High Torque Starter Upgrade

For All 1983-88 Cougars / Thunderbirds

Page Revised: 10 May 2019


Article by
Eric Dess

Thanks to Ed for contributing this article.

In 1989 Ford began using a newer style starter called the Permanent Magnet Gear Reduction, or PMGR, starter. It weighs half as much as the old style starter that our cars came with: the old one is about 30 lbs., and this one is about 15! The new starter provides more torque and requires less power to operate. This upgrade is a win/win situation all around. The PMGR starter can be had purchased from your local salvage yard or from parts stores. Here's a list of potential donor vehicles for the newer starter:

Vehicles that use the PMGR starter compatible with the 3.8L, 5.0L, and 5.8L:

  • (1996-92) Ford Bronco 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L w/ AT
  • (2002-92) Ford E Series 4.2L, 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L
  • (1998-92) Ford F Series 4.2L, 4.9L, 5.0L, 5.8L
  • (1991-90) Ford LTD Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis 5.0L
  • (2003-94) Ford Mustang 3.8L
  • (1995-92) Ford Mustang 5.0L
  • (1997-90) Ford Thunderbird 3.8L, 5.0L
  • (1992-90) Lincoln Mark VII 5.0L
  • (1990) Lincoln Town Car 5.0L
  • (1997-89) Mercury Cougar 3.8L, 5.0L

Vehicles that use the PMGR starter compatible with the 2.3L:

  • (1993-92) Ford Mustang 2.3L
  • (2002-91) Ford Ranger 2.3L, 2.5L
  • (1999-94) Mazda Pickup 2.3L, 2.5L

Old vs. New Starters

The old starter on the left; the new one on the right (these are for the 5.0L engine).

Starter Wiring Change

There is one wiring change that must be made for the new starter to work on your car. Here's a picture of that change.