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Thread: Dang truck!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Westphalia, Michigan
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    Dang truck!!

    My 98 dodge truck went electrical whacko on me. This is my main wood hauler.

    The ignition "dinger" has stayed on most of the time for the last year or so. I got used to ignoring it. Then the dash warning lights started coming on randomly and the overhead quit working and the stereo quit. I thought "ignition switch" because much of the power is routed through the switch.

    So today I pulled the ignition switch and took it apart. I can't see anything wrong with it. No burnt contacts or wiring. I may check it for continuity to see if it is fused somehow. I didn't completely disassemble it because it is riveted together.

    In the back of my mind I am fearful that there is a short somewhere in all the spagetti wiring. It doesn't help that the previous owner added a remote starter and CB radio and other devices, I found all kinds of extra fuse holders under the steering column. Plus half of them are just hanging with wires unattached.

    The other fear is that the computer is to blame. I bet those are expensive. I hate to get a new $800 computer for a truck that cost me $2500.

    Any sage wisdom from the Family?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Downes View Post
    My 98 dodge truck went electrical whacko on me. This is my main wood hauler.

    The ignition "dinger" has stayed on most of the time for the last year or so. I got used to ignoring it. Then the dash warning lights started coming on randomly and the overhead quit working and the stereo quit. I thought "ignition switch" because much of the power is routed through the switch.

    So today I pulled the ignition switch and took it apart. I can't see anything wrong with it. No burnt contacts or wiring. I may check it for continuity to see if it is fused somehow. I didn't completely disassemble it because it is riveted together.

    In the back of my mind I am fearful that there is a short somewhere in all the spagetti wiring. It doesn't help that the previous owner added a remote starter and CB radio and other devices, I found all kinds of extra fuse holders under the steering column. Plus half of them are just hanging with wires unattached.

    The other fear is that the computer is to blame. I bet those are expensive. I hate to get a new $800 computer for a truck that cost me $2500.

    Any sage wisdom from the Family?
    Paul
    Always suspect a bad ground..

    If you can find some places on the dash or in the engine compartment that has grounds(suspect or not) add a ground in parallel with them. Many random problems are caused by bad grounds.

    In some cases adding a ground all the way back to the negative terminal of the battery will confirm whether grounding is a problem..

    A bulb that draws some current is almost always better for chasing circuits than a meter as the meter draws virtually no current and often will make you think you have a good circuit when you don't.

    I let a Bronco II sit for a couple of years and when I went to start it it wouldn't start, was the ground for the ignition circuit at the coil on the inner fender. I have fixed a ton of weird electrical problems and it was almost always a bad connection somewhere.

    I fixed a hard shift transmission problem by having a bad solder joint on the back of the speedometer module heated and re-flowed. This was done under a 10X microscope...

    I bought a motor home and all the clearance and tail lights flashed every time you applied the brakes. Yes a bad ground in the stop light circuit. The fuse block is a good spot for bad connections especially of there have been a lot of circuits added as sometimes things get warm and take the temper out of fuse holders.

    All I can say is that it almost always pays to start with something that don't work and fix that using logical trouble shooting methods. In your case I would start with the dinger as you call it....fix it first and go from there

    Depending on the year and model of Dodge it has a body computer that gets changed out a lot but often it is only bad connection to the computer.

    Spend your money first on a good wiring diagram and go from there. One problem at a time. Start with the most obvious not necessarily the most important. When you get the wiring diagram see what if anything the malfunctioning circuits have in common.

    I made a pretty good living from 1967 till last year working on all things electrical and mechanical. The last 20 years of that I was working pretty much on my own though not for myself. If there was a secret to how many problems I solved it was looking at the whole problem and breaking it down into manageable pieces. Throwing parts at the problem very rarely solved anything. The most complex part was rarely the bad part. Parts that combine mechanical and electrical functions were often the problems. Relays. solenoids and less often switches. One of the most common were plain old connectors.

