Always at Christmas

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by lead, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. lead

    lead Active Member

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    It seems everytime I have car trouble, it's this time of year. Today I went to the store, everything was fine. Driving back home, I realized that none of the guages on the dash are working. I spent 2 hours looking for a blown fuse, but couldn't find any that were bad. All the dummy lights work, dashboard lights work, everything works, except the 4 guages on the dash, tach, speedo, fuel, and temp guages.
    There's probably a very inexpensive fix, but I can't find it yet. If not, I'll be making some mechanic's Christmas a little brighter.
    It's an older Dodge Stratus that has very reliable up till now.
  2. geds

    geds New Member

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    Try electrical tape or Duct tape over the offending lights and gauges. It's a temporary fix, but the red warning lights won't annoy you for long!
  3. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    suggestion #1 - check out superbrightleds.com, replace all your instrument lights with LED lights; they last forever and aren't all that expensive. Most of your instrument lights should be 194/168 or other similar/common size bulbs.

    suggestion #2 - buy a Toyota, honda, or Subaru and eliminate 90% of car trouble!
  4. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    oh wait, the lights work but the gauges do not? or the lights all work except behind those gauges?
  5. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    if all your gauges went at once, the gauges themselves are fine. Check your ECU fuse panel (usually a separate block from the main fuse block), pull each one until you find the culprit. If all fuses are OK, it's going to get a lot tougher.

    Gonna have to start yoinking the dash and get in there with the DMM to start trying to find the dead wire, possibly a corroded terminal.

    Shouldn't be any relays in there I wouldn't think for the instrument stuff.
  6. lead

    lead Active Member

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    I'll check the ECU fuse panel tomorrow, thanks.
    I've got guys at work I could ask about this, but I'd have to spend half an hour listening to their Dodge horror stories.
  7. 1 Eyed Jack

    1 Eyed Jack New Member

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    This is probably stating the obvious, but many cars have not only the fuse panel under/by the dashboard but also a seperate box under the hood with fuses also, just tryin to help,
  8. 1 Eyed Jack

    1 Eyed Jack New Member

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    Guess I didn't read careful enough before posting, I see you covered it already,

    Have had 2 fuses blow on my truck, both were in the under hood box, not the panel under the dashboard,
  9. Appliancedude

    Appliancedude Active Member

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    Wife's van started making noises, took it to the mechanic today. Bad water pump. :mad:
  10. Rocketman1

    Rocketman1 Well-Known Member

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    Did some searching on this for you.

    The '95 and '96 Dodge Stratus's seem to have this problem. Is yours a 95 or 96? Possible solutions:

    1) If you have replaced the factory stereo, it can mess with the computer, causing the gauges to go out, something about the ground wire not being installed correctly.

    2) A slightly lose battery ground or corroded ground can cause the gauges to go out, although everything else works. (Weird)

    3) Gauge circuit board can go bad.

    Hope this helps.
  11. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    You da man. I hope he gets if figured out and I hope he lets us know what it is.
  12. mogunner

    mogunner Active Member

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    I own a couple of mid 90's Dodges, and the first thing that I do when I have a problem with one is unhook the battery for about ten minutes and let everything reset. It's amazing how many things are just an electrical "glitch" on these things. I added my own heavy gauge ground straps from the engine to the body in a couple of places as well, that pretty well eliminated most of the problems common to these.
  13. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    yeah, something as stupid and simple as corrosion on your battery (the most common place) can start having ill effects in strange places.

    Search 'big 3 mod' on yotatech.com, upgrading your battery cable to the ground, alternator and starter and engine block can drastically alter (for the better) everything on your vehicle including engine performance.

    but for certain the fuse panels are the easiest thing, so those get checked first.

    keep us posted, I'm a shade-tree mechanic (well, on Toyotas anyway) and more than happy to share anything I can add for the better.
  14. lead

    lead Active Member

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    I did check both fuse boxes and didn't find any that were bad. I checked the battery(curses on the designer that put the battery in the wheel well). The cables weren't corroded. I left it off about 5 minutes, no difference.
    It's a '97 Stratus BTW. It has the 2.4l 4cyl engine. I've gotten as good as 32mpg out of it and the seats are alot more comfortable on longer drives then the old Ford I had.
    I appreciate all the tips. I'm getting a slow start today, but hopefully will figure it out.
  15. 68c15

    68c15 Well-Known Member

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    looking up diagrams as I type this. be right back
  16. 68c15

    68c15 Well-Known Member

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    gauges are controlled by data signals sent from ECM through the BCM to the ICP (engine puter, body puter, inst. puter) through what Chrusler called CCD (Chrysler collision detection).

    test fuses 7 (batt.) which should have power at all times and fuse 11 (ign) should be hot when in start-run-off. report back with results or check your PM for my cell #
  17. 68c15

    68c15 Well-Known Member

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    just a flash back. I remember these cars having problems where the BCM gets warmed up and goes kaput. usually the door locks and other BCM functions quit as well but not always. does it work OK when cold?

    a "tap test" may prove it faulty. it's mounted on the bottom of the drivers side door jamb fuse block.

    another problem they had was bad solder joints on ther cluster circuit board. another "tap test" may be in order. the boards used to be available seperately and install easily enough with no programming needed
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
  18. lead

    lead Active Member

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    Well, still no luck on the gauge front. Thanks for the advice 68c15. I'm going to talk to a mechanic at work and see if he can figure anything out.
    I took it to Autozone yesterday to see if their hand held reader picked up any codes and they said no codes showed at all.
    Everything seems to be working except those gauges, we'll figure it out eventually.
  19. 68c15

    68c15 Well-Known Member

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    autozone is a joke when it comes to diagnostics. their scanner/code reader can't do anything but powertrain. the guys I see using them are even less competent.

    your cluster has no logic therefore will not set any codes. the BCM will though, except they can't get into it with their generic tool. a full featured scan tool like my Snap On Solus Ultra can do bidirectional controls where I can test the gauges and watch data stream coming in. look for a shop with this ability.

    does it work cold?
  20. aa1911

    aa1911 Active Member

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    A good code reader is a must, I've used Autozone before I had my own but they're so cheap now; a good OBD-II can be had for $40.

    But like said, no logic or codes for no power to the gauges, if it's not fuses, your dash will likely need to come apart to find the culprit.

    Hope you get it figured out sooner rather than later, sounds like a PITA. never fun when your rig is on the fritz!
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