Erratic Instrument Cluster



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Thread: Erratic Instrument Cluster

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Rocky Mountains USA
    Posts
    38


    Erratic Instrument Cluster

    I continue to have issues with erratic gauges on my '05. Each and every time it acts up I pull over somewhere and turn the van off and restart. This seems to get rid of the erratic cluster for several days. This has always worked for me. Other threads suggest ground wires or bad solder joints. What's different about my van is my ignition switch has been kind of sloppy since I bought it. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was stolen previously and the switch/column was somehow messed up. I usually always have to play with the key to get the key to turn the ignition lock. If I move the key sideways a bit it will allow the key to rotate and start. I wonder if my erratic cluster might somehow be caused by a bad ignition switch. Aren't there electrical connections that make contact when the switch is rotated? If it were bad solder joints or a ground, wouldn't those same issues still be there after a restart? However if the ignition switch contacts were fouled up and restarting cures it for a while, maybe its an issue with the switch or something similar. I've tried to attach a link to a short video of the instrument cluster in action.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/sxkrynnvze...94454.mp4?dl=0
    2005 Dodge Grand Caravan, Inferno Red, 38K miles
    2008 Ford Ranger Sport 4X4, Grabber Orange, 40K miles
    2013 VW Jetta TDI, Moon Rock Silver, 34K miles
    2004 Victory Kingpin, Hugger Orange, 21K miles

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    I notice your check engine light is on. That means the PCM has stored a fault code. That code may lead you in the right direction. Either connect a scanner (free at Autozone etc) and read the code or use the key dance method. Cycle the key from off to on/run (not start) three times and leave it at on/run. The code should appear in the odometer display.

    The cluster solder issue applies to 3rd generation 1996-2000 minivans. I'm leaning towards a microprocessor fault probably in the BCM just by the way it's acting meaning your stop and cycle the key off and back on and all is well for a while. Ignition switch? Can't count it out. It does have a set of contacts in it that power various circuits. Trouble is I don't have access to my wire diagrams right now to see what circuits each particular contact powers. I'll work on that. Ground? Possible but usually if a ground is bad it will affect several systems.

    What else? ALWAYS start with the basics. Make sure the battery terminals are clean and tight and battery power is up to snuff. Should see at least 12.3 volts at the battery terminals with engine off. Around 13.5 with engine running. The battery is the heart of the electrical system. These vans are sensative to weak unsteady power. A few oddball things I've read over the years that can effect the cluster? Bad factory crimps securing battery cable terminals to the cable. They can loosen up and give you various headaches. Power sliding door wire harnesses short to the chassis and kill the cluster. Wire bundle under the battery tray corrodes from acid dripping on it.
    ******** We took the time to answer your post. Please give us some time and post the fix. You'll help hundreds. ********

    **** Follow all prescribed safety procedures before attempting any repairs. If in doubt, refer to a maintenance manual. ****

    96 Gr Caravan LE 3.8, 214K miles
    07 Fusion / 06 RAV 4 / 06 Accord

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to RIP For This Useful Post:

    Caraman99(03-11-2017), Carbuff2(02-21-2017)

  5. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Fresno, CA
    Posts
    66


    Ours did that too.
    My advice would be take the battery out, remove the battery tray, and clean up the grounding stud beneath it! (All of it, terminals, stud, washer and nut!)
    2006 Chrysler Town and Country 3.3L LX

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  8. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Stuck in NJ Traffic
    Posts
    1,306


    RIP covered most of the causes.

    If your speedo needle 'jumps' when the ignition is turned on, that is a sign of a weak battery...even if it cranks normally. BTDT.


    ++++++++

    Another thing you could do is monitor voltage with a VOM set to Peak Hold. That would tell you if the voltage is dropping.


    As for your ignition key, I'd suggest applying a good Graphite lubricant like 'Lock-Ease' before the tumblers stick on you...
    Atwell "Buff" Haines
    Northern NJ
    2002 Grand Caravan ES "Extra Special"...
    Blue
    3.8L, Touring Suspension, 17" Alloys, and Autostick

  9. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Altamont, KS
    Posts
    533


    Quote Originally Posted by Carbuff2 View Post
    RIP covered most of the causes.

    If your speedo needle 'jumps' when the ignition is turned on, that is a sign of a weak battery...even if it cranks normally. BTDT.


    ++++++++

    Another thing you could do is monitor voltage with a VOM set to Peak Hold. That would tell you if the voltage is dropping.


    As for your ignition key, I'd suggest applying a good Graphite lubricant like 'Lock-Ease' before the tumblers stick on you...

