We have a 1993 Dodge Caravan which we recently replaced the ignition switch and the neutral safety switch. The Chilton manual said something about adjusting the shift cable. How do we do that?
History: we were having an issue where the car would only start when the shift lever was placed in a specific area of the steering column, which changed on an almost daily basis. One morning we were not able to get the car to start no matter where the shift lever was placed. We are confident that this is not a starter issue, but would be open to any other suggestion. As mentioned before, we have the Chilton manual for our make and model, so please use that as a guide as well when answering.
Watch the lever and cable on the transmission while a helper runs the shift lever up and down. Look for anything that is loose or shouldn't be moving. Only the lever should turn the shaft going into the top front of the transmission.
What is the symptom when it doesn't crank? Do you hear a single rather loud clunk from the starter each time you turn the ignition switch to "crank"?
July, 16, 2011 AT 11:06 PM
Thank you for your response. There is no movement whatsoever when we shift. The sound that we get is not so much a clunk as a loud click from the starter.
July, 17, 2011 AT 5:55 AM
Adjusting of the shift cable is easy but you might have a fault with the neutrsl safety switch located on transmission.
July, 17, 2011 AT 6:50 AM
"There is no movement whatsoever when we shift."
Do you mean no IMPROPER movement as in no loose parts, or do you mean the lever on the transmission doesn't move like it's supposed to when you move the shift lever? No movement at all would point to a broken cable which would explain the different positions the shifter had to be in for the starter to work. It was changing length as it frayed apart.
If the lever on the transmission is moving correctly, we have an electrical issue. If that click is indeed from the starter itself and not the starter relay, that is due to worn solenoid contacts which is real common. The starter will work eventually if you cycle the ignition switch between "run" and "crank" enough times. You won't even have to play with the shifter. Those contacts can be replaced for 20 bucks but most people just replace the entire starter.
If the click is coming from the under-hood fuse box and relays, KHLow2008 could be right about the neutral safety switch. They don't cause much trouble but if that part of it fails, the starter relay won't even click. The click you're hearing would be one of the other relays, so that can be misleading.
After rereading your original post, I suspect the moving the shift lever was a misleading clue and all you have is bad solenoid contacts. That makes a pretty loud clunk though. If you're confident it's just the starter relay clicking, put your finger on it while a helper tries to crank the engine. You'll feel it click. If you don't feel it, grab a test light. We can split the circuit into four parts and test each one at the relay socket.