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9 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I have a 2000 Intrepid which on a semi regular basis requires me to fool with the gear shifter to get the starter to engage after its been sitting for several hours. All I'll get is a clicking sound when I turn the key.

Its not like the battery or starter is new either though.

Sounds like I might have to drop the transmission pan to change this part. Not that a fluid change isn't always fun but what is my testing procedure before jumping in?

Thanks in advance!

Premium Member
17,026 Posts
Do you have the 2.7 or 3.2/3.5 engine? I ask because the starters are different in the two types of engines, and the starter solenoids in the 3.2/3.5 are prone to a condition in which the solenoid contacts become severely worn/pitted, causing intermittent no-start accompanied by a noticeable "click" sound when the ignition key is turned to the start position. The click sound is due to the solenoid activation and the plunger somewhat "violently" slamming to its activated position. The sound is also present when things work normally, but is masked by the starter motor engaging the flywheel and turning the engine. It is due to the absence if the start motor action that the solenoid click becomes noticeable.

if worn solenoid contacts is the problem, the problem will come and go in successive starting attempts, often working or not working for a day or two at a time, and then suddenly doing the opposite (not working or working) also for a day or more at a time. This intermittency is due to the plunger rotating slightly at each activation, and the heavy pitting of the electrical contact surface of the plunger lining up with the two stationary contacts of the solenoid. When a pitted spot on the plunger lines up with an also-worn stationary contact, you get the no-start/"click" condition, then, when it rotates further, a non- or less-pitted area of the plunger lines up with the stationary contact, and the starter starts working again.

IF worn/pitted solenoid contacts are your problem, then its random nature is fooling you into thinking that the shifter position change is involved. HOWEVER - the problem may not be the worn solenoid contacts, and you may in fact have a shifter cable problem, or, as you have suggested, the range switch could be bad.

If worn solenoid contacts, you can replace the starter, but it is much cheaper and just as effective to replace the contacts with a <$15 kit from Amazon:

That kit is the best bang for the buck. Some of the kits at the parts stores don't include the plunger, which is part of the problem, and they cost more.

That kit is only for the 3.2/3.5 engine. The 2.7 starters don't generally develop this problem, and the kit is not for the 2.7 starter.

It is rare for the range sensor to go bad, but is not unheard of, but you should rule out bad starter solenoid contacts and shifter cable issues before replacing the range sensor.

Possible shifter cable issues:

(1) Is your shifter easy to move thru its different postions? It should move very easily, with the detent mechanism being the only noticeable resistance to motion. If the shifter is easy to move, then this is not the problem. If moving the shifter feels "stiff", then the cable is corroded internally, and needs to be replaced, and that should resolve the no start/click condition.

(2) The shifter cable may simply need adjusting so that the discrete shifter positions are in sync with the range sensor. Adjusting the shifter cable is an easy operation, and is described in the FSM - procedure is at bottom of this post.

My gut feel is that the problem is worn starter solenoid contacts - unless you can repeatedly demonstrate that moving the shifter is related to the occurrence of the problem and you're not being tricked into thinking it is purely by the random nature of the solenoid contacts acting up.

Assess the shifter cable stiffness, and adjust the cable first. If the cable is not stiff and the adjustment doesn't fix the problem, then consider that worn solenoid contacts are more likely to be the problem than an actual bad range sensor.


Cable adjustment procedure from FSM (assuming you have floor shifter, not column shifter):

The gearshift cable should be adjusted if any of the following repairs or situations are encountered:
• Transaxle replacement.
• Valve body repair.
• Shift cable replacement.
• Floor shifter replacement.
• When there is no cranking in park or neutral. If the following conditions are encountered, the interlock cable is out of adjustment. Refer to Inter- lock Cable Adjustment procedure.

• When the transaxle can be shifted without the key in the ignition.
• If the key can be removed with the shifter in reverse.
• When the key cannot be removed with the shifter in the park position.

(1) Remove shifter handle and console bezel.

[There's a set screw locking the shift knob onto the shifter shaft. I forget whether it takes a hex key or torx bit. The screw inserts in the knob from the front if the vehicle. Chock the wheels, turn the ignition key to Run position to allow the shifter to he moved out of Park position, and move the shifter to Drive position to make room to loosen the knob set screw. Loosen the screw. Pull up on the knob as you continue to loosen the screw, and stop loosening the screw when the knob pulls off. If you continue to loosen the screw, it will fall out and you could lose the screw. When re-installing the knob, you might need to back the screw out a quarter of a turn or so so that the screw tip clears the shaft to allow the knob to drop down. Then, as you slowly tighten the screw, slide the knob up and down on the shifter shaft so that the tip of the screw can "find" the locating hole in the shaft, then, when the tip of the screw is in the shaft hole, tighten the screw completely.]

(2) Loosen nut on shifter cable adjuster (Fig. 446).
(3) Make sure that the transaxle shift lever (at transaxle) is in the Park position. This is the most rearward position. Verify park sprag is fully engaged.
CAUTION: Park sprag must be engaged when adjusting linkage. Rock vehicle back and forth to ensure that park sprag is fully engaged.
(4) Place shifter in park position.
(5) Place ignition in lock with key removed.
(6) Tighten adjuster nut at shifter to 225 in. lbs.
(7) Reinstall console bezel and shifter handle.
(8) Check shifter for proper operation. It should operate smoothly without binding. The vehicle should crank in Park or Neutral only.


9 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
That WAS DETAILED and thank you very much.

Today it did it first thing in the morning and not since. I could have kicked myself to because my hand made it down to the shifter before I tried the 2nd time and it started. Second turn of the key it worked normally.

I'll update further!

Oh, mine has the 2.7L.
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