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Discussion Starter #1
Engine won’t start. I have 2001 Chrysler Town and Country LXi with 175,000 miles. I am the second owner. I bought the car about 6 years ago with 145,000 miles. Traditional type of key that inserts and removes without a problem. Engine runs great. I live in Texas so the weather is anywhere from 20 degrees to 80 degrees on any winter day. I have been having ‘starting problems’ for about 6 weeks during January and February whether weather is wet or dry, cold or warm.
I went to 2 O’Reillys and 2 AutoZones. All of them say that battery and starter test ‘good’ with their electronic machine. The battery is virtually new. I have not had any other recent problems with the car. I put the gear selector in neutral and my foot is pressing on the brake when I try to start the car. I don’t need to change the gear selector to get it to start. It never clicks. It either “umps” weakly usually the first time I try to start it after 12 hours of not running the engine or it starts like it is a brand new car anytime within the first 5 hours after it has been running. It runs perfectly at any speed. I tightened the battery cable but they are weak copper ‘c’ loops that kind of crush when tightened. There is a lot of gunk on them something like ‘white grease’. I don’t know how that got there because it was not there when I bought the battery only about 8 months ago but may have been put there when I had the car detailed.
Here is what happens. When I get in the car in the mornings and turn the key there is no starting noise. The gauges move, the radio plays and the door chimes loud and clear if the door is open. Then I turn the key again and I might hear a tiny ‘little less than 1 second’ “ump” but the engine does not turn and there is no clicking noise. Then I will turn the key again and maybe get a 1 or 2 second “ump” noise but nothing else. I then might fidget with the fan motor knob or the shift lever but it does not seem to make any difference.
Then I remind God that I need to get to my job and I say a prayer. Then I turn the ignition again and get about a 3 second “turning on engine” noise. Then I turn the key off and try again and then the car starts up like it is a new car. I drive away and go to my first stop. Then I get back in the car and again it starts like a brand new car and so it goes perfectly for the rest of the day even if I don’t start the car again for 5 hours.
Well today something new happened. After I started it (after about 6 attempts as described above) and it was running smoothly, I hear the engine making a louder than normal noise. As I am listening, the noise seems to disappear as I am driving. But wait!!! When I get to my destination and turn off the key, the engine is still grinding like it is trying to start for about 3 minutes after I removed the key. But it does not actually start because I have removed the key. (The ‘starting noise’ must have been there while I drove that mile to my first destination but I could not hear it due to other traffic noise.) Because the engine was grinding and trying to start when I wanted it to stop, I grabbed my trusty little wrench and opened the hood to disconnect the battery to stop the “starting” but the engine quit (like it should have) before I could get the battery cable removed. The question is “what’s my problem?” (BTW about 4 months ago, I had the car and engine detailed (cleaned) and after that the radio and lights did not work for about 1 week. Then evidently when the engine ‘dried out’ things went back to normal). Thanks for helping me figure out what I should replace.
 

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Before anything else, clean up the battery terminals. Remove them from the posts and thoroughly clean off all the grease, or whatever was applied. Use a battery terminal brush, or sandpaper, to achieve bright metal on both battery posts, and the clamping surfaces inside the cable ends. Anything that insulates the battery terminal connections can cause trouble with the onboard electronics.

You should probably look at the connections in the fuse holder assembly for corrosion, as described in another recent posting here.
 

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Your starter is sticking, this will eventually destroy the starter and possibly a few other things if you drive it like this. Fortunately you only drove a mile. Do not drive it when it does this!!!

Based on your story my guess is the wiring under the black box next to the batt is corroded and/or shorted. This is also posted above in the second paragraph except the connections are under the box, not inside it. This van is infamous for this problem and the detailing could have gotten water into the connections.

A faulty ignition switch is my next guess because it could cause the same things.

For the future I recommend you get a green knob batt disconnect so you can quickly stop any elect problems. I have them on all of my 14 vehicles.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi. Thanks for your replies. I have been reading all the internet postings on various sites for about 2 days. I plan to start with replacing the starter because I agree with 'gusc' first sentence that the starter is sticking. Someone said it maybe just the solenoid but replacing the starter is easier and quicker even though it costs more. I think I will keep the core rather than return it so that I can inspect it. I might put new solenoid in it because it cost less than $10 I think. I will put it on the shelf to use later. I plan to keep this TC until those new sonar controlled cars are for sale but that may be a while. I hope it is within 5 years though.

It seems like the guys who had the same problem I have said that the starter must be replaced. One guy in particular replaced relay, ignition and starter. He said four starters were bad out of the box. He surmised the starters were bad because installing them changed none of the symptoms.

