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Discussion Starter #1
Several days ago, I began hearing random warning chimes while driving 2008 Grand Caravan. The chimes stopped, and I thought nothing further of it. Yesterday however, my whole dashboard warning light area lit up like Christmas tree: practically every warning light, the PRNDL letters, speedo and radio behaving erratically, windshield wipers on even though the switch is off, etc. This continued for a few moments, then stopped, then happened again, several times during the course of my fifteen mile drive to work. Later on the way home, no problems, like nothing had ever happened. Searching the internet, I've discovered that others have experience similar difficulties, the culprits variously being
  • weak battery
  • alternator problems
  • wiring/short circuit in the drivers door or in the rubber boot between drivers door and the under-dash or computer area
  • software issues
Anyone have any experience with anything like this? It has to be addressed, of course. Do-it-yourself troubleshooting? An issue for the dealer (pricey, no doubt)? My reliable local mechanic? Trying to decide how best to proceed.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you can share.
 

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If you have a multimeter, you can test your electrical system fairly easily. With the vehicle off, a good battery will have a charge of approximately 12.5V. If it's below 12, I'd consider replacement (based on the remaining test). Have an assistant start the vehicle. With no electrical load (turn off the radio, lights, etc.), the battery should now read 14.5V (+/- .5V). Once you verify this voltage, have your assistant turn on the headlights. You will see a momentary drop in voltage from the battery, and then the engine will pick up speed to get the alternator to handle the additional load demand. The voltage should return to roughly what it was before the electrical load was increased.

If the battery is below 12V, go get a new one (or even better, take the battery to get it bench tested). If the alternator isn't providing enough power for the battery, take it to get it bench tested. Replace the defective component (neither is overly complicated in theory). If you have the 3.3L/3.8L, the alternator is on the top front of the engine, so it's pretty easy to get to.
 

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Based on cruising forums for nearly 10 years it boils down to the battery as stated, TIPM (fuse box), EVIC (instrument cluster), battery connections, battery cables, especially the cable connecting the battery to the TIPM, or a loose ground. Might try a tap/shake test in the TIPM area and battery cables to induce the problem. Most places will connect test equipment and troubleshoot IF THEY CAN SEE THE PROBLEM, otherwise they can do little.
 

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My wife's van had a similar issue about 2 months ago. It ended up being the right sliding door harness that was replaced under recall had chafed and shorted to the body. It ended up taking the TIPM with it. Luckily, the dealer warrantied the repairs due to the recalled part experiencing the same failure that caused the recall in the first place. Good luck with your issue. I hope your TIPM survives. I was told by the dealer that the repairs would have cost in the ballpark of $1200 if they hadn't covered it.
 

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We had a similar issue with our 2004 GC. The battery was weak and caused everything to go haywire. We never found out what was drawing on the battery before we got rid of the van last year.

Our speedometer needle ended up going all the way around the gauge and getting stuck under the little arm that usually holds it up when not moving. We went a few weeks with it trying to indicate speed but being held back by the little arm. Eventually it did come back to normal after the dash went nuts a second time.
 
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