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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My name is Dale, I am a newbie to this forum and I own a once great Caravan that is haunted with electrical issues, ghosts is what I refer to them as....
I'm looking for someone who can help me figure out what is causing this to occur. It doesn't do it all of the time and you never know when it's gonna jump out and surprise you. It was to the point I could not leave town with it. My story with this car is here;
My Dodge Caravan is almost a base model, 3.3L with power windows, power locks and cruise control...
I bought this van for my dog, who was getting old and could not get into a car any longer. He would simply walk right into the van, and the seats go up and down really easy.
We've had this van for going on five years with NO trouble to speak of, I drive it like I stole it and we go long distances with it, we went from Lake Havasu Friday at noon, went to north of Tulsa, OK about forty miles, loaded a car on to the trailer we were pulling and were back in Havasu Sunday about eight o clock in the evening. So, I really drive this thing!
Lately I've been having "ghost" issues with the van, the gauges all go crazy, the lights come on as if I were just starting it or ALL of the warning lights come on, the radio shuts off and sometimes it will die and sometimes will not restart for a few minutes... I've changed out the TIPM, Totally Integrated Power Module, which is what the guys at Chrysler told me it was... Well, it was not that, so then I take it to them and they have it for four weeks and cannot reproduce the symptoms.
The fuel gauge, the temp gauge and the speedo will all go to the far left, speedo to zero, fuel to empty and temp will go to full cold, the warning lights come on, and the radio turns off and starts back up, sometimes it only does it once and I can turn it off and open the door, restart it and we're off again with no issues, other times the scenario above happens as well as the gauges all get real dim and then it sets a low voltage code.
I replaced the alternator and it seemed to be fixed, then it all started again. I've been told it's the WIM wireless Ignition Module and other modules as well. I'm at my wits end, I do NOT have the dealership scanner and cannot get into the system far enough to see what the live data is doing, other than what my cheap Harbor Freight scanner will allow.
Anyone having issues similar to this? Anyone have had this in their past and know what it took to correct it? I've spent a bunch of money at the dealership and they can never duplicate the condition, they wanna sell me all kinds of stuff that will make them richer, but none of it addresses my concern..... HELP!
 

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I replied to the other thread but this one has more details. It sounds like the TIPM. The Totally Integrated Power Module is the distribution box for nearly the entire electrical system. Its main purpose is to take the commands from various switches and other modules and send those commands in the form of voltage or ground to wherever it needs to go.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I replaced that back about September, had it towed to the dealership to flash it and it was worse than before the TIPM module replacement. I am a former shop foreman at a Cadillac, Rolls Royce, Bentley dealership on the north shore of Chicago. I'm up on automotive electronics, I was certified ASE, GM and others, I had multiple Master Certs and Electrical issues were my forte'. So, since I retired things have gone way out there from what was typical in automotive applications... I no longer have dealership scan tools or my Snap on scanner, I have a cheap scanner that I can stream live data with, but it only does engine data, it will display body codes and such, but it is a toy really. I am going to check the connections at the ECU and I need to mention that the code that comes up when the car dies and will not immediately restart is a system voltage low code. I replaced the alternator as I was watching the live data and noticed the voltage spiking to 16 and down as low as 7.
Once the alternator was replaced there were NO symptoms at all for about a week and then they started to creep back in... I hate to junk this car, I love it, I just want to address what is causing the concern and move on with my life....
 

