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Dodge Repair/'00 Durango: no starter action

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I have a 2000 dodge durango slt 5.9l v8. Recently I came outside and my car would not start but the lights and radio worked. After digoing through some research I learned it may be the starter. I jumped started it and drove it to advance. They told me that the battery just needed to be charged and that if I drive it around it would be ok. I did that and it died again and I jumped it. That night I came home and tried to start about a half hour later and nothing. I tried to jump it but still nothing. When I try to start it I can hear the fuel pump starting and one faint click from the starter area. I went a bought a used starter and had it checked by advance who said it was good. So I installed it myself but being a dumbass I forgot to take the negative cable off and while taking the old starter out there was a spark so I quickly stopped and took the cable off the battery. Then I took the cables off the old starter. During this the cable connected to the connector came out and the connector stuck to the starter solenoid. So I pulled the connector piece off the starter and inserted the wire back into the connector. It felt tight like it fit into place. I put the new starter in and made sure it was tight in place and then I connected the battery and tried to start the car. Same thing. I can hear the fuel pump and can hear one click from the starter area but now my headlights wont come on. I plan to have it checked during the week but in the mean time I'd like to try to avoid paying a diagnostic fee if possible and see if I can figure it out or at least get a general idea.

Answer
Hi Joshua,
The click from the starter area is the solenoid switch at the starter which says that the P/N safety circuit, the starter relay and solenoid switch are OK but that either the battery is too weak/poorly connected or there is problem with the starter motor itself. So along with the headlights being dim/not coming 'on' that suggests that the battery has been discharged since you last drove it.
If you have another vehicle with jumper cables I would try to see if the starter motor will respond to that and ideally will start the engine. If so then I would drive it for a half hour to charge the battery or put the battery on a charger overnight. If the starter motor won't turn over using a jumper from a known good vehicle, then check to be sure that the fat red cable from the battery to the starter is indeed connected properly (but for safety remove the - post clamp from the battery while you are checking the fat red wire at both ends).  
It is possible that you have an excess of current draining on the battery when the vehicle is parked. You would need a volt-ohm-amp meter to measure the current flowing through the battery when the ignition is "off", called the "ignition off draw". It should be less than 50 milliamps and you would measure that current by removing the - post clamp from the battery and put the amp meter between the disconnected clamp and the - post of the battery and read what is the current.
How old is the battery compared to its warranty life?
That is how I would approach this situation.
Roland

Dodge Repair

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Roland Finston

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Get a Free Fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

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I have do-it-yourself experience (50+ years) and a library of 100 1982-2012 Chrysler factory shop manuals and 20 multi-manual Chrysler Corp. CD's.

I was voted "Top expert" from 2010-2015 here at AllExperts, and have answered 20,000+ questions.

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Five decades as a 'do-it-yourselfer' on domestic and imported cars

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Yahoo Autos Group called The Chrysler Lebaron Club (co-moderator)

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Degrees in Physics/bruised knuckles.

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"Top expert" of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 here at Allexperts. Quickest "average response time" at Allexperts (currently no. 1).

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