'05 Caravan that wants to die


#1

In May of this year (2015), it started to die. What I mean is it loses all electrics and it kills the engine. No dash lights, no odometer, no headlights, no radio, no blower, no electric windows, no electric locks, no interior lights, no visable sign that it has power at all except a tiny red light on the dash that blinks every few seconds.


Always at low speeds under 30mph, usually while under load from either being on the freeway for a bit or while the AC was running or both. If I wait long enough, it comes back on all by itself but this can take seconds or hours. The radio is not reset, which is the only other indication that the battery terminals are not at fault. I am getting power to the starter, but nothing else.



When it first started happening, we thought it was a fuse or relay and swapped out several, but while it was dead, nothing affected it. It only happened three times until July when it stepped up its game and would die multiple times a day.



Under advice of a shadetree mechanic, we replaced the Powertrain control Module (PCM) located behind the front bumper under the driver side headlight. This seemed to solve the problem for almost a month when the water pump decided to fail and we replaced it, the thermostat and radiator fan thermometer, only for it to die exactly as before only the very next day.


The shop ran it until it died, took the pcm off and checked to see if it was overheating, but it wasnt. They checked the battery cables, fuses and anything else they could think of.

I got it it back at the beginning of October and on its first night out it died twice. I was driving it and noticed that it was a hot muggy day about 80F and because I was wary of it dying I chose not to run the AC, but the air coming from the vents was still quite cold.
First time it died we popped the hood and the Eatx shutdown relay was hot enough to fry an egg. I replaced it with a spare I had, and all the systems in the van sprang back to life. It made it a mile before dying again and this time the new relay was hot, but all I did was wiggle it and back to life it went. Drove it 12 more miles home, then the next day back to the shop without incident.

I went to talk with the shop a couple days ago, because I really need this thing fixed but they are not sure what to do next. I told them about the AC running even while off and so we pulled the fuse for the AC clutch entirely. I ran it around for twenty minutes and even with the temp on the dash at normal hot position center of the gauge and blower at full tilt and set to hot with AC off, I had the coldest air until I hit a bump and suddenly I had hot air. Thinking the AC clutch was seized I took it back to the shop, verified that the compressor wasnt working anymore while engine was running and thought we may have fixed the issue.

Three days later, I have driven it all over with no issue, only for it to now die twice in a mile all within a mile of home. On the way home, the heater wasn’t blowing as hot as it could be, until I almost made it to my freeway exit, by then I was worried that it was going to die after I had slowed down to the side road speed which it did happen.

I opened the driver door to get out and that was all the jarring it took to turn everything back on, the second time I had popped the hood and was reaching for the clips to the fuse cover to check the eatx shutdown relay when it all came back on. The relay was no warmer than the relay for the fuel pump. Between the first and second event, I could feel it hesitating every few seconds like it was about to lose power. After the second event I was so close to home I may have been a little lead-footed and did not notice.



I drove it home and have now written this, hoping that someone might have an idea as to why my van hates me and wants to die…



Addendum: The bellows in the interior heater broke back on Valentine’s day, so no matter what the dial it set to, it only blows out the upper body vents on the dash. The radio has an issue that it can no longer play tapes and one of the speakers is mostly silent. I wondered if either of these were shorting out and causing issue.


#2

Please edit this into readable paragraphs and someone may try to help you.


#3

There is a minivan community that might also be able to help. (If you haven’t tried there already)

http://forum.chryslerminivan.net/forumdisplay.php/38-4th.-Generation-Chrysler-Minivans-2001-2007


#4

I took this from Caravan group with the same issue as you. They went round and round and it turned out to be bad battery cables.

http://forum.chryslerminivan.net/showthread.php/17225-2005-Grand-Caravan-Electrical-goofyness/page4

The tech then at some point put his hand on the battery terminals and found that the positive battery terminal was hot to the touch, indicating to him a lot of built up resistance in the cable.

He pulled the main power cable, cut off the battery terminal and re-crimped, re-soldered a new battery terminal clamp.

After this latest fix, and the third time bringing the car back with the same symptoms, it has now driven about 300 miles with ABSOLUTELY no hint of the former problem.

Even when our van was not having issues, we still had a bit of flicker coming from the green, digital odometer and gear shift indicator. Not so anymore.

No stalling, no dancing gauges, nothing…rock solid. Total cost of repair? $75.00.

I think someone mentioned this earlier in this thread or in the 4th gen forum, actually. So I’d say if you have my same symptoms, feel that terminal and see if it feels hot to the touch.


#5

I’m not seeing an eatx relay listed. There’s an anti-theft relay, which I believe is also called the ASD relay. Associated with NGC version, Next Generation Controller. Could that be what you mean?

The description about it says it operates

  • injectors
  • ignition coil
  • alternator field coil
  • upstream and downstream heated O2 sensors
  • evap purge solenoid

So if any of those was shorted out, it could overheat I suppose. Since it seems to run ok, I’d be more suspicious of a problem with the alternator than any of the other items.

Aslo, it looks like the engine has to be turning for this relay to be activated. It might be the sensor the computer uses to determine this (likely the crank position sensor) is on the fritz. Might be a good idea to have that tested. Those are a common heat related failure item.

Edit: The idea posted above by knfenimore is definitely something to consider to. That could be tested with a DVM. When the engine is running, the voltage at the battery post should be the same as the associated connector and wire.


#6

I’m guessing that you have a battery cable that is corroded under the insulation so bad that if not for the insulation…the cable would fall apart. This can happen on cars this age.

  1. I would replace the cables.
  2. I would seek out the ground straps from the engine to the firewall or body. Undo the bolts, wire brush the ends of the straps and reinstall.
  3. I would clean that relay’s terminals …the eatX relay. While the battery cables are off you can slip a piece of fine sandpaper over the end of a feeler gauge…or other thin, stiff item and just slip it in and out of each slot a few times. There could also be corrosion there.

Yosemite


#7

I have found loose crimps on the battery cable ends on Chrysler products. When you open the hood and disturb the cables the problem will temporary go away making this difficult to identify.

Examine the cable end crimp, see if the connection has turned black from heat. Push and pull on the cable to see if there is any movement in the crimp.

The battery cables are integrated into the wiring harness so replacing them is not an easy job. It is more practical to replace the battery cable ends.