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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
1987 Dodge Ram Full-size passenger van 350 5.9L-4 with 182,000 lovely miles.

Our van suddenly won't start. Turn key. No clicking sound. No sounds. Lights work.

Replaced Battery $80.00
Replaced positive cable from battery to starter. $30.00

When at first it didn't start, we noticed our battery was old, over nine years, so we replaced the battery (and because it didn't fully charge with the battery charger on all day). New battery, No start.
Then a couple forums suggested jumping a cable from positive battery post to the starter. Bingo it started right up. That meant the starter is okay, but we needed the new cable, or so it was suggested.

Installed the new cable, nothing at first. We bought the cable from Mopar to make sure we got the right one for this big engine. At first, no start.

We checked and cleaned and sanded cables and posts on the battery. Bingo, it started right up. We drove it up and down the street, feeling like intelligent mechanics who love the Internet.

Next day, no start again.

I've read your forum archives.
I'm not sure if I know where the Neutral Switch is but from a posted picture, I found a screwed-in thing on the transmission left front that has three colored wires. How do I know that this is it? How do I know if this is the problem?

The other suggested problem is the relay switch. Is this the box that the single wire, off the battery cable, plugs into on the way to the starter? How would I know that this is the problem?

There are two other wires on the battery cable that plug in to "fuse links?" near the battery. How would I know if the fuse links are not working? How are they replaced?

My husband Bob is tired of this and wants a tow truck to take it to the junk yard. No way. I've had this baby for 18 years. We only use it for hauling now, gas-wise.

Thanks for your "Help!"
Jan
 

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That screwed in thing on the tranny is the neutral safety and reverse light switch. The center pin is for the neutral safety circuit and the two outer pins are for the reverse lights. If you hook up an ohmmeter from the center pin on the switch and the tranny case you should get continuity in both park and neutral. If you don't...bad switch.

On your firewall in the engine compartment there should be 2 relays together. One is the ASD relay and the second is the starter relay. You might want to try changing that starter relay and see if your problem goes away.
 

· Seating for 12
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Jan and Bob said:
1987 Dodge Ram Full-size passenger van 350 5.9L-4 with 182,000 lovely miles. ...
Jan,

The first problem is the Chevy 350 engine in the van. :D The Dodge has a 360. ;)

Don't toss out that good running van due to some small little part giving you grief.

Yell for more help here in the forums. We'll be here for you. :help: :cool:

Stev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you, Alloro.

Bear with me, I'm mechanical but uncertain about automobiles.

True or False? Regarding the ohmmeter: With ignition key off, and with the ohmmeter on DCV function, I touch the center pin with the red probe and ground it by touching the black probe on the metal of the tranny. True or False?

If the needle moves that means I have "continuity?"

I test this first in park, and then in neutral? True or False?

I'll do this tomorrow.

Jan, with knocking knees.
 

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Jan, B350 indicates that the van is a 1 ton. Just like a B250 is a 3/4 ton, and a B150 is a 1/2 ton, weight carrying capacity.

On the underside of your hood, you should see a couple of labels. The engine size will be on there. I personally can't tell the difference, just looking at, between a 318, and a 360.

I also can't help you with your other problem. Not an electrical pro here...Brad
 

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Jan and Bob said:
ohmmeter on DCV function, I touch the center pin with the red probe and ground it by touching the black probe on the metal of the tranny. True or False?

If the needle moves that means I have "continuity?"

I test this first in park, and then in neutral? True or False?

I've never heard of a DCV function, but if it's for testing continuity then yes, set the meter to it. The answer to all of your questions is "True".

Since you're shifting out of park, make sure you block the wheels or set the parking brake when you're under there. No one likes to have a van roll on them. :)

It might also help if you have a helper move through the gears while you're holding the meter leads in place. At least that way you can see the needle rise and fall at the appropriate gears. Park & neutral=continuity, all others=no continuity.
 

· '98 B2500 Ram Cargo Van
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Jan - Welcome to DT!

