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: Intermittent Electrical Issue?

07-31-2006, 11:31 AM
So recently my 2000 Intrepid (2.7l) has been having some issues.

Started out with an occasional go out to car, turn the key "Click!" no start, turn key off, turn it again, starts right up strong as ever, runs fine... Recently in the past 2 weeks, my dashlights, odometer, dome lights, and pretty much everything in the car electrical will start flickering rapidly, and will then go away as quick as it came on. Something I noticed while it was flickering, a higher pitched noise coming from the engine compartment that is variable with RPM, sounds a lot like turbo whine, or a highpitched whine that changes with RPM. When its not flickering, there is no whine. The other day while driving it started to flicker and the car actually died twice while crusing down the highway. It died, then came back a second later, I didnt have to turn the key to restart it happened too fast. After driving down the road some more the battery light came on.

The car was fine after that for a few days, no more flickering, battery light was off etc... Then this last weekend the lights were flickering again, and this time when I stopped at a store the car was dead as a doornail when I tried to restart it. Dash lights and relays were buzzing like when a battery has just enough juice to light things, but not enough to keep it going. I had to have someone Jump start me to get it going, and it would not stay running w/o keeping high RPM's for about 10 min. It died a few times while getting it home and had to jump it each time.

When the flickering first started, I went through and checked all the cables and connectors all were tight and secure... Cleaned the battery contacts (they were corroded, but not horrible, I've seen much worse in my jeeps) Now once I got it home after dying completely it ran fine, shut off and restarted just fine and has run the rest of the weekend w/o issue, no more flickering either. This morning heading to work, got in, and "Click" turn off, then started fine, no flickering...

I've gone in and had them test the battery, said it was ok. Tested the alternator, they said it was ok. I'm thinking it may be an intermittent short in either the battery (like a dry reversed cell) or the Voltage regulator on the alternator.

I'm wondering if anyone else has some input.

Sorry for the Longwinded post.


07-31-2006, 12:15 PM
whos they? How old is your battery? Invest and get yourself an optima. Thats prolly what it is. Also there is a light dim/bright switch, make sure its down, because it can move slighly by itself and dim/bright your lights.
Good luck

07-31-2006, 02:05 PM
whos they? How old is your battery? Invest and get yourself an optima. Thats prolly what it is. Also there is a light dim/bright switch, make sure its down, because it can move slighly by itself and dim/bright your lights.
Good luck

They is a reputable shop near me.

The dim switch is not the issue. While it was blinking, I've moved it and to no change. The entire electrical in the car is being shorted hence the dome lights blinking, ODO flipping from trip back to Overall milege, aftermarket radio blinking etc..

I will replace the battery with a quality battery when the time comes, I'm not willing to just toss money at the problem w/o know what it is hence my question. $120 is a bit steep as a diagnostic tool.

07-31-2006, 02:47 PM
I had both problems you described (intermittent starting and blinking interior lights) a couple of times. In my case, the starting issue was due to corroded terminals on the battery. Since you already cleaned those, you might check the electrical connections going to the starter. Something might have gotten corroded in there. Also, you might try rolling the dimmer switch for your interior lights back and forth a few times. My lights were flickering and it was due to some corrosion having built up on the switch. Rolled it back and forth a few times and the problem went away.

Good luck!

07-31-2006, 04:50 PM
I also have had that same problem with my 02 Intrepid's lights flickering on and off. Now I have not had the engine noise in addition to that but I do get very nervous when I turn on my headlights and the dashboard lights/gauges start to flicker but it never lasts long and it does not happen all the time. And you say it's just corrosion on the dimmer switch? I hope so because I don't need any more probs from this thing.

08-02-2006, 05:27 PM
I justed started having this problem a few months ago. It started out as the dash lights all going out along with the headlights...Then coming back on seconds later. That progressed into the interior dome lights flashing on and off. That is where the problem stayed until last week...Then it wouldn't start for me...After trying several times I turned on the headlights to see if they dim a lot when I tried to start it, It cranked right up?! That happened twice...So I decided to remove the battery, inspect the terminals and cables, dry voltage etc. Then I put it back in the car...It was fine for a little while and last night while driving I got the flashing lights etc with everything electrical going dead for a few seconds while driving. Then it came back to life. I pulled into a parking lot to check it out and when I applied the brakes to put it in park everything shut down completely...After restarting it I drove it home with flickering interior lights.

Right now I'm going outside to change for amp draw on all the circuits...If anybody else has some input it would be appreciated...I can swap batteries for troubleshooting from one car to another but I don't have cash to blow on a new one until I prove that is the issue. I will check back perodically for input. Thanks in advance and sorry for Hijacking this thread but it's the same issue.

