1999 Ram 1500 van -- won't crank.

Had the van for about 8 months now.. has been working fine. Put a few thousand miles on it so far.. One day, I went out to drive the thing and now the thing just gives a loud "click" when you hit the key
to start it. I have replaced the negative battery cable (service manual said "replace if voltage drop is greater than .2 volts"). I checked the starter and it works still. I tested the relay -- it works. When I went to test the ignition switch, i got a small amount of voltage on one of the legs where it says you're supposed to have no voltage with the key in the "run" position. The switch has been acting up for a while (i.e. - the key can be removed while the switch is in the run position)..
So I'm wondering if that little bit of voltage is telling the brain to not crank the engine. Does this sound reasonable? Anyone else had this problem? I'm not eager to go blow $75 on a switch and have it not work.
I've removed the switch from the steering column and it is dangling. I took the cover off and used the wiring diagram to figure out which wire triggers the starter relay... jumping power directly to it still only makes the thing click... I would think that it would make the thing crank. But what do I know? LOL
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
BTW - the van has a new battery that is a couple months old. I also tried another known good battery in its stead and same click happens. I've turned the engine about 60 degrees with my hands so I'm fairly certain that it is not locked up and the flywheel is not at a chewn spot.
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It sounds like you have a bad starter.
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How exactly did you check the starter?
Is it the 'click' of the relay you're hearing, or the louder 'clunk' of the solenoid on the starter? If it's the solenoid you're hearing, then the only problems could be the positive cable from the battery to the starter, or the starter itself.
Now - if you're just hearing the starter relay clicking, and no action on the starter solenoid, I'd check the small +12V wire to the solenoid, and measure there for voltage when trying to crank. If you don't have any voltage there, troubleshoot the wiring and/or starter relay. If you do have voltage there, I'd suspect a bad solenoid.

I don't think you're looking at a bad switch. Does everything else power up with the switch in the 'RUN' position? Radio, blower motor, wipers, etc.? If if does, you can leave the switch in the 'RUN' position, pull the starter relay, and jumper the terminals in the relay socket that match up to the relay terminals labelled #30 and #87. This will energize the solenoid, which should then energize the starter motor. If THAT works (but I doubt it will, since you said you hear 'something' when turning the key to START), but if it does, you then either have a problem with the switch, or a possible grounding problem. I chased a similar problem on a friend's '98 that turned out to be a loose ground at the engine (one of the power steering pump bolts provides a grounding location for the wiring harness).
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On Jul 28, 1:53 pm, "Tom Lawrence"

actually, I took the old starter out and brought it to the store and they tested it... it spun up, but was drawing about twice the amperage it was supposed to.. I went ahead and bought a brand new (not reman.) starter. Put the darned thing on and same CLICK of the solenoid on the starter. So I know it's not the starter.. LOL For grins I took the old starter apart and the solenoid is pretty worn, almost to where it won't work any more, but it would still work in a pinch (or if i renewed the solenoid)

I have not checked the trigger wire for voltage at the starter end, but i do feel the starter relay click as well as the solenoid when i hit the key, so i'm assuming it's getting battery voltage.

everything does come on when in the "run" position.. I have not tried jumpering the wires where the starter relay plugs in... i will try that...
what really stinks is that i have the factory service manual for this piece of poop and it still hasn't helped me find the problem! Gives me great confidence in the dodge dealership here... when i went to buy the negative batt. cable, i heard the service manager telling someone they "couldn't find the problem with your car ma'am, but we went ahead and replaced the battery anyway"... to the tune of $150 plus $50 to drop it in the cavity.
It's too bad the manual tranny bailed on my '85 Dodge van... that thing was so much nicer to deal with (slant six with '75 carb and ignition).. one of these days i'm going to pull that one apart, fix it, and ditch this new piece of crap!
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Okay - then most likely you've got a bad cable from the battery to the starter. You already addressed the negative battery cable, so I'm assuming the engine is sufficiently grounded. When the solenoid engages, it closes a pair of heavy contacts that supplies battery voltage to the starter motor. The only reasons the starter motor wouldn't be spinning are bad ground or bad +12V feed.

There's nothing wrong with "this new piece of crap" that wouldn't also go wrong on your '85. This has nothing to do with electronics. This is a basic electrical problem that can happen on any vehicle that doesn't use a hand crank to start the engine.
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On Jul 28, 7:07 pm, "Tom Lawrence"

lol, true enough.. still, the new one is made with thinner gauge metal and loads more plastic.. and the dashboard is right in your face, complete with two safety exploders in the dash as well.
I didn't have any notable amount of voltage drop between the starter and the positive terminal of the battery... and the resistance of the positive cable was 4 ohms.
Right now I wish it *was* hand crankable..
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If you have 4 Ohms of resistance then that cable is completely shot. 4 Ohms of resistance would limit the current going to the starter to 3 Amps and at 3 Amps, the starter would not even begin to turn.
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Guess we have found the problem then, huh? Thanks for the help! I will try replacing that cable tomorrow..
I'm embarassed that i don't know more about simple electricity and ohm's law..
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Gosh darn new-fangled copper batt'ry cables :^)
Let us know how it turns out.
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In the front of the Electrical section of my Factory Service Manual there ia a lot about ohms law and 12 volt electricity. Takes some reading and comprehension that will serve you well. For openers less frustration with alternator,battery, starter and battery cable problems.
Take care Bob AZ
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Well.... this has been a very humbling experience.
After replacing a starter unnecessarily as well as a negative battery cable, thanks to you guys, I finally discovered the problem. It should have been obvious, but for some reason i overlooked it.
I checked the resistance of the wire from the starter hot lead to the positive terminal again this afternoon... only got 1.5 ohms. So... I undid the thing totally and removed it from the van.. discovered none other than rust there on the cable. I obviously didn't look closely enough at the positive connection at the battery. I didn't notice there was actually a separate wire going to the terminal... Once I pulled out the trusty swiss army knife and scraped the terminal, i measured again and there was negligible resistance through the wire. Connected everything again and heard a happy noise when I turned the key! LOL
i hate re-learning stuff i learned a long time ago! :)
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On Sat, 28 Jul 2007 05:40:37 -0700, the snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

It's probably the key cylinder. They are made out of pot metal and they wear out where they activate the switch assembly.
beekeep
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On Jul 29, 6:47 am, snipped-for-privacy@radix.net (beekeep) wrote:

now i have a new problem... the turn signal isn't working and the four- way flasher only works when i have the headlights turned off. Also, the bright light indicator is staying on regardless of high or low beam. Both the turn signal indicators in the dash are staying on as well..
I'm hoping this time, it's just because this thing has been sitting for 3 weeks and maybe some water got in something it shouldn't have..
the thing drove very well though, in spite of the new problems.. lol
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Now you messed up some wiring while playing around with the ignition switch. Check the wiring and connector on the multi-function switch, which is on the opposite side of the column from the ignition switch.
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On Jul 30, 10:38 am, "Tom Lawrence"

ok will do..
went out this morning and the signals work again.. still getting the turn indicators and the bright light indicator though with the headlights on.
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ran an errand at lunch time and decided to put the switch back onto the steering column because i was getting tired of using a screwdriver as well as the key to start the van... whaddaya know.. the switch needs to be in contact with the steering column .. all the gremlins went away when i did that.. LOL
DUHHHH
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