2002 Dodge Ram 1500 Intermittent Cranking Problem


Asked by Oct 01, 2015 at 12:48 PM about the 2002 Dodge Ram 1500

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

2002 Dodge Ram 1500 with 103,000. miles.  All dash lights, buzzers and gauges work as normal.  Battery is strong, cables are clean.  When the key is turned to start, sometimes it cranks right up sometimes you only hear the starter click once.  

You can keep turning the key from Run to Start and after about 8-10 tries it may start.

Also, you can turn the key very carefully between Run and Start to find the "sweet spot" where it will start every time.

Same thing happens in Park or Neutral.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

5 Answers

Giulio Moro

Seems to be an ongoing issue with the same defective ignition switch in these vehicles as the Ford, Honda, Acura, Lexus, Toyota, and Infinity that all use the same bad parts. Change the ignition switch and consider yourself lucky you didn't get cheated by crooked dealerships and dishonest manufacturers. The other problem could be the steering column ignition switch linkage is bent, damaged, loose, or misaligned.


Well thanks Guilio. Following your advise I did a little exploratory surgery. I pulled the key switch and it looked intact, no significant wear and functioning properly. On the other side of the steering column I pulled the Ignition Module. At this point, both ends of the Ignition Switch Actuator Pin (ignition switch linkage) were visible and showing no signs of wear, breakage or improper function. I put the ignition switch back in and inserted the key. Then stuck a screwdriver into the module where the Actuator Pin goes and twisted to replicate what turning the key would do. Same intermittent crank problem showed up using the screw driver. So the problem is somewhere between the ignition module and the starter. Took the ignition module apart and the contacts were easy to clean with an emery board. That did not solve the problem though. Any other suggestions would be welcome. Thanks DMG

Giulio Moro

If you're hearing a starter click then the problem lies with the starter solenoid or the starter itself. If there's no click, then the problem lies with the ignition switch. Connect a dummy light at the starter main battery feed and then casing. If it lights up then there's power to the solenoid. Now move the solenoid main power wire to the output of the starter solenoid where it feeds the starter itself. The light should be off. Now turn the ignition switch and if there's no light then the starter solenoid is shot. If there's light but still no cranking attempt then the starter itself is shot.


Well the problem turned out to be the starter cable that was corroded up inside the sheath and not visible when cleaning the terminals. Took the starter to AutoZone and it checked out OK. One revelation, after reading all the horror stories from people under the car trying to remove the top starter bolt with a socket fitted with multiple extensions and u-joints. Then trying to hold the starter up while disconnecting the cables. I haven't seen this explaination in any other description of this process: The easy way to remove the starter from a 2002 Dodge Ram 1500 with the 5.9 liter engine. Take the front wheel off and remove the plastic wheel well. There will be plenty of room to get the socket in there and a pipe for extra leverage if needed. The photo shows the view through the wheel well and you can see the socket wrench hanging on the top starter bolt.


Once the starter is loose you can lift it out and set it right on top of the disc brake to disconnect the cables. Very easy,

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