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Caravan/Town & Country Electrical Problems

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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,405
    I managed to get our Caravan up and running yesterday; it is back to being smooth as butter! For some reason, when I tried connecting my OBD-II reader to it while diagnosing the problem (turned out to be a bad fuel pump), the reader would not link to the van. It just said, "ERROR." I need to check it again now that everything else is working properly. If the link is still bad, I will do a little more research into possible causes. We may end up getting rid of it if we cannot use the on-board diagnostics system, as that could be a disaster later on as more problems inevitably arise. If I can fix it, though, I will.

    I was surprised that the fuel pump was the problem, given the symptoms. Someone suggested that the motor may have a "dead spot" in it that just slowly became worse and only manifested itself if the pump happened to stop with the gearing in just the right position. In any case, it is fixed now after much effort. The pump ended up costing $250, plus another $20 for a few miscellaneous parts to drain the fuel, etc., for a total cost of $270 and about ten hours of time diagnosing the problem and performing the repair.

    So, now that I had the battery drained/disconnected for a while, the console lights (wiper, int. wiper, recirc, and A/C buttons) flash for about ten minutes after starting. I know I read somewhere on here about the procedure for resolving that, but cannot find the post. Does anyone know? It does not seem to affect the operation of anything, but it would be nice to not have the distraction....

    Thank you for any suggestions,

    -Wes-
  • jtljjtlj Posts: 5
    i own a 2002 dodge caravan with a 2.4 liter motor it only has 32,000 miles on it if i drive some place and shut off the motor it has to sit for about one hour for the vehicle to restart the cam and crank sensors were replaced and the fuel filter was replaced the fuel pump appears to be working properly also the asd relay checked out ok and the coil pack checked out ok it is not getting any fuel to the throttle body it appears a component is getting hot preventing fuel from getting to the throttle body during the start cycle it will not start untill some part cools down i have had two garages work on the vehicle the mechanics are not sure what the problem is does anybody have a clue what is wrong with this van thank you for your consideration
  • kablokablo Posts: 2
    It just happened to my 2005 T&C (today) . I am working on it. If I get any results I will let you know
  • tat4 ... did you solve your problem?

    I have a clicking noise coming from the fuse box. I was wondering if you could tell me what did you do to solve your clicking noise.

    Jay
  • Hi all,
    This may sound like a simple-minded request but the dashboard trim is all plastic and probably becoming extra brittle with age. I need to remove the trim around the instument cluster so as to remove it for the solder repair or replacement so widely discussed in this forum. Since I cannot see any screws, it probably just pries off but I've tried gently in several places with nothing yielding. Can someone please help out by explaining exactly how to pop this trim off without breaking it. Perhaps other members are similarly frustrated also.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,405
    1998 Dodge Grand Caravan SE AWD, 3.8L V6, 213,000 miles

    Mechanically, this van is perfect and it runs/drives with precision. Regrettably, it is suddenly inundated with electrical gremlins and I cannot figure out the source. Any suggestions welcome.

    Here is the thing: I have about a 50% chance of the van starting. If, when I turn the ignition to "on," I hear the fuel pump whir, the van starts perfectly. If, instead, I do not hear the fuel pump whir and then hear a relay "click" about 1-2 seconds after turning the ignition to "on," the van will crank and crank, but not start. In this situation, I have no spark, fuel injector activity, or fuel pump activity. So, the ASD circuit must not be powered. However, the information I read indicates this circuit is controlled by the operation of the camshaft and crankshaft sensors. I am getting power to the sensors, so I replaced them. No change.

    Where else might the problem be? My relays all seem to test fine, etc., but yet the problem persists. If it starts, it will keep running without fail. Once it is turned off, though, it is anyone's guess if it will start again. I will state that I have not yet had it fail to start shortly after shutting it off. Whether or not that is symptomatic or coincidence, I am not yet sure.

    I am at my wit's end with this van and am seriously thinking about scrapping it. I hate to do that, given the excellent condition of everything but the electrical, but there comes a point when I just have to decide that this is one stress I no longer need to have. Of course, that is complicated by the fact that when I do fix this issue, I am going to sell it, but I will not dupe a buyer and sell a vehicle I know is unreliable.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    From your description of the symptoms, I would go after the fuel pump.

    Disconnect one of the fuel line hoses at the fuel filter (not sure exactly where this is on your vehicle). Try starting the car and see if you get fuel flow out of the line. Obviously, use something to catch the fuel. Do this maybe a dozen times and see if the fuel flow or lack thereof can be correlated to the "not hearing the fuel pump whir" symptom you mentioned.

    Be careful, and keep a fire extinguisher handy. There's always a danger when you're dealing with raw fuel like this.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,405
    I know it seems like it might be the pump, but it is not. In fact, I just replaced the old fuel pump because it did go bad. The van worked just fine for about two weeks afterward, and now this new problem. It definitely involves the ASD relay circuit, however, because I do not get the spark or fuel. When the pump went bad, I had spark and fuel injector activity, but there was just no fuel pressure in the line.

