Automotive Education/Info

Dodge Caliber No Start, No Crank- ECM Problems

Dodge Caliber’s no crank, no start common ECM relay problem.


It’s a cold February morning and you go out to start your Dodge Caliber and get it warmed up. You turn the key in the ignition and the car does not turn over. There’s no attempt to start. Oh crap, we have a starter issue with our Dodge Caliber.


The lights are bright, so it’s not likely the battery is dead. But you put a battery charger or jump pack on it and wait a few minutes to see if the starter is the problem.


Might be time at this point to drag out the probe tester or at least a good test light like the Lisle 28830 to see where you’re missing power to the starting circuit. Chances are for a proper repair you will need a probe tester and possibly a good DMM.

Still won’t turn over, no attempt to start.


A B-tech or even an A-tech at this point without further diagnosis will think the starter needs to be replaced. After all, if the battery is charged and the car won’t turn over, the starter must have failed, right? Starter issues on the Dodge Caliber are far from unheard of.

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There’s a chance the starter isn’t the problem with your Caliber.

Well, not technically at least. Sure, the starter won’t engage but that doesn’t mean it’s failed. I’m going to explain a common problem with the Dodge Caliber ECM relay harness and power distribution center behind the fender causing a no crank, no start that will mimic a failed starter. 

Before I explain that common issue on the Dodge Caliber, I’m going to give you a much easier, just as common problem to check first.

Check the starter solenoid wire first.

Look for the (usually) purple or yellow single wire coming out of the TIPM (fuse box) and make sure it’s connected to the post on the starter. Usually it will run under the intake, which is the location of the starter on a Caliber and the plug for the starter solenoid resembles a female spade connector with the male side being located on the starter.

That is the starter solenoid wire and if it’s not connected, the starter will not engage causing the engine in your Caliber to not turn over. Period. I have more than once seen that starter solenoid wire turn to green dust from corrosion. Luckily you can buy those on Amazon for like $15 for a two pack.

Dodge Caliber corrosion on fuel pump relay located in left fender
In this photo you can see that the fuel pump relay in this Dodge Caliber has corroded to the point of failure.

Word of caution, if you have to put broken wires back together don’t use those butt connecters. I never do a wiring repair without using solder shrink butt connecters. Christ you can buy solder shrink butt connecter kits for like 10 bucks.

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Hook your Dodge Caliber to an OBD2 Scan Tool and try to communicate with the ECM.

If your Dodge Caliber will not turn over and the battery is charged, the next step to take is plug in an OBD Code readerIt doesn’t have to be a high end Snap On code reader as long as it has the ability to see the engine control module.


All were doing right now is seeing if your Caliber can communicate with the ECM. The result of this diagnostic test is going to give us some direction on how to fix the no crank-no start in your Dodge Caliber.


Another way to determine if your Dodge Caliber is communicating with the ECM is to look on the dash and see if the engine light is illuminated.

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No communication with the “Computer” in your Dodge Caliber


The reason I suggested hooking up a code reader is I feel it provides a more definitive answer as to whether the ECM has power. If you plug in the OBD code reader and there is no communication with the ECM, it’s likely the starter or battery is not the problem. Your Dodge Caliber has a bigger problem and one that can be difficult to repair. Especially for the DIY people.


Sadly, when Dodge designed the Caliber they thought putting the main ECM relay in the fender was a good idea. Not surprising since they also thought mounting batteries in the fender was efficient as well. A quick google search on the Avenger or Journey battery location will give you an idea how bad that idea worked out.


In the Dodge Caliber you will find the main ECM relay in the driver side fender.


I know. Silly place to put such an important relay.

Dodge Caliber relay box in fender
2010 Dodge Caliber main ECM relay location in the driver side fender. In locations with snow, the wires and connections get corroded quickly.


The above picture illustrates the location of the main ECM relay as well as cooling fan relays in a Dodge Caliber. If you’re going to attempt any repair, be sure you have the best light possible and at least a cheap probe tester (I recommend this one and it was just updated for 2023) to check for power and ground.


Unsurprisingly with Mopar, they forgot to account for the front tire that spins and throws debris at the main relay box constantly while driving.


Even the best attempt to cover this relay box in the Caliber would not successful in preventing corrosion and broken wires. Any weakness or imperfection to the inner fender cover will cause wiring problems and potentially cause a no-start condition.


No power to the main ECM relays equal a Dodge Caliber no-start.


Once power is lost to the main relay box in the Dodge Caliber, a no crank no start will be the result. Another clue that the relay box in the fender may be damaged or corroded is no response from the fuel pump or other modules. All of those noises you hear when starting your Caliber will no longer be there.


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If the main ECM relay is your problem, it will be eerily silent when you turn the key on.


