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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I'm a newbie on this truck, my 1998 Dakota SLT (and not one of your hot-shot mechanical types, either). Here's my, occasionally the truck will not start. I get lights but she doesn't crank. (BTW, her name is Nellie Belle). I wiggle the shifter and she will start. If that doesn't work and I can get her into Neutral, she starts. So, I'm thinking there is a problem with the interconnect between the ignition and the transmission. Am I correct in believing there is a part that will degrade to the point where this happens and that the part is less than $50? Can this be fixed by a relatively newbie? If so, what is the part (or parts) I need and where can I get a step-by-step guide on doing the repair?
 

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Rich, I have not had this issue for literally decades. Meaning never on my Dak. However, I am thinking that this sounds a lot like a neutral-switch that may be failing. Hopefully you will get some additional input that will be applicable to your Dak.

(I will add, on edit, that it is possible that wiggling the the shift lever or going into neutral & getting Nellie to crank is only coincidental & it could be your starter solenoid. However, from what you provided, I am thinking your neutral switch.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Rich, I have not had this issue for literally decades. Meaning never on my Dak. However, I am thinking that this sounds a lot like a neutral-switch that may be failing. Hopefully you will get some additional input that will be applicable to your Dak.

(I will add, on edit, that it is possible that wiggling the the shift lever or going into neutral & getting Nellie to crank is only coincidental & it could be your starter solenoid. However, from what you provided, I am thinking your neutral switch.)
Actually, I couldn't remember the term "neutral-switch." The tow guy said he thought that was the problem since he'd seen it before. I'll find out tomorrow morning since she's going into the bay to have the problem checked. If that's all it is I'm assuming it won't take long or be very costly. (At least that's what the tow guy said.)

Question: how many miles on your DAK? Mine has 243K on her.
 

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I am not sure what your engine & transmission are, but here is one from Rock for a '98 with a 3.9
(as an example).


(My apologies: I am hung over & I just edited that last paragraph as I gave you the TRS for a '03 with a 4.7. This one will be closer to what you need.)

My dreaded Haynes is for 2000 through 2004 & it is saying that the switch is "threaded into the left side of the transmission" on a 2000 model& that post 2000 they went to a Transmission Range Sensor (TRS) in place of the "Park/Neutral Safety Switch". Should be relatively easy to access & replace.

BUT: that last paragraph did come from a Haynes, NOT a FSM, & it is not applicable to your year.
Not long at all ago I was quoting from a Haynes on another site, trying to help out with a crank-but-no-start condition, & someone else came on to tell me that I should use that book for a fire starter as it is totally worthless for anything else. I do believe that is hyperbole, but Haynes does leave a lot to be desired. However, it would help you out a lot to have some type of literature to refer to on your truck. You might check Ebay for a FSM: I found a couple for my truck for around $50 but I didn't pull the trigger. It is still on my list, though, & I may do so any day now. If you cannot find a FSM, I seriously & totally believe that a Chiltons or Haynes is still better than nothing. I may be castigated for that statement.

243K? That is a shit-load! Yeah, definitely try to get a FSM.
I got lucky with mine; a friend sold it to me for a great price (I think he thought he owed us a favor for taking on his two sociopathic cats as a permanent cat sitting job 17 years ago) & it only had 48k on it at the time. I don't drive a whole lot anymore so I think she has 74k on her now. Just did the Pa. inspection (YUK) yesterday & the mechanic told me it was the cleanest Dakota he had ever seen.

But anyway, I bet that neutral switch should solve your problem. Get yourself a book & some basic tools (well, maybe not all will be basic) & with the help of resources such as this site you'll save yourself a ton of money.
 

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immattj you are correct just thought about my vehicle not starting, it was the starter. More of a PIA then I had thought but was easy once I remove the wheel and liner, jacked it up, and used Snapon socket and extensions to complete the job. Good tools helps.
 

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immattj you are correct just thought about my vehicle not starting, it was the starter. More of a PIA then I had thought but was easy once I remove the wheel and liner, jacked it up, and used Snapon socket and extensions to complete the job. Good tools helps.
I could be wrong, I often am, but I think what is key here is that OP states that wiggling his shift lever or putting it in "N" will get his engine to crank. I acknowledge that his starter solenoid could be failing & it could be a total coincidence that when he catches it working it happens to also be after he has wiggled shift lever or put it in neutral, but my gut (which is not infallible) tells me that his neutral-park saftey switch is failing.
 
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