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So I go to start the van... click... try again... click... etc...
I have the van towed to the dealer Saturday evening. Monday the dealer looked at it (good), and said it was a bad starter. They are the PROs... so I said fix it. Meanwhile I asked if there are any relays other than on the starter... (in the old days you just changed the relay and you were good). They said the only relay was built into the starter...
OK... in a couple of days I get the van back (they gave me gratis a loaner !!!) and I pay them ~ $550.
A week later, there's the same problem on occasion ... click ... try again ... click ... etc. However, it eventually would catch after up to 6 tries. So I drive it to the dealer since it did eventually start... they are the PROs after all. And they say OOPs, bad starter. They changed the starter for no cost and gave me a loaner again!!!
After a week or 2 ... same occasional problem ... click ... try again ... click ... etc.
So stupid me... I hope for the best. Finally it becomes a major problem, and after about 25 clicks over a half an hour, I call the tow truck again. The tow truck is going to take 45 minutes, so I keep clicking from time to time - and miraculously it did eventually start before the tow truck arrived... so I cancelled the tow and drove home...
AND hit the web (including this site) to see what might be the real problem - I was more than a little "ticked" at the PROs!!! With comments here and elsewhere, I went back to my original thought that there must be a relay involved. I opened the fuse box (just in front of the driver inside the engine compartment - it technically is called the TIPM - Total Integrated Power Module) and looked at the relays ... the cover of the fuse box identified the starter relay as K3 (see attached photo).
I pulled that relay out, sandpapered and WD40'd the contacts, and plugged it back in. Of course the car started and I drove to the local NAPA and got a replacement relay for $13. Initially they brought out another relay (that didn't match the one in my hand) that they said also was in the circuit and was located bolted to the firewall in the engine compartment (if so that there is another relay involved, there may be another involved with the starter solenoid). Anyways, when that part did not match the one I had in my hand they went looking again and did come up with a replacement for the K3 relay... it was NAPA part number AR167.
So now I am running on the cleaned up original relay and keeping the new NAPA one as backup.
So far so good. If this is not the final solution I will add to this post.
Anyways ... I am going to have a talk with the PROs... I suspect I paid for a starter that I didn't need (but the dealer suffered too by replacing the starter twice). I suspect that I will end up just paying for the starter and giving them a lecture about trying the simplest cheapest solution first ... Maybe the best I can do is help educate them on a problem they have likely had at least several times before. That is I will be nicer than I might need to be unless I sense that their error was deliberate and not just ignorance.
Finally as I look at that fuse box with all its fuses and relays ... I am surprised that there are not more electrical problems due to corroded contacts and an occasional bad relay ... so if you have an electrical problem ... one thing to do is clean all the contacts in the fuse box and maybe replace any suspect relay ...
- Steve W.,
West Bath, US