Now, I'm not much into things of a mystical nature-I leave that to Basil-but a recent close encounter with a '92 Dodge Caravan left me wondering if gremlins really do exist. It started with a set of k...
Now, I’m not much into things of a mystical nature-I leave that to Basil-but a recent close encounter with a ’92 Dodge Caravan left me wondering if gremlins really do exist. It started with a set of keys, and a letter from the owner.
“Slim: the dash gauges don’t work, no tach or speedometer, the door locks will unlock but not lock, no dash lights, no intermittent wipers (but low and high speed work), the overhead console compass is stuck on NE, and the chime has gone silent (not that I mind that). Please fix. Sincerely yours, Duncan McScott. PS-don’t spend money.”
“Yikes! Does the van even run?” I exclaimed to Quigley, our new service writer (we call him that ’cause he looks like Tom Selleck).
“Runs great,” replied Quigley. “But Duncan claims everything went at once, so he thinks it’s all related.”
“He’s just trying to save money with ‘one fix cures all’,” broke in Beanie. “All those symptoms can’t possibly be related to one problem.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” I replied, getting out the scan tool. “It’s time to hop on the buss.”
Beanie looked surprised. “There’s no transit system out here!”
“No,” I said plugging into the blue eight-pin CCD connector under the dash, “but there is in there.” Chrysler uses a data buss, I explained, that connects different modules together, so that they can share information. Unfortunately, they weren’t talking to each other. As a matter of fact, the body controller (BCM) wasn’t even home. All that showed up on my scanner was the Transmission module.
Duncan’s faulty accessories were all functions of the BCM. But since I couldn’t access it with the scanner, I had to go to plan B; send The Bean into the data banks to check for service bulletins. Beanie didn’t mind, as the force-feedback joystick we’d given him for Christmas made data-surfing a whole lot more fun.
And apparently the surf was up. Out came bulletin #08-14-92 from Chrysler, listing different conditions that would produce some of these symptoms.
Everything from faulty relays to fried instrument clusters. But having ALL of these symptoms at once pointed to a BCM problem. Chrysler calls it “body controller lock-up due to electrostatic discharge (a shock from static electricity).”
Beanie got a charge out of that. “It’s like when my home computer crashes in the middle of Monster Truck Madness!”
“Then it’s time to reboot.” I said, unplugging both connectors of the BCM briefly, then plugging them back in. It was an instant success.
“Nice work,” congratulated Beanie.
“Lucky guess,” said Quigley, heading back to the office.
“Marvelous!” cried Duncan later, relieved that he didn’t have to purchase a new controller-yet.
“But you really should,” I cautioned. “This will happen again. The updated controllers have an improved ground circuit to better handle static electricity.”
But being of Scotch descent, he wanted to know where the BCM was, “for next time”.
“Sorry,” I told him, “it’s a trade secret.” After all, a good magician never reveals his tricks.
About The Writer
Rick Cogbill is a freelance writer living in the Okanagan valley of Southern British Columbia. A licensed technician with over 24 years in the automotive repair industry, including ten years as a shop owner, Cogbill creates his comic scenarios with Slim, Basil, Tooner, and The Bean out of actual case histories from his shop. “What you have just read is true,” drawls Slim Shambles. “Only the names have been changed to protect my hide!”