1991 Dodge Caravan No Start, Take 2

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  #1  
Old 03-06-08, 08:46 PM
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1991 Dodge Caravan No Start, Take 2

Hello all! I posted about this van no start awhile back, and got many responses. I've tested the basic things that I could and now I got my Haynes manual back. So I think now it may be the neutral safety switch, or the starter motor, or solenoid. I have some tests from the Haynes book and I need a bit more information.

One test asks me to jump the battery positive to the small terminal on the solenoid, and then crank. What kind of cable do I buy, what kind of clips, and how do I do it safely? (This is my first time doing this, so try to simplify instructions if you can! )

The other one has me test for continuity with a voltmeter for the neutral safety switch. It mentions touching the case with on side, by case I guess they mean tranny case? Also anyone know what kind of wrench to take that switch off?

Thanks for the input, hopefully with a little luck, I'll be back on the road in no time!
 
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  #2  
Old 03-07-08, 04:39 AM
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Hot wiring the solenoid in that fashion you can use pretty small wire. About 14ga or so should be fine. Just attach a couple of alligator clips to the ends big enough to clip on the terminals. As soon as you make the connection the solenoid should close and the starter rotate. You're eliminating the ignition switch as the possible problem. You can accomplish the same thing by metering for voltage at that terminal when the key is turned.

"Case" could refer either to the tranny case or the switch case, although I'm inclined to think they mean the tranny case. I don't recall how that switch is mounted.

Nothing happening at all when you turn the key; no clicks or rotation?
 
  #3  
Old 03-07-08, 09:14 AM
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Great information, thanks.

And no, no clicks, no rotation, nada. I had a big long thread about this before, and I suspected the starter relay, but we bought a cheap wrecker one and determined it wasn't that. The starter relay just clicks when you push the ignition forward, and again when you release they key.

Also I'm going to pick-up a multimeter, it just seems to useful to not have one. Where do I put the leads then if I don't want to use the wire and just the meter to test voltage at the solenoid terminal. And it is the small terminal right? It is hard to get under there, our starter is messy and the wires are blocked by some metal part of the chassis, but it can be done.

One more thing - can the NSS be jumpered or just tested for continuity with the ohmmeter. I also think that my NSS has two wires, is that right?

Sorry for adding more, I keep realizing more the more I look at the van itself. The starter and solenoid is very oily and dirty. #1 can I wash it and adjacent wires without harming it, number 2 is there a good picture online showing the connections, and number 3 I need some information regarding the connections for the purpose of testing.
 

Last edited by Codyy; 03-07-08 at 01:45 PM.
  #4  
Old 03-07-08, 03:56 PM
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Link below is for wiring diagrams available from autozone, who also explains what all the symbols on schematic mean. May be of some use to you. As far as your new/used relay just clicking, that tells me you have a complete circuit that far anyway. With a test light, you should be able to probe at that relay to find energized wire coming in, and what wire(s) are energized going out, to starter. Do you understand what I'm saying, otherwise I'll try to give more detail on what I mean. All in all, if you suspect it's the starter, maybe pulling it off & having it tested, or testing it yourself,(which is fairly simple) would confirm your suspicions.


http://www.autozone.com/az/cds/en_us...rInfoPages.htm
 
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Old 03-07-08, 07:12 PM
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Sounds like you're working this through in a good logical manor.
Yes you can clean the area just spray the work area with a mild degreaser then gently rinse off with the garden hose.
Be carefull not to wet the ignition set you might even want to cover it up just in case or you may need TowGuy's services.
Just some tips on the Multimeter.
When testing voltage set the meter to DC VOLTS and put the black lead to the NEG side of your circuit and the red lead to the Pos. side of your circuit.
When testing Continuity set the meter to OHMS and or the BEEP setting and put the leads in line.
You may be better off with just a simple Test Light instead of the multimeter in this case. It either lights up or it doesn't.
Hope this helps.
 
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Old 03-07-08, 09:51 PM
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Awesome information. My only other questions that remain is can the neutral switch be jumpered, or only tested with my ohmmeter, and where do I put my leads for testing the solenoid? (A diagram if possible) And finally, how do I test my car relays?
 
