3/22/2017

Replace Van Starter - Chrysler Town & Country

So you go out to your 2007 Chrysler Town and Country and try to start it only to hear ... TICK.  And you say "uh oh".
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Replace Starter - Chrysler Town and Country / Dodge Caravan

https://youtu.be/Quds2qPkteg

The first thing you probably think it would be is a dead battery, since that is the usual culprit.  Maybe you accidentally left the lights on or something and your battery died.  So you try to jump start it, turn the key and ... TICK.

Just 1 tick.

Typically when the battery is dying you will hear tick, tick, tick, tick...slowing down and trailing off.  That sound is from the starter attempting to turn the engine but there isn't enough power to get it to spin.

When you hear one single tick, it means the starter isn't turning at all.  The tick you hear is from the gear on the starter motor engaging with the flywheel on the engine.  Usually that gear engages, then the starter spins and the motor turns on.

So your starter gone bad.

The first way to fix a starter that isn't starting is to hit it with a hammer.  Sometimes you can get dead spots on the coil of the electrical motor and if you hit it with a hammer it can shift it around and get off that dead spot and start up.  This is a good temporary fix, but eventually it will find that dead spot again and you will have to keep hitting it.


BUY NEW STARTER


So you need to replace the starter.  The good news is that the starter on the Chrysler Town & Country only has 2 bolts and is near the front of the car.  The bad news is that it's a pain to replace.

As always, i go to SlickDeals and search for Advanced Auto Coupon Codes.  They always have big discounts when you buy online from Advanced Auto, the code is usually something like TRT30, TRT41, etc...
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There's several and you have to find the best one for the biggest discount for what you are buying.  Sometimes the 30% off is the best.  This time i got $40 off when you spend over $100.  Also they will email you $20 codes every once in a while.  So the starter was $167, which includes the core return charge.  Then we got the $40 off and additional $20 off.  With tax the final charge was $113.  After it was all done we returned the old starter and got $30 back so the final total was $80.
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REPLACING STARTER


First disconnect the battery, then climb under and disconnect the 2 wires going to the starter.  There's a small yellow wire which just pulls off and a big red wire.  To get the bigger wire off you have to remove a nut.
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Here you can see the larger of the 2 wires going to the starter.
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Many, many hours later you will end up by reconnecting that wire to the new starter.
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Before going through everything, to make sure it's the starter that's bad, we connected those 2 wires to the new starter, grounded the starter to the metal frame, connected the battery and turned the key.  The new starter whizzed as the motor spun around.  So we knew for sure that it was the starter that needed to be replaced.  If the new starter didn't spin it would have been something else that was wrong.
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Eventually we got the old starter out.
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And ready to put in the new one.
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So now time for the hard work.  Like i said, there are only 2 bolts holding the starter in place.  The bottom bolt is the easier of the 2 to remove.  It's best if you use a wracheting wrench because there isn't enough room for a socket wrench.
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Not enough room for the socket.
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BUT... the upper bolt is a real pain to remove.  It is a weird bolt.  You need to use a 15mm deep well socket to remove it.
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The view from the top.
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Eventually you will have to get down to removing this small plug to get a direct line on the bolt to remove.
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  We tried for hours to get it off, using every socket extension and swivel socket head we had, but could not get it to bite.  There was too many things in line with the bolt and we could not get the socket to fit.  The bolt itself has threads, then a nut, then more threads.  it's where the larger of the 2 wires attaches.

The big thing to know is that in order to remove the other bolt you have to remove a ton of other things.  You have to take off the plastic fan shroud, frame rail, and radiator fan.  You also have to take off a plastic electrical cap and move it to the side.  All of those things have to be taken off, just to get that socket and 15mm deep well aligned straight.

All in all it wasn't that much of a pain to remove that stuff.  It only took 20 minutes, compared to the 3 hours we spent failing to get it off the first day.
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To install the new starter, there is a metal spacer that has to be wedged in between.  It says "UP" on it so you don't screw it up.  But it takes a lot of effort and jiggling to get the starter to slide into place.  Then just tighten the 2 bolts back down.

Before putting everything back together we tried to start the car.  Luckily it started up perfectly.  So we put the fan, frame rail, and plastic shroud back in place.

As with most car repairs you do, the first time you do it takes hours of screwing up.  If i had to do it again it might only take 2 or 3 hours, but the first time it took about 6 or more.  Had i of known that i couldn't remove that bolt without removing all that stuff it would have saved a lot of time.

It still isn't an easy job but not impossible.

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