1999 Town & Country engine starts then dies then won't start


kerneysa
06-27-2004, 08:01 AM
Intermittent problem, occurred 4 times during past 4 weeks, always during wet/rainy/damp weather. Three times when car was sitting overnight, once at work in parking lot after a 12 hour work shift. Each time, the engine started 5 or 6 times then died like someone turned the key off two seconds after the engine started. Then the engine would not crank or turn over, just some clicking near the relay box under the hood. Lights, power windows, etc. all work fine. Battery voltage OK. Jump starting or batter charger makes no difference. Note: With key in "run" position, no display to odometer though all idiot lights light up like normal.

1st time, after about 15-20 minutes, car started. 2nd time, towed to my mechanic (who thought security system lock out) then a second tow to dealer. Dealer found power into power distribution center but none out. Replaced PDC. Car worked fine for 1 week. Same problem twice since repair. First post repair failure I had van re-towed to dealer. Of course, it started for them. Left overnight 2 more nights. Started for them every time. They say it is a "problem with computers" but they don't know exactly what. They also say the Alarm set Dash light is coming on with the rest of the dash lights and that is a no-no. 2nd post repair failure happened this morning. Tried locking door to reset alarm. No change. Locked doors, opened rear hatch. Lights flashed but horn did not sound. When car is working and I do that (open hatch with other doors locked), in addition to lights flashing, horn beeps! I also disconnected the postive battery terminal, waited 10 minutes, reconnected and attempted restart. No change. Car still won't start and odometer display does not work.

I'm very confused.

Suggestions?

Van has 110,000 miles. Otherwise in fantastic shape and runs great (though only gets about 20 MPG). Owned van for 2 months and have driven about 7,000 miles. 1st problem I've encountered (other than a very uncomfortable drivers seat - feels like a spring is sprung!).

Steve

kerneysa
06-27-2004, 08:39 AM
One other problem: My automatic locks freak out, similar to the thread by Annie Rothgeb, but only intermittently and only from the drivers door when unlocking. Sometimes it works fine. Most of the time, the door relocks when the key is returned to the verticle position prior to key removal. Sometimes it relocks as soon as it unlocks! May be related to van not starting/alarm horn not sounding but lights flashing described above.

vipergg
06-28-2004, 07:17 PM
Do you have a theft deterrent system on the car , is it possible that the key fob battery is getting low and needs to be replaced . I have a 2004 and if someone trys to start it without the correct key that supplies the keycode the ring on the steering column the car will start then shutoff after 2 to 3 seconds which is what is supposed to do . Just an off the wall idea .

diamondroad
07-01-2004, 09:01 PM
I've had the same problem. My dealer has had problems diagnosing the problem, since it seems to clear itself after some amount of time, (when it gets to their shop.) The last time I was able to tow it to the dealer while it was in the failure state. Their code monitoring tool said that the alarm system had disabled the fuel system, although there was no indication why. It had also disabled the starter after the few starting attempts to prevent damage to the starter. They said the alarm computer is part of a "body computer" which they replaced. Within a week, the problem has re-occured and the dealer doesn't seem too interested in fixing it. Any other ideas out there? Can the alarm system be disabled to possibly avoid the the whole situation? Thanks for any help.

Also, the 99 T&C didn't use the key chip (grey key), at least mine didn't.

kerneysa
07-02-2004, 07:24 AM
Update: My T&C is still at the shop. After replacing the PDC (no fix) they've replaced the BCM and the module that contains the keyless entry circuit. They then told me they can see all the modules on the bus and that the PCM is bad and that the van still won't accept programming the keyless entry remotes. The PCM is to arrive this morning. The dealer will install it (charging me parts only) and declare victory. The only module not replaced is one in/behind/below/near the dash that controls the instrument cluster.

My repair seems to have been hit and miss and will have costed my around 2 grand and included 4 tows. But since all the computers but one have been replaced my problem should be fixed. Right? We'll see. Their theory is that a power spike fried one or more components and that the alarm system was part of the problem. I was told there are no surge supressors/protectors for cars like there are for houses so I may be at risk for a similar future failure, especially if an electrical problem outside the replaced computers caused this problem in the 1st place. The van did not exhibit this symptom for the 1st month but did 5 times during the 2nd month.

I was also told none of the modules that were replaced could be tested on a shop bench to verify that they were bad.

Oh well. My wife loves the van, it cost 1/3 to 1/4 the price of a new one and if I never have "this" problem again, it will be, in my opinion, worth the 2 grand. Having a monthly car payment is not something I want to revist anytime soon (but most likely will if this problem returns within a year, maybe 2 when I won't be willing to invest another 2 grand in the 99 T&C).

Good luck with your van, diamondroad.

