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  #1  
Old 05-01-2013, 05:40 PM
mcasdorph mcasdorph is offline
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Default 97 Grand Caravan Starts and Quits + Cluster Problem

I didn't see a "Other" vehicle support in the main forums but I spotted this forum and hope its ok to post this here asking for help, My dad has a 97 Dodge Grand Caravan and its been acting stupid, He got it from our cousin's son-in-law for free about 9 months ago and it starting acting weird the last few months, it doesn't always do it, just when it feels like it

1st thing is the cluster, it flatlines, all tachometer, temp, speed and gas gauges go to nothing, (see photo, and at that time the engine was running normally.), As you can see, it has the check engine light on, ALARM Set & ABS lights stuck on with the rest of the cluster dead. (other times it would work normally).



2nd thing is that sometimes you can go to start it and it will start and run for 2 or 3 seconds and quits. (doesn't have a dying sound, it just sounds like it shuts off),

Normally I would have a Haynes manual, unfortunately my dad always likes to make things more complicated by not having one , I thought about pulling the cluster to check it out about solder connection problems caravan is known to have to rule that out. Someone else mentioned the BCM, So I have no way of knowing exactly how to remove the dash to get the cluster out. (at least by eye, I can't see any obvious fasteners)

Any idea's about either problem?

Matt
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:23 PM
mcasdorph mcasdorph is offline
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Just an update, after starting and running for a couple seconds and then quitting (over and over) earlier today, My dad decided to try it again around 7pm (ET) and it started up and stayed running, also the gauges are working and the 3 lights in the picture are off (like it should be), I can't figure this out, I'm wondering if the quitting and the cluster are a result of the same problem?..
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  #3  
Old 05-04-2013, 12:39 PM
Warlock III Warlock III is online now
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Turn the key on and look at the gages next time it happens.

While the key is still on take your fist and hit the top of the dash above the cluster...HARD. Not hard enough to break it or hurt yourself, but hard (a few times if necessary-but don't let the neighbors see).

The soldered contacts on the cluster have a tendency to go bad and you can replace the instrument cluster. However, the hitting the dash thing is best used as a diagnostic tool. It'll return to normal and start-up and get you home (low cost if I do say so). Might work for a week, might work for a year.

Bet you didn't expect that.

Yes it is the same problem. The ECM and the BCM aren't getting any information...kinda like a Blonde in college (no offense) so the van doesn't know what to do. The ECM is under the hood, and the BCM is behind the fuse panel by the driver's left foot.

Been awhile since I've swapped one. You'll have to start with the radio face plate I think. Pop off the cover just above the ash tray and it'll expose the two lower screws. The cover above the column and the headlight switch. Just be real careful of the tabs on the headlight switch...real careful. That'll expose the screws and the cluster cover. I think there's two going straight up in front of the gauges but not sure, and then it pops off with the tabs.

The cluster itself is 4 15-mm torex screws and there's enough wire to slide it out and unplug it.

Last edited by Warlock III; 05-04-2013 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:38 PM
mcasdorph mcasdorph is offline
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Thanks, and yeah I read about hitting the dash, it doesn't seem to help though.
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:44 PM
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If you pull the knee bolster you can reach up there and wiggle the plug. I had two a '97 and a '98. They both did it. I pulled the '98's to see what color the plug was and put it back in. It never did it again after removing the plug and putting it back in. So I'd try that first.

BEFORE you can get a replacement cluster you'll have to pull yours and see what color the plug is on the back.

Black, Red, Blue, White...

Sometimes the steering wheel'l work or spreading your fingers across the face of the cluster and wiggling it.

Last edited by Warlock III; 05-04-2013 at 10:47 PM.
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:23 PM
mcasdorph mcasdorph is offline
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I've had the knee bolster off, but only got so far, I did try wiggling the connector, didn't help, I found a pretty decent guide on panel removal to get the cluster out, I just wont be able to do it till maybe tomorrow evening or maybe Monday, my dad is driving the van to his niece's tomorrow.

Another problem was intermittent turn signals, sometimes they didn't work, other times they did, I thought I saw a connector for that, I tried making sure it was tight and I don't think it has had any problems since, didn't know if that was a known problem or just a loose connector.
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:35 PM
Warlock III Warlock III is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcasdorph View Post
I've had the knee bolster off, but only got so far, I did try wiggling the connector, didn't help, I found a pretty decent guide on panel removal to get the cluster out, I just wont be able to do it till maybe tomorrow evening or maybe Monday, my dad is driving the van to his niece's tomorrow.

Another problem was intermittent turn signals, sometimes they didn't work, other times they did, I thought I saw a connector for that, I tried making sure it was tight and I don't think it has had any problems since, didn't know if that was a known problem or just a loose connector.
It's starting to sound like a BCM issue, do the headlights ever come on by themself? or does it ever need a jump?
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Old 05-04-2013, 11:49 PM
mcasdorph mcasdorph is offline
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No, not really, other than the occasional turn signal problem, cluster problem and the starting and quitting problem, its been a great van.

I was reading the user manual yesterday and in the alarm section it was talking about a security feature that will prevent the van from starting when alarm is set, I believe that might be the issue with not starting and staying running sometimes, but until that happens again I can't troubleshoot that.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:05 AM
Warlock III Warlock III is online now
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With the factory security either is starts or it doesn't. The factory security has a starter interrupter, if the security is on it won't spin the starter. Turning the security on while it's running won't make it stall.
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Old 05-14-2013, 10:21 PM
mcasdorph mcasdorph is offline
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It done that sh*t again today, luckily it started back up about an hour later and didn't leave us stranded, We got home and I told my dad I was pulling the cluster (whether he wanted me to or not..lol) I removed the panel and got the cluster out, it did have a few connecter pin solders cracked, I heated up my soldering iron and reheated the solder so it refilled the cracks and re-hardened, slapped it back together and turned the key and the dash gauges worked (which doesn't mean anything, we'll just have to watch and see it it does it again, if it does, I can rule out the connecter's solder as the problem).

I still believe that the starting issue has to do with the security system and everyone I talk to thinks the same thing.
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