We have a 1999 Plymouth Grand Voyager SE. A couple of months ago, the power to the dash went out - no odometer, speedometer, gas gauge - and the ABS light, Alarm Set light, and Check Engine light were all on. The van drove, it just did not have working gauges.
Our local mechanic said it was a cluster problem, but since they don't make the cluster anymore, we'd have to replace the whole computer board. Which we did, to the tune of $1100.
Since then, we have had intermittent electical issues, including having the gear indicator stay in Park (even when driving), having the van start but die after about 10 seconds, and the initial problem of no power to the dash.
Took it to the dealer once, and after a couple of hours, they diagnosed a bad battery and cables, which we had replaced ($444). Drove it for 5 days before it reverted to the original problem again.
So online advice was to self check the instrument cluster by hitting reset and the odometer buttons at the same time and letting it go through a checking cycle. It did nothing, so I thought that indicated that the instrument cluster needs to be replaced. But the local mechanic is suggesting that some cluster behind the heater might be the culprit. That part, he says, is another $650.
Do I keep trusting this local mechanic? I don't want to go back to the dealer, because they don't seem to be any better. But I'm feeling a little taken with the purchase of a computer board that didn't fix the problem. Should I insist on replacing the instrument cluster (which does seem available), or let him replace the one behind the heater?
$1100.00 for a computer? What do you think this is, a GM product? That's how GM says profitable, not Chrysler. GM is very good about separating owners from their money after the sale.
A common problem with the Chrysler instrument clusters is loose connector pins. They can be soldered to the copper circuits to repair the intermittent connections. Most mechanics are aware of this but not all of them feel confident in their soldering skills. For other cluster problems there are companies that repair them. I just sent one in for a 1989 LeBaron that I couldn't figure out. Came back a few days later, all fixed, for $250.00 plus shipping one way.
I'm not sure which other computer your mechanic is referring to. The Body Computer was in front of the brake pedal on the '96 - '97 models, and I think it still is for '99. That one DOES give Chrysler a lot of trouble. Unfortunately there isn't any way to test it for an intermittent problem other than to replace it.
The next time the problem acts up, wiggle the ignition switch. They cause a lot of trouble from overheated contacts inside them and from overheated terminals in the electrical connector.
September, 22, 2014 AT 1:09 PM
The dash display fault is common in the V1, Caravan, Voyager, and T&C models. The common fix is to remove the instrument cluster (its easy to do) and heat the upper connector tines on the circuit board cable connection one a time from the solder side (reverse) side of the circuit board; not the lower ribbon connector, using a soldering iron. This re-flows the solder and makes the connection work. Takes about 15 minutes. Used instrument clusters are available from junk yards for substantially less money; there are two different models of clusters so make such you get the exact same display type as the one you have as the connectors in the wiring harness are different. (Newer clusters use the rectangular European Bosch-style connector.) However, there is no guaranty the problem will not resurface with another cluster. A strong knuckle tap in the cluster plastic window in the very center of the display will oftentimes get it to work again, without removing it from the dash; albeit, with irregular service.
September, 22, 2014 AT 10:12 PM
Thanks for the information, but as I mentioned, this is typically going to be a do-it-yourself repair for someone with good soldering skills. Most mechanics won't do this type of repair for a paying customer because they have to charge for their time, then what do they do if the repair isn't successful? I HAVE read about other people having success. It's a better solution than installing a used cluster that's going to do the same thing.