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2009 Grand Caravan SE: Coming out of Boston about a month ago I noticed that my temp gauge had gone dead & a check engine light as well as a red electrical (square with lightning bolt) warning light was on. It was a cold evening; I had been keeping an eye on gauges & I knew that beforehand the temp was good. When I restarted the van after I had stopped for a bite to eat the temp gauge was reading and the red warning light was off, but the check engine light remained. The next day I went to AutoZone & scanned the van & got a P0123 & a P2181 code. A while after I left AutoZone I noticed that the check engine light was off.
A week later, driving out of Bangor, Maine it all happened again, so I stopped & restarted; the temp gauge came back to life, the red light disappeared and the check engine light stayed on; but this time the gauge lights were off. I tried the dash/interior light dimmer control: no dice. I restarted the van: still no dash lights. to this day: still no gauge illumination.

I have also had issues with the radio (stock) shutting off at odd times.

This process repeats: every now and then I start the van and the temp gauge appears dead; the engine light is on and the red lightning bolt in a square warning light is on as well. the next time I start the van, the red light goes off & the temp gauge comes to life; the engine light remains on for 4 - 6 more starts, but eventually goes off as well.

BUT, I still have NO gauge lights. Anyone else ever have this happen?
 

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1966 Crown Coupe, 2016 200 S AWD, 1962 Lark Daytona V8.
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Welcome to Allpar, That red lightning bolt icon is for a throttle body fault, your P0123.
The P2181 is a cooling system performance code. There is a TSB for erroneous P2181 attached. Do you have good heat?
It may be wiring problems, like chewed wires or bad connections? The cluster illumination is controlled over the CAN bus. That may require a capable scan tool for diagnosis? Does a fist thump on top of the dash bring LED lighting back?
 

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. . . 2009 Grand Caravan SE: . . . .

. . . .This process repeats: every now and then I start the van and the temp gauge appears dead; the engine light is on and the red lightning bolt in a square warning light is on as well. the next time I start the van, the red light goes off & the temp gauge comes to life; the engine light remains on for 4 - 6 more starts, but eventually goes off as well.

BUT, I still have NO gauge lights. Anyone else ever have this happen? . . . .
Does the fuel gauge function properly (active and shows proper fuel level) when the temperature gauge misbehaves? If NO then I would suspect a poor electrical connection in the wiring harness at the instrument cluster or other wiring harness deficiencies. If YES (fuel gauge operating properly) then that indicates that the instrument cluster is receiving messages correctly over the CAN bus network from the TIPM (totally integrated power module) for fuel level. That would imply that the cluster can communicate properly through the CAN bus network with other modules.

The cluster receives engine temperature messages over the CAN bus network from the PCM (powertrain control module). So with a proper functioning fuel gauge but non-functioning engine temperature gauge and valid communication on the network to the instrument cluster, one would suspect that there is an internal cluster problem.

The following is a description of the self diagnostic test that can be invoked on the instrument cluster. Test and observe instrument cluster behavior.

ACTUATOR TEST

The instrument cluster actuator test will put the instrument cluster into its self-diagnostic mode. In this mode the instrument cluster can perform a self-diagnostic test that will confirm that the instrument cluster circuitry, the gauges and the indicators are capable of operating as designed. During the actuator test the instrument cluster circuitry will position each of the gauge needles at various calibration points, illuminate each of the segments in the Vacuum-Fluorescent Display (VFD) units, and turn all of the indicators ON and OFF again. Successful completion of the actuator test will confirm that the instrument cluster is operational. However, there may still be a problem with the CAN or LIN data bus, the Powertrain Control Module (PCM), the Totally

Integrated Power Module (TIPM), the Controller Antilock Brake (CAB), the Occupant Restraint Controller (ORC), the compass module, the Wireless Ignition Node (WIN), the Steering Wheel Switch Module (SWSM), the Steering Control Module (SCM) or the inputs to one of these electronic control modules. Use a diagnostic scan tool to diagnose these components. Refer to the appropriate Diagnostic Information.

1. Begin the test with the ignition switch in the OFF position.

2. Depress the odometer/trip odometer switch button.

3. While still holding the odometer/trip odometer switch button depressed, turn the ignition switch to the ON position, but do not start the engine.

4. Release the odometer/trip odometer switch button.

5. The instrument cluster will simultaneously begin to illuminate all of the operational segments in the VFD units, and perform a bulb check of each operational bus message-controlled LED indicator. The VFD segments and LED indicators remain illuminated as each gauge needle is swept to several calibration points and back. If a VFD segment or an LED indicator fails to illuminate, or if a gauge needle fails to sweep through the calibration points and back during this test, the instrument cluster must be replaced.

