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Dodge Repair/'04 Dakota: Engine Electrical Problem

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Question
QUESTION: Hi Kevin,

I have a 2003 Dodge Dakota with a 3.9L SFI engine, 5 speed manual trans. In order to start the engine, I have to hit a sweet spot with the clutch or it won't engage the starter. Once started the ABS, Air Bag, and Brake light stay illuminated until the motor is pretty close to operating temperature. Also, the heater fan runs intermittently. When the said instrument lights go out, the speedometer will drop off to Zero and then back to normal operation. The last time I drove it, all of the same happened and then perhaps 2 minutes later I lost all power except signals, flashers, and headlights. It was as though you turned the ignition to OFF.
Any suggestions?  Thank you for any help you can give me.

ANSWER: Hi Dennis,
I do have the '04 Dakota service manual and can check out the wiring diagrams. I only came back on line after a week without a computer and found your question in the "pool" to which Kevin had referred it earlier.  I wonder if things have changed or is the problem still as you described it?
Roland

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

QUESTION: Hi Kevin,

Nothing has changed on the 04 Dakota. I have only started it once since I posted the question which was to keep the battery charge up. At that time, everything was the same - no heater fan, abs & brake light stayed illuminated. I still had to find the sweet spot in the clutch as well.

Thank you,

Dennis

Answer
OK Dennis,
That one time experience of having everything shut off does suggest a problem with one of the sections of the ignition switch being flakey, so that is possibly part of your problem.
Starting with the clutch pedal/starter safety interlock: the switch itself is part of the clutch hydraulic cylinder and is said to not be separately replaceable. It may be that the hydraulic fluid for the clutch release system is not full so check for that possibility. Other than inspecting the wiring and the connector to the hydraulic cylinder switch (under the dash at the clutch pedal). If those check out, then it may be internal to that switch/clutch cylinder combo unit. The switch connector has 2 pins and it should be open or closed depending on the position of the pedal so you could check that with an ohmmeter or continuity tester.
On the ABS,air bag, brake warning lamps, those may be related to loss of voltage out put from one section of the ignition switch, so check out any one of these fuses in the fuse block under the dash (21,24,25,26,27) when the engine is running and the lights are "on" to verify that the there is 12v showing on those fuses. If not, then check that fuse 9 in the power box under the hood shows 12v on both sides as that is the fuse that supplies power to that section of the ignition switch.
The blower motor need fuse 13 in the power box under the hood to be 'good' so check that, and also verify that the fan is non-operative at all speeds. If the fuse is good, and the fan does not run at any speed (other than high speed?) then an item called the blower motor resistor block is likely faulty. More info on that later after you check fuse 13.
The complete shut down of the engine could be a different section of the ignition switch or a flakey fuse E in the box under the hood.
So check out these possibilities and let me know what you learn. By the way, I am the other Chrysler/Dodge "expert". Kevin 'punted' the question over to me to try and answer.

Please read the PS below, and respond to it.
Thanks,
Roland

Roland

Dodge Repair

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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 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" from 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
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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