I ordered a Mopar starter because there were several threads that talked about getting ‘bad out of the box’ starters from O’R. They are rebuilt in China or Mexico. The extra $50 bucks for a Mopar is fair if it lasts a long time. I don’t remember ever replacing a starter. Is there an estimate of many years a starter should last?

Also, there seems to be an association of the engine or wiring being 'warmed up by applying voltage' that causes things to work which maybe hints to a wiring corrosion problem. I will check the wiring under the box.

On the other hand, when the starter wouldn’t quit, I was convinced it was an ignition problem. However, I dropped the ignition suspicion when I noticed that no one else found that to be the solution. I remember replacing an ignition on the 1993 Dodge Caravan but I don’t remember the symptoms now.

I like the green knob battery disconnect suggestion and will definitely buy those because I have a couple of vehicles that I don’t drive often and always have to disconnect the batteries.

I will let you know tomorrow (if I am lucky) what the solution was. :biggrin:
 

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My approach to a problem is a bit different than yours, I always look for the simple and cheap solution first - not the most expensive and difficult. If the starter is not the problem you probably still have the comfort of knowing it won't be a problem for a few years. Not always though.

If something external caused the old one to fail the same thing can cause the new one to fail, especially if it sticks again. A sticking starter will be destroyed in short order if driven very far!

So far you have posted nothing that, to me, has isolated the problem. I don't see how you could have eliminated the ign switch based on reading forums?? It can be anything in the starter circuit.

Install the batt cutoff switch before you do anything else!

If it is a bad ign switch or shorted wiring under the black box it may cause the new starter to stick! These switches can fail open or closed so things can fail to work or work all the time. I would not so quickly dismiss the switch as the problem. Please do not start up and drive away right after replacing the starter. Start it, turn off the key, listen to see if the starter is still running. Do this two or three times. Then drive it no more than a block and turn it off again. Do this a few times.

There is no way to define the expected life of a starter, there are too many different ways it can be used. Mileage is not the deciding factor, use is.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
*****I bought a remanufactured starter from the Chrysler dealership. Their price $149 plus core charge was about $50 more than the auto parts store most expensive starter. The mechanic installed the new starter and the minivan starts immediately even in the mornings and the starter quits turning when it is supposed to.

The mechanic said he has never had to replace a relay. (He refused to look in the fuse relay black box.) In his experience the solution was always to replace the starter. Of course, during the process of replacing the starter, certain cables are removed and retightened. The battery cables were tightened. He had a lift so the job was quicker and easier but it took him less than one hour to replace the starter.

The starter that he removed was a remanufactured ‘no name’ that was very oily and ugly. I decided to return it and get the $50 core charge refund.

Thanks for all the input. I was lucky in that my problem and fix were straight forward but I was glad that I was able to research on this forum other possible causes and fixes.

I like simple and cheap fixes also which I investigated to some degree. But I was overwhelmed by the fact that a new starter is the fix most often especially considering mine was very old.

BTW, Amazon has parts cheaper but I am always in such a hurried rush I have not ordered auto parts from them. But if you are considering the Gates serpentine belt and tensioner replacement kit # 38379K , Amazon was about $90 cheaper.
 

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The main thing is the problem is now fixed, hopefully.

You still need to install the batt disconnect switch, just in case.

Funny that your mechanic wouldn't even consider the relay possibility since this is very often a problem. Usually it is more of a no-start than a sticking problem though.

The starter from the dealer is also a no-name, Chrysler does not o/h starters - they buy them from the same place all the others do and stick their tag on them!! Same as all the others do. Some are good, some are not, I know of no way to tell in advance? You will always pay a premium for anything from a dealer and it will always be better - according to them! The main thing is to find a reasonably priced mechanic you can trust and stick with him/her.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
***Of course you are right about no absolute assurance that the “no name” from the dealership will always be good. But I expect inspection and quality control to be present in the remanufactured product sold by the dealership. Just like there are differences in quality of every item produced, sometimes the ones from a producer with a name to protect will be of better quality but, of course, there is no guarantee.

For some products I am an excellent appraiser of quality and workmanship. In those products I can go with the cheaper price because I really know how to judge whether it is good quality.

As you state, there may be no way to judge what is going on inside an electrical product like a starter. So in this case I paid a premium to get something that I thought may have been vetted by an inspector that wants to protect their reputation and a provider that has the need to supply reliable products to the mechanics in their own repair shops.

