1996 Dodge Caravan Perplexing problem - codes on and off

Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 DODGE CARAVAN
  • 6 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 901,025 MILES
My car has started shutting down all of a sudden, and starts again in about 5 or 10 minutes. Just replaced the fuel filter a couple weeks ago. Thought that would fix it and it did for a while. Now it's coming up with codes 12, 61, 42, 43. It's also missing, while sitting still and somewhat while driving. Strange thing is, the ck engine light will come on, then go off for no reason and stay off for unpredictable time. Just went through emissions and passed that ok. I have the code list and know what they represent, but it's so complicated. I feel like it's electrical or a wiring problem, maybe a short that is causing all these codes to pop up and then go off again. Any suggestions?
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Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 AT 9:54 PM

21 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
It is electrical, and it could be a number of things. I need you to check the coil when it dies and won't restart. Using an ohmmeter, measure the resistance of the primary ignition coil between the two small stud on the top of the coil. It should measure about 0 ohms. Let me know what you find. NOTE: This is a starting point. A bad coil could be the problem, logic module. If the coil is good, you are losing power to the logic module at some point. It could be a corroded wire, burnt fuseable link.

Let me know.

Joe
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Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 AT 10:52 PM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
Thanks Joe. Can you tell me where I find an ohm meter? I've never used one. Last time, it died on the freeway and I was too scared to get out and do anything there. I just waited til it started. (I'm female)
Anyway, I do know a little about cars. How would I ck to find a burnt fusible link or where should I look for a corroded wire. It did once before when a wire was corroded but I don't know where it was located and the mechanic is no longer in town to ask. I cringe at the idea of waiting for it go dead again on the freeway. According to the codes, the logic module could also be the culprit. This is difficult because I can't isolate the codes, all four codes come up together. Like they are all linked. Is there a way I can have the coil tested?
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Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 AT 12:06 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
You can get an ohm meter basically anywhere. However, it is hard to explaine how to use it without being there. What I need you to do is this. Contact a nationally recognized parts store and ask them if they could check it for you. Most of them offer many services for free, and this would only take a few seconds to check.

As far as the engine dieing, I understand your concerns. I will do my best to help. I started with the coil because it could be the problem and it is the easiest to check.

As far as wire corrosion, usually that happens in the power control module (PCM) plug.

Let me know if anyone will do it for you.

Joe
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Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 AT 12:28 AM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
Thanks. I'll be checking these possibilities out tomorrow. I'll let you know what I find out.

Appreciate your help!
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Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 AT 1:05 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Glad to help.
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Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 AT 8:43 PM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
I went over to Autozone today because I could not locate the coil to do the ohmmeter test. Turns out you can't get to it unless you remove something. Anyway, they gave me a mechanic to contact, he is looking at it tomorrow evening. Said it may be something simple or it may just need a tuneup. Anyway, guess I'll wind up paying out some money but at least I think I'll be treated fairly. Will let you know the problem after they figure it out for sure. This mechanic has a $4000 piece of equipment that pin points it. That should be better than the guess work I've been doing, but I like knowing the direction, and that's why you guys are helpful.

Thanks.
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Thursday, August 12th, 2010 AT 12:55 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Let me know what you find.

Joe
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Thursday, August 12th, 2010 AT 4:11 PM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
Hi Joe,
Looks like I just need some new wires and distrib. Cap. Also a tuneup. Thank goodness it is a simple thing. All is good.
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Friday, August 13th, 2010 AT 10:43 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
If you decide to do it yourself, let me know and I help you through it. The only bad part is getting to the plugs in the rear of the engine. I change them from under the vehicle while it is on a rack and in the air.

Let me know if you have other questions, and thanks for using 2carpros. Com. We hope to hear from you in the future.

Joe
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Saturday, August 14th, 2010 AT 10:29 PM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
Thanks Joe. I have already discovered that and have scheduled the work to be done on Wed. One question though, every now and then the car simply goes dead while driving on the freeway. But then, it drives fine after it finally starts up again. Can bad wires cause that?
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Sunday, August 15th, 2010 AT 2:48 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Bad wires can cause a missfire, but won't cause it to go completely dead. Does it start right back up?
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Sunday, August 15th, 2010 AT 9:39 PM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
It does not start right away. Takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
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Monday, August 16th, 2010 AT 3:08 PM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
Joe,
After considering your response about the wires, I have postponed my trip to the mechanic. I probably will have new wires later but don't feel that's the real source. Gonna wait and see. Seems to be running ok for now.
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Monday, August 16th, 2010 AT 11:28 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Let me know if you have questions and how things work out for you.

Joe
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Monday, August 16th, 2010 AT 11:31 PM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
Ok, here's the update. Last night I had to call a locksmith over to replace my ignition because my key was frozen. Even after he removed the ignition, the key is still in there solid. Anyway that cost me $160. The money I was planning to use for the tune up. So tonight, the car dies on the street, I pull over and it sat there about 15 minutes before it would start again. Now, in order to keep it running, I have to leave the AC off and the radio because it dies. Seems not to have enough electricity moving. I am going ahead with the wires and tuneup tomorrow night because I am now desperate and don't know what else to do.

Any suggestions?
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Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 AT 11:26 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
If it was always happening, I would say a tune up. Regardless, let me know if it helps.

Joe
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Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 AT 1:43 AM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
I located my old mechanic who has great diagnostic tools. He has pinpointed it to the wiring bundle, the 12 volt wires, electrical components. Some of those are shorting out. We are now in the process of singling out the bad one(s). It has nothing to do with distributor wires or tuneup or any of the things I was being directed to do. He says if we don't find the bad wire, none of those other things will fix the problem - even though it can use the tune up of course.
So glad I did not proceed with the other mechanic. I trust this guy to give the straights on this.
I'll give you an update to let you know which wire it is.
Thanks for your time.
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Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 AT 4:01 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Let me know what you find. It will be helpful for others. I knew a tune-up wouldn't fix that type of problem. However, some think that is the cureall for everything.
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Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 AT 10:33 PM
Tiny
OTTER88
  • MEMBER
Ok Joe, here's the scoop. After all the detective work, it turned out to be the throttle position sensor. Here's the thing to remember if your car has these symptoms:
Shudders and stops running.
Sometimes won't start but will try.
Sometimes runs like it's got bad distributor wires.
Inconsistent. Sometimes runs perfect.

Here's what you do if any of the above happens. Turn off the car completely as if you are leaving it. Put it in park, turn off the ignition and remove your keys.
Now, put the key back into the switch, turn the car on. If it cranks right up, you'll get to your destination. If it has trouble, repeat the exercise until it doesn't.

Call your mechanic and have a new throttle position sensor installed. It'll cost you about $80 for parts and labor.

This was a very difficult thing to pinpoint because the bad wires were prompting all the codes and most were dismissed because they were considered irrelevant. Once the wires were fixed, the codes were cleared. But when codes returned the one for the throttle showed up - not on my dodge codes but on the mechanics scanner (a very expensive gadget) and he pinpointed it.

Hope this might help someone.
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Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 AT 6:58 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
It is very helpful and thanks.
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Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 AT 9:04 PM

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