Steve

yokoko
07-15-2004, 02:53 AM
Now that it has been a couple of weeks since the "final fix", I was wondering if your problem has been solved. We have a '98 T&C that seems to be exhibiting the same symptoms, and would like to narrow the possible solutions. With four trips already to the shop, and no solution, we would like to get it right the fifth time in.

kerneysa
07-15-2004, 07:42 AM
yokoko,

Good news: My wife's van has not had the "won't start" problem since the last trip to the shop.

Bad news 1: Once since then during a several hour highway trip, the instrument cluster freaked out. First all guages but the speedometer "went to zero," the cruise control failed and the steering wheel radio controls failed. 5 minutes later the speedometer went to zero. About 15 mintues after that all guages and controls resumed nominal operation.

Bad news 2: The door locks still occassionally freak out.

Not sure what this means: When I open the rear hatch with the door locked the alarm no longer goes off. Dealer recommends roll down a window, get out of the car, lock the door, shut the door, wait 1 minute, reach in through the window and open the door from the outside. Not tried yet.

Good luck with your '98!

Steve

disabledvet
08-29-2004, 09:54 PM
Hi,
My wife and I have a 97 T&C. Saturday it would'nt start, she thought it was out of fuel. Tried sunday morning after putting 4 gals of fuel in, and nothing. It will start but shuts off in 2 or 3 sec. Checked elect, etc. The instruments will not work either. After visiting this site and speaking to my wife about the alarm system which went off once on her, and a passerby told her how to shut it off, I used the panic button on the key chain and shut it off. I then tried to start car with no luck. I then exited the car and locked the doors with the ket chain. I then opened the drivers door with the key only. The cat started and ran just fine. No money spent on this lesson.

yokoko
08-30-2004, 01:32 AM
Thanks for the reply. We have been using our van sparingly the past couple months hoping to find an inexpensive solution to the problem. we will print your experience to try next time we have a problem. Let us know if you have any further encounters.

Orbitman
08-31-2004, 10:44 AM
Check out T&C Intermittant Start posted on 8/23!! I have exactly the same problem. I'm currently printing all your responses for study. Since posting mine, I've talked to 2 other T&C owners with exactly the same symptoms - one poor sap spent $3700 at 3 different dealers in Austin and the problem persists - the last dealer refused to work on the van any more. Both of these guys had failures over 100K miles so their extended warrantlies were dead. I was going to buy a new Chyrsler van this month but after this problem and Chyrsler's inability to fix it, I will be looking elsewhere. Probably GM.

diamondroad
08-31-2004, 08:51 PM
My update,
After 2 BCM changes and the a PDC change, we still had the same experience as described in the previous thread. Then I asked the dealer to re-check a repair to the driver's door lock cylinder that had been done roughly a year ago. He replaced it and we haven't had a problem since, (about two weeks.) Considering it was occuring roughly every couple of days, we believe it may very well be fixed now. So, you may want to check the door cylinder locks for any damage or potential previous repair that could have deteriorated. It seems to be our root-cause.

EM733
09-01-2004, 09:07 PM
My Wife's 2001 T&C has just experienced a similar problem. NO power to the inside at all no dome lights NOTHING and will not turn over. Meter shoes 12 to 13 volts at battery. Jump start and the gauges all jump around and instrument lights and dome lights flicker. Meter shows 13 to 14 volts at battery while running.

Turn on the Air Conditioner and nearly dies. Turn off engine and no re start and the odometer gauge just barely displays (like it's short on voltage) again 12 to 13 volts at battery. And all this after I cleand both battery terminals and alternator input cable.

I suppose it could be alternator but I would also like to check the connection at the starter but van't untul tommorrow.

Any sugesstions PLEASE!!!!!!

-Fred-
kd5fmu@sbcglobal.net
fred@oids.state.ok.us

Darren01
01-01-2005, 07:29 PM
It sounds like I have the same problem as kerneysa... but I'll describe it again:

Last week I came out and the van started, then died. I tried it several times and each time it would run for about 1-2 seconds, then stop. I also noticed that my dashboard display was dead (No tach), and everytime I tried starting my windshield wipers would start and cycle a couple of times. (Weird!!??!) After trying to start it a couple times it finally went totally dead and wouldn't even turn over.

It was a saturday and as a busy hockey dad I needed it fixed pronto, so I had it towed to a Canadian Tire shop. Took them three days, but they ended up replacing the ECU with a used one they obtained from a salvage company. The van started, but the dashboard was still dead. They said they couldn't diagnose the problems further and recommended I take it to the Dodge dealer.

I took it to the Dodge dealership and they did a reset on the ECU (and BCU?) to try and clear the codes. The problem seemed to be cured... but a week later I had the same problem occur again.

