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Starter noise - imminent death?


I've got an 86 4000q with 219k miles, and the starter makes a really raunchy
noise upon startup (when else?). My mechanic says to just use it until it
dies, but 

A) it's embarassing
B) I wonder if something preventative could prevent the motor's demise?

It is a sort of scratching noise that happens usually after you let go of the
key, although it does it if you hold the key for a long time in the on

I tried spraying huge quantities of WD-40 in the long narrow screw holes and
then starting it - no good. Could it be that little solonoid gadget on the
side that shoots it onto the flywheel? Could it be grinding the flywheel