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Dodge Dakota Electrical Problems



  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Your symptom description sounds like you're losing current to the fuel pump at the same time you lose power to the ignition and/or fuel injector.

    Could be an intermittent ignition switch or a bad electrical connection at the computer.

  • I am having the same problem. First, does it happen in the mornings or different hours of the day? Mine is in the morning (when dew is present) so I am suspecting condensation in the distributor cap causing the rotor to fail. Other things to check are the fuel filter (easy to replace and resonable price). Next I would pull my fuel lines from the throttlebody and verify a good flow from the tank. If that is weak, you screen at the fuel pump could be dirty/clogged. I found out the hard way that it is easier to remove the bed from the frame (8 bolts) than to drop the tank to check the fuel pump. I also ran some injector cleaner in the tank. Also, make sure that your air intake (from the front grill) is clear and your air filter is clean. Hope this helps.
  • Update: I did as you suggested, and took every ground wire and not only cleaned the wire connecter off, but I also cleaned where it WOULD connect to the chassis, and...
    TA DA. The problem of the draining battery went away! I still, once in a great while, get the check engine light, but it's only on for a few seconds or maybe a minute or so, then goes out.

    Oh, and it doesn't like it when it's damp, either. Rain I can deal with, but when it rains for days and days, it gets... cranky. Stutters, probably need to replace the distributor and wires/plugs.

    That'll go on the list, for when I have $$ to do it.

    Thanks for all the help though!!! My main problem fixed!
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    You are very welcome twizted.

    The ignition wires on a 1995 vehicle have outlived their usfulness and "dont owe you nothin". I am not surprised that you are experiencing rough running in damp weathther.

    Here is a tip to help isolate that problem. WIth engine idling, use a spritzer-bottle (old windex bottle) to lightly spray water on the ignition wires and dist. cap... when the engine starts to falter, you have found the problem.

    With a healthy ignition, you should be able to hose down the wires and the engine never misses a beat. (dont try this because cold water on a hot engine/exhaust can crack the metal!)

    Somtimes, when one is on a budget... you can remove the cap/wires and wash them in a tub of hot, soapy water. Use a toothbrush in the nooks-n-crannies. Rince well. After drying thoroughly, reinstall using some silicone grease on the rubber seals on the cap. (on wire ends) You may find it runs better in damp weather.

    This sometimes works because a layer of crud on the cap/wires acts to attract moisture and can bleed-off the high-tension voltage.
  • rdogncrdognc Posts: 1
    Out of the blue my horn starting "beeping" intermittently when engine on. Then remote key fob quit. Then when raining I turned on the lights and the relay in the fuse box began to chatter and the instrument lights flickered. I noticed my trailer connection was wet and dried it, and the light and horn problem stopped for awhile.
    Now, going out in wet weather, the problem started again. The fob is still dead (new batts). Any clues?? Thanks rdognc
  • I correct, I think I have further isolated the problem, and will work on it. SPecifically, I've taken to having two fully charged batteries with me, one for the trip TO someplace, and if I can't find a hill to park on, the trip BACK. I did notice, however, that the problem of the battery draining occurs now when I use the lights, and with nothing else drawing power. I have to NOW check every line leading to the lights, to isolate the problem, because I feel that it is indicative of a short in the lighting system.

    Any specific thoughts on where I should look?

    I will also consider the budget fix for the plugs and distributor, but I can actually replace those on Wednesday. Any other problems I might want to be concerned about for the upcoming winter? Things old Dodges are known to do in the winter?

    I was going to invest in a plug-in style oilpan warmer, just for [non-permissible content removed] and giggles. Can't hurt, and a buddy has one for $10. Cheap, in my book.

    Any thoughts? By the way, you have been a wealth of knowledge, and I want to express my gratitude and thanks for all you have suggested. it's been immensely helpful.
  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    my suggestion in append #235 still applies here. The digital meter from WallyMart which plugs into the cigarette-lighter socket runs about $12. With it, you should be able to make some determinations about your charging system. (both with lights "off" and "on")

    In reguards to your question about an oil-pan warmer... I would not mess with it. It may warm up the oil a bit, but the oil instantly gets cold again once you start the engine and it is pumped into the stone-cold steel of the engine-block.

