Bad ignition switch or starter..which is it?

Interior and Electrical

  1. brotherGood

    brotherGood Well-Known Member

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    Went to fire up the car the other day, and it first cranked as normal. Didn't start first time because I needed to pump it again..as soon as I did that, I turn the key and get nothing but a single click.

    I checked battery cables, wiggled around the gear shifter trying to eliminate a neutral safety switch issue. Still I've got nothing..

    I thought maybe starter, or the ignition switch..but I'm not sure how to tell which one. Pointers, thoughts, or ideas are welcome..

    Thanks
     
  2. Aspen500

    Aspen500 Well-Known Member

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    If you get a click when turning the key to start, I'd go after the starter first. Make sure the terminal nut is tight on the battery cable at the starter, along with the small wire from the relay. With the key OFF, jump between the large and small terminals at the starter. If it works, next check for 12 volts (roughly) at the small terminal with the key in "crank". If none, check for voltage out of the relay on the firewall on the brown wire (might be label SOL on the relay). If there no voltage out, check the 12 gauge red wire for battery power, should be hot at all times through a fuse link (at the relay). You should have power on the yellow wire at the relay with the key in crank. If the red and yellow check out but still nothing out on the brown in "crank", the relay has failed.
    As long as you hear a click when trying to start the car, the neutral switch is OK. If it went bad you'd hear only silence.

    When I say check for voltage at certain terminals, do this by back probing the connector so you can check the circuit under load. It is possible to have 12 volts with no load on a compromised wire but it'll drop to zero when the load is applied. If that happens it mean high resistance. All it takes is one strand of wire to carry a voltage but it won't carry enough current to power more than a test light.
    Hope this helps. Always tough to describe something in a few words of text.
     
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  3. brotherGood

    brotherGood Well-Known Member

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    This helps a lot, actually. When doing my tests though, do i need to unplug anything to keep it from firing or anything? The starter was new 6 years or so ago, but the thing has been cranked more than it should have been over the last couple of years. Im half hoping its the starter because i'll be needing a smaller one anyway for my headers im getting.
     
  4. Aspen500

    Aspen500 Well-Known Member

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    You maybe should disconnect the coil or ECU, just to be sure there's no chance of the engine firing at a bad time.
     
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  5. Captain Caravelle

    Captain Caravelle Moderator--Mopar Maniac

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    Just for fun.....
    This started happening to me ages ago on the Caravelle. Turn the key and get one click. In my case it was corrosion on the connections on the relay that's on the firewall. I cleaned them up and never had a problem since. The quickest way to check that is just pull the plugs off and put them back on. That will give you fresh contact.

    Not sure if it's that but I thought I'd share.
     
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  6. MiradaMegacab

    MiradaMegacab Well-Known Member

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    Turn the key to the "on" position.
    Locate the starter relay, on the firewall.
    Pull the starter solenoid wire from terminal #3 and place it in the + positive battery post. The engine should crank, start and run. This tests the ignition switch, starter relay and starter solenoid, as well as the related wiring.

    download.jpg
     
  7. brotherGood

    brotherGood Well-Known Member

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    This is exactly what the problem was. I actually had time to screw with it last night and double checked my starter connections which were fine..so I followed the small wire to the firewall, jiggled it around and it started cranking again..but they do look pretty ugly.


    I knew someone had corrosion issues there once before and just cleaned the contacts..but couldn't remember who

    Thanks everyone
     
  8. Captain Caravelle

    Captain Caravelle Moderator--Mopar Maniac

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    Yep. That one dogged me all day....lol.
    Glad that's all it was.
     
  9. brotherGood

    brotherGood Well-Known Member

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    Howd you clean your contacts?
     
  10. Captain Caravelle

    Captain Caravelle Moderator--Mopar Maniac

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    I just hosed the connector with WD 40 till it was clean and used fine sandpaper on the metal contacts.
     
  11. brotherGood

    brotherGood Well-Known Member

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    Sounds simple..Lol thanks man
     
  12. Captain Caravelle

    Captain Caravelle Moderator--Mopar Maniac

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    My pleasure.
     
  13. Darth-Car

    Darth-Car Well-Known Member

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  14. Aspen500

    Aspen500 Well-Known Member

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    I was just going to suggest the DeoxIT but you beat me to it!
    Another good idea is a small amount of dielectric grease on the terminals to prevent reoxidation. Don't go overboard though.

    Note I said dielectric grease, NOT grease.
    digrease.jpg
     
  15. Captain Caravelle

    Captain Caravelle Moderator--Mopar Maniac

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    True on the plastic.
    Mind you those connector plugs are pretty hardcore. Almost like bakelite. But precautions never hurt.
     
  16. volareandgtcat

    volareandgtcat Well-Known Member

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    Every time I open a connector ....... a lil dab'l do ya ... like Brylcreem ... lol
     
  17. brotherGood

    brotherGood Well-Known Member

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    So maybe clean em off with the sandpaper and stick the dielectric grease on the end and just reconnect?
     
  18. Captain Caravelle

    Captain Caravelle Moderator--Mopar Maniac

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  19. brotherGood

    brotherGood Well-Known Member

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    Ok..im gonna bring this back up because the issue has come back. Ill turn the key and get one click..but it wont crank. It started a couple weeks ago..sporadically. I was driving it last week, and turned the corner and when I gave it gas it died. When I got it stopped, it started right back up, which I thought was weird. I figured it was timing related because thats what I was working on at the time. But now im not even able to start it at all.

    Any and all help is appreciated
     
  20. Aspen500

    Aspen500 Well-Known Member

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    Poor connections will give you one click and then nothing. By poor connections I mean at the battery and starter as well as the ground. The battery cables themselves are included in that poor connection thing. Looking back, you may have checked all that stuff already though.
    Is the click from the relay or the solenoid on the starter. What I mean is, is it a light click or heavy click. Possible the starter solenoid is worn out.