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sprinkles08
sprinkles08, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Chrysler
Satisfied Customers: 21570
Experience:  ASE Master & Advanced level certified, Chrysler Master Certified, Trans and Hybrid Specialist
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I have a 2005 Chrysler town and country that was recently

Customer Question

I have a 2005 Chrysler town and country that was recently purchased used. It has 158,000 on it but is in fairly good shape for it's age. Typically, the dash will start flickering after about 20 minutes or so of driving. It starts out as the odometer and drive LED's start to go from bright to a little faded and kinda flickering. Then the radio will start to pick up static and then the gauges will go max and the radio reset. Looks like everything resets. If I continue to drive, eventually the engine will stutter with the gauges resetting. If I shut the car off, I cannot start it right away. It's like it needs to cool off. The battery shows 12.44 volts with both pos/neg disconnected. The battery posts/cables all look fine with no corrosion or sign of damage. I did notice the battery has two small ports on either side and it looks like some acid has weeped out. I inspected the cables below the pan and they look unaffected. Just to be safe, I also disconnected both sliding doors since it was easy to do, but this had no affect. I am taking the car to a Chrysler dealer on Tuesday because the airbag light stays on, but I have heard horror stories about this problem and don't want to spend thousands to fix it. Any help would be appreciated
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Chrysler
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer!

The problem could be in the integrated power module but I've seen issues like this caused by voltage drop in the positive cable between the alternator and battery.

When the problem is happening can you try putting a jumper cable between the alternator positive cable stud and the positive terminal at the battery and see if the problems go away?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I'll try it today as long as I can find the positive on the alternator and it's accessible.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Let me know how it goes!

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK - I drove it for over 50 miles and it didn't present itself. I then went to a drive thru and I got 1 flicker. I went home and held the car in drive with the brake on and if I accelerate a little, it will flicker. I used jumper cables from positive to the altenator and it still did the same thing. Once the odometer and drive letter LED's start to lightly flicker, I can get it to happen. Thoughts?
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Is it happening more when the cooling fan is running?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Well I started it up and had my wife put in drive and hold the brake down. Cooling fans weren't on and didn't come on - I then put the air conditioner on and it did a master reset and engine stalled. I was running the air for the 50 mile trip and it didn't present itself then, but it seems like low RPM and heat? I don't know, but I can get things to happen with a engine up to temp and holding it in drive at low RPM. Thoughts?
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.
Can you unplug the alternator field connector and see if the problem goes away?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I can if I know what connector that is.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I googled and found it - I'll have to get it to start happening again first. Might take a while.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.
Not a problem.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK - I started the car up and within minutes, the car started running rough and there were some flickers. I disconnected the field connector and started the car and let it run for 15 minutes - LED's were strong and never flickered. The battery light was on, so I wasn't sure if I could take it down the road, but I shut if off and connected it back up. Within a minute or two, the LED's started minor flickering even though I never got a reset condition, It was apparent that was what usually happened before a reset would happen.So does it sound like an alternator?
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.
It could be the alternator or battery but I still suspect a cable issue. Do you have a digital voltmeter?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Take one lead to the starter output stud and the other to the positive battery post. With the meter set to 20v DC, high beams and blower motor on full and the problem present, what voltage is shown on the meter?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK - this will take a little time - I'll have to find the starter output stud (pos or neg? or how do I know what is the output) and then to get the van to reproduce and I'm assuming the starter is under the van, so may need to jack it up to get at it. I probably wont get at this today, but I appreciate all your help so far and will do this tomorrow morning and get back to you. If you could provide any extra detail it would be appreciated. Thank you so much for all your help. Joe
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

I apologize, I meant to say alternator output stud. The same place you had put the jumper cable previously. We may go to the starter next depending on these results

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
When I first started it up and checked it was 00.09 v and when the LED's started to flicker, it was 00.15v. I didn't see the same master reset of the guages, but it did flicker a few times. I was never able to actually monitor the voltage when the few time the gauges jumped a little. I ran it for quite a while and it behaved better than usual. Strange. Voltage across the output and negative post was 12.83 v.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Did you take the red lead to the positive battery terminal to compare?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I checked the output of the alternator to the positive and to the negative. I did go across the battery once and I believe it was 12.44 v
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

With the engine running?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I did all my check with the engine running and the LED's were flickering which means it was close to doing the reset. For the most part, I tried to capture the voltage when a reset happened but it didnt. I let the car run for over an hour an no major issue but I will try again when I can easily reproduce it.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

If voltage at the battery was only 12.44v then it either wasn't charging or charging voltage wasn't reaching the battery.

