Mechanics

BLINKING LIGHTS IN PANEL FOR HEATER, REA

1997 Dodge Caravan

Electrical problem
1997 Dodge Caravan 6 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 220000 miles

LIGHTS ON DASH BOARD, HEATER, REAR WINSHEILD WIPER, AND AIR CONDITIONER AND A FEW OTHER ON THE SAME PANEL ARE BLINKING AND MY BATTERIE DIES.
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LIABMAJOAN
April 9, 2009.



Common problem, frustrating fix.

The problem comes from the unnecessary use of computer controls. The Heating, Ventilation, and AC (HVAC) unit is a computer module that " loses its mind" when it or the battery is disconnected. Simply replacing the battery will require this module to be recalibrated.

The following is from memory, so if it doesn't work, check the service manual for the proper procedure. Also, you're lucky the AC works. If it doesn't work, you can't complete all the following steps. Then you just get to look at the flashing lights for the rest of the life of the vehicle.

First, start the engine and bring it up to normal operating temperature. Place the system in the air conditioning mode, but put the temperature control on full HOT.

The engine must be running for these steps. Look at the six push buttons on the control panel. The three in a vertical column on the left side are the first ones to look at. Press the top and bottom buttons at the same time for about five to ten seconds until the two yellow leds start to flash alternately. This will continue for about a minute. During this time, the module is running all the vent and temperature doors through their range and taking voltage readings from the position sensors. These sensor readings will be put in memory so the computer knows exactly how far to move a door when you select partial floor and partial vent. (I do this on my '88 Grand Caravan with a lever, not a computer).

When the lights either stay on or flash together, press one of them to exit the procedure. The easy half is done.

If none of the lights are flashing now, stop! Or, if it was lights on the lower row of buttons that were flashing before, continue. This next step can be frustrating so don't do it just for fun.

If you ignore those two top left buttons, just look at the four in a row along the bottom. Remember, the engine must be up to normal temperature, AC must be operating properly, and the temperature control must be on HOT. Of those four buttons, press the second and fourth one at the same time until the two leds start to flash alternately. As soon as they start to flash like that, move the temperature control to full COLD. If the leds start to flash differently, count your blessings; you're done! Press one of the buttons to exit the procedure. If they don't stop flashing, you'll need to do the same procedure over, ... And over, ... And over, until it passes. Twenty times is my record before it passed.

The module is looking for an 80 degree temperature drop within twenty seconds to calibrate the in-dash temperature sensor. This is usually pretty easily accomplished as long as the AC is working. Typical duct temperature under full heat is over 140 degrees, and ideal temperature under full AC / cold should be around 40 degrees. If multiple attempts to pass this procedure fail, try repeating it immediately after a ten minute drive at highway speeds. These radiators are so efficient that they may reduce engine coolant temperature too low even without the electric radiator fan turning on. Driving on the highway will bring the engine temperature up for a higher starting point.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Apr 10, 2009.
Just found the service manual. This procedure is different than what I remembered. If the cooldown test doesn't work, start with the temperature set to " Hot", not cold: ACTUATOR CALIBRATION TEST

Set blower motor on High.

Set Mode position to Panel.

Open all AC outlets.

Set temperature to cold.

Press Wash and Rear Wiper buttons at the same time for five seconds until all leds flash.

All leds will turn on for five seconds.

The calibration test is running when the Rear Wiper and Intermittent leds are flashing alternately.

Acceptable result is the Rear Wiper led is the only one flashing. Press Rear Wiper to exit. At this point, the calibration and cooldown procedures can be run separately.

COOLDOWN TEST

Set the blower motor on High.

Set mode to Panel.

Open all AC outlets.

Set the temperature to cold.

Press Wash and AC at the same time. (See note at the end).

Then there's a note in the manual that says the test will fail if the ac evaporator is already cold. HUH? &Quot; To correct, operate system with AC OFF and the blower motor on high for three minutes prior to starting the test". That's probably why I remember putting the temperature to hot before starting this test.

All leds will turn on for five seconds.

Cooldown test is running when AC and Recirc. Leds are flashing alternately. If they flash at the same time, the test has failed.

To abort the test, press the Rear Defogger, Recirc, and Rear Wiper buttons or cycle the ignition switch off and back on.

The manual doesn't say what to do next, but as I recall, if the test passes, only the AC led will be flashing. Press it to exit the procedure.

Note: For the Cooldown test, the manual say to " Press Wash and AC at the same time". Later, it says " Cooldown test is running when AC and Recirc leds are flashing alternately". To start the test, I think they meant press the AC and Recirc buttons, not the AC and Wash buttons. Try it both ways if you have to.

Caradiodoc

Caradiodoc
Apr 10, 2009.