1996 Plymouth Voyager The gauges doesnt works.

Tiny
IVANMELESIO
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 PLYMOUTH VOYAGER
  • 3.3L
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 200,000 MILES
Gauges and odometers doesn't works until I drive about 40 mins. When turn off my car gauges still move quickly and making noise.
We check the relay's, instrument cluster and fuses was fine. I replaced the battery, change terminals.
Nobody can find the problem.
Mechanic told me maybe it was the BCM feeding, What is that?
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Wednesday, December 25th, 2013 AT 12:06 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
"BCM" is the Body Computer module. Your instrument cluster is no longer the simple, reliable mechanical gauges that worked fine for decades. The Body Computer talks to all the other computers, then sends data to the instrument cluster, which is another computer module. It runs the gauges and lights.

Chrysler historically had extremely little computer trouble on all their vehicles up through the '95 model year. That changed with the redesigned '96 minivans. The Body Computer is very trouble-prone, it's impossible to access to do any testing, and it lives in an environment that is hard on electronics. While it can cause gauges and interior lights to not work, by far it causes more problems with dead windshield wipers, ... Another system that never needed a computer before.

Even though the Body Computer is heavily-involved with the instrument cluster, the most common cause of dead gauges or other cluster problems is loose connector pins on the back. Those pins can be soldered to the copper circuits to fix the bad connections. Those pins typically cause intermittent loss of operation of something, usually not a total failure.
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Wednesday, December 25th, 2013 AT 12:26 PM
Tiny
IVANMELESIO
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Ok. Thanks for the information. I'll check the instrument cluster again, and I'll change my mechanic.
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Wednesday, December 25th, 2013 AT 1:15 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Why change mechanics? You don't run to a different doctor each time you don't like the diagnosis, do you? Very often a diagnosis is a process of elimination, especially when computers are involved. Mechanics don't fix down to the component level like I did when repairing tvs, so very few of them know about the loose connector pins. All they know is they send the cluster out for repair, and it comes back working. Even when they DO know what to suspect, if they have your best interest at heart, they are not going to try to solder the pins themselves. There's a good chance they will solve the problem, but there's also a good chance it will still act up intermittently. All mechanics know they are held to much higher standards than doctors. If your vehicle isn't fixed right the first time, you consider them incompetent and run to a different mechanic who has to start the diagnosis all over. We keep going back to our doctor until he DOES come up with the proper diagnosis.

Because of that high standard, we do not repair alternators or starters. We replace them with professionally rebuilt units. I repair them on MY Caravans and I save a lot of money, but I'm putting new parts into old assemblies. There's a chance something else could fail a week later. All customers know is the repaired part failed again, and they're angry. Never mind the mechanic tried to save you money, ... You're mad. To avoid that, we replace assemblies at a much higher cost to you, but we can blame that on the cost of the part, and it takes a lot less time that we have to charge for.

I shared what the probable cause is of your intermittent gauges but not the whole solution. If your mechanic has good soldering skills he may attempt to repair the pins himself. If he is unwilling to take the chance, have him remove the cluster, then take it to a local tv repair shop, if you can still find one. Most were put out of business years ago by RCA and North American Philips, (Sylvania / Magnavox / Philips). If the gauges still act up, I'd start with installing a used cluster from a salvage yard. The problem here is there really isn't anything you can test. You have to just replace parts until the problem no longer shows up. That is the least effective way to make a diagnosis, but with computers, it's about the only way. If the used cluster solves the problem, you can decide if you want to send your original cluster to a specialty shop for repair. That will maintain the correct mileage on the odometer. If you still have trouble, the Body Computer would be the next suspect.
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Wednesday, December 25th, 2013 AT 4:47 PM
Tiny
IVANMELESIO
  • MEMBER
Good morning. I'm sorry I didn't want to offend you and another mechanics. But it was my third diagnostics in this month. All of them said everything its fine but nothing works. The last one gave me back my car two weeks after.
I'm from Sonora Mexico, here is difficult to find a good mechanic.
I'll contact you if I fixed my car, thanks for the information
I will look for a used cluster first.
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Thursday, December 26th, 2013 AT 9:57 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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No sweat. I wasn't offended in any way. It's just that too many people don't give one mechanic time to sort through the problem. It's especially frustrating for all involved when the problem is intermittent. If it acts up again, you know you didn't fix it. If it doesn't act up, you never know if it's fixed.
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Thursday, December 26th, 2013 AT 1:56 PM

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