TerryB

Help with Modern Car Problem

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This is a request for help with a modern automobile.  If I was not so desperate I would not waste your time by posting it here so I hope you don’t mind or move it if necessary to a better place.  My wife and I own a 2013 Dodge Caravan with the 3.6 engine.  It’s a wheelchair conversion van to transport me as I am a paraplegic and amputee thanks to a driver that didn’t see me on my motorcycle. 

 

The 2013 Dodge van was purchased in 2014 with 10k miles on it.  The insane problem it has is that the engine will not run without all kinds of missfires and check engine code generation when the outside temperature exceeds 80 degrees.  This is now going on for the start of the fourth summer with yesterday’s malfunction and check engine light signaling the start of it again.  Two years ago the cylinder head was replaced as that was thought to be the issue but that has not stopped the problems.  The car acts as if it’s running on extended choke when restarted from warm.  The engine misses and bucks and has no power but will eventually calm down. This only happens when the outside temp exceeds 75 degrees.  All winter it was fine with zero problems.  

 

Now that the temps here are going on the plus side of 80 it’s starting again and yesterday it did a new twist and began to run extremely rough just cruising down the road at 50 mph.  The car filled with a rich fuel or overheated cat smell and the famous check engine light came on again as usual.  Eventually the engine calmed down and ran ok.  A local non Dodge garage read the code and got an O2 sensor code.  This is a first.  Usually it generates a multiple cylinder misfire code which drives the technician crazy.  The local garage also said there was a momentary misfire on #2 cyl reported that went away.  We had similar problem last year and the Dodge dealer tech said it was bad gas and did nothing more.  So here we are a year later and the problems are starting again in the summer heat.  We have a Chrysler extended warranty on the vehicle but I’m not sure what it’s worth as our dealer has seen the car at least 8 or 10 times in the 4 years we owned it.

 

To recap, it runs rough in 80+ degree heat, the cyl head defect on this engine has been replaced once by Chrysler at the local dealership as well as at least one previous O2 sensor replacements.  Most common code generated is multiple cyl misfires and yesterday was an oxygen sensor code.  This van is my legs, I cannot use something else.  We have a ton of money invested in it due to the ramp / handicap conversion.  The vehicle has 26,000 miles on it now.  I don’t know what to do short of moving to some place where the temps never exceed 60 degrees. 

 

Thank you, Terry

Edited by TerryB (see edit history)

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It does sound like a sensor, but...

First things first, talk to the dealership service manager. If that doesn't help, talk to the general manager.  This should never have gone on this long. 

I've had three members of my family who managed dealerships. They would have been appalled by this.

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Your could have an assortment of problems, its likely a sensor, but it could be a bad ground, or bad reference voltage to a sensor. You need a good tech to figure out the problem, and they are far and few between. Usually a dealership has a "go to" guy for the real tough problems. Get the service manage off to the side in a quiet area, explain your problem and ask him for a recommended Chrysler electronics specialist even if its at another dealer. Usually there will be a very good person in your county. It also could be a module. Crazy things can sometimes occur. Very often with your modified van the conversion could be causing the problem by under volting an overloaded circuit. To be honest, most dealerships run from problems like this. When I had my modern repair shop we specialized  in problems like this, we did it on an hourly basis, with no charge if we didn't fix it, but we also performed such work at about twice the going rate. In fifteen years there was only one car we couldn't fix......a small Ford. The customer actually gave me the car as they gave up on it. We never did figure it out and I had about 60 hours in it. We gave it away to another shop that was also above average in my opinion, and they didn't figure it out either. Since its a power train problem, I would start by disconnecting as much of the cars harness as I could......everything........lights, AC, anything I could disconnect, then I would drive it to see what happens. Sometimes a voltage feedback along a ground will cause a problem like this. There are Flo charts from the factory that should solve the issue, but the person has to do every test...........and most like to skip around on no do the difficult ones, where are you located? In the northeast I know a fantastic guy who will go to you........... Ed

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I’m in PA, about 20 miles east of Hershey.  The dealership’s best tech gave it the bad fuel diagnosis.  I understand the modification may create issues, it’s just so strange it’s an outside air temp sensitive problem.  Drive it at the arctic circle and all is fine!  The most obvious answer is to get rid of it and go even deeper in debt which is a last resort option.  The other thing I hate is the thought of passing this on to some other person who, like me, is in a tough situation and needs a van to get around.  They should not have to go through the problems like we have had on top of all the other issues they have to deal with every day.  I know all too well what that’s like.

