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Discussion Starter #1
Well, I've decided to go ahead and pull the dashboard. These issues are going to be repaired or I should more exactly state troubleshot...

At times or especially when the temperature drops to around 50 or less, or sometimes when I hit a pothole, the instruments go dead. Speedometer, gas gauge, voltmeter. If I give the top of the dash a sharp whack or two with the flat of my palm the instruments "come back". No warning lights come one (like a ground loop) and there are no trouble codes stored. Does this sound more like an ignition power supply issue. I will be chasing a ghost so I would like to narrow this down as much as possible. Thanks to tips on this forum I have factory wiring schematics.

I lose the A/C compressor operation sometimes. I have clicked the pushbutton A/C over and over, with no response, but when I cycle the slider power switch back and forth several times it seems to mostly restore the normal operation. Another dad burned ghost. Should I stick with an OEM switch replacement or are aftermarket parts OK?

At times when the A/C is running and it is humid, when I step on the brake a shot of cold water goes right down my right shoe. Is this something I can fix when the dash is out, like clearing out a duct drain hole or something?

Does the OEM repair manual for the 1995 Spirit cover the removal and installation of the dashboard (the plastic padded cover)? Instruments, connectors, switches, and controls?

Where is "The Best Place" to purchase an authentic Dodge repair manual and access Technical Service Bulletins that may cover the above subjects.

A million thank you's. You guys know your stuff and so far have already saved me a ton of grief and money!
 

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David,

I strongly suggest that if you do pull the dashboard, you avoid committing a felony (at least in the US) by having a licensed mechanic swap the VINs according to the rulebook.

You may need him to do the whole job or just the VIN, I don't know, but you absolutely should be doing this the legal way, following all the rules. I do not know Mexican law but imagine it is similar to US law.

PS> Anyone else listening, it is essential that you do not swap VIN plates or dashboards incorporating them without complying with all Federal and (if any) state regulations. This most likely means you will be dealing with a licensed mechanic and/or dealership. It adds headaches, but fewer than ten years of federal prison.
 

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It's not necessary to pull the dashboard to fix these problems. The water dripping is undoubtedly the condensation drain for the A/C being plugged with debris and mildew. It exits the firewall underhood, typically near the passenger side, in a 90-degree rubber elbow that is loosely clamped to a metal tube from the drain pan. You can squeeze the elbow and see if it relieves the clog, or pull it off, clean it and install by hand.

That's probably also why the A/C is intermittent - when the evaporator is partially underwater, the compressor can cycle off. Fix two problems with one action.

The instruments being intermittent can be either a loose plug in the back of the instrument panel, or bad solder joints on the circuit board. In either case, generally you remove the trim panel under the steering column, lower the column slightly by loosening two nuts on studs, and then pop off the trim bezel and unscrew the instrument panel, then pull it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
DaveAdmin,

Thank you for your most kind comments and advice. Believe me I read them and dwell heavily on the points made.

But, I should have been clearer in my last post, the start of this thread. My fault. I apologize!

There seems to be no need at all to remove the steel VIN placard, the one recessed deeply in the dash near the windshield. It can stay mounted.

But, the dash is ruined. It looks like someone took a rosebud oxy-acetylene torch to the plastic and melted it. Whatever they use at the glass shop is NOT acetone or lacquer thinner. I just returned from there. I put a drop on my index finger and it started to burn. Ouch! They pronounce it "teener". It smells foul. The glass guys said they wipe the combing around the windshield opening with "teener" to make the rubber seal, seal better.

I need to access that plate by itself, alone, isolated and exposed. Then I can strip the hardened goo off of it which means removing the paint I guess. The placards are color coded to the dash so I will have to repaint it. The OEM dashboard padding color is an identical silver-ish gray, the same as the placard. I dare not leave it a bare metal or color other than the factory color, the silver gray. This is what will set "them" off like a skyrocket. If a reader has an idea of how to remove chemically melted plastic from the painted VIN placard I am all ears. I tried a stiff L shaped wire with cotton swab, and nothing happened. I tried tricholorethlene on the swab and it smeared the melted plastic and made the damage to the plastic VIN bezel hole even worse if that's possible. It just is not possible to reach that squeezed down area and even if I do, the dash damage is horrific.

I really want to have access to Dodge OEM service material if it covers the removal of the dash and components. Man I don't want to do this but what choice do I have? That VIN plate has to look like it had never been brutalized. I think I can get the OEM chassis (?) or body (?) service manual mailed to me. But my two requests still stand if someone cares to post advice:


Where to source the OEM service manual for the dash?

