Welcome to the DoItYourself Forums!

To post questions, help other DIYers and reduce advertising (like the one on your left), join our DIY community. It's free!

Car electrical or ? problem


Jerry32's Avatar
Member

Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 111
AL

07-16-03, 07:42 PM   #1  
Car electrical or ? problem

I have a Dodge Caravan Minivan, 1998 with 51,000 miles. Its been a great car with no major problems. Tonight we drove about 50 miles to a Little League Tournament & when we got in the car to go home, I had a hard time fitting the key in the starter. It seemed like the key was bent or something so I took it out, key was fine & tried again, the key went in but seemed weird, tight or something. It started up, but was odd, the parking brake light & air bag light stayed on, the Air Conditioning & radio wouldn't work, (& the lights to those items) but the headlights worked, as well as the dashboard lights. Looked under the hood, everything seemed OK, decided to try to make it home as had little funds, figured it was either a battery or alternator & since it was on, I would give it a try. It drove fine, the airbag, & parking brake lights stayed on, though when I got near our house I noticed that the windshield wiper didn't work, along with the turn signals.
When I got home, figured once I turned it off, it would not turn over again, and the key was kind of hard to get out . But then I put the key right back in, turned it on again, everything worked perfectly; key turned normally, all lights, wipers, etc O.K.... just went out after a few hours & tried again & no problems! One thing that I wonder if related is we got new brakes a few months ago & the shop did an inspection & said we needed a new serpentine belt (?) I believe it's called, we did have trouble from time to time honking the horn, but we declined to put the belt on...wonder if that might be related...any help, suggestions appreciated...

 
Sponsored Links
bejay's Avatar
Member

Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,538

07-16-03, 08:42 PM   #2  
that many things not working, and the fact the key didnt seem right would indicate a possible problem with the key and tumbler or ignition switch, may be hard to diagnose unless it acts up again.
the clock spring in the steering column is a common failure item that can cause horn not to function, and or airbag light or even cruise control not to function if cruise switch is mounted on wheel.

 
truckdrivinfool's Avatar
Visiting Guest

Posts: n/a

07-16-03, 08:52 PM   #3  
truckdrivinfool
Agree w/ the bad key tumbler or an ignition switch.

 
's Avatar
Visiting Guest

Posts: n/a

07-16-03, 09:20 PM   #4  
yes, as bejay said, a tight key and stuff not working, more than a coincidence.

it can only be a lock cylinder or the ignition switch, they are the only two things connected up there, after that, it's all wires.

for now, try spraying a 'little' bit of something like wd-40 into the keyhole, if the key wasn't able to turn all the way, some of the ignition switch contacts might not have been made(leaving dead circuits) if it starts happening with more frequency, i'd have it looked at(or try it yourself, ask away here) you wouldn't want to be stranded somewhere

the belt is in NO way related to this

next step is to call your favorite dealer and ask them how many recalls you haven't had done, specifically 'b-24' "lifetime clockspring replacement". the clockspring is the nickname for the wiring that connects the airbag and everything else that's electrical(horn!)on the steering wheel that 'turns' to the stationary part of the column--a solid piece of wire that wraps around as you turn the wheel, hence the name 'clockspring'

b-24 (for 96-98 caravans, up til 2/28/98 build date)states any vehicle under 70,000 miles gets a new clockspring regardless of condition. after 70,000 we check for stored faults, and if any, they still get a new one, and if the part ever fails, it gets replaced free to anyone. (i don't know why they just don't replace them all, i do)

this may or may not fix your horn, but it is free and it is a known problem, so i would start there.

 
Jerry32's Avatar
Member

Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 111
AL

07-16-03, 10:43 PM   #5  
Thanks!

Appreciate all the fast replies, excellent advice!

 
Jerry32's Avatar
Member

Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 111
AL

07-16-03, 10:58 PM   #6  
one more thing..can I use graphite..

I have some graphite powder that I use for door locks, etc. Can I use that? thanks..

 
Joe_F's Avatar
Visiting Guest

Posts: n/a

07-17-03, 04:05 AM   #7  
Joe_F
Yes, but use it sparingly as more lubricant will attract more dirt.

As mentioned, the lock cylinder is likely wasted. Try your spare key for a while and see if it's ok. If it is, then your original key is bent/worn.

 
Search this Thread