Chrysler Pacifica Luxury meets versatility in this mid-sized sport utility vehicle

Flickering lights on our Pacifica

  #1  
Old 04-09-2008, 12:31 AM
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Default Flickering lights on our Pacifica

I think I may have found the fix for the flickering lights problem. I have read forums about this problem but have not found a fix yet. I also have a 2006 Pacifica with flickering lights and everything else electrical in the car flickers. The real problem is that the symptoms are just too hard to believe until you see it for yourself. People offer suggestions to look at your headlight switch or have the cluster "flashed". My wife was even told to take her car to Chrysler to have her onboard computer flashed. I mean the problem is just weird. You can be driving along and everything is steady and all of a sudden the lights will begin to flicker and the cluster lights may even go off all together, along with the radio and any other lights on the car and I mean all the lights flicker. Sometimes the engine will die. It has nothing to do with idle speed or maybe too many things being on. It's just random and very frustrating. It can flicker all day one day and then just work perfectaly the next. I know that if this is happing to you, when you read this you will be sitting there saying, yea that's exactly what's happening to me. I mean at it's worst the headlights are flashing on and off with the dash lights and the radio is just popping and clicking, the cluster is dinging and all the indicator lights turn on and off and the engine will halfway stall several times and then the you lose all (and I mean ALL) power to the car. Then pow the lights will come back on and it will start right up on the first try. Another weird thing about it for me was, if you were having the problem and you could just sit, like in your driveway, with the lights and radio on, and while it was happing, you could just turn off the engine and it would just instantly clear up. Kind of like a poltergeist or something. I wasted $80 on a new battery because it did it as soon as we started down the road with the new battery installed.

We took it back to the used car lot where we bought it and even though we bought it "as is" with "no warranty". They at least acted like they were going to fix it. They gave us a loaner car at least 5 times and had it in the shop to "look" at it sometimes over a week. One time the used car lot sent it to a Chrysler dealer. They say that they even changed the alternator, although I can't tell if it is a new one or not. They either never saw the problem or if they saw it, it would clear up and they would declare it fixed, but it never was. I would say to them what did you do to "fix it"? "Oh we cleaned the battery terminals or we tightened the power wires, bla bla bla. We even took it to two different Chrysler dealers ourselves, and asked if there was a known problem, if service writers had seen this problem before. "NOPE!" I find that hard to belive though. I know that "Chrysler People" read these kind of forums, probably even search forums for help sometimes. I hope so, because this is a very frustrating problem. I am sure that many many people have this problem. As you will read in a minute, I think I have found the problem and it is a defecive part that must be a manufacturing defect. I know from reading many forums that others have the same problem as me. Also, (I think) most people don't post a question for a problem. I think they just keep looking until they find what they need or give up. That's what I did over a month or two ago. So I think for the few people who actually go through the trouble (as easy as it is) to register and post a question, then wait a day or two for some people they don't know, to start giving the same advice and "help" they have already gotten from the dealer, it's just too much trouble. I didn't post a question because I could see that the answers were not going to fix my problem and just kept on looking. I just knew that the problem was just too weird to believe. I feel sure that the previous owner of our Pacifica had the problem too and took a loss and got rid of it. We saw the headlignts flickering the first night we drove it. We test drove it and bought it in the day time, so we didn't notice it then. It doesn't alway pop and click, sometimes it just flickers a little. We were going to do the same thing and just get rid of it. And let me tell you, we are way upsidedown. We've only had it for a few months now. We just couldn't take it much longer. I hope to help other people fix this problem once and for all, and not take a loss and dump this problem on another unsuspecting buyer.

Well, I think I have figured it out. I am a pretty good mechanic and I have worked as an electronics service tech my whole adult life. What I learned working for Xerox, is how to anylize the symptoms, and get to the root of the problem. Like I said, if we were in the driveway just being disgustied that we were stuck with this problem and with my wife expecting me to fix it for her, I would get out and open the hood to listen for a noise. You know with all that stuff turning on and off like that, I figured that something had to be arcing and I should be able to hear that. NOPE. It couldn't be the headlight switch because it only switches a relay and with that much flickering, you would for sure be able to hear a chattering relay.

We gave up on getting it fixed at a garage or the dealer. I was going to have to fix it myself.

