Strange electrical problem with 2001 Dodge Intrepid

Some work was done on our Dodge Intrepid which required pulling the dash. Later we started experiencing a strange problem where the power to the dash, the A/C, and even the power windows would go completely off. The engine usually would keep going. If the car was off to begin with, then it would act as if the key was not being turned to start the engine.

Also, the brake lights would sometimes stay on after turning off the engine and power. We had the brake light switch replaced but that didn't fix the problem, so I am guessing these two electrical problems are related.

Anyone familiar enough with this car to have any ideas on how to fix it?

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Michael Cecil
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Michael Cecil wrote:

Let me guess: A.C. evaporator sprung a leak?

There are some things you definitely should check: Visually check the battery and its terminals for corrosion. The battery is buried in the passenger side wheel well, and a minor PITA to get to. You can go in by removing the passenger side front wheel and removing the cover from the front of the wheel well, *or* raise the hood and go in from the top by removing the air filter box. It is very common for the terminals to become seriously corroded on these cars, and when that happens, the type of intermittent problems you are having occur.

If you do find a lot of battery acid corrosion and you need advice on how to deal with that, post back. But also, sometimes the cables can be eaten up by that corrosion, and simply cleaning it up may not be enough - some cable repair or replacement may be needed.

ANOTHER POSSIBILITY: The positive jump post (*not* the battery posts - the jump post next to the air filter box) passes power to the starter and (with one exception) *all* other electrical power to the car thru clamped connections at that post. Make sure the nuts are tight on that post. (The one exception is the connection between the battery and the alternator - that is a direct connection.) Before you put a wrench on the nuts on the positive jump post, disconnect the negative jump post (located on the passenger side strut tower) - that effectively disconnects the battery from the car - other wise you are at huge risk of the wrench touching nearby grounded metal at the same time it is on the positive battery voltage, which would make huge sparks and cause possible damage or injury.

ANOTHER POSSIBILITY: Tighten the *negative* jump post. If you did the positive jump post, then you should have disconnected the negative one already - just make sure you re-attach it good and tight when you're done with the positive jump post.

I have a feeling one of those 3 things is your problem - they are all three common problems on these cars. *IF* they don't fix it, then you will be down to a schematic-level troubleshooting process with a multimeter. You would need the factory (not aftermarket) schematics for that. There is an on-line source for those, but we'll deal with that when/if you get to the point of needing them. Do *not* rely on an aftermarket service manual (like the auto parts stores sell) for your schematics - they are junk.

The brake light switch is adjustable - the switch is simply out of adjustment. The plunger has a changeable length to make it adjustable. Here's what you do to adjust it: With the car turned off, get under neath the steering column and push down on the brake pedal with one hand - not hard - it should be enough to move the pedal down an inch or so - while holding it down like that, pull outward on the plunger so that the plunger extend - you will hear and feel some definite clicks as it extends - pull it out until it pretty much meets the brake pedal arm. *THEN* - slowly - release the brake pedal. You're done. What that does is adjusts the plunger to the proper length by pushing it back in the right amount of clicks - it's now auto-adjusted. Brake light should work properly.

If you adjust it and it soon gets out of adjustment again, then the switch needs replacing again (that would mean that the detents that hold the plunger at the proper length are worn out and it shortens its length more than the proper amount).

I own two 2nd gen Concordes, and know them pretty well. :)

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Bill Putney
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Bill Putney wrote:

<snip>

I owned a first-gen Eagle Vision for many years and 260,000 miles. Lots of similarities. The last problem we had with the Eagle before selling it was a bad ignition switch. The symptoms were that the gauges and HVAC would shut down, frequently followed a few minutes later by the engine shutting down. Sometimes the car just wouldn't start, but cycling the key back to "off" then trying again would get 'er going. I replaced the ignition switch and all seemed perfect again, although we sold the car a few weeks later and I haven't talked to the new owner much since.

I'm not saying your problem is the ignition switch itself, but it could be a loose connector in the wiring harness. It sounds like the car is just losing power to the Body Controller module at times, so that gives you a place to start looking. Also make sure the ground connection for the Body Controller wiring harness is firmly attached (located atop the "tunnel" near the center of the dash on the first-gens, not sure where it is on the 2nd-gens).

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under the hood right side near core support is a battery lug and there is a battery power wire there ( 10 gauge)that has a fusable link in it that prvides power to the systems you posted about that would be the first thing i would check then the battery connections then i would double check the connectors that plug into the back of the junction bos that is on the left side of the dash and is attached to the fuse panel they made have not fully seated a connector there when the dash went back in

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man of machines wrote:

B.S. The fusible link is the direct connection between the alternator and the battery.

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there is a 10 gauge wire on the positive battery cable lug (red cover) bolted to the core sopport it has a fusable link that might be corrioded or blown if memory serves me right that does power up the stuff you posted does not work then i would check the battery and it's connections then i would check the connectors behind the fuse panel that is also the bcm resting place that might have been left loose or not plugged in

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man of machines wrote:

Ignore that - it is total B.S.

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bill give me your address so i can come over and cut that wire and watch you wonder why shit qiut working on your car cock

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The fusible link that you mentioned (the only one on the 2nd gen LH cars) is the direct connection between the battery and the alternator. It does *not* provide power from the battery to any particular loads - or to *any* loads for that matter. If it goes away, the battery does not charge, period, and would not relate back to the particular symptoms posted in the OP.

sucker :)

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