Thursday, March 14, 2013

Electrical problems in car

Car problems: Electrical Problems


Intermittent electrical problem

How to diagnose an intermittent electrical problem on a 1998 Chrysler Town and Country

Details Regarding The Problem:

The intermittent problem first happened three weeks ago with about 100k on the odometer. The electric locks did not function, nor the headlights, interior lights, wipers, instrument panel, and overhead computer readout values ( the overhead would display "ODO" for odometer but not the mileage value.) 

odometer electrical problem


The car would start but die after 2 seconds. I was able to start the car 5 times but the engine died each time after 2 seconds. After that the starter would not engage anymore. 

Then towed the car home but the next morning the car started fine with no apparent electrical problems. 

This set of related electrical problems has been occurring at random times and for random duration's and they all happened at the same time. 

The problems have happened while the car was running - headlights quit working on the interstate but at least the hazard lights and signals continued to work. 

Yesterday there was a change in behavior wherein the car would run but the other electrical problems (no headlights, locks, etc.) were present. 

Now Today the car would not start. 
car will not start

AT AUTO REPAIR GARAGE:
I took the car to an electrical auto mechanic yesterday and he diagnosed that I need a $800 body control module but it seems (from reading accounts of other T/C owners) that technicians frequently blame the BCM rather than locate the real problem, which might be a short circuit in the door panel, for example. 

HOW CAN I :

How can I know that the BCM is really bad? It's not making a lot of sense to me that a computer failure would be intermittent like this. 
I would think a digital electrical component would just stop working, not fail on and off over a period of minutes or days. 
By the way, I don't think the solder connections on the instrument cluster is the problem because I disconnected it and the joints looked fine.

One more important thing about 13 seconds after connecting the battery I hear a faint "click" possibly in the driver's door like the lock mechanism moving just a bit, and simultaneously a faint click under the steering wheel like a relay engaging.

body control module




THE TROUBLESHOOTING DETAILS FOR THIS PROBLEM IS MENTIONED BELOW:


Based on your symptoms I definitely indicates towards failing BCM. If your problem was just the instrument cluster along with starting and dying then I would suspect a cluster issue, but it can't cause the rest of the problems you are having. The BCM is very often blamed for cluster and security issues on these vans when it's not actually the problem, but in your case you have much more going on than just that. The locks, lights, wipers, etc are all controlled by the BCM, if you're having problems with all of the BCM's outputs at the same time then it's most likely going to be the BCM.


SUGGESTIONS TO TRY:

Its suggested to  do is load test the BCM powers and grounds while it's acting up. This is best done using a headlamp or fog lamp bulb and a couple jumper wires and the bulb should light just as brightly as if connected to the battery. If the powers and grounds are ok while all this is going on then you're going to need a BCM.

Buying a BCM on Ebay

Going for used bcm is not advisable,I see about 5 listed for about $200  that match  1998 Town and Country. One seller lists the part number 04801062 and will program the BCM with  VIN. If second hand BCM comes as warranty product or at least with guarantee of exchange if faulty.Then I'd obviously like to avoid buying BCM from the dealer for $800.


HELPFUL ADVISE FOR REPLACEMENT BCM:

As long as it's the correct one then you should be fine. You can get into trouble with used BCM's if you don't originally have factory security, but your Town and Country should already have it anyway. 
As long as you get the correct part number module you should be fine. The key fobs program to a separate module on these so you won't have to worry about any programming or anything once the replacement is installed.

Hope this details helps you to troubleshoot the problem.

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