Mechanics

MY CAR SUDDENLY WOULD NOT START...

2004 Dodge Neon

Engine Mechanical problem
2004 Dodge Neon 4 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 80k + miles

Overall, my car has been driving fine. I've never really had any major issues with it, certainly nothing that did not allow me to drive it. I drove to a friends house from the grocery store right down the street, parked and turned off my car to help her inside with her things. When I returned to my car, I went to start it and nothing. My head lights, dash lights, radio came on with no problem, but when I turned the key all the way to start the car, nothing happens. The car does not even make a sound. It doesn't attempt to crank whatsoever. No clicking, nothing.

It's important to mention three things that have been weird about my car lately. First, practically since I bought the car, I have had a weird problem where all the lights in my car would periodically flicker violently. This problem was always alleviated when I installed a brand new battery in the car. I have always simply attributed this issue to me needing a new battery.

Second, recently (in the past year or so) my engine has been seeming to run " rougher" than usual. The car's idle is much louder than I remember, in fact, so loud that I can barely hear my radio unless I'm on a high volume. The engine's " sound" while running gets even louder when I accelerate. The entire car vibrates very loudly.

Thirdly, I noticed 2 summers ago that my car's temp has been much higher than I remember it. The temperature gauge needle used to sit just under the first line and now it sits on the line or slightly above it. I also have had overheating problems (only during the summer and I do live in Las Vegas). The car would overheat if I was idling too long with the air conditioner running (like waiting at a red light or in stop and go traffic). Sometimes, the car's temp would be just fine until I turned it off, ran into a store real quick and came back and started the car minutes later at which point the needle would be in the danger zone for a moment and gradually go down returning to its usual place on or slightly above the first line.

I don't know if these issues have ANY thing to do with why my car suddenly does not start after running seemingly fine all this time but I wanted to mention it just in case there is a connection somehow.

Please let me know what you think the issue may be and how I can go about fixing it myself if possible. My husband is not a savvy mechanic but he can do quite a bit especially if properly instructed. If need be, I have a mechanic I can take it to, I'm just trying to find the least expensive way to fix this problem in light of my husband's recent unemployment.

Thank you!
Avatar
Glamazonqueen
April 25, 2010.




Hello glamazonqueen

In this diagram, there is a fuse #9 it is rated 30 AMP in the fuse box.replace it with one rated the same.
in the same fuse box there is the starter motor relay, change it with new one.


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/46384_starting_1.jpg


(the diagram is not visible, so I'm sending it to your email)
tell me what happens so we can continue.

Tiny
Mathiaso
Apr 26, 2010.
I got your reply in my email but please write here at 2carpros for a better follow up because that email is used to send diagrams only.
Now that you replaced the fuse, the relay and still it does not start, the next thing you can do is to use a jumper cable to Jump battery voltage direct to starter to see if it spins. If it does not spin the problem is the starter ground because the starter is new one.
If the starter spin, The problem will likely be an open or misadjusted park/neutral safety switch, or a bad ignition switch. Those could prevent voltage from reaching the starter

Tiny
Mathiaso
Apr 28, 2010.
Please explain what you mean by " jump battery voltage direct to the starter". I'm not quite sure what I am hooking where? What wires do I need to connect on what part of the starter to get the starter to spin without turning the ignition. Let me know and I will have my husband do this first thing tomorrow.

Thanks!

Christina
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Tiny
Glamazonqueen
Apr 28, 2010.
Use a jumper cable,
Connect one lead to the battery positive side (where the red cable is connected on the battery)
connect the other end to to the starter( here is a diagram) yes without turning the ignition switch.


http://www.2carpros.com/forum/automotive_pictures/46384_starting_system5_1.jpg



you will be bypassing ignition switch, neutral safety switch and testing if the starter ground is sound.
tell me what happens.

Hi glamazonqueen. Welcome to the forum. When you say the car is running fine, I think you're overlooking or ignoring some important concerns. The exhaust should never be so loud you can't hear the radio, and the engine should not be running roughly. Neither of those symptoms will affect the current no-starting problem, but they should not be ignored.

There is a common problem that develops with the starter but you would hear a single kind of loud clunk each time you turned the ignition switch to "crank". Since you don't hear that, (thank you for providing the dandy details and observations), there are three other places to look. Find the starter relay under the hood and swap it with one of the other identical relays, then see if it cranks. If it does, the relay is defective or the terminals were loose or corroded. This is the least likely cause of the problem but the easiest to check. If you have a helper, have them turn the ingition switch to "crank" while you touch your finger on the relay. There will be other relays clicking at the same time so you can not use hearing to determine if the starter relay is clicking. You will be able to feel it though, and that will be a very important clue.

The next, slightly more likely suspect is the neutral safety switch on the transmission. If it is defective, the engine might crank in neutral. If that doesn't help, it still could be the problem but more testing will be required.

The third, and more likely cause is a cracked cam on the end of the ignition switch cylinder. Being cracked and loose, it will turn far enough to turn the ignition switch to the "run" position but not quite far enough to hit the "crank" position. The dealer's parts department has an inexpensive repair kit for this but it requires removing the cylinder.

All of these problems can de diagnosed by taking four voltage or resistance readings from the starter relay socket. You will need a cheap digital voltmeter or a test light. Holler back when you have one of those if you would like to troubleshoot this yourself.

Tiny
Mathiaso
Apr 28, 2010.

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