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No instrument lights - engine turns over but shuts off after a few seconds

(1995 Chrysler Town & Country)
in Bothell, WA on March 16, 2011
This happened once before, but magically "fixed itself" and I never had it looked at. Car's been running fine but my instrument lights have been acting up - various ones will go off and on at times, and other times all of the panel lights and radio lights will go out but will come back if restarted.
This time when I turned the ignition all the lights were on, engine turned over fine, but after a few seconds the instrument panel lights went out followed by the engine shutting off. Same results after trying a few times, then let it sit overnight and still the same. Engine definitely turns over and runs for a couple seconds but then stops.
My husband has checked all fuses which seem fine. He's mentioned the possibility of something like a relay switch? If that's something he can test and replace himself it would certainly save us a few dollars.
Appreciate any suggestions anyone has!
Displaying 1 answers & 3 comments
Popular Answer
on March 22, 2011
You probably have an intermittent electrical issue. All it takes is a loose or corroded wiring terminal to wreak havoc on a vehicles electrical system. Start from the battery. Make sure battery cables are clean and secure and that the battery can supply it's rated Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). You can have at battery tested at most Auto Parts Stores for free. The rest involves carefully inspecting the vehicles wiring harness for scrapes, tears, chafing and possible shorts due to compromised insulation, Loose or dirty harness connectors. If your vehicle is equipped with a factory Vehicle Theft Security System (VTSS), that is another area to have checked. This will cause the engine to stall after running approx 10 seconds.
on March 22, 2011
@Johnny Mopar: Thanks for the suggestions. The VTSS suggestion especially is interesting, since the behavior is very similar to what happens if one tries to start the car while the alarm is going off. I guess we have a weekend of checking wiring ahead of us! :-)
on March 22, 2011
Realized after posting my reply I'd forgotten to log in, so the reply from "Anonymous" above is me :-)
Btw, your suggestion is much better than that from my local Chrysler dealer service dept . Without even seeing the car they said I needed to replace the entire instrument panel! - I think I'll try a few other things first! :-)
on January 05, 2015
I just want to Thank JohnnyMopar!!!! We have been having the same issues. It was a dirty positive battery cable !! Saved us some $$. That means a lot in this day & age. God Bless You !! Just goes to show there are GOOD people (still) in this ole' world !! A BIG Thank You !!!
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