The humming from the fuel pump. The clicking noise when the throttle body first responds. None of those noises will be present if there’s no power to the ECM relay in the fender of your Dodge Caliber. This is because the cars ECM or electronic control module controls all aspects of the engine and emissions systems.


Without any input from the ECU, none of the engine accessories will respond. That is the main reason why your Caliber won’t start when there is no power to the main relay controlling the ECM. Vehicle wiring systems are complicated and if you take away one of the main components there is bound to be major problems. This is especially true on anything made by Fiat-Chrysler.


Can the relay box in the Dodge Caliber be repaired?


The first time I ran into a problem with the main relay box in the fender of a Dodge Caliber, I was stumped. First with the diagnosis of the no-start to begin with, but once I traced the wires and found the problem it was now my job to figure out how to fix the relay box. Aside from the massive corrosion, Dodge decided to run what seems to be thousands of wires in the harness that connect to the relay box.


Dodge is also famous for putting together a harness of wires that are all extremely similar in color and fade very quickly. Figuring out which wires went to what on that Caliber was a nightmare. Of course at that time I had no idea where to get a free wiring diagram either and I needed one to make sense of the harness.

Without many options for new relay boxes, a repair might be the best choice.


My first idea to repair the relay box was to buy a new one online and wire it in using a wiring diagram. I searched all different ways to find the relay box inside the fender of this 2010 Dodge Caliber to no avail. I was able to find several TIPM’s (totally integrated power module aka fuse box) but no relay blocks.


Try to find a relay panel in a scrapyard Caliber of the same year.

If you are not able to find a brand new relay box to replace the one that is corroded, try calling the local scrapyards. It’s likely there are a handful (or two) of Dodge Calibers sitting out back and if you’re lucky, one of them will have a relay box that isn’t corroded all to hell.


I’m not sure the guy in this video had the exact issue we’re discussing because he discusses simply replacing the relays. In the rust belt, stuffed in a location such as the inner fender, those relays and every pin in there will be corroded beyond simple repair. I’ve seen it a dozen or more times.


If I can’t buy a relay box, how can I fix this Dodge Caliber?


When my search to find a used or even new relay block for this Dodge Caliber came up empty, the mechanic in me had to come out. If I wasn’t gonna be able to find a relay box, I was gonna have to figure out a way to repair this one. It was about to get complicated and I was embarking on an automotive adventure not for the faint of heart.

07 Caliber starting circuit wiring diagram
Generously, has given us the starting circuit diagram for an 07 Caliber.

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A wiring diagram and professional help will be necessary to fix the Dodge Caliber relay box.

At the very least, you are going to need a full, detailed wiring diagram for the power distribution circuit of your specific year Dodge Caliber. The year and engine configurations matter when choosing a wiring diagram because each one may be a bit different.


Also, you will need a fairly advanced understanding of automotive wiring systems and circuitry. This is not a job unfortunately for the DIY mechanic that changes his brakes on the weekend.


In order to get the Dodge Caliber to start, you’re going to have to run new wires to the main relay box. You’ll also have to repair the corroded pins, relays and connectors that are causing the loss of power. Obviously, while you have access to the corroded relay box fixing any other problems would be smart.

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If the relay box can’t be fixed, it is possible to run individual relays to each circuit.


By purchasing a handful of 5-pin relay harnesses, ($15 for 5 there) A relay can be ran to each circuit and creatively concealed better than Dodge ever dreamed possible.


It is not, I repeat, not a DIY repair in most cases rewiring these Dodge Caliber ECM relay boxes. Advance understanding of automotive electrical systems will be a necessity and detailed wiring diagrams and power distribution schematics will be required.


I made a list just a few days ago of the best electrical resources for automotive wiring so that’s gonna be one you’ll wanna check out. Also, is nice enough to offer a diagram for the 07 Caliber which seems to be the most common year. I have seen it up to the 2011 though if I recall.


A wiring diagram is not an option, unless you want to spend hours figuring out which wire powers which relay. And then find the control wires and grounds. The ability to interpret a wiring diagram and make the proper repairs is also essential. You can get one from most of the resources I listed in that post.

I have repaired a handful of these Caliber ECM relay boxes and each one has been it’s own nightmare. If wiring isn’t your thing, just take it to the best electrical technician you can find in your area.

By John Green

I’m John Green. I’m a 33 year old auto technician from Upstate New York. I have 18 years of experience as an automotive light duty and heavy duty truck mechanic. Cars, trucks and anything with moving parts are my passion in my professional life.

Aside from my life as a technician, I am also a seasoned investor and consider myself very financially literate. I use this other passion combined with my passion for cars, trucks and tools to look for ways to save money for my technician friends.

Raising my three girls and teaching them the proper way of life is my personal passion in life. If you want to know more, just ask! I’m on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well!