Why wont my van start?

Tiny
POLLYPLAYS
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 DODGE CARAVAN
My van wont start. Used it last yesterday around 2:30pm and then at 5pm it wouldnt start. The lights, radio, windows and everything power works but when I turned the key all the way to start the engine, all I heard was a CLICK. I researched it online and thru friends and everyone suggested it was probably the starter. I bought a brand new starter, had it installed and it is still doing the same thing. All it is doing is CLICK
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Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 AT 10:20 PM

6 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
If that's a rather loud clunk once each time you turn the ignition switch to "crank", that's commonly caused by worn solenoid contacts inside the starter. They can be replaced for 20 bucks but most people just replace the entire starter. Since you already did that, the next most likely suspect is the battery cable going to the starter or the negative cable that's bolted to the engine. If you installed a used starter, it could have worn solenoid contacts too. That's a real common problem.

You'll need a test light or voltmeter, and a helper to diagnose the problem. If that click you're hearing is real light, you might be hearing one of the many relays that turn on and off during cranking. First you have to determine if the starter relay is clicking. If it is not, the neutral safety switch is the logical suspect. It's built into the "PRINDL" switch. That runs the shifter indicator on the dash.
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Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 AT 10:31 PM
Tiny
POLLYPLAYS
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Starter was brand new. Its not a huge clunk noise. Just a fairly loud click. Took out the starter relay and didnt hear the click under the van but still hear a small one where the starter relay goes.
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Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 AT 10:45 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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Dandy. The next thing to do is measure the voltage on the smaller wire on the starter. You should see 0 volts until your helper turns the ignition switch to "crank", then you should find around 12 volts. You should hear the solenoid engage too. Let me know what you find.
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 AT 3:17 AM
Tiny
POLLYPLAYS
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OMG! Well, thank you for all of your input and helpful advice. With what you have told me and my deductive reasoning I figured it was the corrosion around the battery post and the clamp and the wire on it. The smaller red one. It was corroded but I figured it wasnt the issue at first because of all the lights n stuff working. But it wasnt quite enough juice to "hit the ball" (if it was a pinball machine!") So I am tryin to look on the bright side of things. Like I have a brand new starter. And 150 bucks could have been spent on worse things! All in all it was a 7 dollar fix to buy the wire, new clamp for the battery post and ya. Its running once again! Thank you again for your help! Means a lot to me =)
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 AT 4:28 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Wonderful news. Don't feel too bad about buying the starter. It is a common failure item, even though it has an easy fix, so now you won't have to worry about it for a few years. Everyone who suggested it was defective would normally have been right. Corroded battery cables and clamps are much less common but they can cause similar symptoms.

My daily driver is a rusty trusty '88 Grand Caravan. It had a different style starter, but I installed that little silver Nippendenso starter on it many years ago after a student accidentally broke the original one. It bolted right up and has been working fine but I have a spare replacement ready to go when needed.

Just so you're aware, when those solenoid contacts become worn, you'll get one loud clunk from it each time you turn the ignition switch to "crank", but it won't spin the engine, however, it WILL work if you cycle the switch a few times. One of the parts that wears turns a little each time you release the switch. When a good spot comes around, it will crank the engine. That can go on for months. It won't suddenly let you sit. When that happened on my ******'s '95 Grand Caravan, I ignored it for so long, one day she lost count after 700 attempts and a blister on her thumb, but it did finally start. As I recall, on your van, you can only try it three times, then the Engine Computer will prevent the system from working again until you wait half a minute or so.
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 AT 4:56 AM
Tiny
POLLYPLAYS
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Well again, I cant thank you enough. I am just realizing what ur site is all about and it is a godsend. Goodwill towards men. And women! Hehehe. And ur responses are quick! I forgot to put that part in my testimonial. First timer and I am extremely satisfied! I will definitely be telling my friends about this site! ALL my friends. And I have at least 200 on my facebook! Hahaha =) =) =) Love u guys! Thank you so much and knowing my luck with vehicles, I will be back. I am the only CAA member who has used all my tows in one year! I cant afford a new vehicle and seem to get stuck with the troublemakers! But hey, I figure if my aspirations in childcare ever come to a close then I got mechanics to fall back on! Hahaha. When I have a little more money and am more financially stable and able I will be donating for darn sure!
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Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 AT 5:05 AM

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