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Richard
Richard, Dodge Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 4014
Experience:  Over 22 years of experience as lead tech and shop foreman.
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My Dodge Caravan Won't Start. Please Help

Customer Question

My Dodge Grand Caravan won't start. You can hear the relay clicking when you turn it over. The other thing I noticed is my steering wheel is not locked into position like when you turn it off. What could it be?

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.

The engine doesn't crank over when you turn the key correct?

Have you tried jump starting the engine?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

No I have an after market alarm system and we have checked all that.

Just don't know why the steering wheel is not in locked position.

Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.
Is the battery good? A weak battery may be causing all the issues.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes the battery is good. My husband is so upset that he can't figure it out. He is going to try some other things. Brand new battery. You can hear the starter relay click when you turn the key on to try and start it.

Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.

The next thing to check is to see if getting power to the small wire on the starter when the key is in the crank position. Tell your husband to hang in there we will figure it out!!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I think that is one of the things he is going to try.

We tried the small wire with me turning to crank no power. We also tried starting the van in neutral. No go when you put the gear shift back to park the steering wheel does not lock like it is supposed to.

Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.

OK hold the key again in the crank position and remove the starter relay and tell me which terminals have power with the key in the crank position.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

30 had power 85 dead 87 dead 86 power. Hope this info is what you want.

Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.
You may just have a bad relay. Try swapping the starter relay with one of the blower motor relays and see if the van starts.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

We have already tried that

Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.
Ok. Take a jumper wire and go from pin 30 to pin 87 and see if the starter turns over.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

It turns over but won't start

Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.

OK. Have you tried to start the vehicle in neutral?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes he tried and it just cranks

Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.
The engine will turn over though when in neutral?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes it turns over in neutral also

Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.
If it turns over in neutral and not in park then you need to replace the transmission range sensor.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

No it turns over in park and neutral

Expert:  brownjeff replied 5 years ago.
Now I'm confused as you told me there was no power to the starter??
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I don't really know what my husband was referring to when I told you that. I guess he was under the van and was trying to maybe cross it like you used to do to older vehicles just to see if it would start. He is totally lost and so am I. Do you have any idea why the steering wheel is not locked as it should be?

Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.

When you try to start your van, does the starter engage and crank the engine over and just not fire up and start?

Did the van quit on the road and wouldn't start after that?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes that is what it does. Cranks but does not fire and start. We pulled into a parking lot to eat lunch with his parents. I have an after market alarm on it and so I opened the door and put the key in the ignition and it wouldn't start and that's when I noticed that the steering wheel was not locked.

Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.

Was the the alarm system armed when you left the van? The only way it would arm is if you locked the doors!

When you came back to the van did you unlock the doors with the key or a remote transmitter?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes to locking when we went into eat. Used the remote to unlock the van

Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.

Did the van start and stall a few times then just crank over and not fire?

What kind of aftermarket security system is installed in your van?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
no it did not start at all and it is Marksman M5a. I thought it might have been the kill switch activated but thats not the case as my husband went thru it
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
Can you get your husband to check for spark at one of the spark plug wires. Pull the wire off and insert an old spark plug in the end of it and ground the threads of the plug and crank the engine over to see if there is spark. Open the gap up on the old plug so you can see the spark easily. Let me know, thanks! Richard
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
the only way we got it to turn over was by putting a jump wire in the 2 slots the other tech told us to use. the van does not start with relay back in its spot and by trying to start the van in park and neutral it will not turn over let alone start
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
You told me it would turn over and just not fire!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
yes
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.

I need to have correct info in order for me to help you!

I need you to put everything back to the way it was before the problem happened. So put the relay in and everything else you may have removed and answer my question again.

When you try to start your van, does the starter engage and crank the engine over and just not fire up and start?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
no it does not turn the engine over
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.

Ok, can you get your husband to pull the steering column shroads off the steering column. They are the pieces that go around your key. Then look at the wires below the column to see if you can see a break in the wires where the tilt wheel would cause them to bend when you tilt your steering. The wires that break are usually a pink/white

- white/violet - black/white or a gray/red. These are small wires that you will see when the shrouds are off. Let me know if you have a break in anyone of those wires. thanks, Richard

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
this will take a while
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
Sure no problem, once you have taken the screws out of the lower shroud it will pull apart with a little force.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
no there is no breaks in the wires
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
Can you leave those shrouds off and pull the starter relay out again and hook your alligator clip from your test light lead to the positive battery terminal then get someone turn the key to the start position and probe terminal 85 and see if the test light lights up every time you turn the key to the start position. This is checking the pcm relay ground driver.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
we tried that earlier and 85 was dead and 87 was also
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
Would you please follow my steps!! You did not do this test before, you only checked for power not ground
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
ok we followed your directions the test light did not lite up we did it 5 times
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.

