1997 dodge grand caravan LE 3.8L
I have a problem where the front and back wipers are not working. The washer fluid works on the front but not on the back. The fuses, relays, wiper motor and rear washer motor are all good. Then while hunting and pecking for a possible bad wire, loose ground etc the lights started acting up. Approximately 5+ years ago the wipers had a mind of their own and the wiper motor was replaced and they worked until now. The wiper motor was replaced this time but didn’t resolve the problem. The headlights and interior lights stay on but with interior light dial in the on position and I turn the high beams on then off the low beams go off. Then if I turn the dial for interior light all the way down to turn them off the low beams come back on and this is without the headlight switch being on and I’ve switched out the relays but when the low beams are off if you tap the the low beam relay they come on. When it was bought Dodge put in an alarm but it was still considered an aftermarket. A friend took the alarm out (wanted it out anyway) thinking it might be part or all of the problem and when he did the wipers started working. When he had to leave I was cleaning up and thought oh I want to see those wipers work, I’ve waited so long and… they don’t work. I checked today to see if anything was different and while leaving the wiper switch on they came on twice during maybe a 15 minute time period. Also if you take the wire harness for the wipers and pull it apart then just slightly touch it together the wipers come on temporarily. If you take a light probe and touch the green /white wire you hear the relay click. After you hear the relay click and then slightly touch the wire harness again the wipers will come on. When you touch the wire and the relay clicks it stays that way for 7 seconds and then clicks off and touching the wire harness after that the wipers won’t work until the grn/wh wire is touched again. Most people lean towards a bad wire/ground and a few lean towards the bcm. My mom (it’s her van) is 75 with diabetes and other health issues and I’m totally disabled after a very bad work related accident so money is non existent which means we can’t afford a mechanic. There’s some things I can do/check myself but with my injuries and serious chronic pain I’m sort of limited to what I can do and how long I can do it. I know it’s a crazy one and others have had sort of the same problems but none of their fixes have worked. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!
1997 dodge grand caravan LE 3.8L
You’ve describe a number of problems. Suggest you tell us which is the number one priority problem you need help on.
Multifunction switch on steering column is probably bad.
You might also try forums specific for your van, such as
Yeah, I’m leaning toward the multifunction stalk myself.
The rear washer fluid not working could be a separate reservoir. I know on the 80’s and early 90’s Caravans there was a separate fill port for the rear wiper - not sure if they changed that by the time yours rolled off the line, but it’s worth checking. The fill port on the old ones was on the left side under the tailgate.
A rear wiper problem might also be a disconnected hose or blocked hose. I had an issue like that with my Olds Silhouette. There was only one fluid reservoir on our car.
I had similar strange symptoms: when switching from dims to brights and back the wipers would run. I removed and took apart the multifunction switch. Inside was coated with translucent grease. I wiped it clean and used electronics parts cleaner spray on the contacts, then used a little Sil-Glide just in spots where friction would occur. Reinstalled and it’s worked fine for years now.
Tried a brand new multifunction switch didn’t fix the problem. The back wiper and washer work when I put a power probe on them so not bad. The 2 problems I have are wipers and lights so those are the only ones I need to fix. Most people seem to be leaning towards a bad ground /wire. The wipers at first were the only problem and while looking around at wires and checking relays etc all of a sudden the lights started acting up. Why would the lights start, is there a common place where they’re grounded or something like that, could the power distribution center go bad? I also tried new relays and checked fuses also not the problem.
Just to let people know there was finally a fix. The back wiper problem, the one I wasn’t really worried about, was fixed when the BCM was replaced to see if it would fix the other problems. In the end to fix the front wipers and the lights it was the PDC(Power Distribution Center) fuse box in the engine compartment. The problem with that being the problem is that Dodge doesn’t make them for this year anymore and there are no aftermarket ones made either. The person who FINALLY figured it out ended up trying I believe 7 or 8 used ones before they got one that worked. Whew!!!
Those electronic modules they use now have a good-side to them, but when they fail it can make it a very difficult problem to find a way to fix the broken car if the module is no longer made. Often there’s simply no work around solution if you can’t find a replacement module. And that’s just for a 1997 Dodge, 20 years old is all. Contrast that situation with a 1967 Ford Mustang, 50 years old. Or a 1967 VW Beetle. All the parts for those cars are still easily available, or an easy-peasy work-a-round solution is possible. No impossible to find electronics modules to worry about. The module problem may mean the death of classic cars restoration, eventually.
Did you keep your old one?
My imperfect memory says they are now in a ‘re-store’ status where the old ones can be restored by reheating/soldering the connections.
[Edit: the above was in response when a PCM replacement was indicated.]
I have been discussing that very problem with my circle of car-friends. THAT problem description is right on the money!
The 67 Mustang is rebuildable nearly forever. That 1997 mini-van is not.
Electronics do age out. Specifically capacitors and other components that fail after 20 years. Old stock-brand new controllers will not fix that problem as they, too, now have bad capacitors. Or traces on 4 or 6 layer circuit boards that fail with repeated heat cycles that cannot be reached for repair. The cars then are basically “bricked” at some point unless they are popular enough to have someone take the time and spend the money to reverse engineer a solution.
This will only get worse with later model cars as they have more ECU’s that are far more interconnected than cars form the 90’s. It is a serious issue for car collectors as well as people who keep their cars for 20+ years.
Cars are going through the natural evolution of all things electro-mechanical. They started out as curiosities for the well to do and have been morphing ever since into a utilitarian machine with a finite lifespan by design. Nobody fixes stereos or TVs anymore and one day, no one will fix cars beyond an initial point. They will be ground up and recycled much more readily than they even are today. That, or you just won’t own one and instead call one up on your cell-phone like device when you need a lift. I know, this is heresy on a car based site but the reality is, the days of cherishing a ride for decades may be coming to a close for all but the most stalwart…
Yeah, my mom desperately wants an older vehicle that doesn’t have 100 sensors and 25 computers, etc etc etc (exaggeration of course, for now anyway). I think I would rather do a work around or even go so far as a machine shop than deal with a 3000lb computer on wheels.
When I asked for the old one they said they didn’t have it any more. My thought exactly was to bring it home and see if the solder points etc could be redone especially since dodge has had a history of bad solder points. I keep thinking I’ll get to a pull a part or somewhere and get one because I’d really like to know if they would be at least fairly easy to fix.
Chrysler may not offer some older PCMs because there are aftermarket units available for much less than new. However I see Mopar remanufactured units and aftermarket reman. units to be available, unless this is an unusual configuration like an all wheel drive with California emissions.
I made a correction to the finally fixed post. I had originally put that the fix was replacing the PCM(Power Control Module) but I have corrected it and put the fix was replacing the PDC (Power Distribution Center) where the fuses and relays are in the engine compartment. Sorry about the mix up!!!