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What causes my '05 T&C to "shutdown" while driving?

  #1  
Old 02-18-2012, 12:22 AM
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Default What causes my '05 T&C to "shutdown" while driving?

I have a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country with a seriously dangerous electrical problem. The ironic part is that the problem has been with me since purchasing the vehicle new. However, the dealership managed to weasel out of fixing it years ago while it was under warranty by claiming a simple power inverter could have caused problems with the electrical system.

Basically, the problem seems to be centered around the core computer and electrical system. Just about every time I start the van, I will get this crazy gauge spin upon turning the ignition key. All the analog gauges will spin up to their limit, then drop back down. Then, when I start the car , all seems ok. So that problem is an annoyance, but I believe it's tied to a much more serious problem that I've experience very intermittently. What will happen is basically a complete electrical shutdown WHILE I'm driving the van. When I had less miles on it, it would typically shutdown while stopped and idling. For some reason I couldn't restart the van easily at that time either.

Now, the problem is much worse. Tonight, I was driving down the freeway and instantly my dash lights went dark, all gauges dropped, the gas pedal seemed non-functional (engine may have also stalled, and it has before when this shutdown happens), no blinkers (and I think no tail lights), no power steering. All this has happened before at least a few times without warning. For some reason, I think the headlights stay on through these problems. It's definitely some sort of big electrical path that's affected by this issue. The last time this happened I was parked and turning on the van cold. I had no gauges , no blinkers, but was able to drive the vehicle back home just a few miles away. The tough part about this problem is that the problem will literally "fix" itself after turning off the ignition, waiting a few minutes, and turning back on the van again. Of course, the gauge flip problem at start persists. The nerve racking part is that I never know when the electrical system will "shutdown" again, and this is truly dangerous. Tonight, I was luck as I drive in the slow lane and there was little traffic.

On another Chrysler forum, I finally got some kind of lead on this problem based on the gauge behaviour. I heard it was some kind of computer module that was fairly expensive. Although, I'm not sure because this problem is multi-symptomatic and somewhat intermittent, and it seems to have been a problem for a long, long time. Chrysler service weaseled out of the repair when the van was under warranty by claiming a small power inverter I had wired to the battery was "causing electrical problems". Of course it was not, and I haven't had that wired up for years now and the problem has only gotten worse.

Thanks for any direct leads on this. I'm thinking that if I get it to the point where the gauge problem goes away, then I might have peace of mind that it won't shutdown anymore. The battery is NOT the issue, and I've replaced it many times with a top quality battery. For years , I thought it was something with the battery, but now I know it is not. Other than LED interior lights, I really haven't changed anything of the stock electrical system or load. Thanks much for good help or leads on this problem.
 
  #2  
Old 02-18-2012, 02:09 AM
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Location: California
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Is this the thread you read? Guage Needles All Max Out at Startup

The Power Distribution Center (fuse box) that fixed his erratic instruments has been a headache for far too many on 4th generation (yours) Chrysler Corp minivans. It is a known corrosion magnet causing all sorts of electrical problems including your erratic instruments and stalling. Besides housing all the relays, circuit breakers and fuses in the van there is an internal circuit board that distributes power throughout the van. There is plenty to go wrong in that box.

Try inducing the faults by wiggling the wire harnesses leading to it and connections on the bottom and tapping on the top. If that does nothing, disconnect the negative battery cable and remove and inspect all the plugs for corrosion or any contacts that may be damaged, bent, or appear to have arced. If all looks good there the next step is to remove and disassemble it to get at the circuit board. Look for any signs of damage or corrosion.

As mentioned in that thread, the battery connections and cables have been a trouble spot for some. Besides making sure the connections are clean and tight, try a wiggle test on both cables. They are known to corrode internally creating high resistance. In particular pay close attention to the crimp securing the smaller cable on the red positive cable connector. It can loosen up and create all sorts of electrical problems.

Lower down my list is a wire harness running around the back side of the engine close to the exhaust manifold. It's known to heat up to the point wire insulation melts or gets brittle and opens bare wire creating intermittent shorts. This can effect your engine stall problem.

Just to clarify, your manual will call your fuse box the Integrated Power Module or IPM. They call the combination of the PDC and that silver box mounted on the front of it (the FCM) the IPM. Don't you love acronyms? To simplify things, the IPM and the PDC are the same thing - your fuse box.
 

Last edited by Raptor 07; 02-18-2012 at 02:15 AM.
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