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Ask Dodgerench Your Own Question
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3401
Experience:  30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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2002 dodge ram 1500: instrument..gauges..speedometer..the cluster

Customer Question

I have a 2002 dodge ram 1500 conversion van and am having trouble with the instrument cluster.All gauges come and go intermittenly . Sometimes its one , two , three etc or all. This includes speedometer, fuel, oil, amp, etc all the items in the cluster, The cade "NO BUSS" SHOWS . My tech has replaced the cluster and checked for grounding problems but it still does it.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 6 years ago.
Hi, my name is Ed. Welcome to Just Answer!.

Do you see the ABS or airbag warning lamp come on at the same time?
Do you have any incidence of stalling or no-start problems with the van?

Talk shortly,
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
yes i see these symbols at times and no i dont have any no run or start issues . i have actually driven van without the cluster in it
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 6 years ago.
What you're looking for is an information interruption to the cluster, which can be from a few different sources. The cluster receives its info from a bus communication network that shares between systems on the van, but the reason why you lose cluster output is still uncertain when you see prompts like ABS or airbag displayed at the same time.

When the bus crashes completely, ALL info is interrupted, which includes systems such as ABS and airbag. If it was only an engine management issue, we could assume with some assurance that the problem originated with the engine controller (PCM for short), but things get muddy at this point.

While it would be handy for us to know that communication with ABS and airbag was still possible during these events, crashing of the communication bus can be from a single cause that involves the PCM, ABS or even airbag. You've somewhat eliminated the cluster at this point...

If possible, I'd recommend disconnecting the PCM during the times when you have all warning lamps illuminated at the same time AND loss of gauge function. If your ABS and airbag come back online at that time, it appears likely that the PCM is responsible for dragging the communication bus down. Unplugging ABS can have similar effects when ABS is the one involved in the problem.

You'll find the PCM located on your van under the hood almost directly above the fan area and mounted to the bulkhead area. It's the 3-connector unit that is roughly 6" x 9" wide. Disconnect all three connectors while you do this test. If you have improved function to the cluster with the airbag lamp going out, you've shown that there is a problem in the PCM's ability to communicate. ABS will remain on during these tests because it gets cheesed when it can't see PCM directly.

ABS is located almost directly below the battery tray, which can have an effect on its overall health. Heavy battery acid loss over time can corrode the harness and ABS connector, which may account for the problems you see. I recall there being a recall for problems of this sort but would have to check at work tomorrow for specifics on the issue. If you'd be so kind, send me the last 9 digits of your VIN and I could check for recall applicability based on build information.

Give it a try and let me know what you find. A digital voltmeter would come in handy at some point if you continue having problems.

Talk shortly,
Dodgerench and other Dodge Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
last nine of vin is 62k144357
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 6 years ago.
Back shortly!
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 6 years ago.
Hi David... sorry it took so long.
What I see for your Colorado Red van is that there is no outstanding recall for what I described... or any service history. That implies that your recall wasn't done and may still be applicable and responsible for your bus problems.

I see Recall D20 as a possibility on your 2002 van because it fits what I remember from the time period. Acid could leach down to the ABS wiring, eating wires and even the ABS controller connector and causing problems that would be consistent with what you're seeing now, especially if moisture is involved during its bad days.

By all means, give your friendly local Dodge dealer a call to see if you're still eligible for Recall D20 in case it hasn't been done to this point. With no information provided through Chrysler servers, it could be a multi-step process involving a little intervention with the service staff or even the Chrysler district managers. You may actually have better success than I have when they query your service history directly... I'm just a tech with limited access to the network.

Let me know where things lead and I'll be happy to be of help.

Many thanks!