Unpredictable starting issues - DodgeIntrepid.Net Forums - Dodge Intrepid, Concorde, 300m and Eagle Vision chat
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2019, 03:02 AM Thread Starter
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Unpredictable starting issues

I have a 2002 3.5L Intrepid. A couple years ago, I first noticed that it didn't always start on the first try. It always seemed to crank fine but sometimes it took a second turn of the key for it to start. Nevertheless, it always started. When I had it in to a mechanic for another repair, I asked him about this starting issue, and he said it could be a lot of things, but he would replace the starter relay to see if that helped. It did not help, but since the problem did not seem to ever prevent the car from starting, I did not take it back for further investigation.

A few days ago, I climbed into the car in the morning, turned the key and it did not even crank. The dashboard lights came on, and the radio came on, but there was no cranking and no clicking. Just nothing for three key turns. I had to be sonewhere so I got a ride and wasn't able to investigate further until evening. I tried to start it a couple more times with the same results. I checked the lights and the power windows and everything seemed to be powered just fine, so it did not feel like a battery issue. I did the keyturn thing to check the CEL codes (the CEL is on due to emmission system leaks) and there were no new codes. But after that I turned the key once more to see if it would start and it started right up!

All the same, I didn't trust it to not strand me so I took it to a mechanic. He started it numerous times with only a couple recurrences of the issue of having to turn the key twice and no recurrence of the no crank issue. He recommended replacing the ignition switch, so I agreed to let him do that. I brought it home today and ran some errands. On the fourth start, it did the same old thing of making me turn the key a second time to start it, and I fear the no crank issue might recur as well. Any ideas what might be causing this? Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2019, 03:05 PM
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2019, 03:06 PM
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2019, 03:06 PM
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Sorry, I had to get to at least 10 posts before the site would allow me to post a URL link. lol...

Try replacing the grounding cable running from the negative terminal of the battery. It seems like an intermittent issue, so it could be something as simple as a corroded grounding cable. An improper ground connection can cause starting issues, as well as many other electrical bugs. The fix is super easy, super cheap with readily available materials, only takes 15 minutes of your time and can be done by anyone. Have a look at this simple video. It applies to any modern computerized vehicle on the road:


Also, try inspecting, cleaning and/or replacing some of the associated fuses in the fuse panel. Again, any corrosion and improper electrical contact could cause issues.

These seem like minor things to check, but try them first before delving into it deeper and spending even more money.

Cheers.

Last edited by PlumCraziness; 04-28-2019 at 03:31 PM.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2019, 03:29 PM
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You should have posted here before spending money replacing good parts.

Experience with my 3.2 (same engine/starter as 3.5) and on this forum says 80+% chance that the starter solenoid contacts are worn out. Those are the classic symptoms of that problem on Nippon starters.

You could replace the starter with an inferior aftermarket rebuild, or save money and have greater reliability by keeping the factory starter and replacing the solenoid contacts. These starters almost never have any other problems.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=victory+l...-6-1&ref=sx_as

That’s the best kit on the market. Under $15, incl. shipping. Includes new plunger, which is important - other aftermarket kits cost more and don’t include the plunger.

After ruling out the things that PlumCraziness pointed out, I would get the contacts kit.
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Last edited by peva; 04-28-2019 at 03:40 PM.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2019, 04:51 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to both of you for great suggestions! I will try them out one at a time and see what happens.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2019, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dmill View Post
Thanks to both of you for great suggestions! I will try them out one at a time and see what happens.
Hey, no worries! Please give us an update as to how things go!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-28-2019, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peva View Post
You should have posted here before spending money replacing good parts.

Experience with my 3.2 (same engine/starter as 3.5) and on this forum says 80+% chance that the starter solenoid contacts are worn out. Those are the classic symptoms of that problem on Nippon starters.

You could replace the starter with an inferior aftermarket rebuild, or save money and have greater reliability by keeping the factory starter and replacing the solenoid contacts. These starters almost never have any other problems.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=victory+l...-6-1&ref=sx_as

Thatís the best kit on the market. Under $15, incl. shipping. Includes new plunger, which is important - other aftermarket kits cost more and donít include the plunger.

After ruling out the things that PlumCraziness pointed out, I would get the contacts kit.
Good suggestion. I knew I was forgetting something! I am still learning about these LH cars, but I know I read about that elsewhere here on the site sometime before joining. That would definitely be my next step after checking the grounding cable and fuses for sure. That solenoid contact rebuild kit is cheap as dirt and I had a look on YouTube on how to install it, and it looks really easy to do too. Sometimes it's the cheapest, simplest things that can cause big issues! Great advice, which is why I came here!
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 04-29-2019, 12:16 PM
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The starter will have to come out to replace the contacts - a slight PITA, but not too bad. But that part of the job will of course also apply if you replace the starter with new/rebuilt.

