Trouble starting my Vehicle some days

I am the 2nd owner of a 2001 Chrysler Town and Country Minivan Limited. The vehicle is in very good shape and I service it every three months and have the tires rotated every six months.

Just recently I have been having a problem with it not wanting to start. I have had a bit of a squeal coming from the engine compartment and know it is the serpentine belt that needs to be changed out before it gets bad (I have only heard the squeal probably three times since December 2012.)

I would rather buy my parts and have the mechanic put them on instead of him buying them and charging me double.

My question is…do you think it is only my belt or should I think in the direction of the Starter or something else. After about threee or four tries it will finally start. Any help would be appreciated since I am a female and hate going to a mechanic or dealership where they think I’m only smart enough to put gas in the tank.


PS, I used to work on my own cars when I was younger but it has gotten to the point that I can’t do it any longer.

The no start problem might be caused from loose/poor connections at the battery terminals. Remove both battery cables, negative first, from the battery and clean both the terminals and the battery posts and make sure the terminals are tight on the battery posts. This is easy and free.


Is this the original battery?
Honestly, I’d start with the basics, and in this case it means having the battery and charging system tested. It takes more oomph to turn the crank and produce sufficient spark across the sparkplug gap than it does just to turn the crank.

The squealy belt is already bad. Or its associated tensioner. Or perhaps the alternator shaft is binding, leading to both the noise and insufficient battery charging.

The next stop in the process is the “tuneup” stuff. In your case that would mean spark plugs and filters primarily. Even though you may not have reached the official spark plug change mileage, as the gap grows from electrode erosion it take more oomph to jump it and create spark. With modern irridium plugs I suggest every 50-60,000 miles. With platinum tipped plugs (which you probably have) I’d half that.

That was the first thing I thought of too but not the fix. Thanks for the thought, Tester, I appreciate it.

I had a new battery put in when I bought the van because I felt safer to get a new one.

Good point about the belt already being bad, I’ll definately get that replaced next week just as a precaution.
You have really helped me. Now I am more aware and will have the plugs and filters replaced instead of just checked.

I will also have them check the alternator workings as well.

Thank you so much for your help.


You are very welcome. Thank you for your kind words.

One point about spark plugs; it’s always a good idea to change them rather than check them. There are two types of bases (I don;t know which Chrysler uses) tapered seats and gasketed seats. The tapered seat is designed to seal without help, the other usess a metal crush washer design for one use only. And even with a tapered seat, it takes exactly the same amount of work to replace the plug as to check it.