2000 T&C key left in ignition's 'on' position & now car won't crank over

2000 Chrysler Town and Country 6 cyl 3.8 Front Wheel Drive Automatic 163000 miles

Yesterday I was cleaning the interior of the car. My daughter wanted to listen to music while she helped me and so I turned the key to the ‘on’ position and turned on a cd. About 15-20 minutes later the radio shut off.

I tried turning the car on and nothing happened. The dash lights and interior lights still came on as well as the windshield wipers and power windows etc… but the car didn’t turn over at all. There was complete silence. We tried jump starting the car too but it was the same thing. We put in a new battery as well as tried moving around the relay modules but that didn’t help either.

We replaced our starter last year. This time, my husband tried knocking the starter w/ a hammer to see if that would help but didn’t get anything with that either. We looked at the fuses and they all seem fine.

When we try to start the car the lights are just as bright when the key is in any of the positions. Also, there are no dash lights in the on position but in the start position there are dash lights. When I try to turn the car over, the dash lights stay on.

Additionally, when I turn the car to the start position there’s a mechanical sounding noise (similar to a seat moving) coming from behind the glove box. The noise is for about 2-3 seconds. It makes the sound when we turn the key off too.

I’m wondering if we need to check spark plugs or wires? The battery connections seems fine. Could it be the alternator? Could it be the solenoid or the ignition switch?

We’ve had issues with the 'on’positon draining life from the battery where it’s made it difficult to start the car &/or it required a jump. We’ve never had it to the point where we can’t get it started at all.

We were hoping it was a fuse but the only box is under the hood and there don’t seem to be fuses (that would be bad) that are connected to this issue?

Even if we replaced the starter last year (DIY) could it be bad again? We’re already out 130.00 bucks for a new battery and fuses that we didn’t need.

Any advice? Thank you.

I highly doubt the only fuse box for the whole vehicle is under the hood. There should be a fuse box under the drivers side steering column somewhere, under the dashboard. In there are a bunch of fuses as well. I would check those fuses next. There should be a small cover that is removed easily by just popping off, and on the back side of that cover should be a list of every fuse that is under there. If not, then consult your owners manual and there will be a list in there.

Once you get this resolved… Never use the on (or “run”) position to listen to the radio. Use the accessory position, that what it’s there for.

There are fuses in the cabin, probably under the dash or behind a kick panel.

Check fuse #10, 10 amp or the starter relay. Both located in the junction box under the hood.


And check those battery connections again…They need to be shiny-clean and tight…From the negative post there will be fairly heavy wire grounding the BODY. Make sure that one is clean and tight…

Connect the jumper cables and let the battery charge for, at least, 15 minuets. Better, would be a charger connected for an hour, or two.
This problem CAN’T be resolved only from the symptoms. You can change a string of parts, if you choose; but, a cheaper way is to see if there is the proper voltage where there should be. One would use a wiring diagram to identify the wires to check. The wiring diagrams: http://www.autozone.com/autozone/repairinfo/repairguide/repairGuideContent.jsp?chapterTitle=Starting+System++2000&partName=Wiring+Diagrams&pageId=0900c1528021e388&partId=0900c1528021dbc5
Your truck has a starter motor relay in the power distribution center. With the ignition key held to START, check for voltage after the starter relay. If voltage is not present, check the wiring for voltage back to the ignition switch.

Thanks. We’ve located the fuse box inside the van, have checked those fuses and they seem fine. There are larger, black fuse relays in that location too but I can’t find a diagram to tell us what goes with what for those particular fuses. The battery connections are very clean and very tight along with the one from the negative post. (We’ve triple checked). I don’t understand what would have caused all this internal upset. It doesn’t seem like keeping the key in the ‘on’ position could degrade the system so dramatically. We off to find a wiring diagram and a voltmeter. Any thoughts about it being the ignition switch?

The fact that the warning lights aren’t coming on when the key is in the ON position isn’t a good thing. I would try to solve that problem first. It could be a fuse problem, wire connection problem, or something wrong with the ignition switch.

I gave you a link to the wiring diagrams. To see them, you have to register yourself and your vehicle at www.autozone.com, come back here, and click on this link: http://www.autozone.com/autozone/repairinfo/repairguide/repairGuideContent.jsp?chapterTitle=Starting+System++2000&partName=Wiring+Diagrams&pageId=0900c1528021e388&partId=0900c1528021dbc5
When you say, “there are no dash light with the ignition key in the ON position”, is that still the same?

When you turn your key to the “on” position you are putting power to everything including the ECM/TCM, the ignition system, the transmission etc… Your vehicle has what we call an “accessory” position in the ignition switch. The accessory position will allow you use of limited things such as the cigarette lighter, power windows and radio. Use this accessory position when sitting with the engine off and listening to the radio.


Thanks for the information. He has the ignition switch area torn a part so I’m not sure what the dash lights are doing right now. I would assume it’s still the same. We tested the starter and it worked fine. The battery, fuses and modules all worked fine too. We’re looking toward the ignition switch? Ideas?

I have read posts on here that say no harm will be done if the ignition is left “on” for a while, but I have never agreed with that notion. Of course I think anyone would agree that leaving the ignition “on” or on “Accessory” very long could run the battery down.

hi there. i was a master tech with chrysler for approx 12 years. here are 2 quick things to try. first off you can disconnect both battery terminals and touch them together a couple times. think of it as the ctrl/alt/delete. this willl reset all of your control modules by discharging any capacitors. second thing to try is there is a printed cicuit board in the instrument cluster itself. Trust me when i tell you this! beng on the dash right above the instrument cluster as you try and start the car. if it starts then that printed board has a bad diode or solder connection.

couple of questions. when you tested the starter what exactly did you do?

I suggest you get a service manual for the vehicle that has a good wiring diagram. The small investment you make in it is well worth the money and time you save having one. The factory manual is best. You may be able to find something on Ebay for a good price. With a manual and a test light probe you can pin the trouble down pretty fast.

Thanks, we’ll do that.

This drawing http://www.autozone.com/autozone/repairinfo/repairguide/repairGuideContent.jsp?fromSearchPage=true&pageId=0900c1528021e809&partName=Auto+Shut+Down+Relay&partId=0900c1528021e809 shows the “power distribution center” (fuses and relays) located next to the battery. The starter relay MAY (or, may not) be in there.