2000 Chrysler Town & Country Generation III Mini-Van Repairs.

Including Repairs for Plymouth and Dodge Generation 3 Mini-Vans.

Bypassing the Starter Relay to Verify Starter Works

This 1999 Chrysler Town & Country LIMITED minivan had BCM (Body Control Module) problems. I replaced that and the vehicle started and ran well for a while. However, I had also pulled the instrument panel circuit board, and it started acting up. For a few days I was able to start and drive the car even though the instruments were dropping out. Finally, it got so the starter wouldn't even turn.

I didn't think the starter had gone bad, but I wasn't sure how to verify it until now.

Note that the engine still won't start even though I got the starter to turn by bypassing the start relay. Apparently, something (anti-theft system) is keeping the ignition or injectors from working.

SAFETY WARNING - Don't do any electrical checks unless you really understand what you're doing. If you burn out a wiring harness, you are really in a mess! DETAILED WARNING - If you connect battery 12v to a socket that goes to ground, it will almost surely burn out the wire at that socket. If you connect the socket with battery 12v on it to a ground, you'll burn that wire out. If you connect 12v back into the socket with the wire coming from the start system, you may damage that system. Remember! Don't do any of this unless you're really sure what you're doing.

Minivan Relay Box TopMinivan Relay Box w/Lid Off
You are probably familiar with the relay box.

Relay Removed
Relay SocketRelay Pins

I checked for voltage at the relay socket. I found 12v at socket 30 (toward the front of the vehicle). The socket on the right, the one that pin 86 would connect to, was grounded. The socket on the other side had a high resistance to ground, but was not open. I assume that it is connected to the starting system actuated by the key switch and the BCM. There was very low resistance to ground at the socket where the back pin 87 would connect, and I assumed that it was connected to the starter solenoid. The center hole has no connection.

I checked the relay pins for continuity and found resistance between pins 85 and 86, indicating they connected to the relay coil. By applying 12v to those pins I got the relay to actuate so that I could verify switch actuation between 30 and the two 87 pins. Pin 30 connects to pin 87 rear when the relay coil pulls in and between 30 and the center 87 when there is no power on the relay coil. That means that 30 to 87 center is a "normally closed" switch and 30 to 87 rear is a "normally open" switch. Some other relay applications probably use the normally closed configuration, and some may use both.


Skipper Family Magazine

E-mail me: jamesmskipper1141@att.net Originally Posted: 1/22/2013