Sounds like the solenoid in the starter motor stuck and the starter kept on cranking while you were driving. That would surely burn the starter up in five miles. You have the little silver Nippendenso starter that is known for worn solenoid contacts causing an intermittent single loud clunk with a no-crank condition each time you turn the ignition switch to "crank". Repeated cycling of the ignition switch a few times will get it to crank but the more you ignore it, the longer it will take to crank. I put one of these starters on my '88 Grand Caravan and before that intermittent problem could develop it too stuck engaged one night but I heard the unusual sound before I drove off. Had to quickly remove the battery cable, then I just popped the solenoid cover off and used a screwdriver to pry the plunger loose. The electrical contact disc had become wedged between the two worn contacts.
Those contacts are rather easy to replace for less than 20 bucks, and a lot of hardware stores and farm supply stores have the kits, but if there was smoke coming out of your starter, replace the entire starter; don't bother trying to fix it.
You didn't say which engine you have but on the 3.0L and the 3.3 / 3.8L the starter is right behind the radiator.
Thursday, September 13th, 2012 AT 1:45 AM