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New Reatta Foibles


Guest Stephen Lyons
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Guest Stephen Lyons

I have very recently acquired my first Reatta, an extremely well cared for example with just 73K on the odometer.<P>Now I am familiar with the pitfalls of owning semi-exotic automobiles - I presently have four Chrysler TC's, & am an active member of TC America, the national organization for these. I have an application for BCA's Reatta Division submitted already.<P>Anyway, having mastered most of the quirks & lore of the TC, now I'm going to have to start all over at the bottom of the learning curve for the Reatta - & this one, well maintained as it appears to be, does have<BR>some minor problems, I believe.<P>First, whenever I set the turn signal either right or left, both dashboard indicators flash as if the hazard signal had been activated. There is also a chime that sounds, although this is not mentioned in the Owner's Manual. The turn signals themselves seem to be working properly, though.<P>Second, there seems to be no dashboard illumination. The digital displays<BR>all work fine, but the rows of buttons controlling the lights & wipers & so<BR>forth are not backlit as I might have expected (although there are some orange indicator lights on some that seem to be dimly lit); especially I would have expected that the shift indicator to be backlit. I wasn't able to tell which, if any, of the fuses might be the one to pull & check; I suppose I could pull them all in a process of elimination.<P>In any event, any advice or experience in these areas that anyone can relate in these areas will be appreciated.

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Guest Stephen Lyons

My bad on the meagre description of the vehicle - it's an '88, base model with no options(I have the sticker)- the VIN for those who track them is 1G4EC11C2JB902775, Pewter gray with a light gray interior (no suede)........<P>Re: the Shop Manual, I have been bidding, but there're going at awfully elevated levels right now. I did just pick up the 16 page electrical diagnostic booklet which may help.

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Guest Stephen Lyons

I have searched the site for references to the dash backlighting - my problem is that I am not familiar with terms like BCM, wake-up cycle, or how to access the dagnostic mode, & so forth. I'm really lost at sea here, this car is brand new to me & I really haven't a clue on which way to jump to start assessing my problem.

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Hi Stephen:<BR>Well let me see if I can help you a little. Frist, welcome. I was a comptroller for a Chrysler Plymouth dealership when the TC's were new. Our GM refused to take any, but we had to order and pay for all the special tools and shop manuals which ended up being "tossed" when the we went out of business. I only saw one TC in person. Neat car, but I thought for the price, it had too many items that looked like they came off an Acclaim. I wondered off the subject abit, so let me get back on track. As far as the arrows both blinking at the same time, I don't know what is causing that, but if the signals are working correctly, that's a good sign. The chime is normal. That's what the turn signals and flashers sound like. As far as the dash lights. The switches in the 88 and 89 Reatta can cause what you have described. Frist, make sure the dash dimmer switch is fully turned on. Move the switch fully to the right till the dome lights turn on. Back off to the left until the dome lights turn off. With key on press the fog light switch. If the dash lights are working, then they should be on. Of course it must be dark before you can see them. If they are on with the fog light switch, then the headlight switch is most likely the culprit. I cleaned my connections by taking the small straw that comes with the WD40 can and spraying a very small amount between the off, parking, and headlight buttons while pressing them off and on. Many have called me to task for using the WD40, but it works for me. Others have used contact cleaner, but I don't because some of the cleaners, not all but some, are very caustic to plastic. If the dash lights light up with the fog lights, the spraying of the headlamp switch almost always works. Now, if the panel lights do not work with the fog lights, then the problem is much more serious. Most, not all, but most of the dash lights are VFD's and require inverters to make them work. There are two. One up in the far reaches of the dash and one in the console. In addition there is a photocell on top of the dash that also controls the dash lights funtions, sometimes this item goes bad. As pointed out in another post, a shop manual is a very important item to have. I bought mine new for about $90 from Helm Inc. It is worth every penny. Like the TC's, the Reatta is a very rare car, most dealerships have never seen one, having a manual helps you understand how the car functions so you are one up on the service tech. The Reatta is a very complex machine. Computers control just about everything. The ECM controls engine functions. The BCM (Body Computer) controls just about everything else. Then there is the Climate Control Module which works with the BCM which in turns works with the ECM for A/C and heat/defrost. Don't forget about the ICP computer in the console which controls the television screen on the dash, again works with the BCM. Then there is the ABS computer in the trunk which controls the ABS part of the brakes. Now you see why it is so important to have the manual. In regard to the lights on the shifter, those are electrolum. panels, again controlled by the power inverter in the console. If it is burned out, it can not be repaired. As I understand, the part is NLA. Perhaps you can find an operating one from a junked car. The Rivera is the same part. If you buy enough of them, you might find one that works. My car has 120,000 miles the shifter panel does still function. I hope I was able to help you some. Maybe other forum members may have some other suggestions. Howard

