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Certified Minivan Freak
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I have a '97 Dakota with the 5.2L V-8. 175,000+ miles. For the most part, all stock. About a year ago, cranking would get slow in cold weather, so I replaced the battery with a new group 34 size with 775 CCA and 900 CA. Plenty of power. And normally, it cranks that V-8 like it has half as many cylinders.

But every now and again, when I turn the key, it'll act like there's only 10 volts in the battery or something. It might VERY slowly crank, then quit. Like ERRR-RRR -- then nothing. Like a really dead battery. Then I'll try it again and maybe it does the same thing, or maybe it fires right up like it was the first time I turned the key. It's never made me turn the key more than 3 times.

If I would get -nothing-, this would make more sense. Maybe a bad/intermittent ignition switch, relay, starter solenoid, etc. But it will crank...it just acts like a dead battery. But on the second or third time I try the key, it's like it has full power and zoom, it's running.

About a week ago, I took the battery back to where I bought it and said I was having trouble with it. It tested good on the load tester. It was putting out something like 923 cranking amps or something like that. So it was stout. And I figured it'd test good because the problem is only intermittent...maybe 25% of the time. But since I was reporting trouble, they warrantied the battery anyway for me. With the new battery, same issues, and it seems to have the same intermittency (is that a word?)...about 25% of the time, it'll make me turn the key a few times.

So I reckon it's not the battery. But I'm not sure what, on the truck, would cause this. Do these trucks use fusible links in the starting circuit? Would a short in the starting circuit cause this? If the starting circuit is shorting out, it might channel most of the current away from the starter and straight to ground. Lights/radio all work at what appears to be full power. The problem appears to be only in the starting circuit.

Any ideas? Thanks!
 

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I had very similar symptoms with my Nissan Frontier a few weeks ago. It would crank slowly then stop, or sometimes the starter solenoid would chatter almost immediately. The battery was original so I swapped it out even though unloaded it was showing about 12.7VDC. When running, the alternator was charging properly around 14.5V (I forget exact numbers). It would start if I jumped it using another vehicle, too so I assumed a marginal battery anyway. It continued to act up a few days later so I looked further.

As it turns out, the battery terminals were corroded and fuzzy and once I gave them a thorough cleaning the problem disappeared. It's been fine for a few weeks now.

Any chance it is something as simple and easy to resolve as that?
 

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youtube.com/sideburns2009
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My '97 Ram with the 5.9 was doing something similar. It got to the point to where it wouldn't turn over....I had to replace the starter. It already had a new battery. Maybe the contacts in your Denso are wearing out like mine did. :)
 

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One of my coworkers has to tighten and clean the terminals on the starter on his '00 Ram every so often.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys. I'll check the starter. The terminal connections at the battery are clean.

I'm currently replacing the exhaust system on it (removing the duals with a Flowmaster and going to a single with a Dynomax). I'll look at the starter terminals this weekend.
 

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Latent car nut
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Does your Dakota use a Denso starter or does it have the old Chrysler gear reduction starter (the sound of which was immortalized in ZZ Top's song Manic Mechanic)?

If it's a Denso, you may find that the contact plates are getting carboned up and not allowing the full current to reach the motor, if it's an old gear reduction starter then you might find that the brush plate assembly is worn.
 

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Does your Dakota use a Denso starter or does it have the old Chrysler gear reduction starter (the sound of which was immortalized in ZZ Top's song Manic Mechanic)?

If it's a Denso, you may find that the contact plates are getting carboned up and not allowing the full current to reach the motor, if it's an old gear reduction starter then you might find that the brush plate assembly is worn.
It could also be as simply as a cable going bad. They can do some really odd stuff... Trust me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm pretty sure it's a gear reduction starter. But I'm also pretty sure that it's a Nippon starter. How's this for a part description from Rock Auto? "NDenso Unit, Gear Reduction Starter".

Also, a new one from Cardone: "Nippondenso Starter w/Gear Reduction Drive".

So I guess I've got both gear reduction and Denso going on here. It does sound like a GR starter motor.
 

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Latent car nut
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I'm pretty sure it's a gear reduction starter. But I'm also pretty sure that it's a Nippon starter. How's this for a part description from Rock Auto? "NDenso Unit, Gear Reduction Starter".

Also, a new one from Cardone: "Nippondenso Starter w/Gear Reduction Drive".

