98 Grand Caravan - safety feature (?) has van on side of road! Please help!


#1

Let me say first of all that I know practically nothing about cars except how to drive them. :slight_smile: So I don’t know that I’m getting all the technical details right. But if you have any questions feel free to ask.



I have a 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan. I was cruising along on the highway today, when I saw a piece of shredded tire in the road. It looked pretty small, and I thought I would clear it, but guess what - I didn’t. There was a pretty loud crunch, but no damage to the car. However, right after I ran over it, I started to go up a hill. I pushed on the gas pedal and nothing happened. I pushed harder - still nothing. I got over to the shoulder and after calling my husband, put the car in park (it still wouldn’t accelerate) and turned it off. Bad idea. When I tried to start it again, I turned the key, it tried to turn over, but didn’t. It made a wierd noise - different from the normal “car engine won’t turn over” noise - but hard to describe. I called my next-door neighbor, who happens to be a former mechanic, and asked him to come pick me up and take me and my kids home. He also looked the van over very thoroughly while he was there, and could find nothing wrong with it - no damage from the shredded tire, no leaks, no nothing. He and I both concluded that it must be some safety feature included with the vehicle - you know, you’re in a crash (or what the vehicle “thinks” is a crash), and it blocks access to the fuel tank, or something, to keep you from doing any further damage. Does anybody know of anything like that, and how we could find it? We scoured the owner’s manual and there’s nothing in there. Is there a switch somewhere that I have to reset? I would really hate to pay towing fees (15+ miles to nearest Dodge dealership) and the dealership’s fees in order for them to just flip a switch or do something really simple that I could have done on my own. If anybody knows anything about this - please help!


#2

I’m not a big time Chrysler guy, but I don’t think your vehicle has an inertia switch, which is what your friend appears to be talking about. An inertia is designed to cut off the fuel pump in the event of a collision.

The complaint is still a bit hazy to me. When you state the engine will not “turn over”, do you mean the starter will not physically crank the engine over or do you mean it cranks over normally, but will not will not start; as in cough or anything?

It really needs to be determined if the problem is fuel or spark related. This should be the first thing your mechanic friend does.
Since he insinuated an inertia switch does this means he’s narrowed it down to a fuel problem?

A quick look at a schematic does not show an inertia sw. on this vehicle so if the problem is fuel related then it needs to be determined if the pump has gone south or it is related to the pump power supply.

One thing I would highly recommend is checking ALL fuses and fusible links as the pump is powered through a fuel pump and ASD relay (automatic shut down), and there are several power sources. Skip none of them when checking; especially fuses 16 and 17.


#3

When I looked at the fuse list chart in the owner’s manual, it listed 16 slots (I know that’s not the right term, sorry) and said that #16 was empty.

The engine goes, “rin-in-in-in-in-in-in” but won’t go ahead and start. My husband has a '98 Honda accord that we bought used. It only came with one key. We had a duplicate key made, and much to my frustration, although it will open the door, when I put that duplicate in the Honda ignition and turn, all I get it “rin-in-in-in-in-in-in-in-in.:” The car won’t start. I ran the battery almost dead trying to start it. My husband came home, put his key in and turned and it started right up. We learned that there’s something in that orginal key that can’t be duplicated (some security thing, I guess).

I share that to illustrate our present Dodge Caravan problem. Since our big thump of hitting the tire tread, when I try to start the van, it sounds EXACTLY like when I try to start the Honda with the duplicate key. That’s one reason we suspect it may be some security-related feature, and not an actual problem with the engine.


#4

Yes, they’re fuse slots.
I rechecked the diagram and according to the schematic, slot No. 16 is supposed to be occupied by a 20 amp fuse on the '98-'99 models. This fuse also controls the fuel pump relay.
On the '97 and earlier models this fuse occupies slot No. 13.

Since I’m still thinking (barely) try sticking a 20 amp fuse in there and see what happens.
Just wondering if age and heat combined with a jolt could have dislodged the fuse and it fell out. (Wild guessing here.)

Another possibility could be if that chunk of rubber flew up, hit the crankshaft position sensor wiring and dislodged it. That could cause a no-start condition and I would think a visual inspection of that should determine that possibility if that were the case.


#5

Thanks for your ideas on this. My husband is checking into the various possibilities, so hopefully we will have forward motion soon.