Where to source aerosol paint to exactly duplicate the color of the dash and the VIN placard
 

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Most of the aftermarket manuals cover dashboard removal because it is a repair required to replace the AC evaporator or the heater core. See if you can get a Haynes or Chilton manual for the vehicle you have if a factory manual is not readily available.

From my original archived post, I copied a single paragraph and pasted it below. This only from memory and may not cover every single item to be removed.

Changing out these dashboards involves a lot of work and here is a summary from my memory of what had to come off: Dash pad (grille), glove box, upper left dash trim, center trim, dash cluster, headlight switch (and associated trim), defrost switch, traveller, radio, ash tray, lower left panel, fuse block, turn signal flasher, chime module, relay block, parking brake lever, hood release handle, heater control unit, cigar lighter, trim around steering column, lower pillar trim on right and left, some HVAC tubes and the duct work that goes under the steering column, lower left side steel brace (under lower left trim), carpeted trim around air bag computer (center hump). Also, the steering column need to be lowered to the seat (battery disconnected, of course). It seems that a couple hundred screws are involved in removing everything. The major support bolts are at the windshield under the defrost grille, the left and right kick panels, the steering column nuts, and two nuts at the center hump at the airbag computer area.

Just to add... as was pointed out by another poster, After some of the above items have been removed, you can leave the large bolts that are on the right and left kick panel in-place and actually rotate the dash forward with the steering column lowered to the seat. Keep in-mind that the column mounted shifter models have a wire for the PRD2L indicator that must be unhooked in the steering column. You don't want to break it. Also, don't put the instrument console wires under stress or you will break the solder joints on the back of the PC board where the connectors plug in (been there and done that).
 

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If the VIN plate is that badly damaged, it would probably be sensible to have an authorized party replace it. You will almost certainly need documentation of ownership.

PS> Any alterations to the VIN are very, very illegal and that would probably include the original damage and your attempt to fix it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
3,110 mile round trip with dangerous obscured VIN plate through no less than a dozen puestos de controles, militar, SSP and PFP.

Pass through US Customs secondary inspection with an automobile with an unreadable VIN placard and Mexico plates and paperwork

Then I reach a US dealer who will take a look at Michoacan registration and plates

Then collapses in front of my eyes and expires from cardiac arrest due to overly hysterical laughter

JEEZ! I wish that @#$%^&$#!! did not tip over that freakin' mayonnaise jar of "teener"!
 

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If you tackle tacking the dash out yourself note: that the upper dash bolts are 3/8 size and the 2 pivot bolts on the lower corners are 10mm. It can get very frustrating using that 10mm on the upper bolts. Yes there are alot of things that need to come out but if you take your time at everything, taking a dash out is not that bad. After the first time I took a dash out I looked at it and said "that's it, really that ain't bad at all." I have swapped out many dashes and helped friends swap out thier dashes. In fact I had to help take out and put back in a dash out of my friends 89 Turbo Spirit 3 times because each time we put it back in we forgot to plug something back in. As for the VIN plate, I wouldn't change VINs from one car to another thats asking for trouble, but I have had to replace a dash out of my CSX-T for one I got out of the junk yard because the previous owner had cut holes in it for gauges, after the swap the local Police department had to verify the VIN on the car because it had an out of state title on it to get the title change over which I did. I'll leave it at that.
 

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As I was driving home tonight I glanced over at the left side of the dash on my 91 Spirit.. Have you tried removing the defrost grill for better access? With the grill out of the way you can get a bit more to the plate for cleaning.
 

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Don't know if this will work for you -- others here will know more about similarities / differences in different years, but the '92 manual is available online:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/106758707/1992-Acclaim-Ax-Dodge-Dynasty-Lebaron-Shadow-Fifth-Avenue-Factory-Service-Manual

Your car is identical to the Plymouth Acclaim.
 

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Once again, this is the "official word."

Any tampering with the Vin plate is highly illegal and dangerous to you and any succeeding owners.

At this point you need to get to a dealer or reputable, licensed mechanic, get that VIN plate legally replaced, following all the rules. That is your only current option.

I know how you feel but really... it's like when I accidentally holed my Neon radiator, which was otherwise in mint condition after 100,000 miles, changing the upper radiator hose. I felt like an idiot but the only solution was buying a new radiator, not trying to fix it with chewing gum.

You do not need to go to Michigan to change the VIN. You need to go to the nearest Chrysler dealer. If you have all the legal paperwork for the car, particularly the title, and your own identification, this should not be a problem. They can check the VIN where it is printed everywhere else, and do the job right.