    If you really NEED an engine-heater, consider a frost-plug heater which actually heats up the antifreeze within the engine. (I have one on my Dak)

    Also, unless you can afford significant jump in your electric-bill, any engine-heater needs to be controled with a timer. (dont just leave it plugged in all night)
  • Noted! Yes, I have a timer, I use it for plants during the day with their growth light. (I like palms, not anything more... exotic)

    I will pick up the plug from wallymart tomorrow to check the running gauge, lights/accessories on/off. If I can isolate it to one accessory, I'll then have to figure out where in the line the short is, correct? It's been my experience that this is usually at a connection, or at a harness location, or someplace where the line does a turn or a rub on something. Anything else I should look for? Anything specific I should avoid?

    Like I said, tested with a voltmeter, all the fuse runs work FINE, it's just a very intermittent problem and that's the frustrating thing. I'm half-tempted to just sell the damn thing, I got an offer for $500 more than I paid for it. Maybe I should just cut and run, if I can find a replacement vehicle?

    I took another chance on Dodges because I wanted a manual, and it was the right size. Maybe now's the time to take a step back and try something else.
  • Hey... I have the same problem but after 2.5 hours of trouble shooting, I traced it to the culprit. If you take the steering column apart, look for a module that is mounted to the left side of the steering column, next to the signal lever/switch. The module will most likely have the name Valeo stamped into the side of it. This, I believe, is called the ignition switch module. Inside the switch module, there is a nylon or plastic dial that pushes contacts together inside when the key is turned in the ignition. You can actually pull this module off and simulate the key turning through all it's ranges. The purpose of the module is to provide electrical contact connections to the radio or dash or what have you when the key is turned. What I found is happening is that when there is ANY kind of pressure put on the assembly between the portion that slides into the rest of the ignition assembly and the body, the 2 contacts that are responsible for the radio/signal power are pulled apart enough to cut the power to the radio/signal lights. The wires associated to that connection are the red (16 AWG) wire which supplies +12VDC and the BLK/WHT (20 AWG) wire. I have not been able to resolve this yet as it appears to be a wear & tear problem. When plastic/nylon rubs against metallic parts over a period of almost 8 years, this is bound to happen. I have a feeling that I will need to replace the component. I have no idea what this is going to cost. Other than that, I figure I saved myself about 3 or 4 hours of mechanical labor. Next step is to price out the new component. If I could post pics, I would. Cheers! :)
  • docvdocv Posts: 1
    I have the same problem with my '05. Where is the switch ?

  • Just to let you know I have the same problem and I am not bad at these type problems but I let you know what I've done. I have replaced headlight switch then a guy told me he had the same problem and it was the dimmer so I replaced it. Then I cleaned all the grounds under the hood and the frame to body and added a ground directly to the head light switch and a ground from the dash to the firewall and still have the same problem. Right know I am going to disconect my altenator to see if it has a short if it does not I am going to the rear of the truck and start their. I will let you know what happens I have been fighting this for two months and no one at dodge has been able to find it either. Wes
  • I have a 1997 Dodge Dakota Sport. I rented a trailer this past weekend. When I tested the lights at the rental lot, the side lights on the trailer that are supposed to come on with headlights, didn't come on. At the time, I thought it was just a connection problem with the trailer (I didn't look to see if my headlights were on at the time). Since then, my headlights aren't working. My initial assumption was that there was a short in the trailer that blew a fuse, but the headlight fuse is fine. I even replaced it to be sure. Any thoughts? I read a previous post about something similar (post #200), but I didn't see any responses to that. Nor are my problems that odd and intermittent. I'd appreciate any thoughts you have for me. Thanks!
  • wdmarwdmar Posts: 4
    I am having a simalar problem although my battery cables were put on backward (pos on neg neg on pos) my battery will not charge now. it is a 1995 dakota with a 318. I have checked the alt it is ok and i installed a new battery and still not charging. please help
  • wdmarwdmar Posts: 4
    have a 1995 dakota with a 318 the battery was put in backward (pos on neg neg on pos) now the battery will not charge I replaced the battery and the alternator and still not charging.
  • wdmarwdmar Posts: 4
    I have a 1995 dakota the battery was put in backward (pos on neg neg on pos) the battery will not charge now it had a 318 and is a manual. I have replaced the alt and the battery.
  • Well, you could have fried a part of the system, such as the brain, and that's a hell of a gremlin to find. HOwever, I'll help if I can. Nice move, with the battery. Hope that wasn't your doing.

    Ok, since I got mine fixed, here's what I suggest: FIRST, swap the cables so you are properly able to take advice, and get a good ground, and et cetera.

