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96 dodge caravan no start cold temp

Hello and Happy smiles to all,

I do need some help if anyone can give me some troubleshooting tips. I have an old workhorse - '96 Dodge Grand Caravan, 3.3 L engine. When the outside temp is a good range (50 degrees F & above) there is no problem starting. But when it gets below 40 deg. F and really chilly outside temp, I still have strong battery power, but when I switch on the ignition, I don’t hear the normal fuel pump activation swirl sound and does not crank - simply silent click. Then I can wait when the outside temp improves and cranks up no problem. Its really a mystery to me, trying to troubleshoot from the simple parts to replace and asking your ideas please. THANK YOU all. Cheers, Tony

Are the connections to the starter, battery and ground connections clean and tight? Then I would suspect a bad starter.

Hi Knfenimore, thank you for your comment. I did clean out the battery terminals, nice and tight and strong battery with bright lights, strong alternator - no dimming when load is applied. I think I have to explore the starter next. Do you think the starter acts bad if it does not crank at all when its really cold outside and I don’t hear the fuel pump swirl? I suppose I can go to Autozone and have then do a diagnostic on the starter since its their brand unit. Thank you again. - Tony

@Tony: If your starter is the original one or even if it’s not but has been in there a long time, there’s a good chance that’s your problem. I have the same car with the 3.3, and had similar symptoms a few months ago. The local auto electric shop which has rebuilt starters and alternators for decades, told me that over time, the contacts get worn, no surprise at that. Then, cold temps can make it harder for the starter to engage. In my case, there has been some oil getting into the starter and that hastened the damage to the contacts.

I pulled the starter and had them rebuild it and it’s been perfect ever since. Cost me $68. I prefer rebuilding to replacement, among other reasons that it benefits the local economy. I also trust the local guys much more than the assembly line that rebuilds starters you buy off the shelf. If you can do the r&r yourself, you might consider rebuilding instead of replacement - check around for an auto electric shop. There’s nothing technical about pulling the starter, but getting it back in can be frustrating, the bolts are hard to get to, so you have to be creative with your tools.

Second time today, I am saying check and clean the ground connection at the motor, strange things happen some times, good luck with that!

If he doesn’t hear the sound of the fuel pump and no starter engage, wouldn’t that indicate a power problem from or to the switch? I don’t see how the fuel pump not running would otherwise be related to the starter not operating. I’m not sure how a starter would cause no fuel pump.

Bad ground would cause both but it wouldn.t have bright lights while trying to crank. Have you tried cranking it at night with the headlights on? If they go out, I would think bad ground.