 

It took a year of scrimping and saving to get this van in 2014.  My wife and I thought it was the answer to our prayers as I had been housebound for over a year until we got it.  My wife drives as I am unable to do that and she gets rattled when the van acts up knowing we have few if any options to get me home if the van quits.  We have AAA but ask them how they will transport a man in a wheelchair if the car has to be towed.  All they can offer is they won’t let me on the side of the road.

 

I appreciate all the responses so far!

Terry

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8 minutes ago, TerryB said:

The dealership’s best tech gave it the bad fuel diagnosis.

 

I know that one in many service related situations.

 

"OK, go ahead and remove the old fuel and put in new."

"Well, you should do that yourself. Having us do it will cost you a lot."

"That's OK. Put the fuel in and call me when it is ready."

"Ummmm. We might not be able to get to it right away."

"I'll wait."

"But, well, a, you can just run it low and then fill it."

"Nope. I don't want to run anymore bad fuel through it. Drain it and refill for me."

"A.... A......, that might not be all the problem and we might have to fix something else."

" Brilliant, Best Tech, maybe we are getting on the same wavelength."

 

I just paraphrased a situation I had with a national refrigeration "best tech" who told me a problem was caused by a bad belt and sheave. I told him to change it. He said I could cheaper. Silly boy. I bet he still remembers that job.

 

Find the owner of the dealership and drag him out in front. Point to the sign that says Chrysler and tell him that is why you are there and not at the neighbor kid's garage. I have so little tolerance for stupid, but I have so much fun when I encounter it.

Bernie

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Thjis sounds like a problem for the IATN...

IATN is Int'l Auto Tech's Network, a  professional membership only outfit which has a forum to which professional techs post their screwy and weird problem not covered, or poorly covered, by factory TSBs/ manuals,  etc...

You have to question your service people (and maybe ask for some evidence of membership?)...if they say "..oh, no, we have factory reps to consult, we have all the TSBs and Alldata (Alldata doesn't seem to really have All The Data) go somewhere else...

I had a sweet little 4cyl Chev Cavalier wagon (letting it go was dumb!!) that developed an engine-racing problem...went to local shop...replaced sensors...raced...shop sent to their computer specialist...replaced more...raced...(would go 40 with foot off the gas)

shop sent to dealer, gave dealer detailed time log of performance, prior work...they "consulted factory"" said fixed...on way home...yeah, raec. (I don't think they touched it)..

Was lucky enough t0 have friend with relative who modified cars (performance/racing) who coded own car computer systems.....he gave up on it, went to wrecking yard, got three computer inserts (looked like a little comb)...one ran engine fine, but no lights, second everything worked but engine ran poorly altho didn't race, third was charm, everything worked normally. and did until car sold years later...

Computer cars are like

                         " the pretty 'lil.girl, with a pretty 'lil curl, right in the middle of her fore'ed....

                           When she was good, she was very,very good,  but when she was bad, she was horrid...

 

 

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53 minutes ago, TerryB said:

The most obvious answer is to get rid of it and go even deeper in debt which is a last resort option.  

 

Terry, I think that, with all the good advice and referrals

you're getting here, you are much closer to getting the

problem solved.  The difficulty probably isn't unique to

your vehicle, and someone, somewhere has probably

encountered it before.

 

If for some reason you want a different van, isn't there

some place where you could obtain a USED one?

A different make of van--one more reliable, such as a 

Toyota--might make your life easier if you want another one.

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Just went though this with my van.  I replaced all the inexpensive parts first, plugs, wires, coil pack.  Misfire was better but still not gone, I took it to the dealer, mine was a sticky EGR valve.   With 10K it should be under warrantee?

