1973 Dodge sportsmen van

Tiny
REBKINS18
  • MEMBER
  • 1973 DODGE VAN
  • V8
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 80,000 MILES
I need help in identifying and replacing an ignition switch or a relay on a 1973 dodge sportsmen van. Is this the relay pictured? Or just simply what is this? It clicks but the van won't start. I replaced the starter and the neutral safety switch.
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Thursday, July 21st, 2011 AT 9:33 PM

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Tiny
AUSERNAME123456
  • MEMBER
To me that looks like the solinoid.
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Thursday, July 21st, 2011 AT 10:25 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
That is a starter solenoid, but it's not being used for that purpose. It is related to some kind of camper package. You can tell by the wires on it. The two red terminals are crimp-on style. Those were never used at the factory. They were added by a previous owner or by a camper conversion company. The large wire on the left goes to a thermal cutout / auto-resetting circuit breaker. Neither that wire nor the breaker can handle the current needed by the starter. My best guess is this was used to connect a second battery during engine operation so it would charge up, but it disconnected that battery so the stuff in the camper wouldn't run down the starting battery. A similar setup might have been used with a wheelchair lift.

As for the no-crank condition, the starter solenoid is built into the starter. There will be a relay near the back edge of the hood to send current to the solenoid. That relay was typically a metal box, about two inches wide by an inch deep and 1 1/2" tall with a welded-on metal bracket to bolt it to the body. There should be four terminals on it. Two wires will be rather thin and two will be quite fat, usually a red one and a brown one. If you jump the two fat wires, the starter should crank the engine. (Be sure the ignition switch is off, or, if you want the engine to start, turn the switch to "run" but be sure it's in park so you don't have to go chasing after it!
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Thursday, July 21st, 2011 AT 10:33 PM
Tiny
REBKINS18
  • MEMBER
Thanks, yes it is a camper van conversion. So what exactly do I do to fix it so my van works? And is this what you are talking about pictured, connected to the battery? There a 4 wires. One runs to I think the relay box or what is it called? Sorry I'm just lost and frustrated, plus I just don't know anything bout fixing cars.
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Thursday, July 21st, 2011 AT 11:32 PM
Tiny
REBKINS18
  • MEMBER
The starter relay switch needs to be replaced?
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Thursday, July 21st, 2011 AT 11:51 PM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC
  • EXPERT
THIS IS A FORD SOLENOID (MINE, ON MY JEEP)---YOURS WORKS SIMILAR

THE ONE CLICKING ON YOURS MAY HAVE NO BEARING ON "CRANKING"----CRANKING IS DIFFERENT FROM "STARTING"...STARTING, MEANS, "TO BUST OFF AND RUN"

FROM WHAT I HAVE READ, YOUR VEHICLE DOES NOT CRANK...KEY IN THE START POSITION...THERE IS NO MOVEMENT....CORRECT?

HERE ARE POSSIBILITIES: BATTERY, OR NO CHARGING FROM THE ALTERNATOR.....CONNECTIONS (ANYTHING MECHANICAL ON THE WIRES).....BAD SOLENOID, OR MAYBE BAD STARTER

1ST TO DO IS TEST THE BATTERY (NOT RUNNING), AT THE POS AND NEG BATTERY POSTS, A CHEAP VOLTMETER WILL WORK, THEN ON TO THE ALTERNATOR OUTPUT...ALSO CHECKED AT THE BATTERY POSTS--WHILE RUNNING!

I KNOW THAT'S JUMPING AHEAD...BUT EVENTUALLY YOU MUST CHECK IT TO SEE IF A "GOOD OR CHARGED UP", BATTERY IS NOW BEING CHARGED

CAN YOU PERFORM THE 1ST TEST--SEND BACK RESULTS?...AT LEAST 12.5 VOLTS IS ACCEPTABLE

ALTERNATOR TEST, AT LEAST 13.8 VOLTS

IF YOU HAVE VOLTAGE, CONTINUE ON, BY ACTUALLY DOING STUFF, IN MY LINK

THIS MAY BE AS SIMPLE AS SNUGGING A NUT W/ A 1/2 WRENCH!

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/1992-ford-ranger-wont-start

RETURN WITH GOOD NEWS OR MORE QUESTIONS, WE'LL BE HERE!

THE MEDIC

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Friday, July 22nd, 2011 AT 12:17 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Here's a photo from rockauto. Com of the starter relay. It looks like that might be it in the left photo. I remember the newer version with all plug-in wires. Yours has a stud that connects the battery positive cable to the starter cable. On newer models that is all one cable, and a smaller second one goes from the battery positive post to the relay. Just a different way of doing the same thing.

The entire starter system can be broken down into four parts, each with a test point at that relay. A digital voltmeter will work but in this case a test light is just as accurate, and maybe even more so. Ground the test light on the battery negative post. Two terminals on the relay should have voltage. That large stud must have full battery voltage all the time. One of the smaller plug-in wires must have battery voltage when a helper turns the ignition switch to "crank".

Move the test light's ground clip to the battery's positive post, then probe the other two terminals. The light should light up on both of them indicating current has a path to ground. If the plug-in terminal doesn't light up, that is the circuit going to ground through the neutral safety switch. Since you replaced the switch already, (which is a low-failure item), look for damaged wiring to it. The smaller bolt-on terminal goes to the starter solenoid. About the only thing that might go wrong with that is a loose smaller wire on the starter or the wire is broken or corroded right at the terminal.

Here's some hints. If that relay clicks solidly once each time a helper turns the ignition switch to crank, the control circuit is working. That means the ignition switch and neutral safety switch are working. If it doesn't click, first pull off those two plug-in terminals and check if they're rusty. Wiggling the terminals will scratch them enough to create a clean spot that might work temporarily, but the real fix is to shine them up with sandpaper and possibly replace the terminals.

If the relay doesn't click, you can verify the rest of the system is working by using a screwdriver blade to jump between the two bolted-on wires on the relay. If the starter cranks the engine, you know the battery, cables, connections, and starter are okay.

If the relay DOES click, use the test light, grounded to the negative battery post, and probe the smaller bolt-on terminal. You should see full voltage there when the relay clicks on. If not, the relay is defective. Here again, jumping the two bolt-on terminals with a screwdriver will crank the engine. If there IS voltage there but your new starter doesn't engage, a rare problem is one of the two solenoid coils is open. Electrically the solenoid will test good, and it might work fine during a bench test, but on the van the magnetic field strength from both coils is needed to get the solenoid to engage. A hint to finding this confusing problem is very often the starter will work normally when a large battery charger is connected. The higher voltage causes higher current flow which creates a magnetic field that is strong enough to engage the solenoid when only one of those coils is working. Those coils don't typically burn open on their own. One of the wires can break off from rough handling when someone has it apart for other service.

Another hint is to watch the brightness of the head lights when trying to crank the engine. If they go out, suspect a loose or dirty battery cable connection. There are other tests we can do to pinpoint which one that is. Also be sure the smaller black wire from the battery negative cable is bolted securely to the body.
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Friday, July 22nd, 2011 AT 12:39 AM
Tiny
REBKINS18
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Wow! Thanks soooo much guys I REALLY apreciate it! :-) It totally was that! Whew! Finally fixed yay!
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Friday, July 22nd, 2011 AT 4:09 AM

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