02 GC, no crank at key, no spark, can't display fault codes - DodgeIntrepid.Net Forums - Dodge Intrepid, Concorde, 300m and Eagle Vision chat
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-06-2014, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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02 GC, no crank at key, no spark, can't display fault codes

Hey guys, ran into a major issue with my wife's 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan eL (3.3l). Last night when we were coming home it developed a severe miss when pulling into the driveway. It drove home without issue but as soon as we pulled into the driveway it started shaking and running rough. Not just at idle, either. With moderate rev the miss did not resolve. I shut the vehicle down as it was late and planned on further troubleshooting today, thinking it was probably a bad or displaced spark plug wire, bad plug, injector issue, etc.

This morning my wife started the vehicle to warm it up and it was still missing. I didn't expect it to resolve after cooling down, but it was still missing. Then it stalled.

I managed to restart it once, it was a hard start and required a little throttle to keep it running once it hit. It did not run more than a few seconds and then stalled again.

I attempted to restart it a few more times, no hit.

I'm now hearing an intermittent buzzing sound from under the hood. I could only localize it to an area to the rear (driver's side) of the motor, near perhaps the ABS pump, the top of the transaxle, etc.

Then it stopped cranking with the key, well before the battery should have been exhausted. A faint click from under the hood is all that I could get with the ignition switch.

The buzzing persists off and on. Usually comes back for a few seconds after an attempt at starting from the ignition. Wiggling various wiring harnesses and banging on the top of the power distribution block *may* interrupt the buzzing, but it is intermittent enough that I cannot say for certain.

I attached jumper cables to another car, battery to battery, no change, still no turn over from key.

With jumper cables attached, battery to battery, I then tried jumping the starter relay. The starter spins the engine over with little to no unusual effort - turn over normal, no start (not expected).

I moved the negative jumper cable to the only nearby engine ground (and I know it's not a good one, gaskets, etc.) at the thermostat housing. No change. No crank from key, turns over (slightly easier/faster) by jumping the starter relay, no start.

I did a brief visual/feel inspection of the wiring harness behind/below the ignition coil. It's crispy. I squeezed the connectors back together but did not do a full disconnect and re-seat on anything (it's really cold and my fingers are about numb at this point). No change, except at some point the buzzing sound coming from the area behind the battery seems to have become less common.

I attempted the key-dance to display fault codes on the odometer. I've done this before for other issues. I was unable to get fault codes to display using this method, however.

I googled a bit and found a few things. Some people mention a recurring issue with this generation of van in that the injector harness may be melted/damaged, and/or the harness going to the coil pack, and one video indicates that the ECM may be faulty as well. I even saw someone had taken a picture of oil leaking out of the ECM which had evidently been pumped up the harness through a leaky pressure sending unit. I believe I have a leaky pressure sending unit, lots of oil on the harness and below, and I get an oil light at idle. The engine is not low on oil, in fact, it's slightly above full. I have had an issue with a fuel smell from the engine for some time now that I believe I have localized to a leaky fuel pressure regulator on the fuel rail. I understand the entire fuel rail must be replaced to fix this, though, so I have put up with it for a while. I'm somewhat concerned that a small fire may have cooked my ignition/injector harness and this may have potentially caused issues in other areas due to short circuits developing in the burned harness.

Here's some of what I've run across in searching for issues which seem to match the symptoms I'm getting:



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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-06-2014, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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New information:

I managed to get the van started this evening. I got a diagnostic trouble code: P1684 - Battery Disconnect last 50 starts (AND NOTHING ELSE!!!?!?). The miss is still present and it is difficult to start (accelerator helps). With the engine running I tugged on every harness I could find with no change. I started pulling plug wires one by one, started a fire in the pooled gasoline from the leaky pressure regulator, put the fire out, and discovered the exhaust is white and smells of unburned fuel (rules out injector or injector wiring). There is an ignition problem, somewhere, and I THINK its one of the back cylinders (didn't get to pull those before the fire, and was kinda scared to after).

SO, I think my best course of action is going to be to replace the fuel rail and while I have the intake off, expose and test the ignition wiring. I strongly suspect a bad connection in the circuit between the coil pack and the PCM.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-06-2014, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, and one more question - does anyone have an Oreilly, Autozone or Advance Auto Parts part number for the fuel rail assembly on this vehicle? I called Advance Auto Parts a few weeks ago, said I needed one and got a quote in a few seconds, no trouble (somewhere around $80). Tonight, I called Advance Auto Parts, Oreilly and Autozone, all, and none of them seemed to know what I was talking about. The first guy's inflection went up when he repeated fuel rail back to me, like it was a totally new word for him. The rest checked but each said that their computers were either not returning a search result, or that it said "unavailable". So, I have checked all their sites, and Napa and Pep Boys, and I can't seem to find it.

Is it called something other than a "fuel rail" on this vehicle? Is it going to be a dealer-only part?
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 02-20-2014, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, this forum is a ghost town. Well, I figure I should update the thread anyway so others finding this might know what I found out:

The long and short of it, it's the injector harness, and it's a known issue with 3.3 and 3.8 GCs of this generation. The injector harness, which carries injector power and control and the MAP sensor wires from the main engine harness to the injectors/sensor, is too close to the exhaust manifold and or crossover pipe, or a retainer clip breaks and it rests on the pipe, either way, it melts and shorts out.