6. The actuator test is now completed. The instrument cluster will automatically exit the self-diagnostic mode and return to normal operation at the completion of the test. The actuator test will be aborted if the ignition switch is turned to the OFF position, or if the ignition switch is turned to the START position.
 

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How old is the battery? A weak/failing battery (low voltage) will cause all sorts of weird and seemingly unrelated codes to pop up. I would also have the charging system checked out, could be the alternator is not able to keep up all the time.

Had a '97 JX where the alternator failed. Driving it on battery was interesting as the battery drained. Over the course of 20 minutes, systems starting shutting down, the radio being one of the first, the trans dropping into limp mode and finally all ofthe gauges dropping to zero. The fuel pump and engine lasted to the very end but coasted dead the last 1/4 mile down the hill to the auto shop parking lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Does the fuel gauge function properly (active and shows proper fuel level) when the temperature gauge misbehaves? If NO then I would suspect a poor electrical connection in the wiring harness at the instrument cluster or other wiring harness deficiencies. If YES (fuel gauge operating properly) then that indicates that the instrument cluster is receiving messages correctly over the CAN bus network from the TIPM (totally integrated power module) for fuel level. That would imply that the cluster can communicate properly through the CAN bus network with other modules.

The cluster receives engine temperature messages over the CAN bus network from the PCM (powertrain control module). So with a proper functioning fuel gauge but non-functioning engine temperature gauge and valid communication on the network to the instrument cluster, one would suspect that there is an internal cluster problem.

The following is a description of the self diagnostic test that can be invoked on the instrument cluster. Test and observe instrument cluster behavior.

ACTUATOR TEST

The instrument cluster actuator test will put the instrument cluster into its self-diagnostic mode. In this mode the instrument cluster can perform a self-diagnostic test that will confirm that the instrument cluster circuitry, the gauges and the indicators are capable of operating as designed. During the actuator test the instrument cluster circuitry will position each of the gauge needles at various calibration points, illuminate each of the segments in the Vacuum-Fluorescent Display (VFD) units, and turn all of the indicators ON and OFF again. Successful completion of the actuator test will confirm that the instrument cluster is operational. However, there may still be a problem with the CAN or LIN data bus, the Powertrain Control Module (PCM), the Totally

Integrated Power Module (TIPM), the Controller Antilock Brake (CAB), the Occupant Restraint Controller (ORC), the compass module, the Wireless Ignition Node (WIN), the Steering Wheel Switch Module (SWSM), the Steering Control Module (SCM) or the inputs to one of these electronic control modules. Use a diagnostic scan tool to diagnose these components. Refer to the appropriate Diagnostic Information.

1. Begin the test with the ignition switch in the OFF position.

2. Depress the odometer/trip odometer switch button.

3. While still holding the odometer/trip odometer switch button depressed, turn the ignition switch to the ON position, but do not start the engine.

4. Release the odometer/trip odometer switch button.

5. The instrument cluster will simultaneously begin to illuminate all of the operational segments in the VFD units, and perform a bulb check of each operational bus message-controlled LED indicator. The VFD segments and LED indicators remain illuminated as each gauge needle is swept to several calibration points and back. If a VFD segment or an LED indicator fails to illuminate, or if a gauge needle fails to sweep through the calibration points and back during this test, the instrument cluster must be replaced.

6. The actuator test is now completed. The instrument cluster will automatically exit the self-diagnostic mode and return to normal operation at the completion of the test. The actuator test will be aborted if the ignition switch is turned to the OFF position, or if the ignition switch is turned to the START position.
I will give this a shot & let you know. Thank you
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
How old is the battery? A weak/failing battery (low voltage) will cause all sorts of weird and seemingly unrelated codes to pop up. I would also have the charging system checked out, could be the alternator is not able to keep up all the time.

