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Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Chrysler
Satisfied Customers: 3406
Experience:  30+ years Dodge/ Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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1998 Chrysler Town & Country, 3.8L. I'm guessing the problem

Customer Question

1998 Chrysler Town & Country, 3.8L. I'm guessing the problem has something to do with the vehicle alarm system.
Problem: Turn the ignition switch to start the vehicle. It initially starts and runs for approximately 2 seconds and then shuts down. Try again and same thing occurs. If I continue to try and start the vehicle it will completely die as if there is no battery. battery has a good charge. I have read the owners manual over and over for arming and disarming the system with no success. I will then wait for an hour or two and it will start and stay running. I have change keys and have used the valet key with no avail. Hope you have a solution. Thank you for your time.
Tom ***@******.***
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Chrysler
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 2 years ago.

Hi, my name is Ed. Welcome to JustAnswer!.

The problem you're describing is almost certainly caused by a breakdown of the inter-vehicle communication network, called the CCD bus. When you attempt to start the engine, the PCM (engine computer) first looks to the BCM (Body Control Module, where vehicle theft resides) for an OK-to-start message. When it doesn't come, you have early fuel injector shutoff and later, complete disallow of the starter. While this situation could be caused by a number of things, by far -- 100 to 1 basically-- it's a bad solder joint in the instrument cluster.

This solder joint is responsible for supplying a ground source to the cluster, which is a major player in the CCD bus network. Loss of ground causes the CCD bus voltage to be pushed high, beyond what is acceptable for vehicle communications, so nobody can talk to anyone.

Since it's a cracked joint, the possibility of a connection is always present which makes it temperature and shock sensitive. Sometimes just the act of slapping the dash will return the CCD bus to operation and suddenly you can go for a ride. If the bus fails while driving, you'll notice that the gauges will fall flat, but the PCM understands that it's NOT cool to kill an engine once you've started driving, so you won't have any running issues unless a restart is attempted.

Repair is actually pretty simple if you can slog through the act of pulling the cluster out of the dash and soldering up that joint. I have a detailed tutorial that I'd be glad to send if you're the adventurous type. Otherwise, the dealer will be glad to replace the cluster's printed circuit board ($600 for the board, 2.0 hours shop labor, about $800 total).