How does the anti -theft system work?


Asked by Nov 10, 2007 at 09:20 AM about the 1997 Chrysler Town & Country LXi

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have had problems with the car starting , but dieing seconds later.  After locking and unlocking the doors several times, the car then stays running.  When this occurs, the  digital display for the odometer and gear shift indicator are not working either.  Any thoughts on what the problem could be? What actually disarms the system? Is there a switch in one of the doors that is not working properly?  Is ther any mechanical linkage in the doors that could be worn or out of adjustment? I have not torn into it yet, but would appreciate some guidance.

24 Answers


If you have the Sentry Key (gray head key with transponder chip) I'd consider having the dealership check your SKIM module, which is the module which the sentry key interfaces with and allows the vehicle to start. The system is typically disarmed by a signal from the keyfob telling it it's OK, however, locking and unlocking the doors using the remote can sometimes register that everything is alright.

16 out of 16 people think this is helpful.

Littlehorn, Thanks for showing an interest in my dilema. I haven't found out yet if my key has a transponder chip. The keys for my '97 T&C have black heads, with the exception of the one I keep on my keyring, which is the valets key and is an all metal key. I have had episodes where I have unlocked the door with that key,and upon trying to start the engine, have found that the security system would shut down the engine after a few seconds. I then got out and tried unlocking the door again and after a few tries the engine would stay running. I'm baffled.

15 out of 15 people think this is helpful.

Shorty, I am having the same problem with my '97 T&C. A friend of mine said that it has to do with the switch. He is not sure what activates it. It left my wife stranded. My friend told me to bump my fist on top of the instr. panel just behind the steering wheel while my switch is turned on. When I did, the lights lit up where the Park,Reverse,N,D,1,2 is. Then it cranked right up. It maybe something we will have to live with without getting into big bucks. Let me know.

12 out of 12 people think this is helpful.

I had these exact symptoms on my 2000 t&c. It was a broken solder connection on the back of the instrument panel.

18 out of 18 people think this is helpful.

I have a T&C 1998 that won't start at all nor will the dome or dash lights come on when the door opens.... Checked the fuses and they are all good, also checked the the battery and it has charge.. So what could be the problem?

36 out of 36 people think this is helpful.

I just want you to know you just helped me figure out what was wrong with my van!!! Thank you so much!!!!!

12 out of 12 people think this is helpful.

MORE to FIX We've been banging on our dash for 2 yrs., because the van won't run more than a few seconds. Today, we locked out security from banging on the dash AND attempted to start to quickly, maybe 5 times in a row (resulted in the van wouldn't start or light up the instr. panel). Searched until I found "Unlocking the Passenger Door 3 Times". Hubby will be pleased the van is running again. Evidently the cluster in the dash needs re-soldered. Hubby plans to do it but keeps putting it off. It's to bad that this EASY FIX isn't a recall with all of the posts I've read for the past 2 years, includes hundreds of vans. One guy had his mechanic re-solder the BCM board for $60. That's much cheaper than replacing. A salvaged part may or may not work. A new board is at least $400 installed. Some mechanics may know about the soldering fix and then charge you for a new board. I suggest calling around for a re-solder. Also, some schools/colleges may re-solder your board cheap or free if it pertains to a mechanics class. Although, Waiting Lists can be as long as next year. If you're really in a pinch, post a WANTED SOLDERING AGENT for the BCM in the make and model of your van. Then screen the callers by checking their references and if they can provide work that you can see, and never sign the title over... just saying.

11 out of 11 people think this is helpful.

That did the trick for me who new banging on your dash board would do it thanks for the help....

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

My 2003 T and C just died on me a few days ago.....running errands, I drove home with groceries, cut my van off to run them in the house, came back out 5 minutes later, and it would not turn over.....thank you all for your answers. I will try the beating on the dash today! Khaki

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.

The ANTI-THEFT sounds an alarm if anyone breaks into your vehicle. If anyone tries to unlock the van without the key, the alarm will sound. WE FIXED THE DASH CIRCUIT BOARD - we found a step-by-step video on youtube, showing us exactly where to add a little dab of solder. We bought a $10 Solder Iron at a dollar store and fixed the board in less than 2 hours. It's about 20 screws, and they were all the same size, so it was just as easy to put it back together as it was to disassemble. Chrysler Instrument Cluster Repair

10 out of 10 people think this is helpful.

Now the speedometer has gained 17 mph - in park. We've got to add 17mph to our speed. I'll ask a mechanic the next time is HAS to go into the shop. Thank God for youtube videos!!!

