What's the next step?

Tiny
DOMY OWN
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 DODGE CARAVAN
  • 178,000 MILES
Van started idleing rough three days ago. Today it died while driving. I've checked compression, fuses, timeing belt, no codes showing, NO SPARK to plugs, ASD checks out, no juice to coil with key on.
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Monday, October 10th, 2011 AT 10:37 PM

8 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
There won't be any voltage to the ignition coil. The only time it's there is for one second after turning on the ignition switch, then again during engine rotation, (cranking or running). If it doesn't show up during cranking, suspect the camshaft position sensor or the crankshaft position sensor.
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Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 AT 1:33 AM
Tiny
DOMY OWN
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Rechecked got the one second to coil with key on. Constant light while cranking, Still no spark. Tested coil with Ohm meter Primaries were.5 each, secondaries were 11,000 - 13,000. Getting gas
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Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 AT 7:51 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Sure would be helpful to know which engine you have. Since you have voltage to the coil during cranking, you know the automatic shutdown (ASD) relay is turning on. That means the crankshaft position sensor and camshaft position sensor are working. The ASD relay also feeds the injectors, alternator field, oxygen sensor heaters, and fuel pump or pump relay.

Based on the symptoms and the fact there's voltage to the coil during cranking, my first suspect would be the coil. I've never measured the resistances because most failures involve internal arcing and carbon-tracking. That won't show up with a resistance check. The next suspect would be the Engine Computer. Chrysler historically has had extremely little trouble with Engine Computers, but that changed with the redesigned '96 models.
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Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 AT 3:46 AM
Tiny
DOMY OWN
  • MEMBER
96 dodge grand caravan 2.4 (sorry)
changed out three different used coils. Still no spark to plugs. If it is computer is it a dealer repair only? (I hate getting ripped off by them).
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Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 AT 10:11 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Just so we're clear, you found 12 volts to the ignition coil during engine cranking and there is no spark. Do you hear the fuel pump run for that first one second?

It does indeed sound like a computer problem but I always hate to condemn them because on the '95 and older models, Chrysler had almost no trouble with them. I have changed a few '96 and newer ones, but they still don't have a real high failure rate like some cars do. You should be able to plug a different computer in with no programming needed that I'm aware of.
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Thursday, October 13th, 2011 AT 12:11 AM
Tiny
DOMY OWN
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Last question honest. If I swap computers with another, will I have problems getting it smogged? I live in CA. And it has to be done every other year. My concern is the new computer will not have my VIN #/any other #s pertaining to my van.
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Thursday, October 13th, 2011 AT 5:50 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
That stupid nonsense was started by GM as a way to extract more money from their unsuspecting owners after the sale, beginning with 2002 models. The ONLY reason for requiring the VIN to be programmed in is to prevent you from being able to buy a low-cost replacement computer from a salvage yard. All of their other computers such as air bag, anti-lock brakes, auto-load-leveling, body, etc, (up to 47 total on one vehicle), that have nothing to do with emissions, still require programming at the dealership when they're replaced. That does absolutely nothing to benefit the owner but it does plenty to make money for the dealership and GM. It's one of the many reasons GM is one of the least customer-friendly companies in the world. They even build the body computer into the high-failure radio now so you can't install an inexpensive aftermarket replacement. They have it all figured out.

Unfortunately, whatever BS General Motors figures out, other manufacturers tend to copy a few years later. Chrysler has been the leader in useful and beneficial innovations as far back as before 1960 when they introduced the very efficient alternator, (a term they copyrighted), anti-lock brakes, (1969), electronic voltage regulator, (1970), electronic ignition, (1972), lockup torque converter, (1977), domestic front-wheel-drive, (1978), high-mileage car that easily got 54 miles per gallon with a simple carburetor - Horizon Miser, (1980), air bag, (1987).

Ford's innovations include saving 20 cents per car on the assembly line by leaving off four grease fittings on the ball joints, (1977), Escort and Tempo outer tie rod ends that lasted about 20,000 miles, (1984). They could check good one day and separate a week later leading to a serious crash. Escort and Tempo front wheel alignment that was non-adjustable and had the tires tilted WAY out on top. Tires lasted 15,000 miles if you were lucky, but they rode real smoothly compared to other brands of small cars so they sold a pile of them, rubber-bonded outer tie rod ends, (late 1980s) on their cars and light trucks; basically a design-waiting-to-fail leading to loss of steering control, involving two computers, (the instrument cluster and the front electronic module), in blowing the horn. Typical repair bill for a dead horn is $800.00! (Late 1990s).

I can't even elaborate on GM's practices without getting a headache. I've written five-page articles on all the unscrupulous things they've done to benefit the company without providing any real benefit to the owner. As with corrupt left-wing politicians, whatever GM puts in their advertising, people automatically believe it and will argue against anyone who points out the flaws in the logic. That has been changing in the last few years because GM is having a much harder time finding repeat customers. Hyundai, Toyota, and Chrysler are gaining customer loyalty although Chrysler is starting to copy more and more of GM's policies so I expect their future sales to drop too.

Okay, let me get down off my soapbox and address your question. As best as I can recall, there should not be any programming required for a used or new Engine Computer as far as emissions is concerned. There may be an issue though with the factory anti-theft system. I left the dealership in '99 and up until then I only replaced one computer in a '96 or '97 model and I don't recall having to program anything. There is a concern on the cars that I can share if you ask, but for the minivans, if yours has the factory anti-theft system and you install a new Engine Computer or a used one from a van without it, you have to "teach" the anti-theft programming to the replacement computer by turning the lock cylinder in the lift gate. After that, the keyless remote and anti-theft will work and the engine will start. On the cars, if you DO NOT have the anti-theft system, you MUST find a used Engine Computer or Body Computer from a donor car that also did not have that system. That can be impossible to figure out in a salvage yard. I can't remember for sure, and I don't want to steer you wrong, but the best I recall, if you don't have anti-theft on your van and you install a used computer from a van with anti-theft, the engine won't start. I think simply installing a different computer is all that's needed. If I'm wrong, that new computer with anti-theft programmed in will teach it to the Body Computer which will then also have to be replaced. That "upgrade" programming to anti-theft can't be undone once it takes place. Again, this is all irrelevant if your van does have anti-theft. Any computer will work, but the engine may not start until you cycle the lift gate lock.
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Thursday, October 13th, 2011 AT 7:51 PM
Tiny
DOMY OWN
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Thank you. My van is the base model and has an after market security (PADLOCK)system. Last van I had, had all the bells and whistles (what a head ache that was). I am very thankful now I have directions to consider. Where I was lost before.
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Thursday, October 13th, 2011 AT 10:47 PM

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