The only legal solution is to replace the VIN now that it has been irretrievably damaged. You must do this as soon as you can. Any other action is likely to be a felony in Mexico and is certainly a felony in the United States. You are facing substantial fines and prison if you screw around with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Just a tad of touch-up paint. I had thought the plate was plastic. It isn't according to the nice folks on this forum. I do not need to change it. I do, however need to find the exact color paint that matches the original VIN plate color. When I scrape the plastic off, the paint's going to come off along with the plastic. If I leave that metal VIN plate sans paint, the feds are going to have a cow when they see it.

I called the nearest Dodge Dealer today. They absolutely had no idea of what to do. The ministerio publico (Like the District Attorney) said "The plate had best look like nothing has happened to it". I asked about the paint, the color. He replied "No se cambio nada. Nada!" Do not change anything from the way it looks from the factory. Now I need to research where I can get the correct touch-up paint down here.
 

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If the local dealer did not know how to assist you than contact Chrysler Group LLC direct. They can cordinate with a dealer in your area to assist you.

CONTACT CHRYSLER - Mexico If you would like to talk to us about product concerns or dealer issues, please contact us.

Contact Us by Telephone
011 (52) 55-5081-7568 (From U.S.)
01-800-505-1300 (From Mexico)
M-F 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM CST
 

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I had a few minutes to look up VIN tag removal/replacement laws and did find some good info on the subject which I copied and pasted below. It appears that the special rivets came about in the mid 90's. My 1991 and a 1994 Dodge Spirit that I came across in the junk yard had standard pop rivets to hold the plate on, but when I look at my 1996 mini-van, it appears to have a different type of rivet which I believe is the special piece. When I did some researching on the special rivets, I came across a couple of guys that were busted for selling these on E-Bay. They are illegal to be sold to the general public.
http://www.chevellestuff.com/misc/vin_tampering.htm

Anyhow here is the CFR18 USC511 regulations:


Sec. 511. Altering or removing motor vehicle identification numbers
(a) A person who—
(1) knowingly removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters an identification number for a motor vehicle or motor vehicle part; or
(2) with intent to further the theft of a motor vehicle, knowingly removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters a decal or device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act,
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
b-
(1) Subsection (a) of this section does not apply to a removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration by a person specified in paragraph (2) of this subsection (unless such person knows that the vehicle or part involved is stolen).
(2) The persons referred to in paragraph (1) of this subsection are—
(A) a motor vehicle scrap processor or a motor vehicle demolisher who complies with applicable State law with respect to such vehicle or part;
B- a person who repairs such vehicle or part, if the removal, obliteration, tampering, or alteration is reasonably necessary for the repair;
C-a person who restores or replaces an identification number for such vehicle or part in accordance with applicable State law; and
(D) a person who removes, obliterates, tampers with, or alters a decal or device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act, if that person is the owner of the motor vehicle, or is authorized to remove, obliterate, tamper with or alter the decal or device by—
(i) the owner or his authorized agent;
(ii) applicable State or local law; or
(iii) regulations promulgated by the Attorney General to implement the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act.
C- As used in this section, the term—
(1) "identification number" means a number or symbol that is inscribed or affixed for purposes of identification under chapter 301 and part C of subtitle VI of title 49;
(2) "motor vehicle" has the meaning given that term in section 32101 of title 49;
(3) "motor vehicle demolisher" means a person, including any motor vehicle dismantler or motor vehicle recycler, who is engaged in the business of reducing motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts to metallic scrap that is unsuitable for use as either a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle part;
(4) "motor vehicle scrap processor" means a person—
(A) who is engaged in the business of purchasing motor vehicles or motor vehicle parts for reduction to metallic scrap for recycling;
B- who, from a fixed location, uses machinery to process metallic scrap into prepared grades; and
C-whose principal product is metallic scrap for recycling;
but such term does not include any activity of any such person relating to the recycling of a motor vehicle or a motor vehicle part as a used motor vehicle or a used motor vehicle part.
(d) For purposes of subsection (a) of this section, the term "tampers with" includes covering a program decal or device affixed to a motor vehicle pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Theft Prevention Act for the purpose of obstructing its visibility.

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Last modified: July 21, 2011


Here is the link: http://law.onecle.co...ode/18/511.html
 

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The US CFR does not apply in Mexico. Plus that is not all the references that apply.
Of course there may be State laws that supercede the US Code of Federal Regulations and certainly other Countries may have their own set of laws. Generally the US CFR stands up if a court case makes it to the US Supreme Court. Obviously, any removal and replacement is not without risk, especially if the vehicle has the new style rivets which essentially force the end user to go to a dealer.
 

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My suggestion to the OP is search the Internet for "VIN tag restoration" . There is a lot of good information out there including how to repair a damaged tag and experience by other DIYers.
 
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