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Old 01-12-2007, 06:05 AM
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'88 Plymouth Voyager starting issue (long)

Please help!

I have an '88 Plymouth Voyager minivan with the 3.0 V6 and automatic. This is my secondary vehicle that I use to pick up greasy parts with and drive when road conditions are too scary for my nicer car, which means that it can go a couple of weeks between starts. This summer it developed an issue where I would turn the key and would get nothing from the starter. There was an audible "click", but I am fairly certain that it was the sound of the blower motor momentarily turning off while the ignition engages. Sometimes the second time the key is turned the engine turns over with no problem and sometimes I have to twist the column shifter around the full range of "park"--not sure if moving the shifter is actually helping or not. The issue seems to be getting worse, and I had to twist the key a dozen times to get it to start this week. I'm now afraid of being stranded somewhere. It acts the same in neutral and park. I replaced the battery, which didn't help at all. A couple of weeks ago I replaced the negative battery cable, which seemed to help at first--the van started flawlessly for a couple of weeks while the temps were in the 50s. Then last weekend the temp dropped to 30 and the issue returned. Note that when the starter does engage it always turns over strongly without hesitation. Here's my current thinking:

1. Try replacing the positive battery cable--this cable is scary looking, and has three wires--one heavy gage wire to the starter, another heavy gage wire to a clump of cables that are wrapped at the firewall and a small, thin gage wire with a connector on it. Chrysler no longer offers this, O'Reilly's doesn't offer it, AutoZone claims to have it for $10.99--a bargain if it is really the right thing. This looks like a pain to replace.

2. Try installing a push button starter. I did this successfully on another of my cars when the ignition switch failed, and if nothing else it should tell me whether the problem is related to the positive batt cable. I just need to find the two hot posts on the starter, wire a two position switch to them and poof!--push button starter. I'm inclined to give this a try first because I already have all of the parts needed (wire, connectors, heavy switch rated for 12v ignition). Can anyone tell me which are the hot poles on this starter?

Thanks for any suggestions! If there is an easier way to route around the ignition switch I would love to hear about it, too--can I open up the column to get at the correct wires to attach a push button starter? How would the column come apart?

Enough questions. Any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Matt

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Old 01-12-2007, 06:58 AM
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I have had this problem with a 87 voyager and a 91 lebaron same engines. The oil filter is right over the starter so over the years the starter gets covered in oil. I was told this creates a (dead spot) in the starter. Sometimes you can sit there and (click click) 10 times before it will start. Sometimes it will start on the first try. Get a new starter and put in there. You will be glad you did.
Also when I bought the lebaron someone had installed a push button start switch in an attempt to fix the problem. It did not work and was a real mess I had to clean up.
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Old 01-12-2007, 07:31 AM
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Darn! I hate to hear this because I'm going to try to sell the van once I figure this problem out. I want to invest the minimum cash possible to do this... Is a dead spot in the starter caused by a short in the armature? Is there any chance that putting new brushes in the starter might help this problem?
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Old 01-12-2007, 11:52 AM
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Not sure what is going on in the starter its self. The guy I bought the Lebaron from tried rebuilding the starter to no avail, But he was kind of a dumby so he may not have done it correctly.
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Old 01-12-2007, 03:01 PM
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Doc here,

Have you checked the adjustment on your neutral safety switch yet..??

to test, locate it, jumper the wires on it direct to each other, and Being SURE the car is in park, try and start it, If it works, adjust or replace it as required.

IIRC, on that vehicle, It could ALSO be an engine stop relay is loose or cruddy..Check the NSS first though..

Doc
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Old 01-12-2007, 10:39 PM
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Thanks for the advice. Would the neutral safety switch likely be in the column? I have a Haynes manual; I'll have to read up on it.

Matt
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Old 01-13-2007, 06:45 AM
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Doc, I think you hit the nail on the head. I pulled out my repair manual (Chilton's, not Haynes) and looked up the neutral safety switch. It turns out that this switch also controls the back-up lights, which I had noticed are working only occasionally. During the summer the gearshift lever was very difficult to operate. I'm willing to bet that the shift cable is out of adjustment and there is nothing wrong with the neutral safety switch. Here's hoping! Any idea how to adjust the shift cable? I can't find any reference to this in the repair manual.

Matt
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:10 AM
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If you suspect the switch, just try it in neutral and wiggle the shift around a bit.....if it starts, the switch needs adjusting.

Does it start normally occasionally?
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Old 01-13-2007, 09:05 AM
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I hope Doc is right but after my experience with these vehicles I am almost certain it is the starter. When it wont start get someone to listen where the clicking is coming from. If it is coming from the starter like mine did then that should rule out neutral safety switch.
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Old 01-13-2007, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TooSlow
Doc, I think you hit the nail on the head. I pulled out my repair manual (Chilton's, not Haynes) and looked up the neutral safety switch. It turns out that this switch also controls the back-up lights, which I had noticed are working only occasionally. During the summer the gearshift lever was very difficult to operate. I'm willing to bet that the shift cable is out of adjustment and there is nothing wrong with the neutral safety switch. Here's hoping! Any idea how to adjust the shift cable? I can't find any reference to this in the repair manual.

Matt

Doc here,

except to tell you that the switch , cable and linkage should all line up in park and neutral, I could not tell you how to adjust it..I can tell you that it should be located either on the bottom of the shift column (may even just snap into the column on a plastic mount) OR be located on the transmission at or near the linkage.

Good luck, hope it's that simple , and not the starter..

Doc
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Old 01-16-2007, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weirdbeard
I hope Doc is right but after my experience with these vehicles I am almost certain it is the starter. When it wont start get someone to listen where the clicking is coming from. If it is coming from the starter like mine did then that should rule out neutral safety switch.
Not to rain on anyones parade, but I agree with weirdbeard. We see these all the time at work. You need a starter.......
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Old 01-21-2007, 08:27 PM
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Well, I tinkered around with the van yesterday and have come to the opinion that the problem is the starter--the click is definitely coming from the starter. In the past the van always started after trying a dozen times or so, but as of yesterday it appears to be completely dead. I found someone who has a rebuilt Bosch starter very cheap for this application--I'm confused though--he says that both a Bosch and a Nippondenso starter were used in this application (3.0 liter V6) and that they are NOT interchangeable. Does that make any sense?

Matt
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