Troubleshooting an Intermittent Starter

Sometimes Starters Fail, Sometimes They Don't

This gives the basic ideas for troubleshooting any starter, but this particular starter is on my 1999 Chrysler Town and Country minivan.

When a starter has a load click but doesn't start, there are several things that could be wrong with the starting system.

However, that click means that there is power through the starting circuitry key switch, anti-theft computer, starter relay, etc. That circuitry is separate from the main power to the starter windings.

So the clicking sound without the starter turning is an indication that the starting is getting enough power to turn:

1.The battery could be just about dead or have some bad cells. If the battery is charged and is holding 13 14 volts and if the voltage doesn't drop below 11 during the starting attempt, the battery is probably not the problem.

2.But is that power getting to the starter? Check the battery terminals and cable connections. Just go ahead and clean them and reconnect the cables.

3.Is the cable connection at the starter clean and tight? Check that. The video shows what happened when I did that.

If all of those connections and the battery turn out to be good, then it's likely a bad starter. The solenoid contacts could be bad, the starter could be locked up, sometimes the teeth may lock up against the flywheel teeth because of wear or breakage. Whatever, you probably will have to pull the starter at that point.

If I have to replace a starter on my minivans, I'll try to get a video of it. A mechanic replaced one for me once after I gave up, and he said he takes the motor mount off first. Just use a jack or jack stand to relieve the weight of the engine and transmission, and it should be easy enough.
Here is a video describing the procedure I used.

But if your problem is more than a loose cable, look at this guy's video showing how to replace the solenoid contacts WITH THE STARTER STILL ON THE VEHICLE! It's amazing! Video

And this fellow's video has a great set of slides showing details with the starter off the car. He just cleaned the solenoid contacts and reused them. Video


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Posted: 6/24/2012