Most mechanics and other professionals keep on doing what has worked for them in the past. But sometimes there is a new product such as the Gates kit # 38379K that my mechanic was not aware of because he works on every make and model of cars, vans and trucks. He also tends to use cheaper products such as ‘plain oil’ instead of synthetic or the cheapest brake shoes and replacement parts rather than the best. So I research the problem and take him the best items I can find. I don’t know if I am better off by this method but I am more satisfied. (I even told my doctor how to treat my cancer after reading 26 medical books and I believe I am healthier and alive today due to my involvement. My choice of treatment is becoming popular now but it was not at the time I chose it.) I am persistent to find professionals that are excellent and smart without an oversized ego. Kind of rare to get that combination.

I feel extremely fortunate to have kept this van on the road for expenditures of less than $250. :biggrin: I am so happy !….until the next breakdown. I want to hold out buying a new van until the ‘sonar models’ become reliable. Also, I read now the powertrains produced during the last 3 years are not as reliable due to the complexities caused by the emphasis on increasing the fuel economy. I looked at the new 2013 vans but was put off by the skimpy seats and lack of choice of interior colors and upholsteries. And one buyer on the forum says his van shakes badly when backing up on a small incline. He thinks that is a major flaw but some say that is just the way the van operates.

I went to Amazon and typed in green knob battery disconnect and there are many models and prices. Which one do you recommend? It looks like I would have to disconnect the current cables to attach the cables directly to the green knob product. That looks like that could be complicated to get the cables snug to the new terminals. What kind of tool or power does it take to attach the cable to the connector?
 

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I'm impressed that you can determine rebuilt part quality by looking, I've never been able to do that.

I wasn't aware that synthetic oil is better than natural. The only advantage I know is for severe cold weather use?

My green knob came from WM, around $6 as I remember, but it is available many places.

No special tools, just remove the neg batt clamp, attach the GK to the batt post, then attach the batt clamp to the GK post. It is a gold colored post the same shape as the batt post. This is assuming you have the same batt type as my '03.

I also had to bend the original sheet metal batt clamp slightly to get a better angle, but it was a minor amount.

Be sure to do this on the neg batt post, fewer fireworks that way!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
**Oops. You misread. I said I CANNOT ascertain the quality of starter by looking at it therefore I opted to buy the part from the dealership thereby possibly getting a better quality.

Thanks so much for your earlier post where you said “starter is sticking” That was an exact description of the problem and convinced me that I needed to replace the starter.

Also thank you for the info on the green knob both where to find it and how to install it. I am going to use that information also. :)
 

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Been a couple months since last activity on this post and was wondering if the problem has resurfaced.

Bases on this post I'm ready to replace the starter, but really am considering the ignition switch also.

My van has same starting problems described in the initial days of the problem; but has not had the runaway starter problem yet.

Anyone know if an ignition switch can fail intermittently?


Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I am very happy to report that the new starter fixed the problem completely. :) Everything is perfect now. I am so thankful. This forum has been very helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My thoughts are to not complicate anything by replacing two items at the same time. Just go with the starter replacement and see if that fixes the problem. If you change both starter and ignition at the same time and then car doesn't start you still don't know which one is not working. As stated before sometimes parts are 'dead on arrival'.
And the cost of replacing both will probably mean doubling the cost of repair.
 

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I've dealt with around a half dozen starters over the years. Rebuilt every one of them costing $20 -$40 each. With a little know how and very basic tools anyone can rebuild a starter. How do you get the know how? Just do it. Course now on YouTube there's videos that show you how step by step.
 

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Here are some good pages on repairing the Denso starter:

http://www.nationsautoelectric.com/Nippondenso.html

http://www.repairkitsuk.com/3.html

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Chrysler starter removal:

Release hood latch and open hood.
Disconnect and isolate the battery negative cable.
Hoist and support vehicle on safety stands.
Remove nut holding B+ terminal to starter solenoid (Fig. 6).
Disconnect solenoid connector from starter.
Remove bolts holding starter to transaxle bellhousing (Fig. 7)
(upper bolt has 2 ground wires attached)
Remove starter from bellhousing (Fig. 8).
Separate starter spacer from transaxle bell-housing.

Chrysler starter installation:
Place starter spacer in position on transaxle bellhousing, flange toward flywheel.
Place starter in position on bellhousing.
Install bolts and ground wire to hold starter to transaxle bellhousing.
Connect solenoid connector into starter.
Install nut to hold B+ terminal to starter solenoid.
Lower vehicle.
Connect battery negative cable.
Verify starter operation.

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Both starter bolts are 15mm.

The upper starter bolt has 2 ground wires attached to the bolt, that need to be removed with a 13mm deep socket first (1/4" drive is easier).
 
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