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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think my starter cut-off relay is failing because when I start the van, the starter stops turning before the van starts. Then when I start the van again, it starts up but then I hear a scary grinding noise that goes away.

My limited knowledge and searches suggest that these are the symptoms of a failing starter cut-off relay.

I can find one in town if the store websites are accurate, but I'm not sure where it is located on the van.

If someone can enlighten me, I would really appreciate it.
 

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It's hard to diagnose a "scary grinding noise" but that sounds an awful lot like how I would describe a failing STARTER (not the starter relay). A bad starter relay will typically give you a no-crank/no-start condition because the relay doesn't close, therefore, never supplies battery power to the starter circuit. It can also fail the opposite way (never opening after closing, thereby engaging the starter permanently), but that's much, much worse (and less common). If you have limited knowledge and aren't really sure what the problem is, it's probably best to have a trustworthy mechanic diagnose it first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If you mean the starter relay
If I am understanding things correctly, the [ignition] starter relay sends power to the starter while the starter cut-off relay removes power from the starter after the engine starts.

I can find both relays in the popular parts sites and they each have different blade configurations.



It's hard to diagnose a "scary grinding noise" but that sounds an awful lot like how I would describe a failing STARTER (not the starter relay).
Yes, that is why I provided more information on the symptoms than just the noise.

The cutoff relay is cheap and readily available, If it's an easy replacement, then it it's a faster and cheaper way to rule out one problem (or fix the problem) compared to the shop rate of my mechanic. Oh, also notable is that when the engine is very warm and has just been running, the symptoms do not appear. It's only when the engine has not been running for at least an hour, maybe longer.
 

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Is this for a basic ignition switch or do you have a start/stop button and/or remote start?

You can try a new relay if it’s cheap but testing the starter signal wire with a volt meter is more insightful.

Sixto
‘04 LE FWD 201K miles
 

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My vote is for the starter.
I think the solenoid is going bad. The grinding noise , I believe , is from the engine turning the starter as it does not disingage like it should.
 

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The cutoff relay is cheap and readily available, If it's an easy replacement, then it it's a faster and cheaper way to rule out one problem (or fix the problem) compared to the shop rate of my mechanic. Oh, also notable is that when the engine is very warm and has just been running, the symptoms do not appear. It's only when the engine has not been running for at least an hour, maybe longer.
Typically, with a suspected relay issue, you drop in an alternate relay that controls a non-critical element and see if the issue goes away. That said, as I said, there are only 2 real failure modes for a relay. Failed open (no-crank/no-start) for failed closed (continuous power applied to the starter). A relay operates like a little electromagnetic switch. A super tiny draw of power pulls the switch closed, allowing for the high power to flow through the switch wiring. It CAN go a little loose and flaky where it fails open sometimes, but that would be a come-and-go no-crank situation, as opposed to "a scary grinding noise." If the scary grinding noise is somewhat similar to the sound of an impact wrench taking off lug nuts on a wheel, except a little more scary sounding, that's the sound of a failing starter.

Re-reading your description, you think it's the "cutoff" relay. I don't think there's a separate cutoff relay. I could be missing it, but I don't see it on the circuit diagram, anyway. It might be something integral to the starter assembly or some kind of feedback loop to the ignition switch. I didn't see it listed as a part for my standard search for my '06, but it could be something they added for your '08.

The starter relay is in this photo (on my '06) as #10 in the diagram. Font Parallel Pattern Rectangle Line art
 
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