Mystery on Main Street - The Case of the Perplexing Pacífica

Our story begins with a 2007 Chrysler Pacifica, 2WD, auto tranny, 4.0L. Upon attempting to start the car, it “clicks”, but the engine doesn’t immediately turn over. Upon attempting several more times, sometimes placing the gear in neutral, occasionally placing both feet on the brake pedal, trying with my left hand instead of my right, maybe clapping three times (not really but…) and… click.

Any combination of any of these will start it. Sometimes however, I’ll turn the key, click, turn, click, turn, click, turn click-start/vroom, and off I go.

The car has a new battery, new starter (because this process killed the last one), wiring has been checked and the turn of the key does light up the dashboard, etc.

The only consistent pattern to start it is - I take it to my mechanic to show him how it doesn’t start, and then it does - without hesitation. Never fails.

So, can anyone solve tonight’s mystery?

Has anyone tried replacing the starter relay?


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You might look into this.

Someone on a Chrysler forum had a similar issue, this apparently was the fix. And if Doorman sells it, it is likely a common failure point.

1 Like is a Chrysler-specific site. The minivan forum there may be a good place to ask. It’s helped me over the years with my Plymouth and Chrysler minivans.

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Narrow down failure mode. Does it start fine after being warmed up? If so leave it overnight at the shop.

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Thank you very much! It would be a great help to me if you could send me the link to that forum, perhaps even to that posters question. I guess I did a bad job at finding one myself.

Excellent! Thank you!

Great question. We tried that (leaving at shop). It started right up for them and me at the shop. Go figure.

Good catch. Actually, my mechanic brought this up today. I plan on bringing the car back to him next week and leaving it, hopefully so they can duplicate the problem.

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Ah, thanks! Yes, I know this one. I thought you meant a Chrysler forum in this site.

When my Camry did that it was the starter. Just a thought, but the symptoms were the same.

That year Pacifica was not a minivan, but a CUV.

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Completely Useless Vehicle ?? :rofl:

Mine was, but it’s what we used to call a “station wagon”.

Thanks to all for your suggestions and the links, but the mystery continues, and I realllllllly want, make that NEED to solve this! Below are more details.

  • The starter has been replaced.
  • The battery has been replaced.
  • The cables leading to both have been checked.In fact, my mechanic told me the design for this car is different and there is some sort of plate between the started and the ignition (or is it the starter and the battery?) so he knows about this and of course, checked and tightened as needed.
  • The ignition key was replaced earlier than this issue and it’s been rechecked as well.

Essentially, when I turn the key, I get a click sound. I’ll try again, moving the transmission shifter to neutral, drive, reverse, maybe back to park or neutral, trying a few times as I get to neutral or park and eventually, it starts.Sometimes, it takes several tries and sometimes, it will start on the second try. Furthermore when this happens, it will usually start with the one turn of the key but sometimes, it’s like the old carburetor cars and starts after I’ve “pumped” it.

And sometimes, it will crank right up as if all is good and life is a beautiful place.

So, if anyone has any ideas to fix this, you’ll be my Sherlock Holmes (or Ms. Marple too - I’m all about equal opportunity!) for life.

Maybe a different garage that doesn’t throw parts at a problem. That seems like the way they work.

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Didn’t try replacing the starter relay?


That’s not the case with this one. He’s actually spent the equivalent of a days worth of labor and my bill was - 0, yep, nothing. And it’s because he couldn’t find what to fix. He’s one of the few good ones.

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That’s what I couldn’t remember! He did check it and it was fine.