    I appreciate the suggestion!
  • We have a 2005 Town and Country minivan. It has been having serious intermittent electrical problems which no mechanic seems to want to figure out. The analog dials will spin, lights on dash flicker, warning lights go on and off, radio crackles, dvd player crackles, HVAC will pulse air when it is in the off position, etc. These "episodes" last a few seconds to a few minutes. Occasionally the car will completely shut down if there is a lot of flashing and dial spinning going on. Has anyone ever had problems like these...and did someone actually figure out what the problem is?
  • i have the same van with 110K miles. I also have a dashboard disco happening about once every couple of weeks. I am glad to hear it is not just me.

    I plan on trading it in ASAP and crossing my fingers that it doesn't act up when the dealer checks it out.

    I also had a problem where the headlights kept turning off while driving and sometimes they would stay on. It would take multiple turns of the switch to get them on or off. I replaced the switch and that solved the issue.
  • I know this might seem like a total crazy and irrelavant idea but trust me its a whole lot less expensive by like 1200 -$2,200 less so any ways.....I got a 1994 oldsmobile 88 royal and it done the same thing th engine even ran irratic and stalled out a few times on me $1,199 later i found out that it was caused by my gas cap
    i had got gas a few hours before and never checked the cap like i should have ...at swiftys gas station they pump the gas and never tightened my cap good it will cause the computer ( the brain ) of the vehicle to shut its self down after about 3 miles or when ever it decides to if its not tightened. these newer vehicles have built in self diagnostic computer control modules also called dccm's in some cases if it senses an error it will do everything in the world to cause its self to stop if it cant be corrected internally via electronics .....on the same note have your abs and airbag lights also been comming on ? email personally and I will help to correct the issues before you get rid of the van(s) and vehicles just put automotive problems as the subject truckinforjesus@windstream.net
    P.S the automotive industries say they put that on there to save you gas cause cars burn the vapors and a loose capp will leak the vapors however i think they are doing it just to get more repair bill and money from us their customers.
  • I had 2005 Dodge Caravan doing the dashboard disco; took to 2 dealers, several times who kept it, drove it & when it would act up THEY could not find the problem. finally I had to trade it.....
  • I have a 1999 T&C LXI with the overdrive transaxle, and a week ago it began downshifting hard after stopping. I hooked it to an Actron scantool to check for trouble codes, and it reported "transaxle control system fault" explanation ECM recieved a signal that the transaxle control module has a fault. It also reported "input speed sensor (ISS) 1 circuit" explanation The ECM has detected that the input speed signal changed suddenly. The simtum is if the car is driving in the upper gears, and you come to a full stop, the trans downshifts seconds later instead of while the car is slowing to a stop. It shifts hard into the low gear with a bump that feels like someone has tapped the rear of the car. Any thoughts as to if the sensor must be changed or if this needs to be handled by a transmission shop?
  • My 99' van has the airbag warning light lit on dash and the horn can't be blown from the steering wheel but it blows when you set the door locks/alarm. The steering wheel radio adjustment buttons also stopped working along with the cruise control. The cruis control stopped first a month before the airbag light lit, so it may not be related. I'm tempted to remove the airbag and wheel just to se if it is a broken contact in the steering colume. When attaching the van to a Actron scantool, nothing is reported by the code tool about the horn or airbag. No fuses are blown.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,405
    This problem sounds like a bad clock spring in the steering wheel. Basically, that is the mechanism that maintains an electrical connection between the items in the turning part of the wheel (airbag, horn button, wheel-mounted controls) and the steering column.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,405
    I suspect this problem really is the speed sensor not functioning properly. It is hard to say at this point, but I think I would go ahead and start there. Because it started suddenly, I doubt it is a mechanical problem in the transmission.
  • Thanks for the responses and I guess there is some comfort in knowing I am not alone.

    I just picked up the van from the dealer. 3 days in the shop and they still have no idea what it could be. They did offer to completely dismantle the entire electrical system in my van to diagnose it. This could take "days to weeks to figure it out, and that would be at $95 hour". Really? not sure if that is a gamble I want to take given that it has been in the shop 5 times for an average of 3 days each time and they have no clue.

    Given the number of people with this problem (or one similar) I find it shocking that some mechanic somewhere has not solved this problem! If anyone actually has a solution please let us all know!
  • There are screws in various places that you have to undo before you can "pry" the trim off. If your T&C is anything like my '98 Dodge GC - they are really the same thing just different names - you should be able to get it off by doing the following:

    1) You first have to remove the "leg" fascia under the steering wheel - there are at least two (2) screws keeping this in place at the lower end, and two (2) behind the park-brake release lever. Another screw is located on the driver door side - open the door to get access to it. Once all the screws are removed, the "leg" fascia clips out at the upper end on either side of the steering column.