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First of all I feel your pain - as far as replacing TIPMs go. The first thing that comes to mind, as others have mentioned is the TIPM.
Why didn't replacing it and having it keyed (flashed) to your vehicle solve the problem is a mystery.
The only other thing that comes to mind and it would be an incredible coincidence, is simultaneous failure of several other controllers, for instance a lot of your symptoms seem Body Control Module related.
Starting with the basics though, with the inventory of so many varied electrical problems continuing to grow I have an idea:
Check and confirm and clean all major electrical grounds in the engine compartment, particularly battery to chassis and engine to chassis, TIPM to ground. See attached pic for major chassis ground points just behind TIPM and battery.
I checked on my 2015 for grounding reference but it is difficult to determine as a lot of the major ground cables disappear into wiring harnesses.
You could also try running redundant heavy wires from battery negative to engine, and battery negative to chassis. I would either make up or purchase a couple of 24 inch pre- made 1 gauge
20200203_120716.jpg
battery cables and piggy back them to your battery negative and connect them to the chassis. There are two chassis ground studs on the left shock-tower just behind the TIPM. Again see attached pic.
One question - has there been any major body work done on this vehicle just prior to these problems showing up?
I am wondering if anyone used an electrical arc welder on this vehicle?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Over the past few weeks I have found that the ground cable connection at the battery was giving me an intermittent failure. I found it at a friends memorial service, we left the service and started down the road and the car just died... I had nothing, no flashers, no lights, nothing. I opened the hood and touched the BRAND NEW cable end and everything came back to life. It set a low voltage code and we drove back home.
I replaced the cheap tin factory battery cable end on the negative side and all seemed to be good, then a week or so later, the dash went crazy, all the lights lit up, the engine stumbled and we again had the battery voltage low code.
I replaced the positive cable end, I used side post to top post cable ends, they are heavy duty "lead" and have a 5/16" bolt hole on one end, I drilled out the cables, one at a time, I did the negative and then after the concern came back I did the positive cable end.
The cables were tight when they were the original tin type, but they kept giving me trouble. Now that I've changed them both to heavy lead terminal ends, I have not, knock on wood, had an issue since. I feel that my whole issue all along was the battery connections. I may be wrong, I've been married twice, so I have been wrong before, but since changing both cable ends, Not a hint of a problem since. So, I think I found it, it only cost me close to two grand to find out I needed cable ends replaced....:rolleyes:
 

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Sounds like you found the problem. Some others with a myriad of seemingly unrelated electrical problems could learn from you addressing the basics. I agree the OEM battery connectors are pretty mickey-mouse compared to the old bolted clamp type, and probably fatigue with the continuous high operating electrical loads of these modern vans which really require a heavier duty clamp as you have found.
Something else that I like to double check when there are battery cable related problems are the ground connections also - again heavy currents and the likelihood of corrosion, especially at the chassis ground points.
Kudos on your persistent common sense troubleshooting of the basics.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Mike, I am a "seasoned" tech that is now retarded, I mean retired... I worked on High End cars at a dealership on the North Shore of Chicago, a Cadillac, Rolls Royce and Bentley store.
I was shop foreman and I was the "go to" electrical guy... Needless to say, I could spend sometimes days tracing down a ghost like this. I have been out of the business since 2002 and have not kept up with the electronics as much as I probably should have. BUT, I do still possess a mind for things such as this.
The dealership I took my van to wanted to drive it though the parts department until it was "fixed" and I refused to do that.
I got taken on the TIPM, but in the end, I feel it will benefit me in the long run as we live in Arizona where it get's VERY hot, electronics and wiring are not happy in HOT... They prefer cooler temps, as you are aware.
I appreciate your posts, it gives me hope that there are others out there that REALLY WANT to do the right thing in this business, but it is after all a business, and being paid flag time, lends itself to abuse of the customers understanding. I hope that there are reputable people who work in dealerships as I did that truly want to do a GOOD JOB and correct customers concerns with as little parts swapping as can be done, but todays technicians, out here in the West seem to be all about the money and don't really care about the customer... It could be just the area I am in, but it is prolific here where I am and in the surrounding communities.
So, it came down to me having to buy a scanner to be able to read live data and view the codes that occurred to understand what was happening and resolve it.
The dealership here is great if you want to buy a new car, but the service department leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you have to take your car back repeatedly only to get the run around.
Again, thank you for the picture, which shows the two grounds under the TIPM, which I cleaned and tightened while I had the TIPM out.
You give me hope for the rest of society that there are people like you out there who REALLY want to help, not just make money! A BIG THANK YOU Mike!
 

