How to Replace the Starter in a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan with a 3.3 Liter Engine
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Posted: Wednesday, January 06, 2010
by Bruce Horst
Now that I have some light in my garage, my next project is to replace the starter in our old mini-van. I understand that the classic symptoms of a bad starter in this van is that the starter solenoid will click, but it will only randomly turn over. It’s been getting worse and worse over the past few months but since we don’t drive this vehicle often I’ve been putting off the repairs.
Materials: You’ll need 13mm and 15mm sockets and ratchet and a mediums size flat-edge screwdriver to replace the starter. A 15mm ratcheting wrench will also make your job easier as there is hardly enough room for a ratchet and socket for the mounting bolts. Also you'll need some sort of light to see what you are doing under your van.
1. Elevate the van safely, there’s not quite enough room to get under it without elevating it.
Because I couldn’t get the van to start, I had to roll it manually to get it lifted. It was impossible for me to get the van up on regular ramps, so I got some bricks from Jean's garden. The 3 inches of lift was all I needed to get under the van.
2. Disconnect the main power to the starter.
The starter is to the front of the engine, in the center, right above the engine mount. The wires are connected to the starter of the left side of the engine mount. First I would advise you to disconnect the battery to make sure there’s no power to the starter, then remove the main power source from the starter with a 13mm socket.
3. Remove the solenoid wire by unplugging it.
There is a red sliding lock which needs to be slid out before the connector can be unplugged. This is where the flat edge screwdriver comes in.
4. Remove the two mounting bolts.
These are accessed on the right side of the engine mount, and require a 15mm socket wrench. The top bolt is particularly hard to get to. Even though I also have a 15mm ratchet wrench, it wouldn’t slip over the head of the bolt for the first quarter inch, so I used a socket and ratchet to get it started. With such limited space, I could only turn the bolt one ratchet click at a time (30 times per revolution, I counted!) This took quite a while to do, and I had to repeat this when putting the bolt back in.
5. Exchange the old starer for the new one.
There might be an easier trick to this as there’s a metal gasket that goes between the starter and the starter mount, but using only sheer will-power I got it lined up with only 3 attempts, taking about 10 minutes total.
Can you tell which starter is the old one and which one is the new one?
6. Replace the mounting bolts, power connector and solenoid wire.
Make sure everything is tight, though I don’t know exactly how much torque, there’s no way a torque wrench would fit any of these anyway. If you disconnected the battery, then reconnect it.
That’s it! The van started on the first try and though I ruined an old shirt in the process, I am happy about saving $300. Now that I have my van back, I can drive to Home Depot. I wonder what project I should get into next?
This Article has been viewed 13,790 times. (Not updated in real-time.)More comments
» left by Bill from Missouri 1 year 230 days ago.
Excellant article by Bruce Horst. The comment by Jim to remove the air intake duct [2 hose clamps] was also helpful. I was able to go straight in on the top bolt head with a 15 mm socket and a 9 or 10 inch extension. The lack of vision is a problem,though. Overall it took about an hour to remove the old starter and about 45 minutes to install the rebuilt one.Thanks, Bill
» left by Brad Englund from Washington 1 year 224 days ago.
Great help. Thanks for the pictures.Glad they helped!
» left by Nick from Lynbrook NY 1 year 138 days ago.
Very clear and easy to do. Changed the starter myself today and saved about $300. Thanks for the info and pics.
» left by Roberts 5 from Bothell, Wa 1 year 130 days ago.
Looking to get started on my wife's van. It a 97... Is there much off a different's? I can't find my chiliton. Any hue ill give it a try.I don't know, but if it has the 3.0 6 cylinder, it's probably close.» left by Roberts 5 1 year 130 days ago.
It was for the most part the same. Thanks for your help.
» left by Jason 1 year 104 days ago.
Great article and pictures, I have the same van with a 3.8L engine, I was able to get the old starter off in about 45 minutes, start to finish. Now off to auto part store with the old starter (to avoid the core charge). Taking off the air intakes makes accessing the top bolt a lot easier, I couldn't hardly reach it coming from below. My air intake had two screws in front, I removed those and the 2 hose clamps, pulling the holes assembly off, plenty of room after that. Thank!\ you!
» left by Bill H. 1 year 33 days ago.
Execellent article!! Thank's Bruce, and also, to the other poster's, for all of the advice. The air cleaner removal tip to get to the top bolt was most helpful! Another tip is to use a 3/8 universal joint between the 15mm socket and your extension, this works very well. Bruce, a trick I have used in the past to hold items in place,(and on this job) is to coat the metal gasket/shim with wheel bearing grease, this will help keep it in place while reinstalling the starter.
» left by Keith P. from News Hampshire 293 days 16 hours ago.
Great write-up. Thank you. Just finished replacing the entire starter in my GF's Caravan. My intent was to remove it and clean out the starter soleniod and touch up the contacts. Of which, there are solenoid rebuild kits available online for 10-12 dollars, but good luck finding one at your local parts store. But in the process of removing the wire harness from the starter, i snapped off the stud for the load contact. Yay...hnce the replacement of the whole starter. But that leads me to my comments:
A. Don't snap the stud holding the harness to the starter...but be prepared to. Heavy corrosion area and no boot to protect it from the elements
B. I found that upon install of the new starter, that it was very helpful to apply a bead of gasket maker to the metal gasket, so as to attach it to the starter. This prevented it from falling off and other general pain-in-the-@%# scenario's.
C. The top bolt is definately tucked in there. From my angle above, i wasn't sure i was actualy seeing it. The top bolt actualy has a stud protruding from the hex-head. This secures two ground cables with a nut. Need to remove this to get your wrench around the head.
And watch out for those fan shrouds! Sharp as hell! Great write-up and thank you once again. ;)
» left by atish from Toronto 243 days 15 hours ago.
Great Write up. I have Dodge Grand caravan 3.3 and it was giving the clicking sound at the startup and would start after 8 or ten tries. After reading this write and the comments, I tried to find the kit, but it seems to be not available at retail parts store in Toronto, Canadian tire use to carry victory brand but no more. So today I decided to clean the contacts to gain time. without removing the starter, I disconnected the battery, then I disconnected the wire at the starter using 13mm, and then the thin wire by snapping the red clip, then I unscrewed the three screws (7mm) and came out the plunger. I cleaned the plunger with sand paper and electrical contact cleaner, and the contacts by inserting a cloth dipped in the electrical contact cleaner. Put every thing back and here I go. clean start again.
Once again thanks
» left by Dave from Mass 198 days 12 hours ago.
Excellent write up. All you need to know is in this thread. Completed the job in about 2 hrs.
Thanks a bunch
» left by Terry from Mcdonough, GA 138 days 14 hours ago.
Thank you so much this showed me just how to get the job done it only took me 1 hr.