First I thought it could be a ground problem, so I went to Wal-Mart and bought some small engine battery cables and just piggybacked the ground lug to the body and to the engine block, just to make sure that I was not losing ground at all. The very next day my wife and I went to get icecream at a drive through and it stared to happen while in line and the engine died. The car went black for a second or two. We looked at each other and I said, "Well, I guess that didn't fix it." I thought about it some more and what I decided was that it had to be in the fuse box. I mean EVERYTHING electrical (headlights, radio, dash lights, cluster, DVD, and engine, EVERYTHING) flickers at the same time. One time I was following behind her in my truck on the way home from her job and and you can see it from the back of her car. The brake lights and head light were just flickering away. Nothing in the car gets power from anywhere but the fuse panel. I had already looked at the bottom of the fuse panel and it is simple enough. All the connectors seemed tight. There is a heavy gauge red wire that goes to the bottom of the fuse box from the battery. Just to make sure that I was right, I took off all the plastic shielding and tape from the wiring harness to see that the wire goes straight from the battery to the box. I was right.

REMOVE THE BATTERY CABLES FROM THE BATTERY AT THIS TIME. DO NOT WORK ON THE BOTTOM OF THE FUSE BOX WITH THE BATTERY CABLES STILL ON THE BATTERY. IF YOU WERE TO REMOVE THE NUT FROM THE BIG RED WIRE ON THE BOTTOM OF THE FUSE BOX AND IT TOUCHES THE BODY OF THE CAR, YOU RISK EXPLODING THE BATTERY OR STARTING A FIRE IN THE ENGINE. THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS.

I removed the nut holding the wire to the fuse box and you can actually feel the wire move a little inside of the sealed plastic cover at the end of the wire. Just like on the other end where it attaches to the battery, this wire needs to be very tightly connected. This is where EVERYTHING in the car gets it's power from (except for the starter, because it uses the other big red wire straight off of the battery). What I did was get another wire from Wal-Mart. It was also 4 gage wire and I just piggybacked it to the existing wires. I didn't want to cut any wires or remove anything yet. I had the whole harness from the positive battery terminal down to a larger group of wire and back up to the fuse box unwrapped. I just tie wrapped the wires together to the new one with a bunch of tie wraps and made the harness good and tight and made sure that it doesn't rub anything. Now I know that I have an excelent ground connection to the body and engine, and a good positive connection to the fuse box.

It has been 3 nights now with no flicker. My wife sayes that she will not belive it until it has been a week or two but I feel very good about it. For over a month now, until I replaced the power wire, it was flickering almost everytime you drive the car. It gets driven everyday and my wife uses her car for her job, not just to and from work but for home calls too.

I will follow up to let you all know in a week or so to confirm that it is fixed. I hope I am not jumping the gun here but I really feel like it is fixed now.

Ranzy
 
  #2  
Old 04-09-2008, 08:27 AM
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Default RE: Flickering lights on our Pacifica

Bravo on the fix. You may be saving others alot of grief.

Thanks for the good post.
 
  #3  
Old 04-09-2008, 01:28 PM
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Default RE: Flickering lights on our Pacifica

Ranzy, this is great stuff and could potentially save a lot of people a lot of time and money. I hope after a week you still have success. Please let us know.. a lot of people say they will report back and never do. To be fair, I am sure I am one of them too.

Can you be a little more specific about "the wire moving around" statement? Is the lug lose on the wire?Was the nut lose? Did you see any signs of arcing? Any pix?? (There worth a 1000 words you know)

MrFixit
 
  #4  
Old 04-09-2008, 01:51 PM
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Default RE: Flickering lights on our Pacifica

great fix
i am going to look into mine this weekend to make sure the wire i have on the fuse box is tight.thanks for the info RANZY!!
 
  #5  
Old 04-09-2008, 03:58 PM
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Default RE: Flickering lights on our Pacifica

I went ahead and got the photos for you today. I kind of wanted to wait to see if it was fixed before I got in there and started unhooking anything but I figured what could it hurt.

This is an over view of the battery area of my Pacifica.


Those are the ground wires that I added first when I thought it was a bad ground connection. I plan to leave them there because it won't hurt anything.

REMOVE YOUR BATTERY BEFORE YOU START THIS PROJECT. YOU KIND OF HAVE TO JUST TO GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THE FUSE BOX ANYWAY, BUT EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU CAN GET TO IT WITHOUT REMOVING IT, DON'T DO IT. JUST REMOVE YOUR BATTERY! OK.

