instrument cluster gauges read zero and van won't stay running

Asked by Aug 31, 2008 at 06:27 PM about the 1997 Chrysler Town & Country

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My 1997 Town&Contry van model LXI has an occassional problem starting. This starts out by starting the van, all instruments and gauges  won't register any type of reading at all and the engine dies a few seconds after starting. The first time this happened I pounded on top of the dash just above the speedometer (out of frustration) and after trying one last time the van started and stayed running with all the gauges working. This has been going on for almost two years now. The weirdist thing is that you never know when it's going to happen as it does'nt happen every time. Sometimes 6 months might go by and other times it will happen twice a week. Does anyone have a clue what the problem might be?

18 Answers

45

I have no idea what that might be, but did you have a dealer take a look at it?

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
20

I am having the same problem, also in a 97 t&c The dealer said that it was the instrument cluster shorting out the computer. They want a 1000$ to replace the cluster.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
250

I have the same problem and replaced the instrument cluster, ignigation switch, computer,transmission control midule and the problem still is there. If you find an answer PLEASE let me know.

10 out of 10 people think this is helpful.
250

Has anyone out there solved the problem with the instrument cluster failing on the 1997 t@c. I have replaced the cluster, the body control module,ignition switch,onboard computer transmission control module and the problem is still there. Now the abs light comes on also. Can anyone help?

14 out of 14 people think this is helpful.
160

Hi, I gave my '97 Town and Country cluster to a cluster repair center and they soldered the joints in the cluster. They said that there was a small crack somewhere inside. Now my mini van runs great! I used to hit the dashboard to fix the problem and that worked too. Now, however, I do not have to hit the dashboard and so far I have not had any problems on the road. Hope it works for you!

16 out of 16 people think this is helpful.
120

Sergei: We had this same problem today. Can you tell us what and where to find a "cluster repair center"? How would they be listed. We live in the Middle Tennessee/Nashville area. Thanks. Dille

12 out of 12 people think this is helpful.
70

my is crysler 98 t&c it's cake took of the cluster and put a 99 cluster it work good. no more problem.

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
330

Check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OwrhVOHe1Y

33 out of 33 people think this is helpful.
30

we have a 2002 that does the same thing and we found out it is the cluster panel solder joints. Over time they crack and the reason the van runs for a few seconds and then cuts off is your security stuff runs through the panel and if the car thinks it's being stolen it cuts off. Don't buy a new panel. Take it to someone who can repair it. You will save a lot of money.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

WOW having the same problem with my van just hit the dash and now everything is working fine. Definitely need to get it fixed ASAP. Thanks for the temp fix though.

10

OK so I see this a lot at my shop, it usally don't need a cluster I fix them at my shop with nothing more then a soldering gun. What happens is the cold solder joints on the instrument cluster break and causes communication issues with the ecm. Pull the cluster out pop it apart at where the harness plugs in on the back side look at the solder joints more then likely one or more is broken.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

Just re solder the broken joints on the circuit board and reinstall

20

how is it that when i pull out the cluster and UNPLUG it, that the ignition works separately from the cluster: i can turn the ignition on and off? do i not need the cluster?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
885

no one knows it would work that way .... will it start and run ? can you live without the guages ? maybe easy mickey mouse temp fix

40

Try re soldering the plug in spot on the board behind the cluster if that don't work put collision on it and drive thru Atlanta Georgia and buy a ford it worked for me

you have to replace the instrument cluster as soon as possible. i am having the same issues. mine just stopped working so it's just easier to just replace the whole cluster but by buying a used one because in the long run it will be cheaper and it'll still work for you as good as buying a brand new one would

30

Yes, pounding the top of the dash worked for awhile. Then, I had to punch it in the face. Finally, I had to remove the cluster. But, before any resoldering, I simply unplugged and replugged the electrical connection. That worked for a few months. I left the trim off and the cluster loose. Whenever it failed, I would reach behind and tug on the wires. (I also found that there is NO starting problem with the cluster left out!) Eventually, I did have to pull it and resolder. Problem never returned. However, it lately has developed moving and buzzing gauge needles with the switch off. This is said to be caused by a different bad solder joint. I guess I get to pull it AGAIN and check more thourghly. Chrysler REALLY screwed the pooch with this cluster! I've read of people being out THOUSANDS of dollars for a tow to a dealer, new computer, etc.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I had the same problem. I removed the cluster and the vehicle runs fine. I use a Garmin GPS for a speedometer. The distance till empty DTE readout overhead works for my fuel gauge. I think I will look at the solder joints and see if I can repair the old cluster.

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