Jim Grant's Tech Tips
Dodge Dakota, No Instrument Cluster
a 97 Dodge Dakota. I placed a battery charger on it for 24 hours
at 2 amps. I came out and started it and it seems as though I shorted
out the instrument cluster on the dash. All my fuses and relays are okay.
I have power to the cluster on the right side, however everyone I speak
to thinks the problem is located somewhere else. The brake light and the
ABS lights come up on the cluster, however nothing else will work. None
of the gauges, speedometer or odometer work. I can buy a used one for
$100 or a new circuit board for $200. I can't find a schematic diagram
either. I appreciate any help. The Dodge people said that they can fix
it, however I will have to pay them $125 to find the problem. Then pay
extra for the parts.
is unlikely that a replacement circuit board is going to be the fix on
your vehicle. The instrument cluster/panel on your vehicle is computer
controlled. This computer on your vehicle is called a Body Control Module
(BCM). The problems youre describing sounds as if the module has
a glitch or has failed. Ill first suggest disconnecting both battery
terminals/cables from the battery. Then with the battery completely disconnected,
hook the two battery terminals together for about 15 minutes. Why? Many
of the computers/modules on todays vehicles have capacitors that
store electrical power in the module. Connecting the battery terminals
together causes these capacitors to drain completely. It is kind of like
shutting down a computer when it locks up. After this procedure has been
performed, reconnect the battery. This allows the BCM to come back on
line with a clean mind and resume proper operation. If the BCM had an
electrical glitch, this will restore the instrument cluster function.
If this does not correct your problem then your vehicle is destined to
visit a repair facility. The diagnostic fee you mentioned is not out of
line for the equipment and time that are needed. You dont want hit
or miss diagnosis. The BCM is a very pricey unit and you cannot
return it once it is plugged in.