 

Good Luck

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In the world of wheelchair modified vans, Toyota and Honda are priced as fine wine and Dodge is beer.  We had a beer budget when we got the van.  In Dodge defense, we had a 2007 Gran Caravan and a 2008 Caliber that had given good service so the beer priced Dodge did not seem like a big gamble plus the modification was done by a big company in the modification business.  But still there can be issues with any of them due to the extensive mods they go through.

 

Its a dirty little secret in the wheelchair van world that none of them will ever get a JD Power award for reliability.  Everyone we spoke to had some issue with their van.  Some were simple and others were more complex or frustrating like our experience.  What is needed is a purpose built platform for them designed from the ground up to do the job.  A few companies have tried but could not make a profit doing it considering the small volume market it serves.

 

On Monday we are taking it to a small local guy who is well recommended.  Naturally it’s on our dime but who knows, maybe his box of magic tricks will be what we need.

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Your key is 80 degrees. A lot of computerized stuff operates screwy above that temperature. Makes you wonder how any of it functions in an automotive environment. 

 

Also as stated do basic alternator output voltage and amperage checks- with the added electrical load of the ramp and lift, if it's not putting out enough voltage and amperage to operate all this computerized mess, you'll have trouble.

 

Last resort replace the ECM computer. Sometimes they're just bad from the day they were made, and Chrysler seemed to have the worst reliability with them. An uncle had a K-car T&C wagon that behaved much like your van and it was horribly unreliable until he made the dealership change out the ECM. After that, as Ozzy Osbourne said, no more tears.

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Sorry to see you are having problems with your van.

 

I am not sure if the engine in your van is the same 3.6L engine being discussed in this thread or not. I am not an expert but what the poster says makes sense and kind of describes your problem.  You might want to have the shop check to see if your van has the sensor mentioned in this post and see if they can test it somehow.

 

https://www.allpar.com/forums/threads/an-update-rare-pentastar-problem.144259/page-19#post-11300231

 

HTH,

 

Charlie

 

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This may sound stoopid but can you strap an ice pack over the ECM to verify if it is, indeed, an ECM problem?

I would try anything to keep the ECM cool to see if it has an effect.

You would rule out the ECM at least.

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3 minutes ago, cahartley said:

This may sound stoopid but can you strap an ice pack over the ECM to verify if it is, indeed, an ECM problem?

I would try anything to keep the ECM cool to see if it has an effect.

You would rule out the ECM at least.

 

Not stupid but a great test and would be great to rule out the ECM.

 

My first thought was vacuum leak.  Given the 75+ air temp requirement for the problem, it might be a vacuum leak that is only present when something turns on/off because of the ambient temp rise.    bet guys here in the forum will be more helpful trying to pinpoint where the vacuum leak might be.  I don't know much about the systems on that engine. 

 

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6 hours ago, TerryB said:

 We have a Chrysler extended warranty on the vehicle but I’m not sure what it’s worth as our dealer has seen the car at least 8 or 10 times in the 4 years we owned it.

 

I feel for your problems, however with an extended warranty and a check engine light on the dealer MUST FIND THE PROBLEM! As Steve pointed out I would go over everyone's head until you get this resolved. Like you said what is the "warranty worth" My friends and my sons who own Chrysler products seem to get the same run around. The way you described the service (or lack of) from this dealer, I would suspect that whatever the repair is they will make sure it is not covered. I realize that you need the vehicle but it is not doing you any good the way it is, and you could be even creating more damage to it with this condition. It is dangerous for someone who is not physically challenged, even more so for you. My "Bronx" attitude would be all over the phone to get some sort of resolution. It is great that members are pointing you in the right direction, but the technician should be doing this.... bad gas my @$$  

 

Being this is temperature related could it be something as dumb as a faulty thermostat? Just seems like nobody wants to do the job because they can't make any money on it

Good luck!

Edited by John348 (see edit history)

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Some of the things mentioned so far like vacuum or intake leak, temperature sensor, air mass sensor and others was also mentioned by the independent shop I spoke to today.  This is a lot more than the dealer ever brought up in our previous discussions.  I get the impression the independent shop is not under the gun to get it in and out in XX minutes so that the next customer in line is not held up. I hope I can soon get on with this event.  There are others I know facing much bigger life issues than how a car is running so I’m not trying to blow this setback out of real world proportion but when life is giving you lemons I sure hope the resulting yellow juice is really lemonade.

