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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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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.
 

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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+lap+starter&af={"vehicle":"2000-39-246------------6-1"}&pid=zJoHCfj&vehicle=2000-39-246------------6-1&ref=sx_ashttps://www.amazon.com/s?k=victory+lap+starter&af={"vehicle":"2000-39-246------------6-1"}&pid=zJoHCfj&vehicle=2000-39-246------------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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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+lap+starter&af={"vehicle":"2000-39-246------------6-1"}&pid=zJoHCfj&vehicle=2000-39-246------------6-1&ref=sx_ashttps://www.amazon.com/s?k=victory+lap+starter&af={"vehicle":"2000-39-246------------6-1"}&pid=zJoHCfj&vehicle=2000-39-246------------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.
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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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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Discussion Starter #10
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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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 (that’s 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 doesn’t always take care of it.

Here’s 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 isn’t 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 won’t help. That can be checked by measuring fuel pressure (there’s 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, you’d be complaining of the car not having any power when you try to accelerate, and I don’t think you mentioned that.

(3) Oil light - let me guess: when you’re 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 don’t be surprised if there’s oil dripping from the old oil pressure switch when you first look at it - sometimes they develop an oil leak, sometimes they don’t.

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. :fun_08:
 
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"Oil light - let me guess: when you’re 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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Another update. My intermittent no crank no start problem is STILL not fixed. As noted above I had a mechanic change out the starter solenoid and contacts using the recommended kit above. That was in early June. For nearly four months the car cranked every time and started. I thought it was fixed. Until today. This morning I started it up without issue and drove about a mile and a half. Parked it for only ten minutes. Climbed back in to find that it wouldn’t crank or make any clicking or anything even though the dashboard lights up. Same as last spring. I sat there for an hour periodically trying it again with no change. Finally walked home. It’s got to be an electrical problem, right? Already had a new ignition switch installed and had the battery cables checked. What next? I am not a mechanic, though I do simple diys. I just need something to direct the mechanic to try because in my experience they are often wrong in diagnosing difficult problems like this and I end up paying to replace things that were not causing the problem, and I already read online about someone whose car wouldn’t crank or click and they replaced the starter 3 times yet the issue kept returning. So I am not convinced replacing the starter is going to solve this either. Help!
 

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Clean all the cable connections from the battery posts on out!
 
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I should probably also mention that I tried the suggestion peva gave regarding the fact the car has for years now often required two key turns to start. I discovered that if I turned the key to on for a couple seconds without turning it far enough to crank, then turned the key off and turned it a second time but this time far enough to crank, it would always start. So, I’ve just gotten into the habit of doing that extra key turn to on before cranking. If I understand correctly, that indicates that the fuel pump is fine but there is either a leaky check-valve or leaky fuel injectors. Regardless, the no crank issue seems to be a totally separate problem, right? Fuel problems should not affect cranking as that is an electrical function?
 

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...Regardless, the no crank issue seems to be a totally separate problem, right? Fuel problems should not affect cranking as that is an electrical function?
Correct.
 

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May I Chime in here and Help this sister Out, Seems like You're going through what I went through with My M Special. I Was Having that Cranking Issue and Went all out changing parts which didn't help, I Changed the Starter like 5 Times (During the Winter season, Yea I Went through Hell) to Ignition Switch Twice With Duralast AutoZone Brand Which Ended Up causing Me more problems, because It Made My Windows Controls Not Work, My Heat/Climate Controls Didn't work either, It Also Made My ABS and AirBag Lights Come on, Plus other little problems I can't remember. But after exhausting all Avenues and was all out of Options and didn't know what else to do, I Saw that Chrysler Pacifica Video too and I Decided to give cleaning out the ground Terminals a try, I took the Whole Ground Cable out, Cleaned the Terminals where they Connect to and the Battery Head, Luckily I had a 2 Spare ones Laying around, I Cleaned them REALLY REALLY GOOD with parts cleaner and a Wire Brush, Installed it and Tightened everything down really good, Cranked that Sucker Up One Time and It Fired Right Up!!

But then, My AirBag And ABS Lights were still On And My Windows, Heat/AC still weren't working, So, I removed the Duralast Ignition Switch And Reinstalled My Old Factory one and everything was back in normal operation.

Moral Of the story, It's usually the Simplest things that produces the best Fixes.

So I can almost guarantee that Your Starter still had a good amount of life left in it, even though it's a good thing that You Rebuilt it anyway, Because You would've had to do that in the near future anyway, Depending on what Mileage You have on Your car, I don't think You ever Mentioned it. But, for People like Me, I would rather Ride and Use it till the Very last drop of Life left in it is used up before I replace it.
And also, Your Ignition switch is most likely still good and nothing wrong with it, I don't think that's a part that fails that often, if it every does..... But, If Your Replacement is working good unlike Mine, I hope You saved it for a rainy day.....

