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Chrysler Repair/SOLVED!!! No Start: Alarmed out, power locks don't respond:

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QUESTION: Hi,

My 1999 Chrysler Town & Country Ltd. van has a major problem with the alarm going off when I use the key to open any if the doors.  The problem started yesterday, at first the gas gauge and indicator stopped working, then it was ok, then the door locks would not open, only manually. Finally, when I put the key in the door and turned it, the alarm went off and could not be shut off...had to be towed to the dealer. They said the BCM needs to be replaced...$1,600 which is more than I paid for the car 7 months ago. Dealer said nobody else can fix it because they have he computer. Can I get a used BCM, or is there something else can I do? PS..not sure it matters, but I do not not have the remote key fob/clicker. Also, none of the methods for opening doors, etc. work to make the alarm stop, and it disables the ignition. Dealer also said they can't simply disconnect the factory alarm....so frustrating! Thank you for any help you can offer.

ANSWER: Hi Aryana,
I assume that when you say the door locks would not open you are speaking of being inside the car and trying to unlock them via the switch at the driver seat (because you don't have the key fob to do that action from outside the car), correct? Or perhaps you were used to hearing the power door locks upen at other doors too when you used the key at the driver's door to get into the van?
I suspect that the problem is in the wire that runs from the door key lock cylinder to the body computer which tells the bcm that a valid person has unlocked the door with the key. If that were the case the wire would need to be reconnected, probably at the hinge of the door where it gets bent repeatedly and ultimately fails. It also might be something a bit more complicated but it DOESN'T require replacing the BCM to get around this problem.
Once the dealer has sent the BCM a message to cancel the 'alarmed out' situation, that will restore the engine to starting again.
Then a very simple "work around" solution to this problem is to not ever use the vehicle theft security function again. That can be done by NEVER locking the vehicle by means of the power door lock switches or by the remote fob (which you don't have anyway) OR even the door key. That way the vehicle will not alarm when you use the door key to open the van because you never 'arm' the system when you leave it. The way to lock up the vehicle will then be to mechanically (by hand) use the lock BUTTON on each door that is not locked to secure the door, then close the door  (this is just like in the good old days when there was no such security systems!). When closing each door I but if it doesn't lock (even though you used the interior mechanical button), then what you would do when closing the door is move the exterior latch control to the unlock position as you close the door (e.g. push the button or lift the handle as the case may be).  It seems a bit quaint but it will work. This is what the shop manual says to do when this sort of thing happens
Simply cover the power door lock switches with tape, and remember to not use the door key to lock vehicle, only use it to unlock the vehicle. (If indeed the issue is the wire(s) then it may be the case that using the door key to lock the door may not 'arm' the system against theft, but it may be a sometimes it doesn't/sometime it does sort of affair so best to not use the key to lock the doors, only use the mechanical push buttons (NEVER the power door locks).
The dealer is trying to exploit you. Tell them you want them to simply cancel the "alarmed out" situcation (which they probably already did!) and let you drive away in peace.
There is a way to fake out the body computer should it happen again but you have to go under the dash and do a 'jump' at one of the door cylinder lock switch wires at the plug to the body computer. Keep that in mind should this happen to you nonetheless.
Please 'rate' my answer (see below).
Thanks,
Roland


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Roland, thank you for taking the time to provide such a lengthy, detailed answer.

After lots of online research...problem turned out to be the INSTRUMENT CLUSTER, circuit board (common with these vehicles). I found the entire instrument panel for $100 from someone parting out a 2000 T&C and a local mechanic switched it out for $100. Car works perfectly! Cost $210, instead of $1,600 the dealer quoted for a repair that would NOT have fixed anything. Going back to dealer today for a refund of my $130 diagnosis charge!!

Answer
Hi Aryana,
I am very pleased to know that solution. It would appear that the cluster failure shorted out the digital communication wires (a twisted pair of them on pins 9 and 10 of the cluster) used by the body control system and that took out all the function of that system! You did very well to find it and I agree that the diagnosis was faulty at the shop. Their diagnostic box  and procedure manual should have revealed what was the actual cause.  Usually if there is a problem with the cluster the cluster just stops reading out, but in this case shorting of the twisted pair of wires 'did in' the digital data 'bus' entirely. I hope you will get some of that diagnostic charge returned from the dealer.
If you would care to rate and nominatie me please do so, below.
Roland  

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Roland Finston

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Get a Free Fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

I answer questions seven days a week and respond to you in about 30 minutes. "Maxed Out" means I am answering another question, briefly unavailable, or asleep overnight, so try again later.

I have do-it-yourself experience (50+ years) and a library of 100 1982-2012 Chrysler factory shop manuals and 20 multi-manual Chrysler Corp. CD's.

I was voted "Top Expert" 2010-2015, here at AllExperts, and have answered 20,000+ questions.

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Five decades as a 'do-it-yourselfer' on domestic and imported cars.

Organizations
Yahoo Autos Group called The Chrysler Lebaron Club (co-moderator)

Education/Credentials
Advanced degrees in Physics/bruised knuckles

Awards and Honors
"Top expert" of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 here at Allexperts. Quickest "average response time" at Allexperts (currently no. 1).

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