    And you say you fear a short, I will say that though shorts can be very destructive that opens are far more common. Usually shorts in circuits that power things will blow something and let the magic smoke out or blow a protection device. If the smoke has been let out the nose will most often tell you while blown fuses and fuseable links are pretty easy to check for. I should mention that if a lot of things have been added that is also a great place to start checking. If they had to cut a wire did they get it back together well. If they loosened a bolt and put a ground wire under it is the bolt tight and still making any ground it did before the modification..

    I reread this and it rambles but You have to start somewhere and fix something. It may also fix something else. The adding of a good battery ground and using a test circuit that draws a some current is the best place I can give you to start. There are circuit testing devices that have a bulb built in the handle and a sharp tip to puncture wire that are very useful if used with care..

    Garry
    Last edited by Garry Foster; 03-02-2010 at 02:01 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Portland, Oregon
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    I had an instructor one time that said "All electronics is FM, Friggin' Magic"
    Jesus was a Woodworker

  4. #4
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    Thanks for you reply Gary. I also worked as a trouble shooter for a large corporation. I was however a mechanical guy and I always deferred to my electrical engineering partner. Many problems go back to where someone messed around with a machine last. I am going to have to pull part of the dashboard apart to get at the back of the aux. fuse block. I did look at the wiring diagram and most if not all of the devices acting up are also routed through that. I may also pull the main fuse block and check the connections and grounds on that. I did on occasion smell a faint electrical smoke.

    My mechanic mentioned that dodges were know to have wires break at or near the ignition switch. I was hoping to find them fused, melted or burnt. That would have been an easy fix.

    The other thing is that the electrical problems showed up more when the truck had warmed up. Once it was warmed up and shut off the problems would surface @ restart.

    The reason it's in the barn now is because it completely shut off when my wife was driving it to work in a snow storm. The overhead lights came on for the first time in months and started flickering and then the truck went dead.

  5. #5
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    Check the 3 major grounds Paul, engine to frame, battery to frame.engine to battery. All three are necessary as i found out a few weeks ago

  6. #6
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    I had an S-10 that had electricl problem. I finaly boiled down to the connector that sent the various electrical circuit through the firewall. I ran a seperate ground from the battery and it solved the problems. The connections were corroded.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  7. #7
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    Well, today I got to looking at the grounding and found an added device riveted on top of the main fuse block cover. There are several wires that are grounds and they are corroded to the point that they nearly falling off. I suspect this is part of the remote starter. I'm not sure if I can just disconnect the thing, and I don't have a clue where to find a replacement. ( I haven't tried yet) It is not shown on the wiring diagram of course. I would think that the existing vehicle grounds would would be enough, so one would think that this would only cause the remote starter to quit working.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Downes View Post
    Thanks for you reply Gary. I also worked as a trouble shooter for a large corporation. I was however a mechanical guy and I always deferred to my electrical engineering partner. Many problems go back to where someone messed around with a machine last. I am going to have to pull part of the dashboard apart to get at the back of the aux. fuse block. I did look at the wiring diagram and most if not all of the devices acting up are also routed through that. I may also pull the main fuse block and check the connections and grounds on that. I did on occasion smell a faint electrical smoke.

    My mechanic mentioned that dodges were know to have wires break at or near the ignition switch. I was hoping to find them fused, melted or burnt. That would have been an easy fix.

    The other thing is that the electrical problems showed up more when the truck had warmed up. Once it was warmed up and shut off the problems would surface @ restart.

    The reason it's in the barn now is because it completely shut off when my wife was driving it to work in a snow storm. The overhead lights came on for the first time in months and started flickering and then the truck went dead.
    Paul before pulling all this I'd add a ground, always take the easy route first. And yes I do believe in fixing things right, but I also believe in knowing what I am chasing before tearing into it. It is like I looking into a spark plug hole before I pull the head.

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