Terry

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Ok........guess, spend money, guess, spend money, guess, spend money........and still have the same problem. An experienced tech uses a diagnostic process to understand the problem, identify the cause, and then make a proper repair. Hooking the car up to a scanner, you can see what event actually causes the system to start running poorly. The machines have “snap shots” in them that are like a black box on an airplane, they hold hundreds of pieces of info for ten seconds before and then during the problem that sets the check engine light, it gives you a place to start looking from. A sensor could be bad, as wall as the wiring, power, resistance to ground, the car could switch to open loop(choke), have a bad purge valve solenoid that opens up a vacuum leak, there are hundreds and even possibly a thousand things to look at and check. Guessing is a fools errand, professionals diagnose issues, and repair them. I have been doing this for a LONG time and am good at it. Truth is it’s probably not too difficult to repair, you just need to find the right guy with the correct skill set. Most likely the car is running poorly because the computer it telling to to...........think about that one for a while........if the computer imputs and peramiters are not correct, the output can’t be correct. Junk in, junk out. 

 

Example............

 

Toyota pick up has no headlights..........

customer installed two new bulbs..........

still no lights........high or low beam.........

bulbs have battery voltage going to the hot side of the socket.........

bulbs have a good ground going to the socket..............

 

thus we have 12 volts into the bulb........

we have a good ground............

and NO lights............

the truck was in five shops that couldn’t fix it, and I was able to determine the problem in less than thirty seconds, from proper education and electrical theory..........having never seen this issue before, I was able to repair it easily from possessing a correct skill set in electrical theory and proper diagnostic procedures...............now anyone want to “guess” what was wrong? Or for that matter use proper diagnostic techniques to tell me what was wrong?  Ed

 

PS: you have all the correct information to properly identify the problem, and the answer is obvious if you understand electrical systems. It is stunningly easy........and my best people in my shop couldn’t figure it out,  I gave it to four “A” techs and they were stumped. 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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15 minutes ago, ArticiferTom said:

Connection on bulb .   Test by removing ground from bulb should have + voltage ...

 

No, the connection to BOTH bulbs at the socket were fine, as were the bulbs.

 

Hint.......electrical theory allowed me to figure out the problem, not actually working on or testing it. All the clues are there, it’s just a unusual problem that is very rarely encountered. I knew what was wrong because almost every mechanic today doesn’t have an electrical engineering or formal electrical theory education. Disclaimer- I’m a finance and economic major in college. But I have taken countless classes from Delco, GM, Honda, Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp, engine control theory, fuel system theory, etc,etc,etc. At one time I held more than 25 certifications in modern automotive repair. (And all of those mean NOTHING without many other things that go along with them.)

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)

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6 minutes ago, ArticiferTom said:

I Am stumped . If you have  + voltage on, out ground it eliminates opens circuit including filaments .

 

🤔

 

You have the answer already, and your close, to be fair experience is what is causing you the problem. The technical answer that you are missing is because of two things..........#1 Not using the scientific method of electrical theory. #2 Most practical experience in the every day world and the tools to service the problem are rarely encountered.  

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Voltage is potential, current is realization of that potential.  If you have the potential but don't have the "flow" then you have an open circuit.  We would create this situation using a dielectric in lab.  I'm not sure how that happened in the Toyota but I am curious.    - maybe the headlight switch is acting like a dielectric.. I'd try replacing the switch.

Edited by Luv2Wrench (see edit history)
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Here is the answer, but it’s not a fair one to give. This symbol is a basic electrical law expressed as a circuit.

E1A2C03D-599D-443B-B591-85E62F8A03C6.png

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More information to be fair.........

 

I use a two thousand dollar Fluke DVOM meter, that’s shielded and used for sophisticated electronic work. Many shops don’t even have a decent meter.......trust me on that one, an oscilloscope should also be in every garage, analog or digital. 

 

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