08-02-2006, 05:49 PM
$120 is a bit steep as a diagnostic tool.

$120 for a nice optima is steep I know, but remember they have replacement warranties, what my local ADAP store does is they let me replace it every 3 years, so I get a new one for the rest of my life every 3 years. Nothing wrong with a $120 life investment for a good battery.

08-02-2006, 05:53 PM
Check the negative terminal from battery to ground?

08-02-2006, 07:11 PM
what would everyone say is the deal with the starting point of his original post? I have had that a few times where I turn the key and nothing happens, I mean NOTHING. No radio, no dash lights, no door chime, notta...I then turn the key back to off position and turn to start again, and wham! Starts just like normal and runs perfectly...I haven't had the flickering problem as of yet, but not looking forward to it, either. I DID get a new battery last week to hopefully fix the problem of the starting thingee..I checked the starter for a bad tooth and found nothing wrong with it so I figured its the battery. I had the flickering problem in my last vechicle, my S-10 and it was traced to my new hid bulbs. I replaced the stockers with some aftermarket ones and they were overloading the circuit and as soon as I put the stockers back in ot test, it never happened, JasonJones, do u have aftermarket lighting? Perhaps check that out???????

08-02-2006, 07:16 PM
How about a bad ignition switch?

08-02-2006, 07:16 PM
All the cables have been checked from the battery to there respected post terminals where you jump them.

I just went out to test for draw...When I check with Ignition off for Amp draw I get zero. But If I test it for voltage draw across the negative post I show .3vdc and when I connect the post it goes to zero which is good, but the terminal sparks and the horn honks when connected it. So in theory I figured the .3vdc was all stuff that should be IOD (radio memory, odometer etc). so I pulled the IOD fuse and waited for the system to drain (about 3mins) and checked for draw again and it was gone.

This tells me none of my other systems have a draw and it is isolated to the IOD system/Body control module somewhere.

Does anybody have any idea why I didn't get a good AMP reading when I tried this but did show voltage draw? I started high on my meter with 20amp, then I went to mA and still didn't see anything.

I don't think in my case it's the ignition switch because the car does funny things otherwise beside trying to start it...i.e. the lights, the horn, FULL power loss.

Also does anybody know what components on the BCM I can pull fuses and relays to isolate this more. Do our BCM's have bad grounds or anything out of the ordinary I should look for.


PS I am eye balling the optima battery anyways because I got a '99 with the original battery (only 65k on the car though).

08-03-2006, 11:30 PM
OK so I pulled up some old threads here about the light flickering...some said the headlight switch, other said the junction post for + terminal is loose. So tonight I went out to check the posts and they all looked nice and tight the way I remembered. Then I just looked around the engine bay underneath stuff to look for loose ground cables etc...Didn't find anything. Car had been sitting about 4hrs since used last.

I got in and started it up, usually I have my dash knob on the second from the top (brightest but not always on). I turned it to always on with the dome lights to see if I could find anything.

While running the engine, A/C, headlights, and stereo I saw flickering in the dome lights...slight but still there. I play with the adjuster knob and checked it again. Still there. Then I played with the headlight switch (i got a 300m one) I pulled out the knob (for fogs, I don't have any though so no ciruit here) after pulling it out I turned the knob to parking and pulled and push the knob a little and went back to auto...WHAM FULL POWER LOSS. NO lights anywhere at ALL, no stereo, no Engine NOTHING! I left the key in the RUN position and opened my door to pull the fuse panel open. Messed with the headlight switch again but nothing happened so I put it back where it was.

I needed a multi-meter to read voltage so I left everything alone and ran inside...Of course I got my meter and walked back towards the car and just as I pass the trunk lid, the damn horn honks, lights flash and the power comes back up and the dome lights and dash are back to life. The car fired right up and I couldn't not duplicate the situation for another 45mins! I gave up after that because the car was up to tempature and I messed with everything to get it to do it. This time the dome lights didn't have the slight flicker anymore so I figured I wasn't going to happen.

I call it a night tonight. This is the 3rd time this week now! This isn't just a little flashing lights issue for me anymore, the engine is actually shutting down from this! I am going to read the wiring diagrams and try to find something in common with the following: Headlight switch, A/C, Stereo, Dash lights, Dome lights, Headlights themself, and somehow the engine. There has to be a common ground or something that is getting shorted out. Either that or a bad relay somewhere that resets itself after "X" amount of time without power (maybe the reason why it seems to reset itself and it fires up again).

Does anybody know if the BCM is required to run the engine?

Sorry so long but this is getting to my head! I gotta figure this out.