One thing that sounded familiar was the Cranking twice before car started situation, the same car, My 2003 M Special (Currently 149,000 Proud Miles) does the same thing (Mostly after sitting overnight/a long time), the first Crank it Sputters and Dies, but the 2nd One Fires it right up, sometimes it runs a little rough for a sec or 2, but evens out after that. So, what Peva said about the Fuel Leaking/Draining back makes sense... One thing I didn't hear You mention is if You smell gas anywhere inside or outside Your car, Because, I do Smell gas inside and outside the car and I have the P0440 Code which is probably the same the Emission code You mentioned earlier and You mentioned You had dropped the Gas Tank to Change the Fuel Pump, You Could've Replaced The Charcoal Canister Thing that's Causing the Emission Code, I think that's what generally throws that Emissions Code... But since the car is still taking Me where I wanna go right now, I will deal with that a little later when I'm through with what I have I have On My plate right now.

So, I hope You get some ideas to deal with Your Frustrations/Car Problems from My experience. I don't think I know half of what the guys on here knows, I learn as I go. But, Trust with people like Peva, You're in good hands, He and few other people know more than Your Average Mechanics out there, so Its better You know what the Problem is before You take Your car to the Mechanics that'll just throw parts at Your car and end up Spending Your money on unnecessary repairs that You don't need.
 

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I have another update for this thread regarding the intermittent no crank no start problem with my car, and I hope it will be the last. To summarize, starting last spring my Intrepid decided at random times to not crank or start when the key was turned despite having a good battery. I took it to a mechanic but it kept starting for him, so it was hard for him to diagnose but he thought the ignition lock was very worn and might be the issue. Replaced it. Problem recurred. This time I asked for advice on here and it was suggested to have him replace the contacts and solenoid on the starter. This time the car seemed to be fixed until 4 months later when it refused to crank or start again. This time it had to be towed. The mechanic ran tests on the electrical wiring and said it tested good. He took off the starter and bench tested it, and it tested bad. He suggested that replacing the contacts and solenoid had only been a bandaid on a failing starter that bought me four months, but now I needed a new starter. The new starter was installed a couple months ago and I THINK my no crank issue is resolved. It still dies sometimes on the first start attempt, but I am not planning to fix that issue right now because it hasn’t gotten any worse in the two plus years it has done that, and I am reluctant to continue sinking money into this car. I hope this info helps someone else with similar issues. Have the starter bench tested before you replace it.
 

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whenever something like this happens, while it's in a failed state, it's pretty easy to just run the wires and connectors with a voltmeter. You can start at your battery post or the starter, whichever. Think of electricity like water. The battery is the reservoir. The voltage is the depth the water is drawn from (i.e. pressure). The starter is the crop that is going to be watered by the pipe. If the water slows to a trickle that means either the reservoir is empty, there's an obstruction or leak in the pipe. Your voltmeter is like a pressure gage. You start by measuring the pressure in the bottom of the reservoir to see how full it is. In this case that would be right on the battery post. Then you try and crank the engine. Even if the battery reads 12V if it drops off badly chances are the battery is bad and can't supply the cranking amps (but usually you'll hear a clicking from the starter). Then you measure at the terminal. If it drops off then the terminal is dirty. Then you can usually pierce the wire after the terminal. If it drops off, the contact between the terminal and the wire is bad. Then you can go to the metal connector plate on the starter. If it drops off there then somewhere between your battery and the starter the wire is damaged. Then you can go right on the lug of the starter. If it drops off there, then the connection there is dirty. Basically envision when the farmer opens the valve to water the field the water will all drain out of the pipe downhill of the obstruction so you'll see low pressure (voltage) below that point and high above. Turning the key to start is like opening that valve.

Also you need to run the starter trigger wire in the same manner (following your schematic diagrams). One quick test you can usually do is to get under the car and short across from the power lug to the trigger spade connector to bypass the key, solenoid, etc... It should crank. If you've run both wires and still no luck finding a huge voltage drop, sister your engine ground with a set of jumper cables.

In fact since it's easiest, I usually start with rapping on the starter with some kind of a metal pipe or bar (and if it works it will usually indicate a partially burned solenoid connector or worn brush or burned commutator inside the starter) and then I sister the ground. Those two things usually get you about half way home with isolating some of the most common causes.

The problem with these intermittents is you usually can't fix it if it isn't broke (which mystical self healing usually happens o the tow truck on its way over to the mechanic's shop) so it's important to be able to attack it right when it happens in the field.
 
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