2003 Dodge Caravan Cranks won't start

  • 1 POST
  • 3.3L
  • V6
  • FWD
  • 165,000 MILES

Today for the first time I had to turn the engine three times before it fired on the third try, this van always started on first try for the past 165000 miles. I ran where I needed to go and returned. The next time I started it, it fired on first try. I then drove approx. 40 miles parked and returned approx. 2 hours, turned the key and would only crank not start. I checked relays to make sure they were tight, briefly checked wiring connections. Nothing, my car sits 40 miles from home and it's my only set of wheels, where do I start? Crank sensor?

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Monday, December 23rd, 2013 AT 6:15 PM

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  • 1,160 POSTS

Every engine needs fuel, a spark (at the proper time) and compression to run. Check for a spark and for fuel as follows:

Check for a spark

In order to check for a spark at one of the spark plug wires, remove the spark plug wire from the spark plug. Connect it to a spark tester and connect the other end of the spark tester to a good engine ground (a bolt will do fine). Have an assistant to crank the engine and you should see a spark jump the gap in the spark tester. If so, the ignition system is doing its job. If not, more testing f the ignition system is required.
If a spark tester is not available, remove the spark plug wire from the spark plug and lay it (horizontally) on a metal part of the engine. Have an assistant to crank the engine and you should see a spark jump from the end of the spark plug wire to the metal engine surface.

Check for fuel
If you suspect that it's not getting fuel, move the snorkel away from the throttle body enough to spray some carburetor cleaner into the intake manifold, replace the snorkel and then try to start the engine. If it starts (or tries to start) and then dies, the problem is that it isn't getting gas for some reason. The fuel system will have to be diagnosed.

Checking electric fuel pump operation

First check the fuel pump fuse.
Verify that the pump doesn't work (listen for it at the tank as an assistant turns the ignition switch on (do not crank the vehicle), it should run for about 2 seconds. If you don't hear it running, tap on the tank (within the 2 second run time), sometimes this will get it going.
If it still doesn't work, check fuel pump fuse and relay (should be able to feel/hear the relay click when the ignition switch is turned on. Replace any faulty parts found. If everything checks out so far,
Disconnect the wiring connector at the fuel pump and use a test light to check it for voltage when the ignition switch in turned on. If power is there and yet the pump doesn't work the pump is bad.

Next check the relay, here's how:
Checking fuel pump relay

Swap the relay with another identical one (usually there is one in the same fuse box. If the system now works, the relay is bad and needs to be replaced.

If the pump does run, verify fuel pressure, as follows:
Connect a fuel pressure gauge to the fuel rail and turn the key to the ON position. You should get pressure (40 60 psi) depending on the system.
If not, check fuel pump operation:

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Monday, December 23rd, 2013 AT 7:55 PM

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