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Guest Stephen Lyons

Thanks, Howard, for the start here - I was getting very frustrated without any reference material in trying to solve what really ought to be a minor problem, but is looming as a major, tear up the car, search & destroy mission to correct. In any event, the fog lamp switch does not activate the dashboard backlighting, either, so I suppose the next step might be to locate the inverter & R&R it. I'm inclined, though, to check the connections to the BCM (which somebody did tell me privately what & where that is) first - your remark about the light sensor also sounds like a likely possibility to me. Is that hard or easy to get to? Anyway, sounds like I'll be soon scrounging my local wrecking yards for a Riviera just like I've been for for years looking for appropriate K-car derivatives to score parts for my TC's.

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Guest Stephen Lyons

Actually, to add on to my last post,I don't think the light sensor is the problem, at least if it also governs disablement of the dimming of the electronic displays. They won't respond to the dimming control in daylight, but will in semi-darkness, which suggests to me that some photo electric device somewhere is working.

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If <span style="font-weight: bold"><span style="font-style: italic">both</span></span> sets of glow lights (panel and console) do not work, it is not likely that both inverters & panels are bad, would look first to a single point failure like the 12vdc feed to the inverters or the photocell. Either single failure can do what you see.<P>As mentioned you need the 88 Manual to troubleshoot - I *think* it is in section 8A-101 (close if not exactly there).

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Guest Stephen Lyons

Reply to "padgett" -<P>My analysis is the same as yours, I was also doubting that both inverters were bad & as I said in my earlier post, there does seem to be power going to the photocell, as it seems to be working to regulate when you can dim the digital displays. If there is a single 12vdc feed to the inverters then, my question would be is it fused, & if so where?

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If I'm reading my 89 shop manual correctly, the fuses involved are 1, 5, and 10. Frankly, I don't think the fuses are the problem. I think other items on the car would not work. Check the grounds. Again, if I'm reading this thing correctly, there are only two grounds that affect the instrument panel and it's lighting. Ground panel in engine compartment, upper right hand shroud near and above the battery. Make sure all the grounds in that box are tight and clean. The other grounds are on the right side under drivers seat. Water could have rusted these connections. Check connections to the BCM as you stated. The BCM is behind the upper RH side of the dash. You will have to take the glove compartment out the reach this. Next thing to check are the connections to the CPS (Central Power Supply). I have never seen this thing, so I have no idea what it looks like. It is suppose to be on the LH side of dash, right of the steering column. Next item is the Console Electo Luminescent Inverter, located in the console behind the ash tray. This controls the shift lighting and the lighting for the mirror, power window control. The Instrument Panel Electro Luminescent Inverter is located in the upper LH side of the dash next to the shroud. A very long reach. I have no way of telling you how to check the components to tell if they are bad. I find it hard to believe that both inverters are bad. I would bet a ground is bad some where. To test the photo cell, its located on top of the dash. One sensor is sun load sensor for the A/C, the other is the photo cell. In the daylight, place a piece of cardboard over the top of the dash with fog lights on (key must be on). The speedo, and CRT should be dim. Take the cardboard off with lights still on, the speedo and CRT should be bright after about a minute or less. Thats about all I can offer you in terms of help. Lets us know if you get the lights working. If all else fails, walk away, come back in a week and everything will be working fine. LOL. Can you believe all these NASA like devices,photo cells, inverters, CPS's, just to light up a few buttons! Howard<BR> shocked.gif" border="0<p>[ 03-28-2002: Message edited by: Howard ]

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