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Ask Dodgerench Your Own Question
Dodgerench, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Dodge
Satisfied Customers: 3406
Experience:  30+ years Dodge/Chrysler exp., ASE Master with L1 certification. Driveability/ combustion specialist
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I have replaced my fuel pump and filter and the fuel

Customer Question

I have replaced my fuel pump and filter and the fuel regulaor and the van will start for a couple of seconds and dies turn the key to the off position and it will start for a couple of seconds again what is the next step to get it to stay started
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dodge
Expert:  Dodgerench replied 2 years ago.

Goood afternoon, welcome to JustAnswer!. This is Ed.

Your problem sounds a lot like a factory theft system action -- the engine will start, but shuts off suddenly just a couple of seconds later. If tried enough times in a row, the starter will even be disabled.

Have you noticed whether the instrument cluster fails at times? It might be while driving or at key-on.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 2 years ago.

On a cold engine start, the only indication of cluster failure would be that you show no fuel in the tank. A warmed engine would display a cold engine temperature as well as the lost fuel gauge reading.

If the cluster dropped out while driving, the anti-theft system couldn't kill the engine, but you'd lose your speedometer and tach and the temp/ fuel gauges, which would be more obvious.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 2 years ago.

If this sounds familiar, the most common cause for your start-die problem is an interrupted vehicle communication network, called the CCD bus. The instrument cluster plays a major part in supporting the CCD and this is where the situation usually originates.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 2 years ago.

In fact, one of the easiest tests for a cluster problem is to slap the dash right above the cluster with the key on. If the gauges come back to life and the engine is allowed to run, it's a positive diagnosis.

You have a cracked solder joint in the cluster's printed circuit board, which usually CAN be repaired. By you.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 2 years ago.

More tests are possible of course, some of which are possible only with a scan tool, but we can certainly get started with the simple slap test and progress with some voltage tests at the Data Link Connector (DLC, the odd trapezoid-shaped open connector below the driver's side dash). A digital voltmeter will be needed if we go that far.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 2 years ago.

The reason why Factory Theft comes clamping down when not needed is that the communication link between Theft and the engine computer is interrupted. At key-on, the engine needs to get an OK-to-start message from Theft in order to stay running. Without that OK message, the engine is forced to default to theft intervention mode, killing the injectors after just a couple of seconds of running. And later, like I mentioned, it also takes the starter away because there's no need to keep starting a van that's being stolen.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 2 years ago.

I can send you step by step information on the removal and repair of the instrument cluster if you're interested. Otherwise, replacement units are available from the dealer for about $600, with another two hours of labor needed to install and initialize the unit (new boards require gauge calibration before tach or speedo will operate). If you do it yourself, costs will be limited to time spent... around 60 to 90 minutes in most cases.

Expert:  Dodgerench replied 2 years ago.

I'm going to include the rest of the story to save us time later. On the chance that your cluster isn't actually showing signs of performance loss, you may have success with unlocking any of the external door lock cylinders, which will send a disarm signal to the theft system if the switches are operational. Each front door and the liftgate will work for this.


Here we go...

What you'll need to do the job would be a #2 Phillips screwdriver (I like a shortie and a long, around 18") and then possibly a #20 Torx bit for the screws on the back side of the unit. Most use Phillips fasteners but some were built with the Torx screws, so be prepared for that possibility. A headlamp or good droplight helps, too, unless you're working outside in bright daylight.

And then there's the soldering iron. It just needs to be something with a pencil tip type of end for working on the board, so the options are pretty varied. You can get a soldering "gun" with trigger controls and a pencil tip or just get an always-on soldering "iron" that's used for electronic repairs. A typical electronics soldering iron like that is a lot lighter and handier... as well as smaller which helps when working with delicate repairs like this.

I prefer a low melting point resin-core solder and the smaller the wire size the better so you don't feed too much metal into the solder joint at a time. Connecting terminal joints with a solder blob is a definite hazard in this procedure.

Begin by removing the driver's side lower knee blocker panel, requiring the removal of two lower screws at the bottom of the unit and two at the park brake release handle area. The upper portion of the blocker panel is held in place by clips, so just pull outward.

Your brake release cable will come out with the blocker, so be careful to avoid too much monkey motion because it can become detached at the park brake assembly deeper inside the dash (not good). Leave it hanging or remove the cable at the handle itself.

Now exposed, remove the single screw at the base of the left side vent assembly and pop the vent out, which will expose still more screws. Take 'em out, along with the screws you can now see since the knee blocker came off along the lower portion of the upper dash.

The trim that lives just below the instrument cluster (and above the column) will be freed as those two screws are removed, but clips remain holding it in place. Pull up and rearward and this panel will come out. There will be a switch attached to the left side of the unit if you have traction control which is best disconnected down deeper into the dash (use a screwdriver to release the keeper tab and pull the entire piece of trim to detach).

At this point you should see a screw or two at the lower portions of the dash, so take out anything that's left.. remove all visible screws. Then pull the panel toward you... as there are a number of clips that just need to be shown who's boss. There are no screws from the lower portion of the panel other than the ones you've removed, so it's all trust and pull at this point. Some adhesive or spilled Coke might be sticking the upper portion of the cluster trim to the dash.

As a rule of thumb, if there are no screws showing, your part attachment to the dash is from just friction from clips so go ahead and pull.

Now released, you have the option of just tilting the cluster "bezel" up to the left for access to the cluster or removing the electrical connectors at the headlamp switch side.

Four Phillips screws remain to be removed to get the cluster out, located at the outer four corners of the unit. Once loose, pull it toward you and rotate the top out a bit to get a hand in behind the unit to release the connector. It's done by lifting a tab on the connector and then (pretty much) pulling the whole cluster toward you. It's tight back there and the cluster wiring loom may be tangled with the message center that sits directly above the cluster, so be careful about pulling on the wiring. It could damage the message center (voice of experience talking here).

Now removed, set the cluster on the work bench face down on some cloth (being mindful of the protruding trip reset button) and start taking screws out until the cardboard cover on the back is removed and then the board is loose. This is the view you'll have, courtesy of one of my own JA customers, Dean.

Lift the board carefully to avoid bending it as best you can. Once the screws are removed it's held in place only by friction on the gauge pins, so work it off slowly and evenly.

Now off, rotate the unit toward you with the umbilical for the electronic PRNDL display still attached. It can be disconnected or just left in place like the picture shows. The only downside of disconnecting it is that you have to remember to reconnect it when going back together... =/

Solder up the joints as Dean so aptly demonstrated, then begin the reassembly process. These pins are the ones directly opposite the red connector on the other side of the board that you had to struggle with earlier when disconnecting the cluster from the harness. As the only stressed portion of the board, it figures that these solder joints would be the ones to suffer from years of road vibration and if you have magnification, you might be able to spot a dull ring around the pins in the centers of these joints... the actual cracking that brought you here.

Once the cluster is back together, hold the cluster up and inspect the needles of your gauges for resting on the left side of the faces, as they may have wandered a bit during the operation. If they go back in the van with their needles facing toward the right side of the gauges, key-on will rotate 'em to the wrong way and you'll wind up with a tach or speedometer needle on the bottom side of the stops. Rotating the cluster in the air while watching the needles will get them where they need to go.

Reassembly is just reverse of the disassembly at this point, with no real surprises. Oddly, it seems easier to reconnect the cluster than disconnect it, so going back together goes pretty smoothly.

I'll be here for any follow-up questions or problems that you may have. If that graphic doesn't load, I'll give it another try.

Many thanks!