Truck wont crank

I have a 1996 Dodge Ram 1500. The starter does not crank at all. I put the key in and turn it and nothing, just a click. I have replaced the starter/solenoid with a new one and I have charged the battery and it is good (battery is only 8 months old). It still does not crank, nothing.

Any help would be deeply appreciated!!


Battery connections are the first place to begin when you have a “No Crank” situation. Even
if you have a new battery, if the connections are loose, dirty or corroded, you will not be
allowing the full flow of current to pass thru the connections. The connection may be
enough to turn on the lights, but not enough for the huge flow that is needed to operate the
starter. This is where many people say that they know the battery is good….”because the
lights come on”. This is no more a battery test than licking a 9volt battery. It only tells you that there is electricity…not how many volts or the amperage that flows from the battery.
Jump starting may have wiggled the terminal just enough to allow the current to pass and start the engine, but tomorrow you have the same problem.

First remove the cables from the battery and use a wire brush to remove any corrosion and dirt from the battery posts and the cable terminals. There is a tool with a round wire brush for this purpose, found at any auto parts store for less than $10
Before connecting the cables, apply a coating of di-electric grease to the battery posts this will keep oxygen away from the connection so that it will not corrode as fast.

It is just as important that the other end of the cables also have a clean connection. Remove the positive cable from the battery again so that you do not short anything out. Follow both cables to their far ends, remove this connection and wire brush the connection and the cable terminal clean and retighten these connections.

If there was work done recently, there may have been an “engine to body” ground that was not installed following the work. These grounds normally run from the rear of the engine to the firewall and are uninsulated and most are a braided wire. If any of these are found unattached…reattach them.
Remember….this is not a “Sherman Tank” don’t over tighten the connections.
Tight…tight………………too tight…broke!!!


Well, the connections to the battery are fine. I did remove them and clean them prior to installing the starter. When I hooked them back up I did make sure they were tight and clean. I did not, however, follow the cables and see the other ends with the exception of the cable attached to the starter. I will do that today and see.

Thank you for your help!

battery cables can break down due to corrosion internally - meaning under the plastic insulation material. They can look OK, but still not conduct the amount of current needed to run the starter. If these are the original cables, they might look fine but not be up to the job anymore.

Ok, I cleaned the cables at the other connections and still nothing. The cables look fine otherwise. Can it be anything else?

Well old school way is to do a pos jumper from the battery and hit the pos stud on the starter motor, if it cranks, it is something in between. Cable, connection, ignition switch, dead battery, solenoid pretty much covers it. Now you just want to tap the stud on the motor, be ready for sparks, not recommended by dewy cheathim and howe. Do not know if it is so true today but blinker speed while engine is not running used to be a good battery condition indcacator

Try whacking the starter with a hefty wooden stick while someone else is holding the key in the start position.

Well the starter and solenoid are new. I changed them thinking that was the problem but no dice. Barkydog, just to be clear, I take my jumper cables connect the pos. jumper cable to the battery and the other pos jumper clamp to the stud on the motor where the pos battery cable connects, right?

@heyboy333 Do you have 12V at the solenoid when you turn the key to start position?

Does the even turn over with a socket and 1/2" breaker bar?

@heyboy333 you just want to tap the stud with a clamp. better idea forget what I said, get the starter motor bench tested then if ok work your way backwards.

I just tried starting it again and I turned the key only part way and it cranked over, started then died. Tried to repeat it and couldnt do it. Might it be the ignition switch or coil?

You know I had a similar issue with my 97 might be worth looking in to what mine was that the starter bolt of the back side had started to back off letting it only spin occasionally but 99% of the time it just clicked and the safety natural switch went bad at the same time I’d recommend taking the truck out of park and slam it into drive and slam it back into park be hard enough to jar the selector but not so hard to break the shifter and of course double check electrical connections and have you changed the starter relay?

OR, shift to Neutral and see if it cranks. Then, it is either a mis-adjusted NSS or it needs to be replaced.

I just tried starting it in N and no go. Also tried slamming it back and forth from D to P and still the same. I have not looked at the starter relay. Can you tell me where the starter relay is located?

If I understand this right, you had this problem of no crank and that’s why you replaced the starter.

In another thread you mentioned that you turned the ignition only part way and it cranked and started, but died again when you left the key go.
I would say that you have a bad ignition switch.

All the relays should be under the hood by the drivers side fender. It should be labeled as to which relay is the starter relay.


Yosemite I’ve never replaced an ignition switch. How difficult is it? I think you’re right because of the fact that it started when I turned the key slowly and only about half way. When I crank it all the way I get a click. The truck started, but the reason it died I believe is because it hadnt been started in about 2 weeks. It started, sputtered and then died. I could not replicate the start though.


I’m not sure what is all involved in the replacement of the ignition switch on a Dodge Ram. I’d refer to a manual for that because I’ve never done a Dodge ignition switch.
Your local library has manuals that you can look at. Some you can even take home.


Ok. Thanks for the info.


I have had all of your symptoms. Clean the lugs on the fuel pump relay not the contacts but the lugs on the bottom of the relay. If you use the tilt wheel which most people do remove the top and bottom covers just behind the steering wheel. the screws are in the bottom cover. There is a long connector just under the cover sometimes it comes unplugged when using the tilt wheel. Good Luck!

It was the ignition switch. I bought one on Amazon and installed it. Charged the battery and it fired right up. Thanks to everyone for their helpful suggestions.