Chrysler Repair/Electrical problems (body): '06 Sebring
QUESTION: I have a 2006 Sebring Touring Convertible 6L. About eight months ago the cd player quit working and the instrument panel intermittently flickered. Eventually, the battery light came on and the car wouldn't start without a jump. I had the alternator replaced and the problems went away for a few months, then the battery light came back on and the alternator was replaced again. Now the instrument panel is flickering and the cd player isn't working - again - I'm concerned that it's maybe a deeper electrical problem that's doing something to the alternator. Additionally, I had to remove the fuse that controls the horn and air bags because the horn would just start going off by itself, and the rear window defroster quit working (even though a mechanic tested it and said it should be working.) I feel like all these electrical things are somehow related. I'd like to get this fixed, but I'd rather not spend ten thousand dollars getting it diagnosed - any ideas what I should ask the mechanic to look for? Thanks so much!!
ANSWER: Hi CM,
I have checked over the problems that you described and have one suggestion and some questions.
The flickering of the instrument panel may be a loose ground wire connection to the body. The wire is black, has a 'loop' washer on its end, and is located on the cowl panel ( which is to the left of the driver lower leg, possibly covered over by a 'rug' which you would remove for access to the metal panel). There are a number of devices and cables on this cowl panel and you are looking about a foot above the floor to find a single black wire that should be bolted tightly to that panel. If it were loose it would cause the flickering and perhaps other issues.
For example the body control module (see below) is also grounded by that wire.
The CD player is totally connected to and powered by the radio so if the radio is working I would believe there is an issue with either the plug that connects them together or the CD player itself is faulty. You would need to remove them from the center panel to check out the plugs that connect them together.
The horn and air bags are on separate fuses so I would need to know which fuse you removed, and I would not believe that both functions would be impacted by removing a single fuse.
The rear window defroster is separate from those and may simply be a poor connection of the powering wire at the edge of the window or there may be an 'open' in the window wire itself.
Let me know what you find when checking out the ground wire on the cowl panel, and other issues I raised.
Do you have a volt-ohm meter to check out connections?
I do notice one aspect of your situations: virtually all of the malfunctioning items are related to the "body" of the car and there is one component called the body control module which one way or another controls those items. If you have had water leaking down from the windshield on the left side corner it may have fallen on the module and the 4 multipin plugs that it has. It is also near that left kick panel where the ground is located that I described above.
Its fuses are: 3,5,7,8,9,11,15,17,18,23 so see if any of those are blown. Accessing it for removal/testing is another story.
I would not expect these body malfunctions would be responsible for the alternator problem as it is controlled by the engine controller.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for the input, Roland! I really appreciate you looking so far into this for me! I'll see if I can check the ground wire later today, and I forgot to look at which fuse I took out, but I'll let you know that later as well.
The thing about the CD player - this might be coincidental, but since the flickering stopped and the CD player started working again after I had the alternator replaced, and stopped working AGAIN at the same time the instrument panel started flickering, I just have this strong feeling they're somehow related. I guess it could just be a coincidence though - what do I know. It's just so weird. I forgot to mention also that right before I had the alternator replaced this last time, the roof motor started acting up as well, but went back to normal after.
I do not have a volt-ohm meter - that's one of the things I'll have to get a mechanic to do. And I haven't noticed any leaking , but I'll have the mechanic check out the body control module as well.
Thank you again for your work - I feel like I have something to bring to the mechanic now at least instead of having them poke around twenty times for nothing! I'll let you know what I discover.
The tie-in of these problems to the alternator now makes me question whether the wiring issue is rather related to its wiring rather than the wiring of all the things that are out of whack.
The alternator circuit is not complicated: at the alternator's plug the output current fat red wire goes to the starter motor and from there to the battery. Then the functioning of the alternator is regulated by its field control wires, one of which is black/tan and goes to a ground point on the lower inside edge of the left strut tower (near the master brake cylinder) arriving at the ground point as a black wire that is bolted to the metal of the strut tower. The other field control wire at the alternator is dark/green and goes to pin 19 of the number 2 plug of the powertrain control module (black outside/orange inside).
I would suggest that the continuity of those three wires at the alternator should be verified with an ohmmeter/continuity tester while gently shaking the wire harnesses to possibly reveal a poor connection along each wire or where it terminates. Such a flakey alternator wiring situation could cause the flickering/CD dropping out/battery discharging/etc. that you have experienced.
You would also do well to try a self-diagnostic fault code readout of the engine controller.
Turn the ignition key: "on-off-on-off-on and leave on" doing that in 5 seconds or less elapsed time. Then watch the odometer window of the cluster to see if the mileage reading is replaced by a 4-digit number preceded by a P. If, by chance I am correct about the wiring for the alternator you would get a P0622 if the field coil control wires were flakey. Let me know if you get any P numbers.
But also look at the ground connection on the left cowl I described.