Car Gauge Needles Move Up & Down When Car Started

I drive a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country with just over 47,000 miles. I noticed that during the last few days, when I start the car, the needles on the fuel, speedometer and temperature gauges go all the way up and then back down. After they finish moving, I then see the engine lights go on and off. Normally, when I start the car, just the engine lights go on and off. The movement of the needles on the gauges is new. This is now happening about every other time I start the car.

The car itself seems to be starting and running just fine. I haven’t noticed any drop off or change in performance. Does anyone know what could be causing this oddity? Is this a warning that something worse is about to happen?


Sometimes funny things happen when a battery is on its way out. Perhaps you should have a load test of the battery and a check of the alternator charging system.

Some newer cars feature this type of action of the gauges when the engine is started. It is sort of like the needles are waving hello. My 2011 Outback has this feature, but it can be turned off, and the gauges can be set by the dealership so that they don’t “do the wave” when the engine is started.

My point is that it is possible that this 2005 Chrysler also has this feature, and that it was reactivated by…an electrical surge from a failing alternator…or a defective body control module…or…God only knows what. My advice is to look in the Owner’s Manual to see if your vehicle has this feature. If it does have that feature, the manual may tell you how to deactivate it, or it may state that you need to visit a dealership in order to deactivate it.

While it is very possible that you have some impending electrical work on this car in the near future, it would be a good idea to dispose of the easy possibilities before you start replacing parts.

I would check ground connections to the engine and body.

My gauges also do this, and like VDC’s, they can be programmed not to.

If you’ve owned the vehicle since new and this is a new phenomenon, you may want to get the battery and charging system checked.

I just returned from a vacation trip where we rented a 2011 Chevrolet Traverse. The speedometer, tachometer, and all the other gauges went to the high end of the scales when the car was started and then returned to the proper position. I don’t think that the battery was on the way out.

On the other hand, when this happened in the 2000 Ford Windstar I once owned, this was an indication of a battery problem.

Actually on most newer cars you can make this happen by holding down the button that resets the trip counter when turning on the ignition. Keep holding the button for about 5 seconds, then release. On Chrysler vehicles, (at least the ones I’ve had), the gauges will go up partway, halfway, then all the way, and all warning lamps will be tested.

I think your gauge cluster is inadvertently entering this test mode, maybe because it’s got a problem, maybe because your battery voltage isn’t all it should be at startup, like VDC and others have said.

It turned out to be the battery. Two days after I posted my question, my car battery completely died. It is now replaced. The gauge needles are no longer acting strangely. Thanks for all the helpful comments.

HAL 64 i have a 1997 Cirrus. The ABS light came on about 2 weeks ago – this is after i drive about 30 yards. The brakes seem to be operation ok and when the light does come on there is no bell or chime sounds to indicate something is wrong. ALSO, the RPM gauge just started to not work. Occasionally it may operate correctly but most of the time it just sits on zero. Any ideas on what the fault or faults are?

Hal, you need to start a new thread.

Digital gauges will make a full sweep when the switch is turned on. They are actually indicators operated by the ECM and not gauges which are either electric D’Arsenval movements or mechanical Bourdon tube instruments.

Hi there! I just got my car fixed they decided to change the started, all it’s goid except that the engine check light turned on and the gauge needles move when I turn off the car it’s not a huge movement but it wasn’t there before, the mechanic said the engine check light it’s not related to it, but it showed up when I got that problem and for the needles thing going on he said that the car might be getting adjust, it just sounds odd what do u think? Thx!

On my old 03 Mustang GT. The gauges would do that when the battery was on the way out. I don’t think it was a design feature, but it happened like clockwork. Usually it would do it for about a week before the battery stopped being able to hold charge.

Edit: I didn’t realize this thread was six and half years old…oops.