1998 Dodge Caravan car does not start

Tiny
JANDBGARCIA
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 DODGE CARAVAN
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 120,000 MILES
Hi, my 120,000 mile caravan has had the following happen a few times. The car does not start, all the accessories work fine, minus the dash instrumentation. The other times this happened, I just waited a while and the car started up. Today, I waited more than a few whiles and it does not start. Earlier when I tried starting, it was cranking over, but every time I tried after that, the vehilce does nothing. I gave it a jump, and still no luck.
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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 AT 5:31 PM

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Tiny
CH112063
  • MEMBER
If you know that the battery is ok, or you put a known good battery in it and you still have this problem I would worry about resistance in the battery cables first, like the ends or inside the cables or it could have a bum starter or an intermittant ign. Start circuit problem like the neutral safety switch or wiring plug on it. You should have someone sit and hold the key in the start position and start wiggling those components and connectors. See if it makes any difference starting it in neutral. That switch provides a ground for the starter relay and the relay could be corroded or bad also. For some reason I suspect wiring because of its age and the inst. Panel thing not working but a hammer to a starter housing also works too. You'll need a helper, or call a tow truck and have your mechanic check it while its still bad if you can. Even the ignition switch could cause those things to happen so try turning it with more pressure and see if that helps. Let me know if you want me to describe the circuit for you. OK Good luck.
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Thursday, August 27th, 2009 AT 8:04 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Ch112063 is right about the ignition switch, but they usually aren't intermittent. Two common things happen. One is a broken cam on the end of the cylinder. The dash lights will work fine, but the switch won't go quite far enough to hit the "Crank" position. The other problem is burned contacts and overheated / melted wiring and terminals at the switch connector. These CAN cause intermittent problems, but generally not with the cranking circuit. It more commonly affects the accessory circuit, (power windows, radio, etc.). This is more commonly seen when people use the heater fan on its highest setting quite often.

If you hear one loud clunk from the starter but it doesn't turn the engine, suspect worn solenoid contacts. This is extremely common, and just cycling the ignition switch to the crank position repeatedly will eventually get it to crank. This will get worse over the next few weeks or months. The contacts can be replaced for 20 bucks, but most people just replace the entire starter. You should not bang on it with a hammer. That worked many years ago with big heavy starters to jar worn brushes into making temporary contact. These starters have permanent magnets glued to the case instead of windings of wire that are bolted on. Banging on them will break them loose, and there is no practical repair then other than total starter replacement. These brushes never wear out. You'll go through a dozen sets of contacts before one set of brushes.

The additional clue it's worn solenoid contacts is the headlights and dome lights will not dim very much when trying to crank the engine. If the lights do dim when trying to crank the engine, suspect what ch112063 said about battery cables, terminals, and the battery itself.

Caradiodoc
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Friday, August 28th, 2009 AT 5:06 PM

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