So right now the van is sitting dead in my garage... and I'm going to go out and try it right now record my observations:

10 min later - this is a documentary of what I did and observed:

1. Stood outside the van and tried several variations of using the lock/unlock/alarm on my key fob, then got into the van.
2. Turned the key to the 1st position and the mileage indicator and PRND3L lit up.
3. Turned the key to the 2nd (run) position and observed the following:

3a) Bell chimed 4 or 5 times
3b) The following indicator lights came on for about 5 seconds then went out: Mileage, PRND3L, Service Engine Soon, Alarm Set, Temp Warning Light, Air Bag.
3c) After a further 10-15 seconds the Mileage and PRND3L lights went out.
3d) After ~30 seconds the "Alarm set" light came back on.
3e) I noticed with the key in this position that pushing the Lock, Unlock and Alarm buttons on the key fob didn't have any affect.

4. Turned the key to the 3rd (engage starter) position and observed the following:

4a) Engine didn't turn over
4b) Brake warning indicator light came on
4c) The windshield wipers cycled twice.

5. Then sitting there all frustrated I turned the key to the Off position and just pressed the lock and unlock buttons on the key fob several times. Then I tried it once more and the damn thing STARTED !!!!!!!!

I noticed some other posts in this thread talking about the vehicle's key fob batteries and Alarm system. Judging from my observations it would seem as though my issues could have something to do with the Alarm system not allowing it to start properly.

Any other thoughts/solutions/suggstions greatly appreciated.

- Darren

diamondroad
01-01-2005, 08:24 PM
More info from our experience posted above. We had similar problems crop up again after having the door cylinder locks replaced. After going to a new dealer, they replaced the instrument cluster module and we have been good for over four months now. Sounds like your instruments are exhibiting problems as well. Our speedo and tach died randomly a few times while we had the starting problems. You may want to have your shop check that carefully. The start/die condition is alarm related. As I understand it, if the alarm has been activated, it prevents the car from running. After a few start attempts, it disables the starter all together to protect the starter from damage. after about 40 minutes, it resets and the car will probably start again.

Darren01
01-11-2005, 12:04 AM
I found another thread where the same problem is being noted. The following is the link to this thread.

http://www.automotiveforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=210076

(You might have to cut and paste the above link)

The title of the thread is called:

"intermittent start problem '98 Caravan Sport"

Sounds like it is a short somewhere in the instrument cluster that is causing it.

guskugler
12-30-2012, 03:14 AM
I have 99 Town & Country, and I determined this problem to be directly related to a bad soder/wiring connection at the gauge cluster. If the gauges were not consistently powered up prior to starting, the car would die 2-4 seconds later. If the gauges went dead after being in drive or going down the road, no change to the vehicles running would be observed. Just FYI to anyone encounter this specific issue.:banghead:

ricky6991
09-14-2013, 11:59 AM
just posted a long detailed post but the forum freezes and considering i made account just to post the anser to the problem ill make it short cause im aggravated..

the clip going into the guage cluster takes 15min to get to it and the wires are loose going into the cluster pins causing bad connection. if you can punch the dash and it works again then its is not a bad resistor or burnt out computer. stop paying for dealership bullshit.

wires get loose and you can use your finger an give it a slight tug and watch you guage cluster turn off and on. when the cluster shuts off and dies the ' alarm set ' light comes on which will stall car or have a no start situation. when you punch dashboard your moving that wire slightly until the lights come on and make connection.

who knows why the alarm would be wired in a guage cluster but i guess thats why noone buys these junk boxes anymore.

goodluck.

RIP
09-14-2013, 05:01 PM
just posted a long detailed post but the forum freezes and considering i made account just to post the anser to the problem ill make it short cause im aggravated..

the clip going into the guage cluster takes 15min to get to it and the wires are loose going into the cluster pins causing bad connection. if you can punch the dash and it works again then its is not a bad resistor or burnt out computer. stop paying for dealership bullshit.

wires get loose and you can use your finger an give it a slight tug and watch you guage cluster turn off and on. when the cluster shuts off and dies the ' alarm set ' light comes on which will stall car or have a no start situation. when you punch dashboard your moving that wire slightly until the lights come on and make connection.

who knows why the alarm would be wired in a guage cluster but i guess thats why noone buys these junk boxes anymore.

goodluck.

Thanks for the info but I have yet to read of your wire problem at the plug as a fix and have read of the cracked solder joint issue as a fix countless times on this and several other forums and I've been cruising forums for 8 years. That sure isn't to say your wire issue couldn't cause it. No doubt it could but the solder issue is by far the more common fix.

"who knows why the alarm would be wired in a guage cluster" - It's all to do with the CCD data bus on this generation van. PCI and CAN data buses on subsequent generations.

"noone buys these junk boxes anymore" - Do you wear blinders when rolling down a highway?

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