So I guess I've got both gear reduction and Denso going on here. It does sound like a GR starter motor.
Opps, I must not have made myself clear, as far as I know ALL NipponDenso starters are Gear Reduction starters, however, what I was attempting to ask (and apparently failed at) was, do you have a NipponDenso starter (similar if not identical to the ones in our minivans), or a noisy old Chrysler starter that had a very distinctive sound caused by the gear reduction. Based upon your post, you have the former. :)
 

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Opps, I must not have made myself clear, as far as I know ALL NipponDenso starters are Gear Reduction starters, however, what I was attempting to ask (and apparently failed at) was, do you have a NipponDenso starter (similar if not identical to the ones in our minivans), or a noisy old Chrysler starter that had a very distinctive sound caused by the gear reduction. Based upon your post, you have the former. :)
I am fairly confident that everything from about 1990 on no longer had the old starter. For sure all the Magnum engines did.
 

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I am fairly confident that everything from about 1990 on no longer had the old starter. For sure all the Magnum engines did.
Cool, I didn't know when the cutover happened as my last Chrysler product that had a large engine was my 1970 Challenger. Back in the day, it wasn't unusual to have to replace the brush plate on the old style starter every couple of years.

I replaced so many Chrysler starters back in the 1970s that I actually bought a half of a dozen from a bone yard and overhauled them myself using Napa/Echlin components. It was a pretty good side business as the brush plate and solenoid combo cost less than ten dollars and the new brass bushings were something like twenty for a dollar, and I routinely got fifty dollars for one of my starters (plus installation). The good news was that the Echlin parts were significantly more robust than the OEM parts, and my starters almost always lasted longer than the owner would keep the car.
 

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Seeing as how I have a '97 Dodge Ram with a variant of the same engine....it should be a denso as mine was. "Chrysler NipponDenso, Made In Japan" :biggrin: It does have a distinct sound to it that most Dodge V8's have. I love it too...just sounds like a Denso to me, its like that distinct Honda denso starter sound multiplied a few times. Call me weird but I like the way it sounds....newer GM's have a really weird sounding starter like my grandma's '02 impala makes sort of a shhhhhhh then its running sound. :lol:
 

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PT Driver
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...newer GM's have a really weird sounding starter like my grandma's '02 impala makes sort of a shhhhhhh then its running sound. :lol:
So your saying your grandma's 02 impala hushes you then starts? :lol:
 

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The nice thing about the Denso starters is that they require a lot less current. I had one on a big block in my former Dodge Magnum ('79 w/ '78 400).
Let us know what you find.
 

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So your saying your grandma's 02 impala hushes you then starts? :lol:
:lol: I guess so. haha. Thats just the best way I could describe. It's not the usual starter sound..like the pulsating sound. It's just a steady. shhhhhhhhRUM! :biggrin:
 

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I would be checking at the starter for what's happening there:
- voltage at starter when problem occurs (hook up a couple of wires to a voltmeter)
- wet / dry conditions a factor maybe? Spray the starter with water.

Sounds like a stubborn starter. Perhaps it needs to heat up a bit to get going. Had a remote solenoid switch (on a Ford) like that once, but it was a go / no go situation. When it got warmed up (from trying to start the vehicle) it would work.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The starter motor has a very high-pitched cranking sound. Like many Jeeps do.

Funny thing is, ever since I asked about it, it hasn't tripped up once. I got the exhaust replaced and have been driving it some. I also got my Class IV hitch installed that I've had for a month or so, waiting. So with all the stuff going on with the van, and the oldest starting school again this year, I haven't looked at all into the truck. It's due for an oil change again in another few hundred miles, so when I get it up on ramps again, I'll check all the connections at the starter.
 

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Vendor
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I was very happy when starting my slant 6 for the first time that the started sounded like the one in Dad's Cuda.

That starter shound means MOPAR!!!
 

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I was very happy when starting my slant 6 for the first time that the started sounded like the one in Dad's Cuda.

That starter shound means MOPAR!!!
Now we're talking about the legendary Chrysler gear reduction starter, the same starter that was bolted into everything from the Slant-Six through the Hemi. ;)
 

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Latent car nut
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I was very happy when starting my slant 6 for the first time that the started sounded like the one in Dad's Cuda.

That starter shound means MOPAR!!!
Now we're talking about the legendary Chrysler gear reduction starter, the same starter that was bolted into everything from the Slant-Six through the Hemi. ;)
 
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