Had a '97 JX where the alternator failed. Driving it on battery was interesting as the battery drained. Over the course of 20 minutes, systems starting shutting down, the radio being one of the first, the trans dropping into limp mode and finally all ofthe gauges dropping to zero. The fuel pump and engine lasted to the very end but coasted dead the last 1/4 mile down the hill to the auto shop parking lot.
I had that happen with a bad alternator in a '74 Eldorado ..... radio went first, then the power windows and finally a backfire & slow death. Luckily there was a Checker Auto Store across the street running a $19.99 alternator special (it was 1989). ... if only I had not taken the tool box out of the trunk to fit the CPU monitor I was picking up. Again, luckily two kids pulled up with a trailer full of stuff to pawn @ the pawnshop next door & they had sockets & wrenches. I ended up with a good deal on a pair of deep sea fishing rods as well; luckier still the rain held off as the electric convertible top was stuck down until I could replace the alternator.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I had that happen with a bad alternator in a '74 Eldorado ..... radio went first, then the power windows and finally a backfire & slow death. Luckily there was a Checker Auto Store across the street running a $19.99 alternator special (it was 1989). ... if only I had not taken the tool box out of the trunk to fit the CPU monitor I was picking up. Again, luckily two kids pulled up with a trailer full of stuff to pawn @ the pawnshop next door & they had sockets & wrenches. I ended up with a good deal on a pair of deep sea fishing rods as well; luckier still the rain held off as the electric convertible top was stuck down until I could replace the alternator.
However, this problem has persisted for a month now ... so I'm thinking it may not b that alternator
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Welcome to Allpar, That red lightning bolt icon is for a throttle body fault, your P0123.
The P2181 is a cooling system performance code. There is a TSB for erroneous P2181 attached. Do you have good heat?
It may be wiring problems, like chewed wires or bad connections? The cluster illumination is controlled over the CAN bus. That may require a capable scan tool for diagnosis? Does a fist thump on top of the dash bring LED lighting back?
I have great heat, but floor heat doesn't seem to be very strong; plenty of coolant in radiator and in overflow tank.
fist thump does not work tried that; odd that the dash lights originally went out when I restarted to get rid of the red light & recover the temp gauge which worked like it did the first time it happened (although the first time the gauge lights were unaffected). It usually takes 4-5 restarts before I get rid of the engine light; usually the next day. but the guage lights have remained of for weeks now.
 

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A failing diode pack in the alternator can allow an ac ripple to mess up the computers and cause seemingly random resets and diagnostic codes. Daughter's '06 Charger had an ac ripple that would occasionally reset the instrument cluster and cause it to go through the lamp check and would also reset all of the emission monitors to not-ready.
 

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I have to agree with Gerry about that battery. These TIPM equipped Mopars are extremely sensitive to any type voltage changes. Have you tried simply cleaning the battery cables and posts? Sometimes you luck out and that's all it is. Maybe get it load tested at Autozone.
 

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These TIPM equipped Mopars are extremely sensitive to any type voltage changes.
I know you have had a bad experience with a TIPM MoPar, but my 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 with said TIPM has not had one problem related to the TIPM. That's 15 years and over 274K miles.

I still think the tight PT engine compartment plays a factor in the TIPM's in the PT's. They simply get baked.
 

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You may be right, Doug, but I've personally NEVER had a TIPM problem. Most of the ones I've read about were in various 2006 and 2007 model Mopars. First couple of years were not the best for them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You may be right, Doug, but I've personally NEVER had a TIPM problem. Most of the ones I've read about were in various 2006 and 2007 model Mopars. First couple of years were not the best for them.
I had a 2006 with what I now think was a bad TIPM; I would roll down the driver side window & the wipers would turn on .... and a lot of intermittent performance problems too; if I slowed down to a stop the van would die, but would start right up again like nothing happened ... same with a slow curve... finally the tranny blew & a gladly junked it. Also had a 2007 with no passenger side low beam - wasn't the bulb; it was the TIPM.. I put one in from a parts van of the same year & worked fine.

But, as for this 2009: battery terminals are clean disconnected & reconnected. took out the ECM, but junk yard replacement did not work @ all. The mechanic I toook it to could not get it to run, so reinstalled the original. van runs fine, but with all the brake related warning lights on ..... and the dash lights still out
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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Wondering if there is an issue with the gauge cluster itself.

I have a 2006 Dodge Ram SLT and the tachometer has to taken to work correctly when it feels like it. For example, the engine idles at 500-600 rpm, but at times the gauge shows 100-200 rpm. Research showed there is a somewhat common issue with the joints on the back of the cluster need to be retinned. Dodge's fix is to replace the cluster ($400), but the cluster is no longer available.

The cluster is more than just a gauge display. It is also handles the communication between the various modules.
 

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1966 Crown Coupe, 2016 200 S AWD, 1962 Lark Daytona V8.
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The instrument cluster is actually its own module, called a CCN (cabin compartment node). It incorporates many of the functions of a BCM (body control module) and is a LIN bus gateway for the steering wheel/column controls.
It can run self-tests and store fault codes. It is fully addressable with a capable scan tool (like WiTech2 or equivalent).
For service or exchange, I would contact United Radio in Syracuse, NY (or other regional Authorized Chrysler electronics repair depot). Always diagnose first.
 

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I've gotten obsolete (by Chrysler) modules for older Caravans from United. Good outfit.
 
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