How To Test The Starter Motor (1997, 1998, 1999 V8 Dodge Dakota And Durango)

This tutorial will help you to test the starter motor on your 1997, 1998, or 1999 V8 Dodge Dakota or Durango.

The starter motor tests are explained in a step-by-step way. You'll be able to find out if it's defective or not.

You can find this tutorial in Spanish here: Cómo Probar El Motor De Arranque (1997-1999 V8 Dakota, Durango) (at:

Important Safety Tips And Precautions

TIP 1: The starter motor test in this tutorial is an on-car test. You don't have to remove the starter motor to test it.

If you have removed it, you can bench-test it and the following tutorial will help you: Bench Testing The Starter Motor.

TIP 2: The battery, in your Dodge Dakota (Durango) must be fully charged to get a correct test result. Also, the battery cable terminals and battery posts must be clean and corrosion free.

Testing your V8 Dakota (Durango)'s starter motor with a low battery or corrosion on the battery cables/terminals will lead to false test results that'll have you replacing good parts that don't need replacement.

TIP 3: If your vehicle has a standard transmission, make sure that it's out of gear and in neutral, and that the parking brake is activated/on.

TIP 4: You may need to raise your vehicle, with a jack, to access the starter motor. Don't trust the jack to keep your pick up or SUV up in the air, use jack stands!

Symptoms Of A Bad Starter Motor

When the starter motor goes bad on your V8 Dakota (Durango), you'll see one of the following symptoms:

  1. When you turn the key to start your the engine, nothing happens.
  2. Jump starting the engine doesn't make it crank over.
  3. The battery has been charged and/or replaced and still your Dakota (Durango) does not crank.
  4. When you turn the key to crank the engine, all you hear is a small knock and nothing else.

As you can see, the theme that runs thru' most of the symptoms of a bad starter motor is that the engine will not crank over when you try to start it.

Tools Needed To Test The Starter Motor

You don't need expensive test equipment to test the starter motor on your V8 equipped Dakota (Durango). Here are my recommendations:

  1. Remote starter switch.
    1. If you'd like to see what a remote starter switch looks like, you can follow this link: Sunpro Actron CP7853 Remote Starter Switch.
    2. You can either buy this tool online or you can buy it at your local auto parts store (AutoZone, O'Reilly, Pepboys, etc.).
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.