    I second this. When my gauges started being erratic its time for a battery. I usually get one about every two years. Just replaced it two weeks ago.
    2005 T&C Touring. 3.8L Midnight Blue. 202K Still Runs

  10. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    TEXAS, USA
    Posts
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    I'm 99.9998 % sure that behavior is caused by corrosion on grounding wires under battery tray.

    Remove battery tray, then remove grounding wires and clean wires one by one, use a little knife or sand paper if needed. Make sure you also clean the chassis under those wires as well as the nut.

    The main reason I believe you have a grounding problem is because of the RPM needle bouncing around.

    Good luck.







    2012 Town & Country
    2006 Dodge Grand Caravan. 317,000 + Miles. -SOLD-
    Current Minivans I own.
    LEVY --UNKNOWN MEMBER--

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    Caraman99(03-11-2017)

  12. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Rocky Mountains USA
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    The check engine light is from an ongoing evap code. I replaced the fuel cap but it continued. I bought a cheap smoke machine to track down the leak. I'm just waiting for some extended warm weather to do the work.

    I removed the battery and cleaned the mentions stud ground. This didn't cure the problem.

    I replaced the ends of the battery cables with the extensions. Simply cutting off the terminals made the cables too short. I added the type that extends the length by about 6 inches or so and has new clamps on the ends. After I made this repair the erratic gauges was gone foe about 5 weeks, but came back.

    Maybe it is the battery?? I'd had O'Reilly load test the battery when I did the cable repair and they said it was good. I think it's a couple years old.

    I don't even want to entertain the idea of a bad BCM due to the horrible success rate in other threads.

    Not sure where else to go.
    2005 Dodge Grand Caravan, Inferno Red, 38K miles
    2008 Ford Ranger Sport 4X4, Grabber Orange, 40K miles
    2013 VW Jetta TDI, Moon Rock Silver, 34K miles
    2004 Victory Kingpin, Hugger Orange, 21K miles

  13. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    TEXAS, USA
    Posts
    4,034


    Quote Originally Posted by Cobrargc View Post
    The check engine light is from an ongoing evap code. I replaced the fuel cap but it continued. I bought a cheap smoke machine to track down the leak. I'm just waiting for some extended warm weather to do the work.

    I removed the battery and cleaned the mentions stud ground. This didn't cure the problem.

    I replaced the ends of the battery cables with the extensions. Simply cutting off the terminals made the cables too short. I added the type that extends the length by about 6 inches or so and has new clamps on the ends. After I made this repair the erratic gauges was gone foe about 5 weeks, but came back.

    Maybe it is the battery?? I'd had O'Reilly load test the battery when I did the cable repair and they said it was good. I think it's a couple years old.

    I don't even want to entertain the idea of a bad BCM due to the horrible success rate in other threads.

    Not sure where else to go.
    The other problematic part is the "Fuse Box".

    You need to remove it and clean all connectors underneath. You can also try and remove every single fuse a cople of times.







    2012 Town & Country
    2006 Dodge Grand Caravan. 317,000 + Miles. -SOLD-
    Current Minivans I own.
    LEVY --UNKNOWN MEMBER--

  14. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,328


    Got my diagrams back. The only source of power for the cluster comes straight off the battery bus at pin 6. Ground is pin 13. No ign switch contact involved. However, I suspect the cluster is activated by a "wake up sense" input from the BCM at pin 12. The ignition switch contact from pin 3 sends ign on/off power input to the BCM. One of 4 power sources. The rest come off the battery bus.

    Want diagrams? Send me an email address to send them to via a private message.
    Last edited by RIP; 02-24-2017 at 08:18 PM.
    ******** We took the time to answer your post. Please give us some time and post the fix. You'll help hundreds. ********

    **** Follow all prescribed safety procedures before attempting any repairs. If in doubt, refer to a maintenance manual. ****

    96 Gr Caravan LE 3.8, 214K miles
    07 Fusion / 06 RAV 4 / 06 Accord

  15. The Following User Says Thank You to RIP For This Useful Post:

    JC1(03-11-2017)

  16. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Rocky Mountains USA
    Posts
    38


    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Update: I replaced my battery 2 weeks ago. I've had no electrical issues since then. I'm hesitant to say the problem is solved because last time I had the battery out to clean the ground under the battery tray, it took a few weeks for the instrument cluster to act up again. Thanks guys!
    2005 Dodge Grand Caravan, Inferno Red, 38K miles
    2008 Ford Ranger Sport 4X4, Grabber Orange, 40K miles
    2013 VW Jetta TDI, Moon Rock Silver, 34K miles
    2004 Victory Kingpin, Hugger Orange, 21K miles

  17. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Cobrargc For This Useful Post:

    Caraman99(03-11-2017), JC1(03-11-2017)

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