Mechanics

INSTRUMENT CLUSTER DEAD

1998 Dodge Caravan

Electrical problem
1998 Dodge Caravan 6 cyl Front Wheel Drive Automatic 175000 miles

My instrument cluster is dead. It has been an intermittent problem for the past two years. Now it has been off for 2 weeks. I am getting Code P0743 and P0140 scanned.

I know that P0140 is an oxygen sensor. Is the P0743 related to the instrument cluster? P0743 says it is the torque converter clutch/solenoid circuit. Do you think replacing the instrument cluster circuit board would fix the problem?
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JaneSully
February 20, 2010.



Not likely. Those two codes arent related to each other or the instrument cluster. Do you have power at all the instrument/gauge fuses in the fuse block? If so the cluster may be bad or the board as you suggested. If no power, the ignition switch may be the cause

Tiny
Jack42
Feb 23, 2010.
Does your vehicle have ABS? If so, when the panel is dead, does the ABS warning light come on and stay on full-time?

If so, I just recently solved the same problem on my 1998 Grand Caravan Sport. For about a year or so, the instrument panel would occasionally go dead (just the odometer and gauges -- panel illiumination worked, as did the various warnign and indicator lights in the strip above the panel except as noted below), but could be brought back to life with a well-placed thump on the dash with a rubber mallet.

Eventually, it quit working completely. Any time the panel was dead, the ((ABS)) warning light was on full-time while the engine was running. Sometimes the Check Engine light would come on, but would eventually go out on its own. I had the codes checked once at AutoZone. They said it was complaining about the EGR system, but the engine runs just fine. I'm not positive, but I suspect that the error codes were a just side-effect of the malfunctioning panel.

As it turned out, the problem was caused by a poor solder joint on the instrument cluster circuit board, where the socket for the chassis wiring connector is attached to the board.

If you've already had the thing apart far enough to get the panel out. Try just wiggling the connector around with the ignition switch in the " Run" position (second detent) and see if you can get the panel to light up. I got mine to the point where merely tapping the side of the connector with my fingertip would make the panel kick in and out.

Note: With the panel disconnected, you should read 12 volts on the pink lead in the chassis wiring connector with the ignition key in the " on" position. If not, the problem lies elsewhere.

If so, and you know how to use a soldering iron, you should be able to fix it yourself.

1. Remove the Phillips-head screws that hold the protective cardboard panel on the back of the module and remove the panel.

2. Remove the Phillips-head screws that hold the board in place.

(Note: All of these screws are the same size, so no worrying about which one goes where. It's been a while since I had it apart, but I believe there are a total of 12 screws, 6 for the protective panel, 6 for the board itself)

3. *Carefully* remove the ribbon cable from the connector at the bottom center of the circuit board. It should just pull straight out of the socket, but be careful not to bend the thing around too much once you get it loose.

4. Snap the board out of the module so you can get at the back side of it. (There are spring-loaded connectors on board that snap over the pins on the backs of the gauges -- just pull the board straight out the back of the module.)

5. On the back side of the circuit board, touch up all of the solder joints that connect the chassis connector pins to the board. Reheat them just enough to get the existing solder to flow and apply a *very smaill* amount of fresh rosin-core solder.

(I'm assuming that you know what a proper solder joint looks like -- no " blobs" or " whiskers".)

Caution is the word here -- don't apply too much heat or the circuit traces will peel away from the board. Allow each pin to cool before touching up the next.

6. Snap the board back into place over the pins on the gauges.

7. Reconnect the ribbon cable at the bottom.

8. Replace the screws that hold the board in the module. Finger-tight is *plenty* -- you're putting metal screws into plastic holes. You don't want to either strip the holes or crack the board.

9. Reattach the protective cardboard panel.

10. Connect the module to the chassis wiring harness and test it before you screw it back into place in the vehicle (i.E, save yourself the hassle of wrestling it in and back out again if it doesn't work!). The odometer should turn on at the first detent of the ignition switch, and the gauges should come to life at the second detent.

10. If the panel works, the ABS warning light should go out, and the Check Engine light *may* go out after you've started the engine a couple of times. Mine did, and hasn't come back on since. If you want, read the codes and reset the light, then wait and see if it comes on again.

Good luck!

Greg.

Tiny
Gwolking
Mar 1, 2010.