1999 Dodge Ram Van B1500 318 Check Gages Light Help
I have a 1999 Dodge Ram Van B1500 with a 318 engine. I was given this van by a member of my family a few days ago. I drove it back from Ca to IL over the last three days with the following issue.
The Van starts and runs but while going down the road the check gauges light comes on. When this happens, the alternator gauge pegs to the left (shows not charging), and the Oil pressure gauge pegs to the right. The headlights get very bright, and blower motor speed increases its rpm. After a few miles the check engine gauges light goes out and everything goes back to normal. The is an intermittent so the van can run fine for hours, or the check gauges light will all of a sudden come on until the van hiccups and then go off. While traveling I noticed it seems to happen when in windy areas so I thought it was a wire. So I checked the ground on my battery, pushed on the wire when stopping for fuel and that seemed to put the light out for a while. So I thought there might be a break in the ground Wire from the Battery to the block.
After I go home yesterday I had the ground wire replaced from the battery to the block. I went for a drive to pick up and air filter and see if the problem had been fixed. The problem disappeared for 20 miles but after stopping and restarting the problem returned and it seems the light is staying on. The gauges for the alternator and oil pump seem to still behaving the same issue when the light appears.
I was wondering if there are error codes stored for this that have to be cleared before the van will straighten up?
I have not yet replaced the ground strap from the block to the frame yet but that is my next step.
Another question I have is this possibly related to a bad PCM/ECM ?
Is there anything else that might cause this issue?
Thanks in advance for your advice
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Today the B1500 started and ran perfectly without the check gauges light coming on all the way to the garage where I was having the drag link replaced. Once they were done installing the drag link (15 min job if the mechanic is skilled), the check gauges light came on as I was backing it off the rack. Then the Van died and when I restarted it the check gages light went out.
I was beginning to wonder if the Van just needed time to clear the codes now that the battery ground wire was replaced and also the badly clogged air filter.
So after the drag link was replaced I drove another 25-30 miles mostly hwy to go back to a local sears store to have my tires reversed on the rims so the white raised letters were out and so they would recheck the alignment I had done. Sears is not my first choice but when I was in Ca I was short on time and Sears actually had the best price on tires and were able to install them quickly. They also were able to do the alignment the next day in a short period of time.
While replacing the drag link should not have affected the alignment at all, I suspected that alignment had not been done properly. Since it was only a few days since I had gotten done, I wanted to have it checked again. As it turns out I was correct in my suspicion and the alignment will be done again tomorrow.
Now on to the electrical:
After I left sears, the check gauges light came on. So apparently the new ground wire on the negative battery cable to the block did not fix it. Something new also happened. The check engine light came on which meant that I would be able to get the codes checked for the vehicle. So on the way home I stopped at Advanced auto parts. They came out to read my codes and i also requested they test my alternator.
The code came out (you probably can guess) that the IAC sensor was bad. After replacing such a clogged air filter, and reading steve's post in the forum, I suspected my IAC was more than likely bad or very dirty. The code read confirmed this.
Then we tested the alternator. If you recall I said the lights would get brighter and the heater fan would blow harder when the check gauges light would come on. Of course this made me wonder if the alternator or voltage regular was faulty. Since the check gauges was on, the check showed the alternator was overcharging the battery. It read 19volts during the test. That kind of voltage can end up melting your battery. My van is a conversion van that requires a 136amp Alternator which are not cheap. I currently am debating whether to have it rebuilt, buy a Reman, or spend a little extra money for a completely new one. Please share your thoughts on this with me.
While I have not gotten into studying alternators and what affects their output, I do know there is a grounding strap that is very important to be aware of when installing and alternator. I will have to read up on that to find out how it affects the output. Also there should be a frame to engine ground strap and I have to find it because I am going to replace it as well.
So I just thought I would share my experience so far. From what I have read on line its a common problem for the check gauges light to come on. I would have thought if there was a problem that the check engine light would have come on first so a person might have a clue but I guess thats not the way it works with dodge.
If anyone has any thoughts on anything else I should be checking, cleaning, or replacing please let me know. I would like for this van to turn out to be as trouble free as possible.
The voltage regular is in the computer or ecm/pcm power control module. My 99 durango had the same problem with high voltage, it fried my battery. It also said I needed a new IAC. My gauges also went crazy. And the transmission didn't shift right.
Do not get one off ebay from autocomputerexchange, they sent me 5 bad pcms each had different problems. One showed that my gas tank was empty when I had a half tank. Another one wouldn't even charge my battery.
Last year I got a rebuilt pcm from auto zone and it solved all my problems.
Last edited by Superfrog; 01-26-2012 at 12:22 AM..
I was considering Ace and letting them rebuild mind but after reading several negative posts in regard to them I think I will either send my to SIA and have them rebuild mine or get on at Auto zone or advanced.
Did you have to get the one you bought from Auto zone programed by the dealer and do you remember how much it cost you?
Stev, I will look them up. I also read about installing an external regulator on a few things I read on the web and someone else mentioned it in another thread. While its less expensive, it seems the jury is out on whether the check engine light will stay on or go off after I do it.
Also during my reading, I read about a battery temp sensor that is in or under the battery tray that sends a message to the PCM that also has an effect and influences control on the Voltage regulator based on the battery temp. While I do not know how much influence this has on the charging circuit I think I will also change it after I get the Alternator tested.