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Glad to hear that helped you wade through this grounding business - this vehicle, my 2015, has the ground cables disappear into wiring looms, so it is not that obvious exactly where they come out, but the ground studs in the pic, being so close to the battery and TIPM are a good bet. Mine has a third ground stud, unused beside the two with connections.
I suppose that might be for a higher end vehicle to ground electronics etc that my CVP equipped van (same as AVP ) doesn't have. Fortunately the low signal computer wiring all appear to have individual dedicated ground wires.
I have the FCA FSM for my van, but it is lacking in wiring or schematics - practically none. I always buy the manufacturer's FSMs for my vehicles, but this one was disappointing in it's lack of detail compared to prevous Chrysler FSMs I have purchased, going right back to the early 70s.
With your automotive background, you might know this already, but there is some history to the dreaded TIPM module that shows up as the culprit in a plethora of electrical quirks throughout the van, as evidenced by the huge number of related Forum posts .
On earlier models, like the Gen 3, there were two big, separate electrical distribution modules, a Junction Block which handled lower current circuits and was mounted inside the vehicle under the Dash on the driver's side and the Power Distribution Module, which handled the high current stuff and mounted under the hood about where the TIPM sits now.
In an uncharacteristically bad decision, the Engineers decided to combine the Junction Block with the Power Control Module and they called it the Totally Integrated Power Module. This brought all the lower current fuses and miniature relays forward into the environmentally hostile under-hood location. It proved to be too much integration, and in spite of a weather resistant cover, moisture crept in and corrosion occurred. To make matters worse a lot of the smaller relays and fuses were also miniaturized.
I enjoy working on Chrysler vehicles, in part due to their clever and forward thinking Engineering but I have had enough experience tracking down TIPM related issues that I have to admit that FCA / Chrysler dropped the ball on this one.

I hear what you are saying about Dealer Service Departments - they are operated as a Business Entity and like all other Departments in the Dealership are required to turn a profit; I have been in the service department and witnessed some pretty wild stories being told to customers, usually prescribing service that may or may not be needed. I have seen Customers come in with valid service issues and be immediately upsold on a variety of additional services all before they have even seen the vehicle. The Service Writer may not even be a qualified technician, he or she is there primarily to sell - as you have said.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Glad to hear that helped you wade through this grounding business - this vehicle, my 2015, has the ground cables disappear into wiring looms, so it is not that obvious exactly where they come out, but the ground studs in the pic, being so close to the battery and TIPM are a good bet. Mine has a third ground stud, unused beside the two with connections.
I suppose that might be for a higher end vehicle to ground electronics etc that my CVP equipped van (same as AVP ) doesn't have. Fortunately the low signal computer wiring all appear to have individual dedicated ground wires.
I have the FCA FSM for my van, but it is lacking in wiring or schematics - practically none. I always buy the manufacturer's FSMs for my vehicles, but this one was disappointing in it's lack of detail compared to prevous Chrysler FSMs I have purchased, going right back to the early 70s.
With your automotive background, you might know this already, but there is some history to the dreaded TIPM module that shows up as the culprit in a plethora of electrical quirks throughout the van, as evidenced by the huge number of related Forum posts .
On earlier models, like the Gen 3, there were two big, separate electrical distribution modules, a Junction Block which handled lower current circuits and was mounted inside the vehicle under the Dash on the driver's side and the Power Distribution Module, which handled the high current stuff and mounted under the hood about where the TIPM sits now.
In an uncharacteristically bad decision, the Engineers decided to combine the Junction Block with the Power Control Module and they called it the Totally Integrated Power Module. This brought all the lower current fuses and miniature relays forward into the environmentally hostile under-hood location. It proved to be too much integration, and in spite of a weather resistant cover, moisture crept in and corrosion occurred. To make matters worse a lot of the smaller relays and fuses were also miniaturized.
I enjoy working on Chrysler vehicles, in part due to their clever and forward thinking Engineering but I have had enough experience tracking down TIPM related issues that I have to admit that FCA / Chrysler dropped the ball on this one.

