Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Dead Battery or bad starter?

Last night I went into my garage and heard a clicking coming from under the hood of my 2005 Chrysler Town & Country limited Van. Sure enough, the car wouldn’t start, I mean it was DOA, not even a murmur. Upon lifting the hood, I followed the clicking sound to the fuse box and even to the Accessory relay. I removed the relay and the clicking stopped, but the car was still dead. I called AAA and they sent out a guy to jump start it, but when he clamped on th ebooster, alll that happened was a faster, louder click. He then concluded that it was the starter and called for a tow truck. The tow truck guy did the same thing and decided it was just the battery once the same sound was heard and the car still wouldn’t start. He then towed it to the Chrysler dealer, and of course, being a Sunday, only the salesmen were there and immediately they pounced on me to trade up to a 2008 or 9.

My question is; what do you think is really the problem? Am I about to contribute to my own Chrysler bailout for the wrong item, or worse, pay for many items I probably didn’t need? Help.

Rob Resnick

Well so far you only have 2 items, the battery or the starter motor. Either is possible though both are improbable. I would guess starter after boost failed to start the engine but that could be the result of a really fried battery also. If the dealer finds a bad connection or cable it could be less than the battery or the starter, I have had good experiences with dealers and must leap to the conclusion they will diagnose the problem correctly and only replace the parts necessary. As Far as bailout I doubt your 1 or 2 hundred dollars was the bailout plan they were hoping for.

Almost any auto parts store will test the battery for free. Pull the battery out and get it tested. If it tests fine, re-install it and ask the dealership for a diagnosis. If testing indicates it needs to be replaced, replace it and see if it starts.

I doubt the starter is bad or causing the problem. You need to find out what relay circuit is being powered on. Something isn’t turning off as it should be when the car is parked. There may be a problem with the ignition switch and it isn’t breaking contact in the OFF position.

Is the car still under warranty? If not go to an independent mechanic for a diagnosis, you don’t need to be going to the dealer.

I agree with cougar, since the relay was clicking and everything should have been off, therein lies the problem, not the starter. However the batery probably is low depending on how long it had been clicking.