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2001 Grand Caravan.143k, Intermittent no start with the sound of one click. Starts normally after second or third try. Battery is new. Battery post and clamps cleaned. Starter appears normal. No codes.I am thinking ignition switch. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.
 

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Electrical intermittent can be tough to diagnose. Any remote starter or alarm systems? It could still be an intermittent starter solenoid. One way to test this is to get about 5 feet of speaker wire and solder and tape apart the leads of a 12 volt 'peanut' bulb to one end and insulated alligator clips to the other, like a giant test light. Attach one clip to the smaller starter solenoid Brown wire (T40 in diagram) at the starter and the other clip to ground. It won't matter about which side goes where, polarity isn't important. The large starter wire should have power all the time.
You can place the bulb within view of the driver by gently closing the hood on the wires in a spot where they won't be pinched and cut by a sharp metal edge, like against the rubber strip that runs along the rear of the hood. It will just blow a fuse if it happens to short (carry an extra 40 amp maxifuse if you want or just swap it with a rear blower or some other adjacent non-critical maxifuse to get you home).
Laying it on the plastic cowl screen will ensure that any exposed leads won't short to ground. Tucking it under a wiper blade may be OK if it won't rain or you don't plan to use the washers, but it is easy top forget that the bulb is there, so I won't recommend it.
The bulb should light everytime the starter works. If it still lights and the starter doesn't work, the problem is in the starter. If the starter doesn't work and the light doesn't light, then the problem is upstream towards the starter relay or IPM. The PCM can also prevent cranking if it doesn't see Park or Neutral.
If you suspect the ign switch, just move your test light inside and clip one end to the Yellow start wire (A41 in diagram) from the switch and the other clip to ground. Move the wiring out of the way of your feet and pedals and place the bulb where you can observe it during cranking. You will want it to act up in order to diagnose it.
Circuit here: 81055af8.gif
 

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Does this only happen when the engine is cold or slightly warm? And never when hot? My truck has what I believe to be burned starter solenoid contacts. I get a click and anywhere from 1 to 20 tries when cold, but it never fails to crank on the first try with engine hot. That leads me to think that the contacts expand when hot and can make contact, but when cold can barely touch, as material has probably been burned away. I won't know for sure until I can remove the starter, but I bought a kit of replacement contacts for $35.
 

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I agree with IC and AJ. Sounds like a typical starter failure.
 

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starter
 

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I assume it has a starter relay which is a lot easier to check than removing the starter.
 

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gusc said:
I assume it has a starter relay which is a lot easier to check than removing the starter.
definitely something easy to check, but that loud clack is the starter gear hitting the flexplate; which suggests signal wiring and primary electrics are all AOK.
 

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Starter solenid contacts in the starter. Turn the key to start. If you have 12vdc at the relay input at the starter and it doesn't rotate, you need a starter or new contacts for half the price. No meter? Tap on the starter as you try to start. If it rotates it indicates bad contacts. These are Denso starters. Contatcs are available on the net.
 

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Varkguy said:
Starter solenid contacts in the starter. Turn the key to start. If you have 12vdc at the relay input at the starter and it doesn't rotate, you need a starter or new contacts for half the price. No meter? Tap on the starter as you try to start. If it rotates it indicates bad contacts. These are Denso starters. Contatcs are available on the net.
Yup there are some contacts inside the Denso starter that wear out. I had my starter rebuilt and this was the problem with mine. The contacts inside the starter were burnt.
 

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shanonia said:
Glad you found the problem. Thanks for reporting the results!
The original poster has not reported back anything yet.
 

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You're right! I hope the OP does report back. I bet the OP's problem resides in the starter solenoid contacts, as ka9yhd and I and many others have experienced.
 

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Interesting thing is that my truck has not acted up since about early June, and it's in the 70s-80s Fahrenheit here, starts first try every time now, even on cold starts. But I haven't replaced the contacts yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The starter was pulled and checked out ok by an alternator/starter rebuild shop. The starter relay was pulled and cleaned, battery clamps scraped clean and the ignition switch was sprayed with an electrical contact cleaner.Has fired right up for the last three weeks. Thanks for your suggestions.
 

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A starter solenoid will click when there isn't enough power to turn the starter; weak batt, corroded batt connections and/or corroded starter relay contacts.

When you pulled the relay the contacts were automatically cleaned, I find this problem numerous times.

Pulling a starter is my last resort as it is seldom the problem.
 

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My 2005 GC SXT with 3.8L is doing the same thing, except that the "intermittent" has become "mittent." No longer starts at all, just the loud (relay) click as it attempts to engage. Weather has been cold and warm lately and the problem showed when the vehicle was both cold and after running. Cleaned terminals, tapped on starter and on relay; no improvement. I have it on the charger now just for some extra juice and will report back what I find.

Of course, this happens during the week when there is little time to mess with it. Thanks for the ideas on what to try.
 

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How old is your battery. Stephen? Will it pass a load test after charging?

My problem WAS the internal starter solenoid contacts partially burned away. Changed them several months ago, problem completely gone.
 

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I had no more time to troubleshoot this myself and was able to get it to start in Neutral this morning on the second attempt after it initially did not start in Park. Gave the usual single click on that attempt. Guess I'll have to rely on the trustworthiness of our regular mechanic.
 

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AJ_Schreiber,

I just now read your post!

He didn't say anything about a loud clink, just a click :)
 
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