I hear what you are saying about Dealer Service Departments - they are operated as a Business Entity and like all other Departments in the Dealership are required to turn a profit; I have been in the service department and witnessed some pretty wild stories being told to customers, usually prescribing service that may or may not be needed. I have seen Customers come in with valid service issues and be immediately upsold on a variety of additional services all before they have even seen the vehicle. The Service Writer may not even be a qualified technician, he or she is there primarily to sell - as you have said.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Mike 05, Since our last discussion I have spent a lot of time chasing powers and grounds. It seems the battery terminals were not the cause of my concern, though they were a major contributor. I've gone through the engine compartment and loosened and cleaned and re-tightened all of the grounds that I could find. I also went through the positive connections as well, but, the problems continue. It seems that once I disconnect the power to the car and play with grounds or whatever, once I re-connect power to the vehicle, it goes for three or more days without a glitch of any kind. Then for whatever reason, a bump in the road or turning a corner, the ghosts re-appear. I have come to think that I need a service manual for this vehicle, something I usually buy for any car I have. I have one for every car I have But this one...
I'm starting to think that maybe my issue is under the dash... I was convinced enough to tear the dash apart to have the Wireless Ignition Node replaced. I did all of the work, except replacing the WIN itself, the dealership took the two screws out and unplugged it, installed the new WIN and flashed it. The car was absolutely a different car for about a week, then the ghosts started back.
So far, I have replaced the TIPM, the alternator, the battery and now the WIN and there is a semblance of normalcy to a point, then you hit a bump or turn a corner and voila, the car dies or the radio starts all over again, I've replaced the factory AM/FM with a Bluetooth AM/FM and every time this happens, the radio will re-start like I just started the engine. The other thing that I've noticed is the odometer will "flicker" a bit, if you see that happening, you pull over, turn the car off and open the door, re-start the car and it goes away for a time...
I'm really not happy, but I've dealt with worse gremlins in my day, so I will continue to look for the "Real" issue.
So far I am almost $2K into this and it is a little better than it was in the beginning, but the issues persist.
Any ideas? Again, I'm thinking that there's something loose or a bad ground in or under the dash somewhere...
What do you think?
Anyone with ideas on this, please feel free to chime in!

Dale
 

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With this many gremlins, I'd be more inclined to suspect the PCM is faulty. A failing/faulty PCM can produce all sorts of bizarre behavior, at random times. What's misleading you is what misleads a lot of us...we replace something we think is bad, and the problem seems to go away...for a while. If your symptoms were just wildly spinning gauges, I'd suspect a faulty cluster, but when you're talking about the car stalling, that's not likely the problem. A bad cluster can't stall the car, you don't even need a cluster for the car to run and drive. I know bad grounds can be an issue, but there are so many redundant grounds on these cars, that it's not likely (in my opinion), that this issue relates to a bad ground somewhere. What is possible, is that you actually have a short somewhere, an intermittent short caused by some wire or wires that are rubbed through. The wildly fluctuating voltage could be a clue...but it could also be a serious problem in the PCM, which handles voltage regulation. A bad random ground would be unlikely to stall a car, a short circuit very likely will, if it affects the PCM in any way. You'll have to inspect your harness and look for spots where something rubbed through or got trapped. I've seen cases where a screw went right through a harness that was in the wrong place. This kind of thing is super rare, but unfortunately, not impossible.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Guyonearth, I am leaning toward what you're talking about. I have systematically gone through every power and ground wire, and all of the accessible connections and found that the problem is better, but still persists. I am going to go to the PCM and look at the wiring there as well as to see if it loose or corroded in any way. Being that I live in and this car came from Arizona, corrosion is likely not the issue, but it can happen... So, next week some time, I plan on tearing the left front wheel off and pulling the inner fender to access the PCM and see what I have, obvious issues or ???
I thank you for your input. No matter how "good" one thinks they are at diagnosing and repairing, there are always a few gremlins that can bite one right on their butt... My butt is full of teeth marks from this one....
 

