Chrysler Pt Cruiser possessed, please help

I have 2006 Pt. Cruiser Touring with 150,000 miles on it. It has been well cared for with oil changes, tire rotations, tune ups, and preventative maintenance done regularly.

My problem is this. Sometimes when I drive the vehicle, all the warning lights on the dash board will light up, and all the gauges go dead. But the car keeps running and does not decelerate or lose power. The lights shut off within 3-6 seconds, with the seat belt lights being the last to go out. I have paid over $600 dollars for 6 hook ups to the computer at the dealer with no codes showing. I have just replaced the belts, cam & crank sensors, spark plugs, spark plug wires, battery, alternator, hoses, water pump, timing belt, and it still does this. This morning when driving to an appointment, it did this again 3 times within 5 minutes. I had activated the cruise control when it did this. When I turned the cruise control off, it did not do it again. But in the past, this has happened when I was not using the cruise control. And it happens at all speeds, 60, 20, 35, or 40 MPH. What is wrong with my car. I am not happy and am poor because of all the repairs that I have paid for within the year to fix this problem.

That is a tough nut to crack, mu first thought is replacing the instrument cluster, but my second thought is cleaning connections, If it was my car I would start with cleaning and inspecting all connections, If I had to hire a mechanic to do that I could probably not afford it,

You would have to get a wiring diagram and then start to trace the wires. Its not in the engine at all but in the instrument cluster or wires feeding it. Short or something. No point fixing anything on the engine, its just an electrical glitch. If you have someone in the area that specializes in electrical problems, that would be the place to go or the dealer. Just in my humble opinion anyway.

I’d be looking for a bad ground somewhere. The cruise control issue is interesting. Depending on where the main switch is, I would try and understand the wiring there because the power going to something near there is not getting to ground, but instead is getting into the instrument pod, and going through the gauges and lights to ground.

All good suggestions, I was thinking about the ignition switch (not the key switch, but the electrical box it controls). It sounds as if the dash is going into turn car off mode, then car on mode randomly. Could be a loose wire at or inside the switch.

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When this happens, you might try thumping on the dashboard. If this makes the warning lights go back off, you probably have a bad connection on solder joint in the dashboard. When my son was in college, his car was totaled and the insurance company of the party that hit his car furnished him with a rental–a Dodge Shadow. I was riding with my son in the Shadow and the warning lights all went on. I said something to my son and he thumped the dashboard and the warning lights went off. He is not mechanically inclined, but his method worked.

This sounds like a BUS communication problem. There are up to eight modules on this car communicating on two wires, when the bus wires become shorted or disconnected you will get the zombie display on the instrument cluster. The instrument cluster relies on data over the Bus for gauges and select warning lights.

With the malfunction duration being so short it will be difficult to diagnose this. If I had to guess I would suspect the TIPM (Totally Intergrated Power module) is the problem. It is probably an internal malfunction but check the cable connection first (power supply).

Have there been any collision repairs on this vehicle? Does it have an aftermarket radio?

If you have a trip counter button on the instrument cluster, you can try to reset the cluster and see if this helps. If you turn on the ignition with the button held down–hold it for at least 5 seconds or until something starts to happen, it should put the cluster into its ‘self-test’ mode. All of the gauges will sweep through their scales and all lights on the cluster will be tested. This should have the effect of resetting the cluster. If it won’t go into test mode or dies partway through, it’s a pretty good guess that the cluster has a problem.

Sometimes the computer loses the programming and has to be flashed. Sometimes this fixes all the problems, sometimes the computer is brain dead or has been damaged by lightning.

Dump this shop. Go to a real shop. It is obvious that the mechanics are not taking a moment to think THROUGH the problem, or else have no idea how the systems in the car are laid out. A good mechanic LISTENS to the customer. The customer will tell the mechanic what the problem is - sometimes prodded by the right questions. A good mechanic never assumes that a solution to a problem is the same solution that appeared to work on the last several problems. A good mechanic will take what the customer told him, use his own knowledge of the car, the systems and mechanics, and then THINK his way toward a solution. Usually, a good mechanic can think his way to a solution faster and cheaper than all that high priced equipme that was not designed to be an alabaster short-cut.

Years ago (like 20 years ago) I had a 1983 Ford Escort that did the exact same thing. Eventually found out the negative battery cable was just a little loose and was losing continuity with the the vibration of the car on the highway. Gas station attendant found it for me. I felt like a complete moron.

Its not the most scientific approach in the world, but its an easy check that won’t take but a minute to rule out.

Okay, the memory was flashed last year. I took the time to write everything down that I could remember for symptoms and what has been repaired or replaced within the last couple of years. I took it to another dealership, after about a day of diagnosis, they said that it was the ignition switch. So far they have my car for 3 days and said it would be ready this afternoon. But why do I not feel assured that the problem is corrected?

Were you able to demonstrate the problem for the service dept?

I showed them the lights when you start. And described that that is what’s happening when it does it. So far, it is still not complete, but I am assured that it will be done today.

Check the plug on the ignition switch for loose pins. You have to take the plastic covers off of the steering column. The wires coming out of the ignition switch are pointed directly at the steel dash frame and can fray and short there or the pins in the plug can get loose. You can fix the pins by gently prying them together with a small screwdriver. What you are seeing is the dash cluster going through the power up sequence as power is repeatedly removed and restored.

I used to know a woman who owned an Audi TT that was plagued with a host of electrical/electronic glitches (what a surprise!) The one that the “factory-trained” mechanics at the Audi dealership were never able to resolve was the tendency for the windshield wipers to–intermittently, and unpredictably–not activate when they were switched on.

After their umpteenth unsuccessful repair attempt, one of the mechanics took her aside and explained the sure way to get her Audi’s wipers to work when she needed them:
He showed her the exact place on the left side of the dashboard that she had to whack with all of her might.

Guess what?
It worked!
I guess that this was a “factory-approved” approach to the problem.

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We’re wasting our time

Charlie Cole reopened a 4 year old discussion, and OP never told us if the ignition switch fixed it, anyways

I agree with all the others . . . it’s way too easy to open dead and buried discussions, and the end result is that everybody wastes their time

I love this website, but that is a weakness/flaw, as far as I’m concerned

I’m not wasting my time, after reviewing this thread I did some house work and right now I’m watching Columbo. It is up to each member how they manage their time, one regular has been responding to threads up to 7 years old despite his policy that others should not do so.

Well, excuse me, in that case . . . I hope you didn’t take my response in a bad way, but it didn’t really sound like it, IMO

Now, as for that regular that responds to 7 year old discussions, despite telling us not to do so . . .

“Do as I say, not as I do” . . . or something along those lines


Columbo, I love that show. I’ll have to look to see what channel its on and when. Too dang many channels. I really like Monk too and
Charlie Chan was one of my favorites on Friday night as a kid.

I just wish he would fix that dent on his car door though. It bothers me to have a classic and not take care of it.