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Thank you for your response! I am certainly watching the video!!! Strange thing, but there was never an alarm to indicate a problem with my system....I parked the van at my house, ran in, ran out and tried to start the car and it was just dead.....although the lights and everything else were working!!! I wonder if there has been a recall on the vans? Or maybe, since it's not life threatening, Chrysler woutdnt bother....Thanks again!!!

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

My problem was dash board lights would'nt come on,and car would start and cut out.I tried everything and followed what another user said just bang the top of the dashboard behind steering wheel and everything will work fine.Well this was the solution and is working just fine.I have read that these vans have a defect with connections.Thanks again to the user that solved my problem.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

After taking our '01 T&C in to an auto electrical repair shop for a tail light fix (long story) we ended up with the same not-starting problem. After reading up, I pulled the instrument panel and had a local computer repair place fix the soldering points. They even redid some of the solder on the capacitor soldering that had cracked. None of it worked though. The van STILL has random moments where the anti theft kicks in and you get the infamous "3 starts & your out". I have noticed that the steering wheel lock doesn't work like it used to once you pull the key out. The best luck I've had with getting the van going again is to turn the steering wheel back and forth until you hear a single "click" sound that must be either the SKIM kicking in or just recognizing the key. I'm not really sure, but the sound is very distinctive. I was really excited about the solder solution, but now I'm not sure what is going on.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

Thank you for your imput. Doesn't it seem like Chrysler should be made aware of how many vehicles have been having the same problem? I've been surprised at the responses I've received about the theft security system.....I haven't had my van towed to the dealer yet, but I'm sure it'll cost a pretty penny....

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

My 28 yr old son came to visit this week. He looked at the van and began trying various attempts to turn off the anti theft light....the car would start, then it would die about 15 seconds later. He figured out if he opened the driver's side door and locked and unlocked the open door with the ignition key, the car realized that nobody was trying to steal it! He then shut the door and once again locked and unlocked it. It seems that from now on, I can't use the auto lock on my key ring to unlock my door....I will have to use the door key to unlock it. At least it now starts and I drove it yesterday for the first time in 2 wks.....Maybe this will help others.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

I've tried it all n. Still won't disable. Still stranded.


Try hitting the top of the dash board just behind the steering wheel,slam it pretty good.This will work if your dash board lights are out and car starts then turns off.This is caused by computer board issues and connections not lining up.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
10 the product.. hate that they ignore the millions of defects noted by the CONSUMERS, recall BE DAMNED.. Thanks for the info dedicated Chrysler fans! U S A !!!!!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

@tree1899 - I slammed the top of the dash because I was so pissed off, and it fixed it! But, a few weeks later, it did it again. For about 6 months, slapping the top of the dash worked, then punching it in the "face". But, alas, after a new more months, even punching the dash in the "face" with a lug wrench (and cracking the lens) no longer worked. I had read online that there is a cold solder joint and one guy had removed the cluster and resoldered every joint, and that fixed it. Well, once I FINALLY got enough stuff removed to free and unplug the cluster, I wondered if simply plugging it back in would work. It did! No need to resolder everything. That guy just never tried his BEFORE his solder work. The problem is in the single wiring connection. I can't yet tell if it's a bad pin-to-pin connection, or the connector attachment to the board. I just keep all of the trim off and, whenever it throws a fit, I try to sneak behind the cluster to play with the wires. But, by the time tilt it over and get back there, it's on again. I love to use carbon-filled grease on troubled electrical connections. I plan to apply this to one pin at a time, starting with the ground pin, until I isolate the problem and report back. Orr, I may go ahead and pull it and inspect the connector to PC board connection. Even though I can readily get to it, it's still a pain when you need to rush off and the stupid car won't start. By the way, this problem is only present in cars with the alarm system and a Chrysler dude told me that it is burned into the computer and I can't even swap out with a non-alarm computer! When the system boots when the key is turned, the computer sends a self check instruction to the instrument cluster. When the instrument cluster fails to report back, because of the bad connection, the stupid car thinks it's being stolen and shuts off the engine after 3 seconds. Anymore, I don't even start it. I look for the dash lights. If they don't come on, I begin fishing for the wires again.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

turn your key to acc wait 10 min do not open the doors and car will start

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Hi I need help with a problem a.s.a.p!!! I lost my keys and went to a dealer ship to make an reprogram it but they said in order to do so I would have to pay $600 so they can fix my steering column or something around the steering column because they said it was broken.. so my question is, in order for my chipped to work would they have to do anything with any part of the my chrysler 200? I thought my computer in my car would be the only thing to stop my key from working!? But my computer is just fine... please help . ... I hope this makes sense

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

It's soldering issue, just replace the cluster with this, it will solve the problem.

To prove what I said, try disconnect the instrument cluster cable, It'll start without it.

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