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I have a 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan that likes to stall at slow and intermediate speeds. While driving highway speeds the van loses power suddenly and the tachometer flies downward by about 1000 RPM, the check engine light flashes on and then the RPM goes back up and the check engine light goes off. No codes are present. Initially I took it in and the mechanic (not dealership) said it was storing a code for the camshaft sensor, which he replaced. Problem did not go away, went back and had the fuel pump and filter replaced, still not fixed. I have searched high and low and even shelled out $20.00 to access the Chilton manual online and still don't know what is wrong. Even now the van is in the shop again and the mechanic said yesterday "Don't know what to tell you" because he couldn't replicate the problem in the five minutes he drove it. Last week it stalled out and would not start, which is when they replaced the fuel pump for a second time and added the new filter. Now it runs but the same problem is still there. The van ALWAYS will stall while idling from a cold start and a lot of times even when the engine is warm, sometimes right away, sometimes 10 minutes or so later. I read a TSB on Chilton that makes me think it could be the crankshaft sensor, but I am not a mechanic and am going off other people's assessments and stuff I could find on the internet. Can anybody help? I have also seen stuff that makes me think it could be the MAP sensor. I have a family and we are a one-income household, I can't afford to keep shelling out money (on credit) to replace parts that don't fix the problem. My wife takes the van on an hour and a half trip every week to take my son to vision therapy and I wouldn't be able to take off work if she broke down (and no way to get her if she did). If anyone can help I will gladly build a statue of you in my front yard from old wood chips and pine straw.
 

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Tough to say for sure because there are several reasons why cars stall. You've pretty much eliminated one in the fuel pump, considering you've had it changed twice. At the top of my list would be what's on your mind, the crankshaft sensor. Starting in 97, the cam sensor is used to establish a reference at start up. Thereafter it's used as a comparator to the crankshaft signal. If a code is set for a camshaft sensor, in reality it could be the crankshaft sensor that is failing and visa versa for the crankshaft code. Shops will generally change both sensors if one code is set. I would inspect the crank sensor's harness and connection for chaffed wires and corrosion. If all is well then I'd change the sensor. Testing probably won't reveal anything considering the intermittent nature of the problem. It's a comparatively easy and cheaper ($40) part to change.

http://www.autozone.com/shopping/repairGuide.htm?pageId=0900c1528003c4f6

It sounds like you may know how to do the key dance to get the codes. When it happens keep trying to get the code. Autozone and other auto stores will do free scans to get codes.
 

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Add to the list of possibilities the IACV (idle air control valve, also known as the idle control motor) and the TPS (throttle position sensor). These live on the throttle body of your intake and can, if failing, cause the ECU to get confused and your van stall.
 

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Add to the list of possibilities the IACV (idle air control valve, also known as the idle control motor) and the TPS (throttle position sensor). These live on the throttle body of your intake and can, if failing, cause the ECU to get confused and your van stall.
If inclined, the Autozone site has instructions on how to test the IAC valve and TPS.
 

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If inclined, the Autozone site has instructions on how to test the IAC valve and TPS.

I should add if the stalling is happening with the throttle open as it appears to be, I would shy away from the Idle Air Control valve (IAC). The Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) is a candidate.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the info, here's the update

Well the mechanic tells me that if it were the crankshaft sensor a code should be stored, which there isn't. He replaced the Auto Shutdown Relay to no avail, fortunately that was only $26.00. My next step is going to be the crankshaft sensor. I found a TSB which discusses the same thing that was posted her about crankshaft sensor and camshaft sensor being able to malfunction and send a code for the other sensor. Initially when this all started I DID have a camshaft sensor code in the computer which makes me think it is the crankshaft sensor after reading that bulletin. I have also seen some stuff that says the EGR could be the culprit. I am going to have to wait until payday then try to do the crankshaft sensor, I will advise if that is the key or not.
 

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1996 Town & Country LXI doing the same

Seems as I have the same issue. My 1996 3.8L T&C will stall when cruising, pulling a hill, or idling, it doesn't seem to matter. It idles and runs as smooth as glass otherwise. It is completely random and doesn't seem to react to bumpy roads vs. smooth ones. It has not set a code so I'm in the dark. It happened to my wife at first as she was idling aroud a corner at the time. It restarted for her right away so I attributed it as a fluke. It did not happen again for a few weeks when the same happened to me. I was rolling down the road at about 40 and had my foot on the gas just rolling along. The tach went to 0 and the engine stopped just as if I'd turned the key off. Prior to this it was running perfectly smoothly. I put it in neutral, still rolling and it cranked right over. Put it in drive and it was like nothing had happened. All was well for a few weeks more then the poo hit the fan. We were on a 45 minute drive to another town and It stalled halfway there, cranked in neutral, no joy so pulled over and stopped. Cranked again, nothing, just the starter. I disconnected the battery, waited a minute or so, reconnected and it started right up. This happened again and It restarted without disconnecting the battery this time. I opened the hood and started tapping on the fuel pump relay and the other relays and fuses in the underhood box ,looking for something intermittent to no effect. In front of that fuse box is a large aluminum module, have not researched what it is yet. It has 2 very large multi-pin connectors going to it. I found when I tap on that module the engine almost dies. I shut it down, unhooked the battery, pulled the connectors and looked for corrosion or the like but they are super clean. Reconnected and it seemed OK for awhile then did it again. We finally made it where we were going and parked it for 2 hours. When we took the trip home, no problems at all. I replaced the complete fuel pump / sending unit 30,000 miles or so ago which was noisy and obviously failing, and causing a similar problem to this one. The van has 197,000 miles on it now. Trying not to shotgun parts. Any Ideas??
 

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Sounds like a classic cam crank sensor scenario but this silver box is throwing a big ? at that. By the "underhood box" I'll assume you're talking about the Power Distribution Center (PDC) since that's where the fuses and relays are housed under the hood. You say there's a large aluminum module on front of the PDC. On 4th generation vans (01-07) there's a unit called a front control module attached to the front of the PDC. No such animal on your 3rd generation (96-00) van. Directly to the right of your PDC attached to the drivers side fender liner is the Powertrain Control Module (PCM). It's silver with big connectors. Should see 10 metal tangs lined up on the top. Could this be what you're talking about? The PCM is the engine's brain.

If that's the case, wiggle the harness and connectors with the engine running and see if you can induce your stall. You may have a wire that's coming loose from it's pin or a chaffed wire in the harness. I'm glad to see you disconnected the battery before disconnecting the connections. Some pay the price for not following that practice.

If your silver box is not the PCM can you post a picture of it?
 
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