    2) Now you can access and undo the screws that are keeping the "dashboard trim" in place. There are a couple of screws at the lower part beside/on each side of the steering wheel/column. They become visible & accessible once the "leg" fascia is removed. There is also a screw behind the air-duct port that feeds the driver door. Open the door to see/access the port. Once you have removed the screws around the "park-brake release lever" - as explained above - you should be able to gently pry the port molding lose. With the port-molding removed, you should be able to access what I believe is the last screw. But double check to see if you can find any others - I am not looking at my car as I am typing this and am going from memory.

    3) once ALL the screws have been removed, you can "gently pry" the trim lose from around the center vents - to the right of the steering wheel, above the radio and other gadget console. On my vehicle there are no screws in this area to remove. It is just kept in place with re-socket-able clips.

    Hope that helps.

    If not, go to any auto-parts store and get a repair manual for your vehicle - they are about $20 and very handy to have.

    Good luck.

    Dodge Nightmare
  • Not sure what your original post was, but from your "dashboard disco" heading I am guessing it has to do with your instrument panel playing up.

    From that guess, two scenarios come to mind in order of ease to fix:

    1) The "plug" that connects the speedometer & tacometer cable to the transmission has jarred loose. On my vehicle the plastic "locking" clip has deteriorated causing the "plug" to jar loose when I was driving on an unpaved road. It took me a while to figure out why I was doing 120 MPH one second and 20 MPH - or even standing still the next - all while traveling at a constant velocity. :confuse: But once I figured it out, it was a simple matter of plugging it back in and avoiding unpaved roads. :) The "plug" is located on the transmission body facing the front of the vehicle - at least on my Dodge GC it is - and should be accessible from around the left-front-wheel. You may need to jack the car up and secure it on some stands - or drive both front wheel onto some blocks on an even level surface so you can crawl underneath. Of course, do this when the engine is cool, or else you may cause yourself some major burns. I just "plugged" my plug back in and haven't had any challenges since, but I have also not been on any unpaved roads since, either. If "off-roading" is unavoidable for you, you can buy a new plug and "splice" it in, but only the dealers sell them and charge the monopoly price of about $51.00 just for the part - plastic plug with some wires attached. Installation is extra if you don't do it yourself. If you are a DIYer you may try a wrecking yard if you don't want to fork over $50+ . . . or you could get some "goop" or "glue" to keep it in place.

    2) The instrument cluster circuit board has some broken solder points causing a bad connection or failed communication when ambient temperatures change, You will know if you have this problem because sometimes your car will start (when the instruments work) and sometimes it won't (when the instruments don't work). If you have an anti-theft system on your vehicle, you have probably also come across the "three starts and then dead" fiasco - when you turn the key the engine starts and then immediately dies. After three tries, NOTHING. The first three dies is the fuel-pump relay shutting down because the computer senses a "communication" malfunction. The DEAD part is the security system kicking in because it thinks there may be an attempt to steal/hot-wire the vehicle, so it shuts everything down.

    The fix for this is to remove the instrument cluster and examine every solder point on each of the TWO circuit boards - back and front - that control the instrument cluster. Any cracked - or questionable - solder points should be re-soldered. If your situation is similar to the one I experienced, this should do the trick. To do this yourself you will need the following:

    1) a Philip Screw Driver
    2) a small Soldering Iron
    3) some Solder
    4) possibly a Magnifying Glass
    5) a Steady Hand
    6) some faith in yourself : )
    7) or a kind friend or neighbor willing to help out

    Cost for all of these tools - if you don't already have them - is less than $10.00 at Harbor Freight. If you solicit your neighbor you may want to budget a little extra for the thank-you gift : )

    And to get to the Instrument Cluster, scroll down a few posts to DodgeNightmare's response to "Screwed by GM's" post where I explain the procedure for removing the Dashboard Trim.

    And apparently the reason for the solder points cracking in the first place is a bad manufacturing batch. The solder points were soldered too cold, causing them to be weak and to crack over time. Ambient temperature changes cause the cracks to expand and contract, explaining the on-again off-again phenomenon. Car companies won't recall them because it is not a life threat, and therefore not an ominous legal issue.

    Hope this helps.

    Dodge Nightmare :shades:
  • kochesekochese Posts: 11
    I have a 1998 T&C and once the air bag lite came on it was down hill from there. Next that happened was my 4 little lites blink for the heat and a/c control. also noticed I have no cruse control to .I gotta tell ya I love this car. To this day it drives like a dream. I drove some of these new cars , and ah not so hot..I so I'm crossed from spending money on my old car I already know , or go into more dep with these crappy cars they build today.Can some one shed some lite on this .. Greatfuly yours kochese. P.S. If you need plumbing advice I can help you IM a master plumber /heat / and A/C..TtHANKS
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,405
    This may be the connector on your console circuit. If you remove the connector, clean it, perhaps add some dielectric grease, and reassemble, it may resolve the issue.