  #7  
Old 03-08-08, 05:25 AM
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Take a look at this link. scroll down a little to see basic wiring for starters. Your should be same or very similar. If this diagram makes any sense to you, you should be able to see where to test for voltage, continuity, and where to jump if needed. If your still scratching your head, let us know, and we'll try to simplify. I have my old ways when all else fails, but I've also got 35 yrs experience with these kind of things, and am hesitant to instruct on how it's done, if the experience is not there, only for safety sake, as I'm sure a few of the other replys are. Let us know if this helps.

http://www.samarins.com/glossary/starter.html
 
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Old 03-08-08, 04:18 PM
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I got my beautiful multimeter now and was testing today. Now, so far, I didn't get voltage readings from the solenoid/starter testing mentioned above. I then continued to check for continuity with the neutral safety switch. I had no continuity between the center pin and tranny case when in park, but did have continuity between the two outer pins. Now, would I get false readings on either test because of a dirty place for the black lead or the dirty tranny case for the continuity test? I tried to clean some areas and tried more than one area but nada. Does it seem like that switch is a good bet? I don't want to put a whole ton more money into this, and I hope my tests are right - even the solenoid contacts were dirty despite my attempt at cleaning.
And also one more thing. Is there a more definitive test for the NSS so I don't waste my money (jumper it, bypass it) for the sake of testing? I realize the danger of permanently defeating a safety device, so naturally I want to fix it but make certain so I don't waste money. And any tips on getting the sucker off, which I've yet to try, is appreciated!

Thanks!
 

Last edited by Codyy; 03-08-08 at 04:45 PM.
  #9  
Old 03-09-08, 09:00 AM
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New News:

Cleaned the tranny case, and put the ignition switch on, left it there, and then tested for continuity in park again. And yes, this time I got continuity, so the switch is not the problem. I'm guessing now starter or starter solenoid. I tried to take the starter off and those bolts are on there way to good. Need some recommendations with that... tried WD40 lol. Also, need some information on starter/solenoid bench tests so I know for sure which part is at fault after they're off.
 

Last edited by Codyy; 03-09-08 at 01:32 PM.
  #10  
Old 03-09-08, 05:09 PM
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Use jumper cables between a good car battery and your starter. Hook the positive one to the big post on the solenoid that had the big red battery cable attached. Hook the negative battery cable between the battery's negative post and the metal of the starter case anywhere. Now use a screwdriver or whatever to jump between the solenoid big post you have the jumper cable hooked to, and the small terminal on the solenoid marked "S" for start. This test will duplicate what happens when you turn your key to "start". If the solenoid and starter are both good, the solenoid will cause not only the starter to spin, but throw the gear back as it spins, just like it would when it tries to engage a flywheel.

[Make sure to hold onto the starter when doing this test, with rubber or leather gloves or a shopcloth, to keep the starter from torquing around on you.]

To test the starter alone:

If you put positive jumper wire from car battery to the copper tang that goes through a rubber grommet, directly into the starter, - that is the tang that sends full battery amp 12 volt juice directly to the starter's windings, only. Hook the other jumper cable from the metal housing to your car's negative battery post. The starter should spin (but will not throw out the gear during this test) if it is good. Once again, make sure to hold onto the starter. [READ:You may not be able to actually attach the positive jumper cable to that tang. You may have to have the negative jumper cable grounded to the case of the starter first, and then stick a screwdriver's metal shank into the jaws of the positive jumper cable, then touch the screwdriver to that tang.]

[Again, make sure you are hanging onto the starter to prevent it from taking a quick torquing roll if it gets spinning.]

To test the solenoid, if you carried out that first paragraph test - irregardless of if the starter spun - if the solenoid does not throw out the gear to the back of the starter housing, then the solenoid is bad, if you were making good contact.

...........

It has been a good many years since I've had to test like this, but I believe this should work for you.
 
  #11  
Old 03-09-08, 05:21 PM
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Firstly thanks for all the info.

What kind of cables do I need for this test, just regular jumper cables, or a certain guage of wire and alligator clips? Also, is there any tests I can use my multimeter for as well?
 
  #12  
Old 03-09-08, 06:06 PM
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I've simply used jumper cables because they already have the clips on the ends. But since you are testing without the load of the engine, it probably does not HAVE to be near that kind of gauge wire.

I'd prefer an actual voltage test rather than a multi-meter test. Continuity at certain contacts, regarding the solenoid, is not going to occur until a plunging action takes place, from the applied current, to allow current to travel through the contacts. Also, DC motors are not easily tested for dead shorts because current is allowed to flow through the positive terminal to any negative contact, even through it's own case. [Case-in-point being that a starter requires no negative cable separately hooked up to it. The positive current goes through the windings and right out the case directly through where it is bolted to the engine. AC motors are different; you can test them to see if there is a dead short between windings and case, because there should never be any continuity between THOSE two.
 
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Old 03-09-08, 06:12 PM
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Thanks for the help, I'll keep everyone posted. Of course if anyone has anything else to add, go ahead, and it is appreciated!
 
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