How To Test The Starter Motor (Chrysler 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L)

Testing the starter motor on your Dodge 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L (or 5.2L, 5.9L) is not hard. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to test it on the vehicle in a step-by-step manner.

Important Safety Precautions

SUGGESTION 1: You don't need to remove the starter motor to test it. The photos I'm using show it off of the vehicle just to make it easier to show you where to make your connections. If you do need to bench test it (test if off of the vehicle), the following tutorial will help you: How To Bench Test A Starter Motor (Step By Step) (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).

SUGGESTION 2: All the tests, in this tutorial, need to be done with a fully charged battery in your Dodge vehicle. A discharged battery will cause you to reach the wrong diagnostic conclusion and have you wasting time and money! Also, the battery cable terminals and battery posts must be clean and corrosion free.

SUGGESTION 3: You'll need to raise your Dodge (or ) vehicle up in the air to access the starter motor. So use jack stands and don't trust the jack alone! Take all necessary safety precautions, like using jack stands to hold up the vehicle, wearing eye-protection (safety glasses), etc.

SUGGESTION 4: If your vehicle has a standard transmission, make sure that it's out of gear and in neutral, and the parking brake is activated/on.

Symptoms Of A Bad Starter Motor

When the starter motor goes bad on your Dodge vehicle, it will not crank the engine (this is called a No Crank Condition in tech speak). You'll also see one or several of the following symptoms:

  1. The engine doesn't turn over (crank) when you turn the key to start the engine.
  2. A jump start doesn't help. The vehicle's engine still refuses to crank.
  3. The battery has been charged and/or replaced and still your vehicle does not crank.
  4. When you turn the key to crank the engine, all you hear is a small knock and nothing else.

Although the above list is a not a very complete list of symptoms, the theme that runs thru' them, and any other related symptom, is that the engine will not turn over when you try to start it.

Now, in case your vehicle does crank but the engine doesn't start, you may want to take a look at the following tutorial: How To Test A No Start Condition (Dodge 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L).

Tools Needed To Test The Starter Motor

You don't need expensive test equipment to test the starter motor on your Dodge vehicle but you do need a few things. These are:

  1. Jack.
  2. Jack stands.
  3. Remote starter switch.
    1. If you'd like to see what a remote starter switch looks like, you can follow this link: Actron CP7853 Remote Starter Switch For 6V And 12V Automotive Starting Systems
    2. You can either buy this tool online or you can buy it at your local auto parts store (AutoZone, O'Reilly, Pepboys, etc.).
  4. Multimeter or a 12 Volt automotive test light.
    1. If you don't have a multimeter or need to upgrade yours, check out my recommendation here: Buying A Digital Multimeter For Automotive Diagnostic Testing (at: easyautodiagnostics.com).
  5. A wire piercing probe.
    1. This tool is not an ‘absolute must have tool’ but I can tell you from experience that it makes it a whole lot easier to probe the S terminal wire for the Start Signal.
    2. If you'd like to see what this tool looks like, you find out more about it here: Wire Piercing Probe Tool Review (Power Probe PWPPPPP01).
  6. A helper.

As you can see, you don't need anything expensive. OK, let's turn the page and get starter with the first starter motor test.


Dodge Vehicles:
  • B1500, B2500, B3500 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
  • Dakota 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • Durango 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
Dodge Vehicles:
  • Ram 1500, 2500, 3500 Pickup 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • Ram Van 3.9L, 5.2L, 5.9L
    • 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003