I'm far from the electrical guru, but I know just enough to be dangerous, so I'll throw in my .02 here.

If I understand your testing method, you want to see if the switch is changing from a continuity state to a non-continuity (open circuit) state as the shift lever is moved. And you are testing the switch with the wiring harness unpluged from the switch, and the engine off, right? So far, so good... The key will need to be in the ignition and turned one position, but only so that you can move the shift lever thru the various gear positions.

To test for continuity, you want the resistance or "Ohm" scale on the meter. Looks kinda sorta like an upside down horse shoe with a couple of little feet at the bottom. ;) The DCV scale is for measuring DC Volts - as in Direct Current Volts - (you DO NOT want to use that scale for this measurement). If your meter has a selector knob for different ranges, turn it to the LOWEST setting. Then, like you said, if the switch is not making contact (open circuit), the meter should read zero, but if it is in a "contact" state, you should see the meter needle move - probably almost the full scale if you have the meter set on the lowest range setting.

Before you actually test the switch, get the meter all set to go, and just touch the two leads together and watch the needle - it should react EXACTLY the same when you touch the leads together as when you test a switch which is making contact.

O.K., I'm done writing my book now. :thatfunny Clear as mud??

Good luck, let us know how it goes, and as mentioned above, you deserve a big CONGRATS for resisting the urge to put her out to pasture!

Pete
 

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van-nut said:
The DCV scale is for measuring DC Volts
I feel like such an idiot for not picking up on that. When it was said, "the ohmmeter on DCV function" I was racking my brain trying to figure out what DCV could mean in relation to ohms. Things like "Display Continuity Value" kept coming to mind. :crazy:
 

· '98 B2500 Ram Cargo Van
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Don't sweat it, dude!

You consistantly give outstanding advice here, and your a huge asset to our little comunity. :cool: I had a feeling that somehow that one just went zipping by you. :thatfunny

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, GANG!

"Continuity" was throwing me. Closed and Open circuit rang the bell. The upside-down horse shoe helped also...There are two places to plug in, on this Multi-tester from Radio Shack. I bought it 5 years ago to test to see if our well pump was getting power "closed circuit", right? and discovered it wasn't and had a damaged wire, open circuit. Thanks for telling me not to use the DCV--I set the dial on OHMS, low RX1.

Results:
Park and Neutral = continuity, needle moved to center, closed circuit, contact. Right?

All other gears = non-continuity, needle did not move, open circuit, no contact.

Translates to Switch is okay. Right?

I noticed, though, that the yellow wire on the "harness" that connects to the switch showed copper wire. In other words, the insulation was not covering the wire completely at the end where it enters the connector. Could that be a fraying wire? a problem?

Lastly, back to the Won't Start Problem. Should I replace the Relay or what's next.

Love you guys! Who needs Car Talk.
Jan
 

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Jan and Bob said:
Or does the B350 have a 360 engine?
Jan,

You got it now! You're on your way to being a grease monkey.
:D

Stev
 

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Yes, according to your tests the neutral safety switch is good. The frayed wire could be a problem if it's the center one. If it is, you should test it instead of assuming or guessing. The best way to test it is to ground it out and see if the starter works. If it doesn't, then I go and change the relay next.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you.

No, the wire is not the center one, and it looks intact.
So I think I'll move on to replace the relay.
How do I do that? After I remove all the wires, will there be screws to remove it,or what?

Thanks again.
 

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I believe it just plugs in, it's hard to remember all the different years and models. There might be a screw or two. It's not hard, just take a look and you'll see what I mean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Gang,

We did it. We unbolted the relay, easy...took it with us to Napa Auto Parts so we could make sure we got the right one...installed it today and BINGO. The Dodge Ram started up with a roar. It starts easier than ever. (earlier, before it didn't start at all, it would sometimes whine with a hard, slow, turn over before starting, draining the battery.)

Thanks again for all your help. I'll start a new post for the other problems.

See ya later, Jan and Bob
 
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