08-05-2006, 06:10 PM
Well it shut off on me on the way to work today...Then started again 5mins later like nothing happened. Then at work after I shut it off it did it again and stayed dead from 8am till 2pm when I went out to check it...I pulled all the fuses one by one looking to find one that was pulling the draw...I had .5volts on the battery! All the fuses out still .5 so I put the fuses in one by one and nothing...No power going to the car anywhere...So I did a volt test again and still had .5 so I checked for a better contact and all of the sudden the horn honked, lights are on and battery is back to life at 12.69??? The car fired right up like nothing was wrong.

I can sort of tell when the car is going to shut off now...If the interior lights are switched on or if you look at the mileage on the cluster you and see a slight flicker...Shortly later it shuts down. When it comes back to life the flicker is gone with the wind?! Weird

I swapped batteries with my father in-law and I'm taking it for a spin in a little while to see what it does. I will go up to the auto store and have them load test it for me with a different battery. Will post results later.

08-17-2006, 11:54 AM
Well when I swapped batteries last week and brought it up to get load tested they said the battery I swapped in was too weak for an acurate test. The battery swapped in was out of a '99 Caravan same class battery (never had any issues in the Caravan).

Well I ran this battery for about a week and it was great. I was getting my hopes up about buying an Optima. Then yesterday it wouldn't start again...Just random, I was in a parking garage in the shade and when I came back about 1hr later it wouldn't turn over...Had the dead battery click thing going on. I had my meter with me and checked it. 11.5vdc at the remote posts. So I left it connected and pulled the fuses out of the engine bay. The only one that seemed to draw was the Stop Lamps fuse, funny thing is when I plugged it back in the horn honked.

I finally got a jump and was able to kick the A/C cause my kids were in the car with me...I drove home and tested batt while running and output was 13.7vdc which doesn't seem like much to me.

I shut it off and it wouldn't start again, I pulled the batt cable for the night to give it a rest. In the A.M. today I checked voltage before hooking it up. It was 11.5 and cranked up with hesitation but started. Again I have 13.7vdc for output (that's with a/c on). Shut it off and try to start again and it wouldn't. Now I have 10.9vdc so I started pulling fuses inside the car to check for a draw. None make much of a difference besides the #19 fuse for the interior lights (the raised fuse on the block). Again when hooking it back up the horn honks.

I took it a step further and reached under the dash and unhooked the BCM plugs and plugged them back in one by one. That didn't do anything...Now I'm at a loss. I am going to read the FSM about the specs for charging output...Then I might invest in a + battery cable later today.

Any input in the mean time? Can somebody go pull the #19 fuse(inside), and the stop lamp fuse (under the hood) and see if your horn honks when plugging it back in please?


08-17-2006, 12:44 PM
It has always been the case for me when I disconnected either battery "jump" post connection and then re-connected, the horn will 'beep'.
That fuse is about the same thing, electrically..

08-17-2006, 01:15 PM
If the battery voltage is dropping below 12 volts with everything turned off then the battery is probably going bad, especially since you said its the original battery. What happens is as batteries age, the lead on the plates flakes off and piles up between the plates. If the pile gets big enough it creates a short = bad cell which will draw down the rest of the cells. Most car batteries go after 3 to 5 years.

08-18-2006, 01:36 PM
is it me, or does pressing the brake pedal when going to start it up after the power has failed on it somehow work some magic and let it start?
its not my habit to be pressing the brake when I start it, but the past few times it has been dead, pressing it when turning the key allowed it to come back to life. This could all be multiple coincidences of course...

08-26-2006, 10:12 PM
I don't know, pressing the brake pedal during driving made full power loss for me...That only happened once though.

So here is where I stand as of now: I replaced the battery with a known good used one in the same class from a Caravan. It still had the same symptoms. I again tried to do a draw test and only saw slight draw with the tail light fuse at the Power Distribution Center...Then I saw a slight draw on the IOD fuse at the junction block #19 (fuses inside left of dash). I still can't get a good amp draw test (I think my multimeter won't do it for some reason). So I drive it for a few weeks and it seems OK but then out of no where I go to start the car after having it parked for 1hr and the battery won't turn over the starter. I check voltage and it's 11.5vdc I got a jump and drove it home and let it run for a few hours. The voltage was 14.5vdc with it running then I shut it down and it was only 10.5vdc. So I charged it overnight on trickle (with it hooked to car still) and it went to 12.5vdc. Then I let it sit the next night and it went to 10.5 again on it's own. So this time I unhook the ground and trickle overnight again. Next evening it was 8.5vdc! I pulled the battery out of the car totally and charged it again and it went to 4vdc and the battery was basically solidified. So then I throw my original battery in the car 12.8vdc and it fires right up and it fine however I keep having little electrical glitches...Right now the frequent is the left rear blinker acts like the bulb is burnt out...and it flashes fast on the instrument cluster...Then it stop and acts fine a little while later for no reason!

