Instrument panel gauges don't work sometimes.

Tiny
IAMGPHARRIS
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 CHRYSLER NEW YORKER
  • 3.6L
  • V6
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 156,000 MILES
The past several months, sometimes my 1996 New Yorker instrument panel gauges will stay at zero when the engine is started. This happens now about 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time everything works fine.
Sometimes I can cut the engine off and restart it and everything will be fine and then sometimes that doesn't resolve the gauge issue. Other electrical things (radio, lights, windows, door lock, etc) work fine when the gauges (fuel, temp, tachometer, speedometer) don't. I had new battery clamps installed several months and also replaced the body control module and saw no change.
When I have this problem, the engine will start, I can drive it forward and backwards but it will not shift out of 1st gear going forward. The problem usually goes away after driving a short distance - usually less than a block. When the problem clears up after driving a short distance, the air bag light will come on and stay on. Also, this problem has occurred a few times while driving down the road - the gauges will go to zero and the transmission will downshift to 1st gear - this only happens for a second or two so haven't had to drive any distance in 1st gear. Needless to say, this can rather unnerving.
Could a bad ignition switch be causing this and/or what else might be causing this problem?
I need this to be a reliable car as I drive it to/from work about 50 miles a day.
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Thursday, November 21st, 2013 AT 3:17 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Don't know how you figured it out but you're right. Besides bad contacts in the ignition switch, look for two blackened terminals in the connector and parts of the connector body melted. Overheated terminals must be replaced. You can just cut out the melted part of the plug, then plug in two individual terminals. If you have overheated terminals, you'll also find about 4" of those wires are hardened from being hot. Those parts should be replaced too.
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Thursday, November 21st, 2013 AT 4:47 PM
Tiny
IAMGPHARRIS
  • MEMBER
Thanks for your answer. I got to suspecting the ignition switch since I could often resolve the zero gauge problem by quickly switching the ignition off and back on fast - fast enough that the engine didn't die.
I had the battery (3 years old) and alternator tested today.
Battery registered 12.16 volts and cranking voltage dropped to 10.71 with the engine starting in less than 1 second. The battery is rated at 700 CCA and measured 515 CCA. The alternator tested OK - 14.5 volts loaded and unloaded. Does this indicate a weak battery?
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Friday, November 22nd, 2013 AT 5:19 PM
Tiny
IAMGPHARRIS
  • MEMBER
BTW - we used to have 3 cars and the Chrysler would not be driven for weeks at a time and I would have to jump start it if it sat idle for more than 2-3 weeks. Now we are down to 2 cars and the Chrysler is driven every day.
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Friday, November 22nd, 2013 AT 5:40 PM
Tiny
IAMGPHARRIS
  • MEMBER
Update: Replaced the ignition switch a week ago and have had no failures since.
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Sunday, December 1st, 2013 AT 6:19 AM

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