Failure of dash indicators

The dashboard display on my 1998 Chrysler Town and Country fails intermittently. There are no readings for Fuel, Oil Temperature, speed or odometer. This condition comes and goes. My mechanic has tried every thing he knows and now says he has to replace the entire system for $300 is it worth it?

As I recall, a fairly common problem with Chrysler mini-vans of that era is failure of some of the soldering in the instrument cluster. I recall that there is a company that specializes in refurbishing these clusters, but, since you have to ship the cluster to them, you would have no instruments for…probably…a couple of weeks until it is returned and your mechanic can reinstall it. It is probably more practical to just spend the $300 for your own mechanic to do the entire job.

This is a common problem for your car and $300 to repair it is a fair price. The instrument cluster needs to be removed and sent out to repair failing solder joints. Don’t replace your cluster with a used unit, you won’t know what you’re getting.

$300 seems a very good deal to me for this. It must be a whole lot of unpleasant work for the mechanic to remove and replace this stuff. If you can get it done for $300, I say go for it.

Broken solder joints on printed circuit boards in cars seems to be a fairly common thing. It happens because the material the PCB is made of doesn’t expand due to thermal stress the same as the metal traces and the force eventually cracks and breaks the solder joint. You might ask, why doesn’t this happen in your computer then? Well, for one reason, a computer isn’t subjected to the temperature ranges and rate of temperature changes and jostling that recur time and time again in a daily driver car.

It seems that this problem is due to a intermittent power supply connection to those things you mentioned. The trouble could very well be from poor internal solder connections but before sending the cluster out for repair I would want to verify that by checking the power input connection while the trouble is occurring to verify that is the case. If you are at least a little experienced in soldering you might even try resoldering the power connection yourself. Another option might be to get a used replacement from a salvage yard.