The starter motor in the 2001 Kia Rio is in a very awkward position. It is on the bell housing below the intake manifold pipes, and held by three bolts. The two upper bolts can be accessed from the engine compartment from the driver side. The air filter box and the air intake pipes have to be removed to gain access to these bolt. Even then various socket extensions will be needed.
The lower bolt is best removed from under the vehicle. First, the intake manifold brace has to be removed after taking off it’s four mounting bolts. With the brace out of the way, the starter motor becomes easily accessible from below.
The starter motor has to be gently lowered to get access to it’s electrical connectors. There are two electrical connectors – a heavy positive cable that comes directly from the battery, and another small spade connector for the control signal. There is no external starter relay in this vehicle. It is built into the starter motor. It is important to disconnect at least one terminal of the battery before working with the starter. If the positive wire accidentally comes in contact with the vehicle, it will short the battery and start a fire. After disconnecting the wires, the starter can be taken out by lowering it. There is no way to take it out from the engine compartment.
When reconnecting the wires, it is important to remember where the power cable goes. There are two bolts and they are not marked. One is ground, and it is internally connected to the metal body of the starter. The positive cable from the battery should go on the second bolt. Do not connect the positive cable to the ground bolt for obvious reasons. Additionally, a dirty connection can cause the starter to run poorly. Due to the difficulty accessing the starter motor, the connectors should be thoroughly cleaned before installing the starter back into the vehicle.