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Below is a collection of Jim Grant's Tech Tips sorted by Vehicle Make. These Tech Tips were answers to questions submitted to Jim by users over the course of many years.
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  Jim Grant's Tech Tips

'97 Dodge Dakota, No Instrument Cluster

Q: I own 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.

- Stanley H.

A: It 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 you’re describing sounds as if the module has a glitch or has failed. I’ll 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 today’s 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 don’t want hit or miss diagnosis. The BCM is a “very pricey” unit and you cannot return it once it is plugged in.

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