Allow it to run and the problem start to start happening. Take one meter lead to the battery negative post and the other to a clean metal part on the chassis. With the engine off, turn the high beams on and read the voltage shown on the meter.

Move the lead from the chassis to the engine or transmission. Unplug the ignition coil and crank the starter, again note the voltage shown on the meter.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Ok - I'll google the ignition coil since not sure where that is located. I'll try and do now since I am taking the van to a dealer at 1:00 to look at the airbag light.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Just to clarify - I checked the positive output to battery positive - 00.12 - I checked battery negative to positive output - 12.88 - across battery - 12.76. I think I was wrong when I told you 12.44 before. While I was checking the car reset and stalled. One other thing - when the car is first turned on, the alternator squeaks pretty loud and then slowly goes away - sort of.I haven't done the other checks yet but will do that now.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I also checked the voltage from positive battery post to chassis and it jumps from 11.8 volts to 13 and all over in between. Wouldn't I expect to see a steady voltage?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
engine off and high beams on - 11.83 volts
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
can't seem to get the ignition coil plug off - I flipped the red tab and tried removing it but it doesn't want to budge.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

If the alternator is squeaking then you need to start by replacing it. The squeak may be bearings but it may be a failed overrunning clutch slipping. If a locked up overrunning clutch is left without being repaired it will progress to slipping and that may be what's causing the issue.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
It doesn't do it all the time, but thought I should mention it. I'll get that done and report back. You've been a great help and couldn't have gotten this far without you. I'll let you know if the alternator was the issue. Thanks
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

You're welcome!

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Car is back from Dealer and it was a loose connector under the seat that caused airbag light. That is addressed and the alternator will be put in tonight. I will let you know if the problem still persists.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Great!

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK - the alternator has been replaced and the squeak is gone but the problem is still there.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Does unplugging the field connector still cause the problem to disappear?

What is the voltage across the battery terminals with the engine running now?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK - with problem present voltage across the battery was 12.95 - unplugged the field detector connector and problem went away again - voltage across battery is 11.86. I've let the car run for about 10 or 15 minutes and no indication of the issue and the LED's are not flickering.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Charging voltage still isn't reaching the battery.

Ground the black meter lead to a clean metal part on the engine itself. With the engine running check the voltage at the alternator output stud, then move the red lead over to the positive battery post. There shouldn't be a difference, but I think you'll see 13.5-14.5v at the alternator and less at the battery.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Should I do this with the field detector unplugged or plugged?
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

You'll need it plugged in so the alternator can function.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK - with the field detector plugged in alternator to ground bounces from 13 to 15 - positive battery post identical - 13 to 15 and bounces.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Not what you're seeing at the battery then? One lead on battery positive, the other on engine ground, if you move the black lead to battery ground then it drops under 13v and is steady?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I did it to body ground - for both alternator and battery. Voltage across battery pos/neg is 12.80.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
It was steady
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

I described using an engine part as ground and need results specific to the procedure I describe to be able to begin to diagnose a problem remotely.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK - I'll recheck on engine ground and let you know in a minute...
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Again - bounces between 13 and 16 volts for both alternator and battery with engine ground. Voltage across battery now 12.65
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

The problem has to be on the ground side then. Try a known good jumper cable between a metal engine part and the negative battery terminal and you should see voltage across the terminals come up.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
OK - jumpered engine to ground on battery - 13.28 volts - took jumper off - 12.89 volts. Check engine light came on and it engine has died twice.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
This happened with the jumper on - not sure it is related. Also, when I touched the engine nut, I got sparks.
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

If the ground cable at the bellhousing is clean and tight, the negative cable at the battery is clean and tight, then the problem is voltage drop in the cable. The easiest thing to do will be to run a new ground cable from the negative battery post to the bellhousing or another point on the engine. Any parts store should be able to either make a cable to your specifications or sell you the bulk cable and eyelets to fabricate one yourself.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I know the battery post is clean and the cable fine there, but I never checked the bell housing. I guess I could have my mechanic check it out and if it needs something replaced, we will do it. Thanks again and hopefully the issue is just a bad ground to the engine.
Joe
Expert:  sprinkles08 replied 4 months ago.

Based on test results the problem is voltage drop on the ground between the battery and engine.

Good luck with the repair!