Starter not engaging

I have a 1994 plymouth voyager with 160k miles. 3.8L AWD. I have been having this problem for a month. Sometimes when I try to start the car, I hear the solenoid click, but the starter does not turn the engine over. If I try a few times it will usually start. Once it did not start and by jumping the battery, got it to start. Bought a new battery and it was great for about a week. Now back to the same problem. When I try to start it with the lights on, the lights do not dim when the solenoid clicks but does not turn the engine over.

I am guessing that I have a worn out - bearings, bushes, etc in the starter OR I have a bad starter relay that is not sending enough power to the starter. What do you think??

It sounds like the high current contacts in the solenoid are not completing the connection. Since the lights don’t dim, there is not a heavy current draw indicating a dragging armature. It also could be a dead spot on the commutator or just worn brushes. The simplest way to solve this is to have a autoelectrical shop look at the starter; install a rebuilt unit; or install a OEM new started.

Good Luck

Why would ANYONE install a brand new starter on a vehicle that’s 13+ years old???

Either replace with a rebuilt one or get a used one. A new starter is probably more then this vehicle is worth.

I have exactly the same car, with this problem
I am sharing replies with you. I wonder is you problem is similar to mine, I think mine is OLDER.
Please let me know what do you think.

I have this beautiful Plymouth Voyager 1994 Van, he does not like me, and I will call him ?monster?. He has been driven about 160,000 miles, fuel pump changed about 3 yrs ago and assume fuel filter was replaced then, (but not 100% sure).
It sparks great, as if it is going to start, no stutters or stumbles. When ?monster? decides to stop, it quits suddenly as if key was turned off. I am not aware of any vacuum leaks (how could I tell?, please?)

The started cranks, but will not start.
Very temperamental car, especially when I, the wife, drive it. Works well for weeks, then it suddenly stops and will not start. Then starts with no problem, and “he” is fine, works well especially with men, my husband and the mechanic.
This has been going on for 3 or 4 months. First time it stopped suddenly in the middle of the road, I tried to start it several times, it cranked but will not start, and even started, but when I tried to put it in gear, it made funny noses and stopped. I gave up, I called a tow-truck but about 10 minutes later, I tried it, it started and worked well, I made several stops the same day and worked well for a couple weeks.
Then, again the same thing, stopped as if I turned the key off, and will not start again, but after a few minutes, it started and continued ok for days. I complain to my husband, he drove it, no problem…
Lately… I went to a Doctor’s appt. Came out and the car will not start, it cranked, but it will not start, I called my husband, he came, could not get it started, he told me to call a tow truck. We towed the car to a mechanic. He had it 2 days, he started the car several times and it worked fine, the gasoline was low ? he said, so he put 3 gal of gas and … car is fine.
Last week:
I asked my husband to drive it, as I am afraid of ?him? (the car), Richard has no problems.
I drove it Saturday to garage sales, perfect, great…
Monday, I went shopping, I wanted to get home, the car will crank, but it will not start, I called my husband, he took off from work, he says: you go home, I will get it going. (he serious and joking tells me it is my fault). Later he told me the car did not start right away, but he waited about 20 minutes, and it started and drove great. He goes back to his work and when he wants to go home, the ?monster? will not start. ?Monster? stays at Richard?s work for a day.
I drove husband to work in other car, when I go to pick him up, he tries the Plymouth ?just in case? and, of course, the "monster? starts.
Richard drives it home, only about 4 miles, the car stopped once, but it re-started it with no problem and GOT HOME!.
Now the ?monster? IS HOME, and we will not move it until we found out what the problem is.
Can you please help?



Oyvay. Intermittent problems are the worst. High mileage, yes? You may have a (weak?) fuel pump picking up debris or maybe even moisture from the bottom of the fuel tank. When was the fuel filter last replaced? There may be a faulty fuel pressure regulator. Aside from a fuel problem, there may be a lack of spark. When the engine quits, what does it do? Quit suddenly, as though the key was turned off? If so, there is an electrical fault. If it stutters and stumbles, it’s likely a fuel and/or an air supply fault. Any vacuum leaks? (I should have asked all the questions first. Oh well)

Mileage: 166/000
Fuel filter replaced? 3 yrs ago
Vacuum leaks? Don?t know how?

Vacuum leaks can be located by two methods. One being listening for hissing sounds while the engine is idling.
The other is by using a SMALL propane tank. With th engine idling, you turn on the valve (DO NOT LIGHT IT!) and aim the nozzle at the air intake and around the throttle body, upper plenum, around the intake manifold and all vacuum hoses.

If the engine speeds up at any time during this check, you may have found a vacuum leak.

I still suspect an electrical fault.

Check out the system starting with the key and key cylinder.

By the way, do you normally have a Heavy set of keys when you use the van? Does your husband?

Like I said before, because the fault is intermittent, it’s going to be hard to find.
Updated: 11/08/2007 9:45:34 P


Have you done any trouble shooting on your van since I posted?

Clean the ground wire from engine to body on the body end. Disconnect it and scrape the end. Clean both ends of the battery cables or replace them. You may still have to chnge the starter. A minivan with that many miles on it is hard to keep on the road.