Ok thanks! I need to know if the terminal directly opposite of that 85 terminal has power when the key is in the start position. You tried this before but I would like to know for sure. Here is a diagram of a relay and the terminal opposite from 85 is 86. Also I would like you to make sure you were just checking 85 by looking at my diagram. Let me know, thanks!

graphic

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
ok here goes. we checked 85 like you said. now for 86 did you want the tester to be hooked to postitive if so 86 didnt lite up when van in start.if you wanted it hooked to the neg then when I turned the ignition to start the tester lite up hope we did this right and it is the same as your picture the bottom of the relay has the numbers like yours
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.

Yes you did that right! I forgot to mention to change your test light lead to the negative when testing 86 oops!

I am going to research the security system you have installed to see if it is hooked into the starter relay driver in any way.

So, basically here is what is happening to your van. The starter relay has to have power to 86 when the key is in the start position and has to have a ground on 85 in the start and run position. The 85 feed circuit is not providing a ground to operate the starter relay. The PCM controls the ground by receiving inputs from the transmission range sensor, ignition switch and sentry key immobilzer module and if there is an input telling the PCM that something isn't right it won't allow it to turn the relay on. I will get back to you after some research, thanks!

Richard, Dodge Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 4014
Experience: Over 22 years of experience as lead tech and shop foreman.
Richard and 2 other Dodge Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you so very much for your help. I have been reserchin on the while going thru all this and that is kind of what I found that it could be pcm, your great will appreciate anything that would help. Pat
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
You are very welcome! We may need to get a scan tool on this to see if all the inputs are working. Don't replace the PCM yet. I will be back after checking this security system out. Thanks, Richard
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.

Can you locate the transmission range sensor connector at the driver front side of the transmission above the oil pan. The connector plugs in from the top side of the transmission and it is a rectangle connector towards the driver side of the van. I need you to hook up your test light alligator clip lead to the POSITIVE terminal and probe the yellow/dark blue wire when it is in park and let me know if the test light illuminates. Then put the trans in reverse and test it and let me know if it illuminates. Thanks!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
found gray plug with two wires going to it one wire lights tesat light one does not to dark to tell witch one is witch
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
The connector that you need to go to has about 7 wires in it. It is a large rectangle connector that goes straight up and down. It will have a yellow/dark blue wire going into it that you need to probe the way I had mentioned earlier. Let me know if you have problems locating that wire.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
can you get to it from the top
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
Yes you could but it is tight. If you look where the fluid level tube goes into the trans it is to the right of it when facing the front of the van and a little lower. I usually get at the connector from the bottom of the van but it is a little harder to probe a wire from the bottom. Let me know if you have problems accessing it. Thanks
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
thanks to dark try later
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
Just let me know if you have a problem finding that wire, thanks
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
can alarm sys. cause a pcm to fail
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.

No it can't cause it to fail but a factory alarm system can cause it to lock up when there is a problem with the bus communication or another module! I am not sure how your aftermarket alarm is tied in, I could not find a install manual. Did you find that wire and test it?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
no i did not find the wire lost engery took it to towbin dodge they told me the alarm sys. took out the pcm and are tring to charge 3 hrs. to remove the alarm sys what are the book hrs. to remove a alarm sys the alarm is a marksman model m5a
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
I am just going out for dinner, I will reply when I get back. Thanks!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
ok
Expert:  Richard replied 5 years ago.
I can't see the alarm system taking out the PCM. Alot of techs try to blame everything on the aftermarket parts because they don't know what the problem is so they remove the alarm to eliminate it. If your alarm system took out the PCM it should have done it right from when it was installed. The amount of labour to remove the system should be about 1/10th of the time it took to install it. I install Astrostart remote car starters/car alarms and when the customer wants it taken out of his old vehicle to put in his new one it takes about 1/10th of the time to remove it vs installing it. I would ask them how it took the PCM out and see what they say. I hope this helps! I have never installed a marksman system so I can't say for sure. Let me know how you make out, thanks! Richard

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Richard
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