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batsona
Maryland

join:2004-04-17
Ellicott City, MD
Reviews:
·Vonage
·Verizon FiOS

Dashboard Blackout!

No paradise by the dashboard light this time...

2001 Dodge Grand Caravan 3.3L 88K miles.

Wife is sitting in the pickup line, for my daughter at school.... All of the sudden, all the lights on the dash go out, radio goes black, and the visor-light goes out. ALSO.. engine starts idling very roughly... Just then, it was time to move the van, so she stepped on the gas, and the engine smoothed out, and the lights came back on!

Anyone ever seen this before? --Also, no check engine light either....

bbnovice

join:2004-03-17
Sacramento, CA
Did the needle gauges on the odometer, speedometer, fuel tank indicators swing towards zero when the dash lights died? There might be a problem with the contacts in the electrical portion of your ignition switch. Not too sure if this is a problem with Chrysler products, but it certainly does occur in similar vintage Honda vans.

Hope that whatever is causing it turns out to be an easy fix. Good luck!


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3
reply to batsona


Loose battery cable, battery ground connection or grounding strap from the body to the engine and/or chassis would be the first placed I would check.


mityfowl
Premium
join:2000-11-06
Dallas, TX
reply to batsona
Alternator

batsona
Maryland

join:2004-04-17
Ellicott City, MD
Reviews:
·Vonage
·Verizon FiOS
reply to batsona
OP Here: Checked with the wife; she said she didn't think to look at the gauges to see if the temp, tach and gas gauges went to zero; she didn't notice.

Connections at battery are tight and free of corrosion. I guess I'll need to trace the negative line to see that it's attached securely to where ever it needs to go. Can anyone point me in the direction of the grounding strap between chassis and engine?

I suspected the alternator / voltage regulator too.. Is it built into the alternator?


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3
reply to batsona


A bad alternator will not make lights, radio, etc "go out" or "black". Dim, yes, but not out. Existing battery voltage will be more than sufficient even with the van shut off....

Tig

join:2006-06-29
Carrying Place, ON
Reviews:
·voip.ms
reply to batsona
said by batsona:

Anyone ever seen this before? --Also, no check engine light either....

My 96 Intrepid would have poltergeist moments. Heavy stumble, instruments whacked out and eventually stranding me with no power to the ignition. It never posted an error. I took the ignition switch out and found the contacts blackened. Burnishing the contacts restored normal operation. I later replaced the switch.

batsona
Maryland

join:2004-04-17
Ellicott City, MD
Reviews:
·Vonage
·Verizon FiOS
We can understand, using an extreme example.... Let's say someone took the thick positive wire off of the Alternator entirely.. Charging goes away, and we're down to just the voltage in the battery. --Things would get slightly dimmer, but wouldn't go out entirely...

I guess now I vote for an intermittent ground (and it would have to be really close to the battery, in order for everything to go crazy like it did... With the weekend coming up, I'll have the light & time & energy to try to trace the batt neg cable.

batsona
Maryland

join:2004-04-17
Ellicott City, MD
Reviews:
·Vonage
·Verizon FiOS
reply to batsona
HELP!!!!!!!!!! I"ve got everything taken apart as we speak (2PM Sat, eastern). There are two wires coming from the neg terminal, a thicker one and a thinner one. The thinnest grounds to the chassis, and I can see it / access it no problem. The other thicker wire disapears into a bundle that's about 1.5 inches across, and goes down the side of the radiator. A small bit of it branches off, and runs under the radiator to the other side of the engine compartment.

I do'nt hav a lift, and this is really hard to trace... Does anyone else with experience with this model-year vehicle, know where the thickest ground wire terminates? Tell me, so I can go find it & make sure its tight. (while i have it all taken apart) (battery out, battery tray out...)


Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to batsona
Official wiring diagrams and repair manuals here:
»www.techauthority.com/en-US/Pages/Home.aspx

(subscription required)
--
The talented hawk speaks French.


mattmag
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-04-09
NW Illinois
kudos:3
reply to batsona


I believe it breaks out the harness in one of two places, depending on the engine/trans combo. First would be on a stud where the engine and transmission bolt together, and the second is directly to the side of the engine in the area of the starter. It's the only big cable you are going to see like that, so it should be obvious.

batsona
Maryland

join:2004-04-17
Ellicott City, MD
Reviews:
·Vonage
·Verizon FiOS

1 recommendation

OP Here: Mattmag, bingo! At the last min, before I was going to give up and button everything back up, I found the thick black wire bolted to a stud where the engine & transmission join. SO... Here's what I just completed:

1.) Remove battery, clean, clean posts
2.) Remove battery tray & clean (required for cable-trace)
3.) Removed & cleaned smaller neg cable, bolted to chassis below battery tray
4.) For the heck of it, removed large red cable from alternator & cleaned.
5.) Removed & cleaned large negative cable bolted between engine & trans
6.) Removed & reseated every relay in the fuse panel
7.) Switched Starter Relay with Frnt wiper relay (same p/n)
8.) Switched Fuel Pump relay with rear blower relay (same p/n)

We'll see what happens.....

sailor
Premium
join:2003-10-21
Long Island
kudos:6
reply to batsona
said by batsona:

No paradise by the dashboard light this time...

»www.youtube.com/watch?v=f80DiqRJjog


neonhomer
KK4BFN
Premium
join:2004-01-27
Edgewater, FL
Reviews:
·Bright House
reply to batsona
Just a shot in the dark, but check the "IOD" fuse. Came across a similar vintage van at the local Home Depot, broke down. Turn the key on and there was no dash power.

I started checking fuses and when I bumped the IOD fuse with my meter, the cluster came on for a second. I pulled the fuse, and the contacts were black. Replaced it with a spare I had in my Jeep, and used a "tweaker" (controls screwdriver.. basically a small blade flat head screwdriver) to clean the terminals in the fuse block. (Try not to spread the contacts any.) Put the new fuse in and the van fired right up.

Just a thought...
--
"F is for Fire that burns down the whole town...
U is for Uranium...... Bombs...
N is for NO SURVIVORS!!!!!" Sheldon Plankton

Keep Calm and Carry On


klally143

@fuse.net
reply to batsona
Sounds like the instrument cluster is failing. This has happened to me on my Caravan. Remove the instrument cluster and examine the solder links. They will have hairline cracks through them. after reading the forums from ALLPAR I was able to re-solder them and all has been well for years.


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
said by klally143 :

Sounds like the instrument cluster is failing. This has happened to me on my Caravan. Remove the instrument cluster and examine the solder links. They will have hairline cracks through them. after reading the forums from ALLPAR I was able to re-solder them and all has been well for years.

You would be on to something if the radio didn't go off along with the visor going out and the engine idling rough. The cluster has demons of it's own, but the problem here likely is farther up the electrical system then at the cluster.

batsona
Maryland

join:2004-04-17
Ellicott City, MD
Reviews:
·Vonage
·Verizon FiOS
OP here: My wife said that 'everything' went haywire. Engine idled rough, and dash lights were out at the same time. Then, everything returned to normal at the same time. Since I performed my 'preventive repair', documented a few posts ago, reports from the spouse are positive. No poltergeist events, and no "almost-starts", which were becoming more common.

Almost-start: Where the engine is cranked for an appropriate amnt of time, then when you let go of the starter, the engine either isn't running, or sputters, then stops. A subsequent attempt succeeds.