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Dodgerench
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Chrysler
Satisfied Customers: 3098
Experience:  30+ years Dodge/ Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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2001 Chrysler Town & Country: van..The cruise control..engage..console

Resolved Question:

I have a 2001 Chrysler Town & Country minivan with 3.8 Liter V-6 engine and 2WD. My van is doing several things. The cruise control does NOT work/engage, yet the word "CRUISE" shows on the dash/console, as if it was engaged. I cannot turn the cruise control off or on. The horn does not work when depressed, yet sometimes when I start the van and drive it the horn will suddenly come on, and stay on for 20-45 seconds, and then suddenly go off (I am usually turning the wheel, tilting the wheel, etc, in an effort to "adjust the wires in the steering column, but I do NOT think it is acutally a loose/frayed wire). I have checked ALL of the fuses, and they are OK. I don't know how to check resistors. Also, the interior lights sometimes stay on, so I have to turn the ceiling light all the way off, or it will kill the battery. The alternator is putting out 13.7 volts. Sometimes the twin electrical radiator vans do NOT work/engage, and the engine tends to run somewhat hot, or slowly lose radiator fluid when it overflows the overflow coolant tank.
I believe my problem is electrical, but what the heck do I have???
Dave
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Chrysler
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 3 years ago.
Hi Dave, my name is Ed. Welcome to Just Answer!.

I'm tempted to condemn a device called the clockspring for your cruise control and horn problems because controls for both system pass through it. Clocksprings break all the time, which can cause shorting of the circuits within the unit... but I can't think of a way that the cruise lamp would stay illuminated since it requires a very specific voltage signal to be sent by the on-off switch to enable the system. It seems pretty unlikely that a random short could provide that voltage.

Let's start with a code check. This procedure checks for codes in your engine controller, which is where the speed control duties lie. We probably won't be able to diagnose the horn problem without a compatible full-feature scan tool (like the factory DRB3), but if the speed control issue takes us back to a clockspring, it would likely solve both problems at once.

To check for engine codes, roll the key from off to on three times. Leave the key ON after the last cycle.
Watch the odometer window in the instrument cluster for code display, followed by "P-done" when completed whether any codes were shown or not. This last indication tells us that the feature had run and completed.

By the way, if your temp gauge doesn't show an engine reading much higher than barely past half-scale, you probably just need a radiator cap... they lose sealing ability after a few years of service and normal cooling system pressure probably just overwhelms the weak spring and seal. Check for proper coolant level under the cap on a cool engine and if it's OK... and the gauge doesn't ever show an actual overheat (red zone) indication... it's just a weak cap.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Talk in a bit,
Ed
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Chrysler
Satisfied Customers: 3098
Experience: 30+ years Dodge/ Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
Dodgerench and other Chrysler Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Your answer is a start, but does not yet give me all of the information I need to resolve my problem. I performed the code check and it displayed the following codes:

P1684

P1491

P0645

In that order. What problems do these codes refer to? Can the clockspring be replaced? Can I take one out of a similar cruise control in a junkyard and install it into my cruise control? What does the clockspring look like?

In addition, the more serious issue is the engine overheating due to the double radiator fans not coming on. I previously replaced the radiator cap with a new STANT one, and it still overheats and spills fluid onto the ground, lowereing the volume of fluid in the radiator to an unacceptable level. The fans are not coming on, Why? I assumed it was related to the cruise control/dome light/horn electrical issue.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 3 years ago.
Hi!
The codes are... P1684 (PCM MEMORY LOST), P1491 (RADIATOR FAN RELAY CIRCUIT) and P0645 (A/C CLUTCH RELAY CIRCUIT). It looks like you're right about the fans.. I misinterpreted what was happening.

P1684 describes a loss of engine controller memory that would have happened within the last 255 engine starts. This could be something as innocuous as a dead or disconnected battery.

P1491 usually means a fuse is blown in the underhood fuse and relay box, the PDC. Look for the 40 amp "maxi" fuse that your under-cover road map identifes as the fan relay and check it carefully for being burned out. They're not always obvious about showing signs of failure, so it might require that you remove the clear plastic top on the fuse or test it physically with an ohmmeter. If the fuse is found to be blown, check each of the fan units to see if there might be binding of a motor, which is what usually pops a fuse. Fans are serviced as a set, coming with an entire fan "module" (about $450) by the way. You could unplug the bad one to limp the van along a while on the single good fan.

P0645 tells us that the control circuit feed to the A/C clutch relay isn't (or wasn't) present.

Clocksprings are best purchased as new since they have such an important role in driver's side airbag deployment, which is yet another function of the unit. Since the airbag sits in an environment that isn't stationary, the clockspring was created to maintain electrical contact with the unit at all times. Inside, it looks just like what you'd expect a device called a clock spring to appear... it's a wound ribbon of multiple conductor material that spools and spools with each turn of the steering wheel, which is why they tend to break after a while. You can only wind a spring so many times before it snaps. I checked your model year Caravan for the possibility of a recall clock spring being available, but no bingo.

While you don't always lose all functions at the same time when a clock spring fails, it may well complete that process any day now if this is what's going on. Testing of the horn and speed control circuits will be difficult without the use of a scan tool that can read the MUX voltage needed for setting speed control.

The clock spring makes physical contact with the base mounting surface of your steering wheel, which means it sits inside the column shroud just a bit. It appears to be a black plastic hub of some sort with a tab at the center (facing the wheel once removed). Care must be used when attempting to re-use a clock spring to keep it from unwinding once removed from the column or you'll have the thing winding up too tight on one turn and too loose on the other.

The dome lamp and A/C relay control circuit problems might just be a bad fuse, such as the ignition-off draw (called IOD) located in the PDC unit. I believe it to be a 20 amp mini fuse in this year.

Check 'em out and let me know what you find.

Talk later,
Ed
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I ordered and received a new clockspring from RockAuto.com and installed it on Sunday, 11-7-10. Upon removal of the old one, I noticed the plastic "tab" or "pin" on the top of the clockspring, which engages with the underside of the steering wheel was broken off. That pretty much confirmed to me that you were on the right track. I had the wheels straight when removing & installing the clockspring, so all was OK when I test drove it. Clockspring replacement appears to have resolved BOTH the blaring horn and the non-functioning cruise control issues. I also purchased an OBD2 scanner and cleared all codes and test drove the van. NO new codes were set. The double radiator fans now come on, but sometimes seem to take a long time to come on(In my opinion). I ran them for a long time (30-40 minutes) and don't seem to be binding or making noise or anything. I think it might have been just a leaking cap, or somehow related to the broken clockspring. I might replace the radiator fans as well. I monitored the coolant temperature with the OBD2 scanner, which interfaces with my personal laptop computer, and the coolant temp stayed around 219 degree F at idle, and less when running. I think it's ALL fixed. I would like to thank you for your technical expertise and stick-to-it-tive-ness in helping me fix this rather unusual problem(unusual for me).

I'll be using JustAnswer, and hopefully Dodgerench again in the future!

Signed,

Certified Shade Tree

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