There are a couple of tips that are worth knowing when R&R'ing the starter. Let us know if/when you get to that point and we can give you those tips (though it sounds like you may not be the DIY type and will probably pay a mechanic to do it - in either case, again, the Victory Lap kit is the best kit because it does include the plunger).
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Update

It's been awhile since I posted this, and I'm overdue for an update. After you all advised me, life happened and I got busy and did not get the starter solenoid or battery cable fixed right away. So, one day I drove to a friend's house and an hour later when I tried to leave, the car did its "no crank no start" thing again. I tried several times over the course of about ten minutes with no cranking at all, so I finally gave up and caught a ride home. That evening my husband took me back to try again, and just like before after sitting all day it started up after only a couple of no crank key turns. I ordered the solenoid repair kit and got a mechanic to repair the solenoid and check the grounding cable on the battery. He said the cable was fine but there was a broken grounding strap that he repaired. He showed me the worn solenoid contacts he had replaced, and they were indeed very worn.

After the repair, th mchanic noted that the car is still sometimes slow to start (long cranking or takes two key turns to catch). In the couple days I have been driving it since, I have noted the same thing. He suggested that the slow start issue and the periodic no-crank issue may have different causes. He and I are hopeful that the solenoid repair will prevent the no-crank issue from recurring, but I think I need to give it a month before I can say for sure. He thinks the slow starts where it cranks but doesn't catch easily are caused by fuel not reaching the motor in a timely fashion. He suggested the fuel pump might be the issue. The original fuel pump actually went out several years ago, and there were no warning signs at all. It just quit one day. He suggested that the replacement might not be of good quality and was failing early. Any thoughts on that? Replacing the fuel pump the first time was very costly because it required removing the gas tank. Obviously, I'm not going to do that on a hunch. Is the fuel filter on these cars easy to replace? How often should it be replaced? Thanks again for your help! There is also a new issue with the car's oil light that I think is unrelated to this so I will make a new post about it soon.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-10-2019, 09:53 PM
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We can help on all of those issues. We can go into more detail, but here are the short answers:

(1) Slow start due to either weak fuel pump, or leaking check valve in the fuel pump (fuel lines empty out into the fuel tank), *OR* fuel injector(s) leaking, draining the fuel rail into the intake and one or more cylinders. If leaky injector(s), it/they might have a little dirt in the injector pintle (thatís the magnetically driven pin the goes in and out of the valve seat to close and open the injector). Sometimes you can get rid of that by running a dose of Techron or Sea Foam through a couple of tanks of fuel, but that doesnít always take care of it.

Hereís a little trick with that until you figure it out and get it fixed: Before you start it, turn the key to Run position for 3 to 5 seconds, then turn to Off for 3 to 5 seconds. Then turn it back to Run, then back to Off again. Then crank it - it should start.

(Explanation: The engine computer only runs the fuel pump for a second or so when you first turn the key on, and then keeps the pump off until the computer detects that the engine is running. With the fuel lines drained due to either the fuel pump check valve or the fuel injectors leaking down, one short run of the fuel pump at key turn on isnít enough to get fuel to the engine. But turning the key On and Off a couple of times before cranking runs the pump enough to fill and pressurize the fuel lines and fuel rail, so it will start much quicker.)

It may sputter for 2 or 3 seconds and then smooth right out, but it will start much quicker. If the fuel pump is weak (rather than leaking check valve or fuel injectors), the key On-Off trick probably wonít help. That can be checked by measuring fuel pressure (thereís a port on the fuel rail to plug a gauge into).

(2) Fuel filter - designed to last the life of the vehicle - built into the fuel pump, so was replaced with the fuel pump. The fuel filter should not be causing any problems. If the fuel filter were partially or mostly clogged, youíd be complaining of the car not having any power when you try to accelerate, and I donít think you mentioned that.

(3) Oil light - let me guess: when youíre sitting at a stop light, idling in gear after the engine has warmed up, the oil light flickers or comes on solid until you accelerate. That, or the light glows dimly sometimes when going down the road - or some of both. Both problems will be fixed by replacing the oil pressure switch - do not use aftermarket for that part - they often have problems right out of the box - dealer only for this particular part. When you replace it, spray some brake parts cleaner all over the connector and wire to remove any oil - really wash it off good. Then let it dry thoroughly, and plug it back in. The dash light is an LED that takes very little current to light up, and oil in the connector leaks enough electricity to dimly light the LED. Oh - and donít be surprised if thereís oil dripping from the old oil pressure switch when you first look at it - sometimes they develop an oil leak, sometimes they donít.

You and your mechanic sound like you have your act together. Everything he told you exactly fits with the above. Show him this post and he can probably take it from there.

Well - I guess I filled in more details than I planned to.


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Last edited by peva; 06-10-2019 at 10:12 PM.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-11-2019, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
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"Oil light - let me guess: when youíre sitting at a stop light, idling in gear after the engine has warmed up, the oil light flickers or comes on solid until you accelerate."

Bingo! Brilliant guess! Thanks for all the suggestions and helpful info. I will be trying out the key turn trick to see if it helps eliminate some possibilities and the Techron, too.
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