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Guyonearth, I am leaning toward what you're talking about. I have systematically gone through every power and ground wire, and all of the accessible connections and found that the problem is better, but still persists. I am going to go to the PCM and look at the wiring there as well as to see if it loose or corroded in any way. Being that I live in and this car came from Arizona, corrosion is likely not the issue, but it can happen... So, next week some time, I plan on tearing the left front wheel off and pulling the inner fender to access the PCM and see what I have, obvious issues or ???
I thank you for your input. No matter how "good" one thinks they are at diagnosing and repairing, there are always a few gremlins that can bite one right on their butt... My butt is full of teeth marks from this one....
The reason I bring it up is that I had a Dodge van a few years ago, a 2002 model with a history of PCM issues. It would just stop on me at random times, usually in the middle of freeway traffic. It would throw codes for crank sensor, cam sensor, random misfire, etc., but there was nothing obviously wrong. What was infuriating was that if it sat for a while and cooled down, it would start and run fine...usually. Eventually it ended up at a dealer, who diagnosed a bad PCM when they couldn't get it to generate spark signals anymore. They wanted $920 for a new one. I ended up installing a "rebuilt" one for around $400, and sold the van not long after, even though it ran fine. I just didn't trust it after that.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Guyonearth, Well, I did finally figure out what was causing the issues I had with this van. It was the ECM. I replaced it and all of the "ghost" issues have gone away.
I bought a brand new one from a company out of New York that they flashed with my VIN, it cost me $189.00 and works wonderfully!
Now all I have to do is figure out why the dome light does not come on when the drivers door is opened... Any help would be Greatly appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Glad you found a solution. As far as the door, the switch is the first place to look.
Is that the switch in the door latch?
I don't have a service manual, well, I have an 8800 page manual online that tells you everything except electrical.
I've looked and seen a new latch that comes with an electric switch as a part of it.
Do you think that's the one I need ?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Unfortunately, I believe it is. It's not the easiest part to replace, either.
Thanks man, I just need someone who is honest and knows a little something about these vans.
I figured it was the latch assembly, but calling the dealership gets you no where. They want you charge you for diag at $135.00 per hour.
They had my van for two and a half weeks and could not find the issue that I brought it in for, they could find all kinds of stuff that were erroneous codes set due to the faulty ECM, they had sold me a TIPM and a WIN to the tune of about $1500.00 and never could determine the ECM failure...
Using the power of deduction and being totally against throwing part darts at it over and over till it's fixed, I figured I'd try to locate the offending part by using what's left of my brain and asking for help on here.
I certainly appreciate your assistance with the issues you've chimed in on. And if the part is a not too easy to get at part, that's okay, I'm retarded, I mean retired and have nothing but time, money not so much!
Thank you very much, I will let you know when it's done!
 

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You can get the latch off Amazon or eBay for around $70 or so, I believe. Be aware that when you are replacing the latch, there is an anti-theft shield covering part of it that is attached to the inner door panel (big plastic piece everything is attached to) with hidden one-way fasteners. It's very hard to pop it loose without breaking them, you may end up using sheet metal screws to retain it. It's also not easy to pop the actuator rods loose without breaking the retainers. Don't take the motor or window regulator loose from the inner panel or you'll have a hell of a time getting them back on again.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Guyonearth, I'm a pro at taking things apart and not destroying them. I spent a lot of time in the Caddy, Rolls Royce Bentley dealership as shop foreman, I had to be able to do the damn near impossible to keep that position... I really appreciate your help!
Dale.
 
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