I did put a charge meter on the alternator and with the A/C on it was at the low side of good range, then with headlights on it went down into the red near 13vdc...But that was a hot day with fans running, A/C on high, and lights on...I don't think that was serious but I looked into changing the alternator anyways...DAMN, anybody ever swap one of those?! Pull the front air dam, the whole lower radiator support and move the transmission cooler?! I looked under there...No possible way to reach it otherwise! I'm pissed about that and the price of one. So needless to say I won't change it until I can prove it is bad for sure.

Right now I have my uncle printing some TSB's and diagrams for the electrical system and I will be working with him to resolve it (he works for a dodge dealer as a tech). I think the next parts I'm replacing are the + battery cable and getting an optima red top battery.

Anymore ideas from anyone? I'm getting sick of not being able to trust the car driving my family around. This sucks because I have never had any issues besides the trans input/output sensors basically.

08-26-2006, 11:25 PM
To bring resolution to my original thread here. I replaced the battery and problems went away. There was a reversed cell in the battery that was causing a short. (my initial thoughts)

08-27-2006, 07:17 PM
Thanks Jason, I just go through discussing this with my Uncle and I think I'm going up to the store and getting that Optima Red Top soon...Will replace the cables too. The part of my issue that gets me is why would it completly shut down then just turn right back on 5mins later with full voltage?

I will do the battery and cables and get back about this. Just wanted to narrow it down before I throw my money around on parts. Thanks everybody!

08-29-2006, 12:40 PM
I replaced my batt last night with an Optima red top. I decided the cables were in great shape but the cable ends were trash. So I bought some marine adapters for the battery. Then I got some solid lug ends for the cables. It's better to solder a clean connection than to crimp or bolt on so I got the type of lugs that are oem basically. I started up some map gas and heated the lug and cable up...Got some good solder on the cable the filled the lug with hot solder and slid the cables inside. Let it cool down then crimped it with a hammer.

After I put it all together my intermittent turn signal issue showed up so I took apart the left rear lense and was able to identify that the bulb was loose in the socket. I inspected the wires and socket then through it all back together. At least I know that wasn't part of the original issue.

I will post back an update after a few weeks of driving with results.

08-29-2006, 12:51 PM
Let it cool down then crimped it with a hammer.I am sorry you are having problems and hope you have got it resolved. But I am still laughing over this quote for some reason.

08-29-2006, 01:02 PM
I am also going to be replacing my battery very soon...

and since this is a thread about batteries.. and Optimas... Can anyone tell me what the best one to get would be? I've looked up yellow and red ones, and found there are even further different classes of each...

What I'm wondering is where the cutoff point is where you're basically jacking the price up a lot more for just small increases of efficiency or whatever...

08-29-2006, 01:22 PM
Its a matter of what you want pay. Most of them are made on the same production line, the only difference is in the warrenty. You may find a 4 year battery will last only 3 years or it might last 6 years - depends on the environment and how its used.

Dr Zarkov
01-28-2007, 04:50 AM
I have a headlight flicker problem with my '02. Every once in a while I hear a click, click click and simultaneously the headlights will turn on and off 5-7 times within 2 seconds. I usually goes away if I turn the headlights off for a moment and then turn them back on. I've searched the posts and there is no answer. I have also noticed 2 incidents when my center heat/ac readout console goes completely blank but the heater is still on. It becomes completely unresponsive. That one resets when the car is turned off for a little while then the led readouts are back.

01-28-2007, 10:41 AM
Sounds like the headlight relay is giving up.

01-29-2007, 09:02 PM
As far as the intermittent battery problem, I had exactly the same problem with my '99 Trep. It was a cracked neg cable post terminal. It wasn't glaringly obvious, until I examined it really, really carefully.

01-30-2007, 12:42 AM
Well, I re-found this thread and forgot I had posted earlier in it...I had the clicking "no start" issue in has happened about 5 or 6 times since then up to today...I had it again today after work when going home...on my way home the flickering thing happened for about 2 seconds and then went away...I didn't have any engine dying like the other guy did...I drove it for about 25 minutes to make sure it didn't do the flickering again and it never did....I did get a new battery in late august, an interstate brand....never used one before this one but haven't had a lick of friends autobody shop uses them every day for replacements on cars getting front end damage fixed....anyhow, did anyone else ever have all of this happen and actually find a reasonable answer as to wtf was causing it? I had all the battery wires replaced as mine looked pretty worn and were 6 years I know its not a messed up negative wire...I cleaned my connections and they were barely even dirty let alone corroded...I don't want this to keep happening and progress into the car dying cuz I can't have that with 10 degree weather and a 4 year old in the car...I was thinking about trading the trep in for a magnum awd r/t but maybe I'll get a subaru awd turbo wagon instead???

