1998 Dodge Caravan Intermittant starting.

Tiny
KENJOAN
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 DODGE CARAVAN
Electrical problem
1998 Dodge Caravan

I have a 1998 Dodge Caravan/Ricon Activan with wheel chair lift.

The van will start and sometimes it won’t. I have had it towed home (when it wouldn’t start) only to have it start when it is off loaded. This has been a problem on getting it checked. It has been to a dealership (who could find nothing wrong because it was working at the time) and my local garage.

It starts sometimes with the instrument panel not working and sometimes while just driving the panel will go out. Both symptoms are intermittent. The mechanics say they need to see/check the van when it is not working.

The instrument panel went out yesterday on my way to town and I immediately took it to our local garage/NAPA dealership. The mechanic came out with a hand held analyzer and started checking different things. He also turned the engine off and back on again numerous times and at one point the van would not start and he bumped the lower half of the steering wheel and it started. The instrument panel started working then. Because they were busy he asked if I could bring it back
I can take it back but making an appointment when it’s not working is of course out of my control. I have a handicapped daughter with CP and the van really needs to be reliable.

I’m praying someone can steer us to what could be causing this problem and how to fix it. It may be something simple or major to fix but we need to know the vehicle is safe and reliable.

Thank You.

Ken
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Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 AT 11:35 AM

4 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi Ken:
I'll do the best I can to help you. What the mechanics are saying is correct. It is hard to find the problem when it doesn't exist. However, it is even harder to make an appointment when you don't know when the problem will happen.

Since you are having trouble both with the engine and the inst cluster, it sounds electrical. Has the check engine light ever come on? Also, I need to know if you know how to check for spark and fuel to the engine. When it doesn't start, I need you to be able to check for both. I assure you one of them will be missing and both are needed for the engine to run. Let me know about the light and if you know how to check the other things. I can provide directions for what you need help with.

Let me know.
Joe
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Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 AT 9:42 PM
Tiny
KENJOAN
  • MEMBER
Thanks for responding Joe.
The check engine light has come on but it does not stay on. I wasn't really clear on the starting issue, I apologize, but when I said it won't start I mean completly dead. No engine turnover just a dead switch, no dash display, just dead.

Has new battery and starts most of the time but when going to use it we never know and cross our fingers. Now it can start and be running down the road with no instrument guages working which basically just started happening.

Thanks for your time any help Joe is greatly appreciated.

Ken
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Thursday, June 24th, 2010 AT 12:22 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
I would recommend having the ignition switch checked. I have a feeling that is where the problem is where it is coming from.
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Friday, June 25th, 2010 AT 12:22 AM
Tiny
RONNIEGB
  • MEMBER
I HAD same problem with my wife's '98 Grand Caravan. Started first with replacing ignition switch - worked for 3 weeks. Had it towed twice after that - both times they drove it off the wrecker. (It became my vehicle at this point. She refused to drive it.) Problem would show up once every couple weeks early on. Never when I could get it looked at. Rather than being stranded, resorted to turning ignition to start position and holding with right hand while using left hand to give the dash above the instruments a severe blow - engine would fire right up.

Finally found a website that had a step by step procedure that showed how to remove instrument cluster and solder certain pins. I did that and have not had a problem since - nearly 2 years ago! Cost me $0. (I could not detect a problem when I had the cluster on my workbench, but resoldered the connections anyway.)

Good luck.
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Monday, June 28th, 2010 AT 3:07 PM

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