    Does your horn work? If not, the airbag light may be due to a bad clock spring, which is what maintains the electrical connection between your steering column and wheel.

    Master plumber/heat/AC huh? I need to install my boiler to the radiant heating system in my house.... including all the manifolds, etc. Do you know of any books that explain this process? I cannot seem to find any; or, it may be that I am using the wrong search terminology.... :sick:
  • kochesekochese Posts: 11
    Hey thanks , What dose the connector look like, and yes my horn is out to.. I can help you w/ ur boiler ...So let me get this right, your installing a new boiler to replace the old one ,and you want to know how to switch it ??. Dose your old boiler have any radiator heat hooked up to it......................The boiler has a Header and a Return. all you have to do is cut out the header low from the top and low from the return at the bottom, but i can get you the books on boiler if you want. How do I change the clock spring?.. Thanks Again
  • Did your speedometer intermittantly jump speeds? Also did random service lights come on and go off? If this is what you are experiencing have the mechanic look towards the instrument cluster, it is may be bad and needs replaced.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,405
    I am not sure how to change the clock spring; I suspect you will have to remove the steering wheel. I will check my repair manual this even to find out... if I think about it! With young children and a stay-at-home wife, my evenings are often quickly commandeered!

    The connector for the HVAC controls is located just behind the space where your lights are blinking. A few screws holds that portion of the console in place; remove them, pull the face plate forward, and you cannot miss the connector. But, it may simply be the clock spring that is causing your problems, since the controls for cruise are located on the wheel, too! The blinking console lights may indicate that you need to run the diagnostics on the HVAC (I listed those a couple months ago somewhere on this forum.... :blush: ). That process is pretty simple and will tell you if there is a problem. The good news is those blinking lights will not affect the driveability or operation of the van or its components.

    As for the boiler, no, this is a new installation. The only parts of the system that I have are the tubes in the concrete and the boiler itself (a condensing, oil-fired Monitor). I have to do all the installation including the zone control thermostats, valves, manifolds, etc. I usually find myself a good book and learn that way, but I cannot seem to find one for hydronic heating systems. :confuse:
  • kochesekochese Posts: 11
    Hey Thanks Again normally you can go to the engineer that gave you the specks to put the tubing in your floor. They normally set you up with all that. I'll check around. theres a place called JOHN STONE SUPPLY. There should be one by you .They have alot of those CDs. Thanks Again..
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,405
    Ah, I skipped that phase. ;) Here in Alaska, we often do things a little differently than the civilized world.

    There is a Johnstone Supply in Anchorage, which is a mere 350 miles away. I will check them out this winter when I am next down that way.
  • kochesekochese Posts: 11
    LOL oh ok yea they should have it but i'll d/l some stuff 4 you and post it ., and come to think of it ,the cars gas gage was the very 1st thing that started when we filled it up it used to go to the empty to full spot and the bell would ring up and down.and yes i recall the speedometer jumping.. :confuse:
  • i am having the same problem. can you tell me what you did yo solve the problem. thank you.
  • Hello,

    Thank you for your very detailed and thorough response.

    I could be wrong, but I don't think it is the speedometer and tacometer cable because the symptoms are a little more severe. It it's mildest form, the lights on the dashboard (gear indicator, mileage indicator) just flicker. When it is having a "bad episode", all the dials spin, warning lights ping on and off, radio goes on and off, DVD sysytem starts and stops, HVAC system pulses air (while in the off position), headlights flicker...and now it completely shuts down while I'm driving. This is obviously a problem as it is hard to maneuver a moving van with no power steering or power brakes. And as an added bonus, which I discovered 2 days ago, the hazard lights appear to not work either when there is a complete loss of power. As the dark powerless vehicle comes to a stop, I have heard a clicking noise- to me it sounds like the noise an ignition makes when your battery is dead and the car doesn't turn over. I have only heard that noise once, it's possible it has happened other times and I haven't noticed as my main concern is to get my car off the road safely.

    These problems are intermittant. There does not seem to be a correlation between moisture in the air, or temperature differences. When I have brought it in to the shop, they have on occasion seen "the issue" but then when they hook up their machines it is fine. The van usually behaves itself for a few weeks to a few months after such visits to the shop.

    Do you still think it could be the sodor? My thoughts are I am going to try to get it to "behave" and trade it in this weekend!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,405
    Sounds like a bad connection. I would start with, perhaps, the primary ground from the battery. Often times those connect to a bracket, which is (in turn) connected to the engine block. It may be that a connection is dirty or just loose enough that it has too much resistance (or breaks connection altogether).
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