engines have compression ratios reaching 15:1, or more. This high amount of static compression puts much more pressure on the starter requiring more torque than a stock replacement starter is capable of producing. Nearly all of BluePrint’s crate engines have compression of 10.3:1, or less. The 160 ft lbs of torque most factory starters are capable of producing is generally enough to turn engine sufficiently to get it started.

  2. Timing:
    Specifically how much initial timing the engine has will make it harder for an engine to turn when starting. Many race engines have their ignition timing locked out at full advance in the 35-40 degree range. As such, many aftermarket ignition systems have timing retard switches built in that reduce the timing significantly during starting of the engine. BluePrint’s crate engines have recommended initial timing of 16 degrees, or less which should not cause problems as well. Check your engine’s timing before purchasing a new starter.

  3. Valve spring pressures:
    Valve spring pressures also play a factor in the amount of torque necessary to turn the engine for starting. Engines built with solid roller camshafts need spring pressures that are at least 350 psi when the valve is closed to sometimes over 700 psi open. All that pressure requires much more torque exerted by the starter to turn the engine as well. BluePrint’s crate engines use hydraulic camshafts that need much less spring pressures for proper valve control. As such, the starter does not have to fight extreme spring pressures to turn the engine.

To decide whether or not to buy a new, expensive starter for your BluePrint crate engine, we have some questions that you should answer first:

  1. Did the starter that was on your old engine work fine? If so, go ahead and try it on the new engine before purchasing a new one.

  2. Whether you are using a factory starter, or a new, aftermarket one, having good quality battery cables is a must. Many hard starting problems are caused by battery cables that are too small, worn out, or getting too hot by their proximity to the heat of the exhaust. This is something that should always be checked first before buying a new starter. $20 for new battery cables is much cheaper than $100, and up, for a new starter. You want 2 gauge minimum on both the positive and negative battery cables. Also, the engine must have ground straps to the frame of the vehicle to prevent hard starting problems.

  3. Do you have limited room for a big, factory type starter in your project vehicle?  Space limitations will often dictate the necessity of a mini starter. Also, tubular exhaust headers can also make the use of factory starters impossible from either lack of space, or heat soaking the starter.

Ford and Chrysler starters bolt directly to the transmission bellhousing. Chevrolet starters bolt to the engine block itself. These Chevy starters have either a straight across pattern, or the staggered pattern. Many customers ask us what BluePrint’s crate engines are drilled for. All of our Chevy engines are drilled and tapped for both the straight and staggered starter bolt patterns.

Customers often ask us how to tell the difference between factory high torque starters and the standard versions. On Chevy engines, this easily visible by looking that the starter itself. You may not need to remove the starter to see this.

GM factory starters have a ground strap that comes out of the main body of the starter and connects to the solenoid by a copper spacer. High torque starters will have about a 1 inch long copper spacer. Standard, non-high torque, starters will only have a ¼” spacer or less. See the pictures below to see the difference between the two versions.
If you have any additional questions you need answered on starters for your BluePrint crate engine, please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or call us at 1(800)483-4263.