I began my work with replacing the fuel rail and spark plugs/wires. The rail was leaky and the plugs and wires looked original (on a vehicle with over 200k miles on the clock, no less). The plugs came out hard and required the liberal application of WD-40 on the way out. Some had burned sharp their ground electrodes, a couple had intact ground electrodes but the center electrodes were eroded almost all the way to the porcelain insulator. So, definitely well past time to maintain.

I replaced all the plugs but had to tap the #3 plug hole. Someone (hopefully not me) had at some point boogered the threads a bit. I went and bought a 14mm 1.25 tap at the auto parts store, which is a fit for this application and cleaned/made threads. All the new plugs went in with high-temperature anti-seize compound. The new wires were all (thankfully) slightly longer than the originals. This made it slightly tricky to match new to old, but I prefer them to the old ones which seemed to bend sharply at the retainers and boots.

Having found really bad spark plugs I (foolishly) neglected to inspect anything else. I replaced the fuel rail, which wasn't a big deal, however I cracked one pintle cap when replacing the o-rings. The cap was intact, being cracked only on one side so I elected to reinstall it as is. The injector port in the intake manifold appears as though it will hold the cap in place should it break further, and I'm told that little bits of plastic entering the engine won'd do appreciable harm. I am skeptical of this, since I could see where a small piece of plastic could lodge between the piston and cylinder wall and cause a weak ring to fold over, but I won't let my overactive imagination in this area hold me back too much.

I also replaced the plenum o-rings, which were leaking oil out of the intake plenum, out to the bolts. I figure that's a good sign it's time to replace them. The new ones from Fel Pro were considerably taller than the old ones, so, yeah, time to replace.

At this point I'd like to say, it is a far superior method, I believe, to replace the spark plugs by removing the intake plenum. The plenum uses reusable o-rings, not a gasket or other seal that you have to replace each time it comes apart. You need only to unplug the idle air control motor and tps sensor, the single throttle body vaccum line, the two vacuum lines at the back, the air duct and intake air temperature sensor plug, the throttle cables and retainer, and the two 8mm screws holding the PS reservoir to the plenum, loosen the lower retainer nut for the PS reservoir (from the back (firewall) side), and the eight 10mm bolts holding the plenum to the intake. This can be done in minutes and makes the rear plugs much more accessible. Had to come off for the fuel rail anyway, but I'd do it on the next plug change.

Now to why it was foolish to not inspect for other possible causes of my missfire - it persisted. I re-assembled and found that while it would now start consistently, the misfire was still present. HOWEVER, this time, I got a code. P0201, which is a fault on the #1 injector circuit, either open or shorted.

That's when I discovered the shorted harness.

From my experience, here's some good tests and some bad tests (or bad ways to interpret the tests):

Good test: disconnect the top connector from the PCM and check for continuity between the injector connector in question and the PCM. On one side you should get continuity, the other, not. The other side is 12v switched through the ASD relay when the engine is on or starting.

Good test: check for continuity between the injector control line (that goes to the PCM) and ground. You shouldn't see ground continuity. It should be an open circuit when the vehicle is not running. If you are checking one of the injectors that is accessible with the plenum in place, you can check it with the engine running. You should see pulsed to ground, as this is how the PCM fires the injector, but not at any time consistently grounded. You can pretty much only get to the #1 and #6 injector wiring without disassembling anything. You can see the others through the gap between the plenum/manifold ports, but you'd need to use surgical instruments to disconnect and access the plugs.

Bad interpretation: Do not assume that if ground continuity to your bad injector(s) goes away when you disconnect C102 (fuel rail to powertrain harness connector) that the short must be in the powertrain harness. The short is to the sensor ground for the MAP sensor, and it receives its ground connection through the powertrain harness, to the sensor ground pin at the PCM. Loss of continuity at the injector when this connector is disconnected does not rule out a short in the injection harness. To confirm, disconnect the MAP sensor and test for continuity between the injector and the center pin at the MAP sensor plug. This will confirm a short in the fuel injection harness if C102 is disconnected.

NOTE: this is only my experience. The fuel injection harness will melt and short in ways potentially other than merely grounding an injector circuit. Any number of short out combinations are possible, not all will generate obvious symptoms. If, for instance, control lines between injectors are shorted only, this will potentially result in injectors opening longer than normal and a rich condition occurring. Potentially, the PCM may compensate for this condition and drivability will be minimally impacted. Also, any involved lines of the MAP sensor may be shorted to either B+ or ground, which can result in a number of issues, I would imagine a failed sensor, even a failed PCM. My van has had absolutely abhorrent fuel economy for a long time, I'm certain the bad plugs played a role, but now I'm not entirely certain I didn't have cross-firing of the injectors as well due to shorting in the harness, which would likely cause moderate fuel economy problems.

More to come, once I effect repairs and test.
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