    Second, make sure EVERY SINGLE GROUND in the engine is solid and clean. I took all the bolts out, scrubbed them down to metal on both parts, and the frame, and reconnected.

    Third, check every inch of wire, just to be sure that you're not having something short or ground out where it's not supposed to.

    I also noticed that I have a problem with my Alternator Tension Bolt rattling loose, and thus the alternator is not turning with the engine, and therefore not charging. Tight=charging. Check it,k?

    Hope this helps.

    Oh, and replace the battery and possibly the Alternator. Take the alternator to the auto shop and have it bench tested to see if it's operating fully, and at amperage.

    Best to you.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Oh, wow! I have this terrible feeling you've blown the Powertrain Control Module (PCM). This is where the voltage regulator is located, by the way.

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    My first worry was that you blew the PCM, but one item that I'm sure has been damaged is the fusible link. The fusible link is a fuse wire that is in the cable that goes from the alternator to the battery. If the fusible link is open you will not charge the battery. A fusible link repair kit is available from a Dodge dealer.

  • I have a similar problem to the 1988, however, my issue includes blowing the #10 10amp fuse. The dealer does not seem to know how to deal with this and I am about to leave this for my wife as I head to Mid East.
    Thanks for the help
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Can you tell me how the #10 fuse position is labelled?

  • I have a 1999 Dodge Dakota & the interior lights (overhead console & floor lights) stay on when the engine is running. When I turn off the engine the lights go off. Anybody have any ideas? Thanks.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    My guess would be the problem is the Central Timer Module.

  • Thanks Dusty. Do you know roughly how much it costs to replace the Central Timer Module? Is this something the layman can do? Thanks again for your help.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Replacing the CTM is not diificult. On most year Daks the CTM is located behind the lower trim panel below the instrument panel on the driver's side. If I remember correctly, Chrysler's price is around $170.

    Keep in mind this is only a guess on my part. I would recommend obtaining a set of wiring diagrams and troubleshooting first or have the dealer check it out to confirm.

  • Thanks again for your expertise Dusty. In looking at the owners manual, it appears the fuse for the overhead console lights is in the #11 cavity. I took out the fuse & the lights still stayed on. Can you verify that is the correct fuse? I would think when I take out the fuse the lights would go out.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    According to the 2003 Dakota wiring diagram, the fuse for power to the Overhead Console is fuse #1 (cavity 1) in the Junction Block.

    There are two areas that contain fuses, circuit breakers, and relays in Dodge trucks. One is called the Power Distribution Center (PDC) and is located under the hood, usually next to or very near the battery.

    The second area is called the Junction Block (JB) and on Dakotas is located at the end of the instrument panel on the driver's side. This area uses a trim panel to cover the JB and is easily removed.

    The fuse you are looking for is in the JB.

    Does your model have a Dome Lamp as well?

  • I do not have a dome lamp, just 2 lights in the overhead console. The owners manual for my 1999 Dakota Sport (no extended cab) says the #1 cavity in the JB contains a 20 Amp fuse for the stop lamp & the #11 cavity contains a 10 Amp fuse for the Console/Purge. Is this the right cavity for the overhead console lights (2) & underpanel courtesy lights (2)? Maybe it is different than the 2003 Dakota.

    Sorry for all the questions Dusty. Again, I appreciate your help.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Ah. First problem is I do not have a '99 Dakota service manual at my disposal. Unfortunately, mother Mopar has a habit of changing electrical wiring, sometimes even during mid year.

    However, I have to agree with your original assumption that if the courtesy lamps are still illuminating, they must be getting a DC supply from somewhere. So I think the fuse they're identifying in the book is incorrect.

    I may not have the correct documentation for your year Dakota, but I'm somewhat confident that the problem is going to be the CTM, especially since in previous years this was fairly common problem component.

    The CTM contains semiconductive drivers that control numerous electrical devices in the vehicle. These are placed on the low side (negative) of a device and permit the device to operate underr certain condditions. For example, the overhead courtesy lamps illuminate when a door is opened or unlocked and stay illuminated for several minutes or until the ignition switch is turned to the run position. It is the driver in the CTM that provides the conductive path for this feature. In this case, I think the driver has shorted allowing the lamps to be on all the time.

    I've been told that there are a couple of diodes in the CTM that commonly fail and the CTM can be opened and repaired. I've never done this myself. If you are an electrical type of person you might be able to verify the problem and repair the CTM.

    Best regards,
  • Thanks Dusty. I appreciate your advice.
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