After you remove your battery you can see that the fuse box is hinged so that you can flip it over and get at the bottom.


Between the fuse box and the fender you will see the two levers to unlatch and flip the box over.


Here is a view of the box flipped over.


That black wire is what I added to the wiring harness. They did not have it in red at my Wal-Mart but I didn't care. It's a 4 gage wire, so it could carry the load even if I removed the factory wire all together. It is just a lawn and garden cable from Wal-Mart for about $4.00. Here is a closer look at the connection I made. I know it was not just a bad connection to the fuse box becaue I had already taken that connector off once during my trouble shooting and cleaned the connector with a wire brush and applied DeoxIT to the power connector and the plate that it bolts to on the fuse box.


Here are the two wires removed from the connector. You will have to bend the connector like that but it is easy to do.


Look at where the red wire goes into the black plastic cover for the connector. That is where I was able to just pull a little and it slipped out of the plastic. That is when I really knew it was bad. Try to pull on the wires at the other end and you will see that you can't budge them. Here it is really close up.


Here are the rest of my connections so that you can see exactly what I did. I did not remove any factory wiring. You can make the repair for less than $4.00 and you do not have to remove the covers from the wire harness to make this repair. I only did it to confirm that the wire from the battery really goes from the battery straight to the fuse box. If it made any other connections on the way, that could have been the problem, so I just wanted to make sure before I just added a wire to the fuse box. That is the other end of the black wire I added to the harness and you can see that it is easy to install onto the battery.


Here you can see where I attached the wire for the new connection to the body and engine.


If you want to do this one, I just took off one of the nuts for the strut mount and scrapped off the paint to make a good connection to the body. I tested the connection by removing the factroy ground wire and starting the car and turning on everything I could think of on the car. It worked just fine. The second wire just goes down to the bottom of the engine. I just removed a bolt from the engine that I had easy access to and bolted the wire to the engine.


I hope this helps some people out. I have never posted a fix to a forum before but I have sure read some. I really appreciate it when there are good photos to help me out, so I tried to post it like I would want if I found this post. Since you have to remove the battery to get in there and do the repair I did not have to stress this so hard. Electrical problems can be a nightmare but I think this is the fix. We drove the car a few times today and it was still solid as a rock.

Believe me, if this is not the answer then I will follow up and let you know. After all this ranting and a big write-up I hope I don't have to eat my words. But I don'twant to waste anybody's time replacing a wire if it didn't really fix my problem.

Ranzy



 
  #6  
Old 04-09-2008, 07:54 PM
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Default RE: Flickering lights on our Pacifica

Ranzy, these are GREAT pictures. I understand it perfectly now. We have an 04 and I am going to keep this in mind if we run into problems. It would be intersting to see that connector cut in half to see what was going on in there, or maybe even xray!

They had to get all fancy at the connection at the box didn't they!

Great job. Thanks for taking the time to do this all again. You have laid it out perfectly.

P.S. I was thinking that these are the best pictures taken of automotive stuff.. very clear, then I saw their source which led me to your site. I get it now I just went the DSLR route and I am having a lot of fun.

Fixit
 
  #7  
Old 04-09-2008, 08:14 PM
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Default RE: Flickering lights on our Pacifica

I actually think it is the same problem on any Chrysler with flickering lights. When I was doing my internet searches for flickering lights, a lot of Chryslers came up with it. I mean think about it, if everything in the car is flickering, that wire is the only common source. I know that companies have vendors make parts for them. It seems to me that the vendor who makes these plastic covered wire end for the battery cables must have a defect in the process. With the plastic over it you can't even see if it is loose. If it wasn't like that, I would have seen it over a month ago. I looked at that early in the process. I just didn't figure that the connector was bad. I thought the contact between the two metals was bad.

Ranzy
 
  #8  
Old 04-10-2008, 01:48 PM
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Default RE: Flickering lights on our Pacifica

Thanks for a great post. I often wondered if the hinges on the fuse box meant it could be flipped up. Now I know!

Thanks again.
 
  #9  
Old 04-10-2008, 07:07 PM
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Default RE: Flickering lights on our Pacifica

ahhh- leave to another Xeroid
 
  #10  
Old 04-14-2008, 12:12 PM
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Default RE: Flickering lights on our Pacifica

I am happy to report that my car is still free of the flickering problem.

Ranzy
 

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