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sprinkles08, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Chrysler
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Experience:  ASE Master & Advanced level certified, Chrysler Master Certified, Trans and Hybrid Specialist
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Chrysler Town & Country: I have a 2008 Town and Country

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I have a 2008 Town and Country (Chrysler). In the last few months, it has been giving problems in starting. When I insert the key and turn it, sometimes, no lights come on in the dash board, and the engine will not start. After trying 2 to 20 times, it starts. Sometimes, I could not start for 30 to 60 minutes. Sometimes, it starts in the first try. Just today, a mechanic at Pepboys checked and said the battery, starter, and alternator, are all good, and he suggested me to go to a dealer to find and fix the problem. The problem is not with the keys (I replaced batteries in the 2 original keys, and got 2 new keys recently). Sometimes, trying different keys helps, in that one of the keys will work after a few tries. Sometimes, the same key works after I try it in different ways (turn it 180 degrees before inserting, or pressing the key in and turning, etc). Once, the car did not start at all for some time, but it started with a jump start. So, I bought a jumpstart box, but it did not help either. Several people (28 messages) on Edmunds car discussion group reported the same problem with the same car. A few reported success after putting a new battery (this is the reason I bought a jumpstart box). Another person reported that they replaced the (1) Wireless Ignition Node(WIN), and (2) Starter, but it did not fix the issue. A week ago, I had asked a dealer on phone about the cost of a new key cylinder and new keys, and he mentioned an estimate of $1000! I am concerned about getting stranded somewhere before some important work. Is replacing the key cylinder and keys the only alternative left? Is there a guarantee that this replacing the key system will work? Is it possible that the problem is battery current drain/leakage or some other problem? Any suggestions? I am disappointed with Chrysler as the starting key system should have lifetime warranty (the dealer I called said there in no warranty after 3yr/36000mi; mine is 4.5 yrs and 51000 miles).
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!

Your van doesn't have an ignition lock cylinder like an older vehicle.

What you have is a wireless ignition node (WIN) and that is the most likely cause for your problem. The WIN is the module in the dash where the key is inserted, it is a module that reports key position to other modules.

When you insert the key in the WIN and turn it that wakes the WIN up and it then sends signals over the CAN bus network to other modules. If the key is validated and you turn it to the run position then everything will come on, if you turn it to the crank position then it sends a crank message to the TIPM (module/fuse box under the hood) to engage the starter.

Since nothing is coming on when you turn the key that rules out the starter, if it starts eventually without a jump then that rules out the battery or a battery draw.

Most likely what is happening is the WIN isn't reporting that the key is turned. If a shop or dealer can see the problem happen with a scan tool on it they would probably see the WIN's key position doesn't change when it's turned.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok . This means the WIN works sometimes (as the car starts sometimes) and doesn't work at other times(as the car doesn't start sometimes). Someone on Edmund car discussion group said replacing WIN did not fix the problem, and another one said changing battery or jumpstarting worked. Of course we cannot believe those 100%, but jumpstarting worked for me once (but did not work another time with a jumpstart box). Could it be that the electric power supply to WIN module is low due to some grounding or leakage which is compensated with a new battery?Or, may be the WIN module is getting old and so unreliable as its key sensing performance is decreasing. Replacing WIN module is an option, but could you give any estimate of how much it should cost? Any other suggestions?

Thank you.

It could be a WIN power or ground issue but that's not nearly as likely as a bad WIN. To know for sure you'd have to first verify with a scan tool that the WIN isn't functioning and then test it's powers and grounds at that time. It won't be a battery related issue.

Replacing the WIN will run about $200 with labor. The last one on a minivan I did was on Friday and the WIN itself was $110.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK, thanks a lot. Does replacing WIN require new keys, or can the existing keys be reprogrammed for the new WIN? Any cost estimate of reprogramming the keys? Also, the WIN replacement did on Friday or on other occassions, was/were they for the same/similar problem I am having? If so, did replacing the WIN fix the starting problem? Thanks a lot.


In almost all cases you can program the old keys to the new WIN. I've seen some issues on the earlier vans where the old keys wouldn't program again but it's not common. I see that you have at least a couple new ones so you shouldn't have problems with those at all, but possibly with the originals.

THe last WIN that I replaced and most of the ones I do are for problems similar to yours. The last few that I have replaced or ordered were for intermittent starting problems and yes, they've all been fixed.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Alright, thanks a lot. Since you have seen similar starting problems fixed after replacing with new WINs, I am going to try that. Any cost estimate on programming the keys for the new WIN? I used the original 2 keys to program the two new keys I bought. I also have some 4 digit pin number for my car. I wonder if I can program the keys for the new WIN myself (if the dealer chargers me too much for programming the keys; around $10/key would be ok). Thanks a lot. I will rate you Excellent.


Programming the WIN and keys will be included in the labor to replace it, which calls for .9 hour. Programming the new WIN and then the keys to the new WIN will require the four digit PIN that you have, but the procedure has to be done with a dealer level scan tool. Once the WIN is installed then the scan tool is used along with the PIN to transfer data from other modules into the WIN to marry it to the vehicle, and then the keys are programmed to it.
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