Son's van is giving multiple warning lights that come and go - vehicle dies

Messages
4,432
Location
Connecticut
Thread starter
Trying to give some ideas to my son. First the ABS warning light came on. Then the check engine and engine oil warning lights. Then they went away and everything was fine for a few miles. Then they came back again in similar sequence. These lights are flashing, not steady. He stopped the vehicle...then it wouldn't start or even engage the starter. Just had the head lights available. A short while later he tried again and it started....warning lights were gone. This sequence repeated again. Warning Lights Flashing. Car won't start again. Didn't say if he turned it off or the car stalled out. Sounds like an intermittent ground on the electrical system. Maybe corrosion in the battery lines/grounding. He did say one of the door panels was just removed for some work. Maybe that left an exposed wire or a strained wire that's grounding the electrical system at times....dropping the voltage and/or current. comments? It's a 2002 Dodge Caravan.
 
Last edited:
Messages
2,700
Location
USA
If the starter doesn't turn (it may click, but it doesn't make that "car trying to start" sound) when you turn the key, check for bad connections at the battery.
 
Last edited:
Messages
4,432
Location
Connecticut
Thread starter
I told him to check anything going to and from battery to alternator and/or grounding...especially corrosion or bare wires. He said every connection was sealed or taped. He wandered into one of the auto retail places and they all jumped on alternator failing. Which makes sense since they'd like to sell him a new alternator. Currently the car is driving around fine. I told him not to turn it off until he gets where he's going. It could also be a heat related issue stressing a weakened or aged electrical system as it's 100 deg F today where he's at. The two times he turned the car off - it wouldn't restart right away. He had to wait a bit. Heat? And in each case he heard nothing from the starter engaging the flywheel and cranking the engine.
 
Last edited:
Messages
253
Location
KS
Check and double check all the grounds. I had a loose negative cable on my battery a while back, the dash lights would randomly light up then the car would die. Battery and alternator tested fine. I tightened the negative cable and it has never done it again. Your situation sounds suspiciously similar.
 
Messages
858
Location
Alberta
Battery issues can cause all kinds of crazy sensor issues. My bet is a plate in the battery is separating when hot. As it cools, connections are re-established and the van starts.If you can change the battery with another and try it, it might save the cost of buying a new one to confirm.
 
Messages
4,432
Location
Connecticut
Thread starter
Actually, he told me they had just put a new battery in the van. But checking all the connections makes sense. He did verify all the top connections were clean and tight.
 
Messages
2,700
Location
USA
New parts aren't necessarily good. When it won't start you need to use a voltmeter to see where the voltage is being lost.
 
Messages
2,941
Location
Cincinnati
Check chassis grounds on the negative side. My car was flashing dash lights, alt and battery checked out fine. Found a broken cable, fixed it, all is well.
 
Messages
40
Location
Upstate NY
Had a similar problem with an 04 with the 3.8L. Positive battery cable looked fine at the connector, but was terribly corroded at the crimp. So much so that about half of the strands had snapped. Same sort of thing - random lights and then stopping dead while driving. Every couple of years I'd have to cut a bit off the ends and install one of those "repair" cable jumpers as the cable would be too short to reach the top of the battery. [Linked Image]
 
Messages
8,295
Location
Virginia
Originally Posted by mk378
New parts aren't necessarily good. When it won't start you need to use a voltmeter to see where the voltage is being lost.
Great point ^^^^^^^^ I had a hoopty Doo brand new alternator fail within literally 10 miles... Car died on the way to my lady's family house.
 
Messages
2,115
Location
Texas
Originally Posted by tcp71
Battery issues can cause all kinds of crazy sensor issues. My bet is a plate in the battery is separating when hot. As it cools, connections are re-established and the van starts.If you can change the battery with another and try it, it might save the cost of buying a new one to confirm.
Originally Posted by 69GTX
Actually, he told me they had just put a new battery in the van. But checking all the connections makes sense. He did verify all the top connections were clean and tight.
Just because the battery is "new" doesn't mean that it isn't defective. I have seen this sort of thing before. Don't dismiss this possibility.
 
Top