02-01-2007, 12:26 PM
I have the the same issue! For me, flickering of the dash lights indicate that I have a battery issue starting to brew. The first time (90k miles) I changed out the battery, positive cable to battery and the positive terminal. Fixed issue. 2nd time (135k miles) My car wouldn't start everytime. It was inconsistant and best. Changed battery. Fixed for a few weeks then down again. Neg termial post was issue.
Sounds like the battery and one of the cables to the battery has gone bad. The cable can corrode from the inside with disturbing the sheath.

Replace the cables to the battery!!! Remember where the battery is located. It's gets all the crap from the road. If your savvy enough try to but some sort of current between the cables to test the voltage drop. That will tell you if the cables are really corroded.

04-09-2007, 03:15 AM
On my '93 trep, I had the same problem... the car would die while I'm going down the street. I could tell when the car would or wouldnt' start. If I turned the ignition key to "ON" and the engine light blinked, the car would start, but if it didn't go on (even tho all the instrument lights turned on) I could crank all day and it wouldn't start. I got it to work for a week by tilting my steering wheel up and down a bit. It came back, and a Dodge mechanic found I had a bad wiring harness inside the steering column. He replaced that and my car has started every single time and hasn't died while idling at a light or going down the street. The only problem now is that my battery drains after 3 days of me not using the car.

04-09-2007, 12:05 PM
Modern Mopars seem to be very finicky about their batteries. My theory is that the system needs a good battery to buffer some crap from the alternator. The alternator makes 3 phase AC internally, that is converted to DC just before the output terminal via a set of rectifiers, but it still has some AC components in it, so it's not pure DC like you would get in a battery. The battery smooths out the somewhat pulsating DC from the alternator.

A computer will NOT run on pulsating DC without some sort of power conditioning, which in this case, is provided by the battery. Since the PCM controls the alternator regulation, if the PCM goes bonkers, so does the alternator! The voltage was all over the place.... very sloppy regulation.

A battery is not a good high frequency noise filter, but since the noise from the alternator is low frequency, the battery works great.

When the battery gets too low, the cables get corroded or a cell goes out, the cars go bonkers. This problem is not limited to the Intrepid, it happens on the minivans too.

My dad's van went CRAZY when his battery died.... the cluster needles went crazy (the got stuck behind the stops!), the engine did all sorts of nutty things, lights flickered, some bogus DTCs were set (PCM RAM errors, misfire codes, crankshaft position sensor code, and.... P0700! :p ) and the engine stalled just after the tranny went into limp mode. He didn't even go a whole block before it died! It refused to start again until a jump start... then it went nuts again as soon as the cables were removed. We attached jumper cables to the battery, snaked them out of the hood and into the van and on to a good battery from an old UPS system between the seats and went to Wal Mart for a new one. My Redneck ingenuity at work.... :D

05-04-2007, 04:28 AM
Modern Mopars seem to be very finicky about their batteries. My theory is that the system needs a good battery to buffer some crap from the alternator. The alternator makes 3 phase AC internally, that is converted to DC just before the output terminal via a set of rectifiers, but it still has some AC components in it, so it's not pure DC like you would get in a battery. The battery smooths out the somewhat pulsating DC from the alternator.

A computer will NOT run on pulsating DC without some sort of power conditioning, which in this case, is provided by the battery. Since the PCM controls the alternator regulation, if the PCM goes bonkers, so does the alternator! The voltage was all over the place.... very sloppy regulation.

A battery is not a good high frequency noise filter, but since the noise from the alternator is low frequency, the battery works great.

When the battery gets too low, the cables get corroded or a cell goes out, the cars go bonkers. This problem is not limited to the Intrepid, it happens on the minivans too.

Exactly. I just had a 2002 Concorde prove this one. The problem; lights flickering--very noticeably--all of them--dash lights, odometer, headlights, tailights, anytime the car ran. It never died. Never needed a jump, or had any other indication of voltage issues other than the lights flickering. The only indicator was the charge voltage fluctuation (1-3 volts on the test). You could tell by the way the lights pulsated that the battery was not "smoothing them out". The t alternator, connections, and battery all tested "good". A quick battery replacement cured it. The battery was 4 years old, and probably sulfated, and had a weak cell. These cars are definitely finicky when it comes to the charging system.