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Steve, Service Manager
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 5494
Experience:  25+ Years experience as a professional working automotive technician; ASE L1 master technician
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1998 Dodge Caravan: gauges..stop working..gas amount, odometer

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Sometimes all the gauges in my 1998 Dodge Caravan stop working and I don't know my speed, temperature, gas amount, odometer. The stoppages last a few days and then start working again. I have had the clock spring replaced recently. Though this corrected some issues, it did not correct the problem with the gauges. Some say the BCM is the problem but that seems to be an expensive repair that, in some cases, has not corrected the problem. One says the wiring harness is deteriorating between the battery and the computer. Please help before I expend lots of money.
<br />hello! <br />You could either have an internal fault in the instrument cluster assembly itself (common), or it could be losing data communications with the network in the vehicle that supplies it the information needed for gauge operation. <br />;There is an internal self test routine that you can run to identify whether the fault is internal or external to the cluster: <br />SELF DIAGNOSTIC TEST :To activate self diagnostic program <br />With the ignition switch in the OFF position, depress the TRIP and RESET buttons. <br />While holding the TRIP and RESET button turn the ignition switch to the ON position. <br />Continue to hold the TRIP and RESET buttons until the word code appears in the odometer windows then release the buttons. If a problem exists, the system will display diagnostic trouble codes. If no problem exists the code 999 (End Test) will momentarily appear <br />If a fault code 110 or 111 appears after this test it indicates an internal cluster fault is present <br />A 905, 921, 0r 940 indicates an external communication fault that you will need to have diagnosed by a technician trained in Chrysler CCD diagnostics <br />A code 999 indicates the end of the self test routine.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I will give this a try. I am going to keep the question open until I have an opportunity to run the self-diagnostic test. Thank you.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Steve, I tried the self-diagnostic. Because the gauges are not functioning and the odometer lights are not working, the odometer panel remained dark when I depressed the TRIP and RESET buttons then turned the switch from OFF to ON. I suspect I will have to wait for that magical moment when the gauges start working again to run the test.

For now, I will leave the question open, unless you have other suggestions.
If the instrument cluster is currently not working at all, your local Dodge dealer 9or independent mechanic, if they have the Chrysler DRB-III scan tool) can check network communications using the factory scan tool to determine whether the other modules are communicating or not.     Diagnosis when the symptoms are occurring is usually fairly easy; the difficulty is when the customer brings the vehicle in with everything working and the symptoms cannot be duplicated.
    To run the manual self test I mentioned earlier you will need to wait untill such a time as the instrument cluster is operating.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Thanks for your reply. Sorry to be slow in getting back to you.

The panel started working yesterday. I pushed TRIP and RESET while in the OFF position then turned ignition to ON. The word "CODE" appeared, then the number 999. This seems to indicate that the computer is not reading a problem. Perhaps this is because the gauges were working at that moment.

I am taking all of this correspondence to my certified technician the next time it malfunctions. My final question is:

In light of the 999 code, what, in your opinion, should they be looking to find wrong? Could it be the Body Control Module? If so, can I buy one at a salvage yard with assurance that it can be programmed (by a certified technician) to meet the specs of my vehicle?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

I will close out the question as I hear back from you. Am I keeping you from getting paid? If so, I will hit "accept" because you have been very helpful. I would like to know of any additional steps I should take in correcting the gauge problem.

   The 999 would indicate that at the moment when the self test ran there were no internal problems evident in the cluster.   This is kind of inconclusive; it doesn't mean that there are no problems with the cluster, just that it passed the self test at the time it was operational.    If it had provided a fault code as a result of the test it would have been more helpful in providing a more positive diagnosis.
   Based on the information you have provided, it sure sounds likely that the cluster has an internal fault.   It would be prudent to remove the cluster and check for a poor electrical connection at the harness plugs on the back to make sure a poor connection is not causing the problem.
    You can have your local Dodge dealer send your cluster out to a service center to be tested and repaired; this is probably what I would do if it was my vehicle.
   Alternatively, you could try a used cluster, but used electronic parts not something I usually recommend to my service customers since you never know exactly what condition the used parts are in; salvage yards do not test used electronic parts or even know if they are operational in most cases.

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