1998 Dodge Caravan Flashing lights

  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • 80,000 MILES
We have a 1998 Dodge Caravan Sport with a 3.3L 6-cyl engine and about 80,000 miles on it. This very well maintained vehicle recently started exhibiting an intermittent problem; i.E.- While the vehicle was parked and engine off, the headlights and parking lights would come on for a short time (sometimes as long as 5 minutes) and then go off. This happened several times a day, and apparently when no one was watching, as over a two week period the battery went dead. It was jumped, brought directly to the Dodge dealer in Florida where they said it had a bad headlights switch (with corroded terminals). We were told that it was either the headlight switch or the BCM as the cause, but we did not wish to spend $1000 for that on a "maybe". They then "watched" it for a week, supposedly connected to diagnostic equipment for that time with no subsequent failures. The vehicle was driven home and parked, and the next day exhibited the same symptoms (lights coming on, then going off after several minutes, with engine off) 5 times in a 24 hour period.
I have checked many online blogs for similar problems (including here) but nothing exactly matches. So, my sister and I started trouble shooting ourselves (we hope logically) and found two relays (in the box next to the battery) labeled "Low Beam relay" and "Park Lamp relay". We checked the grounding system as best we could (from the negative post to the fender well, and then to the fuse block and it appeared to be intact, clean, tight, and not corroded. (Using a good multimeter).
Since we suspect these two relays as possibly being bad (even intermittently) we swapped them out with two identical relays from the "High Beam" and "Cigarette Lighter/Accessory" positions. We are awaiting a longer term period to see if the problems reoccur (they have not in 24 hours) but while we wait wanted to get your opinion as to whether the combination of the replacement of the headlight switch on the dashboard and the swapping out of those two relays could be the solution. (If the problem does not reoccur in say two weeks we plan on just buying two new relays at AutoZone.)

I also saw entries in some blogs about an "IOD" relay that might drain the battery, but nothing about "flashing lights" accompanying it. Any thoughts there?

Sincerely yours,

Do you
have the same problem?
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 AT 9:10 AM

1 Reply

Hi Randy,

Thank you for the donation.

Relays are known to intermittently fails and cause the components they operate to self activate. The flickering of the headlights are consistent with the symptoms of intermittently failing relays.

The headlight switch would be less likely to be the cause unless it is loose and vibrations can cause it to operate the lights.

Lets keep our fingers crossed that the headlights problem is fixed. However you used the hign beam relay and in this case you need to be on the look out for the high beams operating instead of the low or parking lights.
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Thursday, April 8th, 2010 AT 2:42 PM

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