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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I would appreciate any insight into this problem...

Element '03 DX AWD, 120k miles.

Replaced battery about 15 months ago and AGAIN when starter motor started laboring about 5 months ago.
Turns out it was not a battery problem because it has persisted with the new battery.
I read the post on this site addressing starter motor issues.
Checked all of the terminals at battery and down to the starter motor (they seemed fine).
Finally, only a click and the starter would not crank.
I have taken the plunge ($600 plus towing) and had the starter motor replaced - I have some confidence in the repair shop.
Now it is STILL LABORING and they are trying to figure out what is causing it to labor - just like a dying battery.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Welcome to the club. The E starter in cold weather will crank slower but if it is having problems do a voltage check right at the starter from the Positive to the engine block and crank the engine. If you can pull the fuel pump realy it would work better. Note the voltage and try it again with the meter connected to the starter positive and the negitive on the battery and crank it again and note the voltage. See if you have any differance compared to just checking right at the battery accross the posts. If you have any differances check the engine ground connection. If its the same and going below 10 volts load test the battery and check how much amperage the starter is pulling.
 

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It could be that your alternator isn't keeping the battery charged, which would go along with the "just like a dying battery" comment. Check the alternator output, should be above 12 volts but below 14.

Could be a bad cell in the battery. Remove it and have it load checked at an auto parts store.

It could still be the starter. More times than I care to remember I have installed 3 or 4 bad units in a row. When vendors say the unit has been "tested", it doesn't necessarily mean that they duplicate the load put on the component as if it were actually installed in the vehicle.

Last but not least, you said you've already checked the connections, but you should really take each connection apart and clean them with sandpaper or scotchbrite or a wire brush. Especially the ground cable to the engine.
 

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Could also be crud in the thick cables; bat to ground, bat to starter. Do a continuity test with a volt/ohm meter with the cables disconnected.
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