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What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help


Old 03-03-2008, 05:28 PM
LexingtonVanDriver is offline
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Default What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help

2003 Dodge Ram Van 2500 model. Recently, with no warning and after 130 miles of a 200 mile trip, the van seemed to sputter out and act as if it had ran out of fuel. I tried to start it again with the key with no luck. The van will crank but it will not start. Everything else is working fine - except it wont start. It will crank but not turn over. I had it towed in to a local Dodge dealership and I have reason to believe some funny business at the dealership. I was told 'probably the computer'. I could not argue with them because I am not familiar with what a computer is on the vehicle and what happens when it malfunctions. Personally - I thought it was a fuel pump or clog possibly in fuel filter. Here is my question(s): What are the symptoms of a bad computer? Could it happen all of a sudden, and if it does, what is likely to happen? Not once did the check engine light ever come on. The check engine light is not on and it has not came on during the whole issue. If a computer is BAD, WOULD THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT COME ON? I am not familiar with what the computer is and I am asking the pros (You all @ DodgeForum.com) what is up with a bad computer and what is the symptoms of one acting faulty on a vehicle? Note: The check engine light has never came on during this issue. I had a spark plug go bad and the engine fired funny one time and bang the check engine light was on. The light works and the bulb is not bad on the display. Would a bad computer make the light come on? I really need some help and opinions so I can know if the near future holds a second opinion, at another Dodge dealership.

Your help is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo greatly appreciated!! Thank you Dodge Forum pros!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 03-03-2008, 06:37 PM
Gone Fishin
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Default RE: What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help

The computer is the heart of controlling the engine operating management and transmission. The main computer also known as the ECM is the "main Frame" of the system, but there a number of other modules that are connected to the main computer.

I think the first thing I would have done is hook the vehicle up to a scanner. The ECM is what turns on the Check Engine light, so if it is dead, probably why no light.

At this point, I'm afraid you are at the mercy of the dealership.
That's not to say that it isn't something else like a bad fuel pump, but you'd have to be in a position to do some diagnosing on your own.

Ask LOTS of questions at the dealership, and ask for the bad parts back, even if you end up throwing them away, there's proof that the part was in fact replaced.

I feel for you, as I've been in your position too. I lost a fuel pump on a trip out west, and got stuck in Oklahoma with a bad fuel pump just after filling up at a service station along the highway, with the bed full, and a pop-up camper in tow. 70 mile trip on the hook, 3 days later, and a $1000 and we were up and running again.

If it is the ECM, get out your wallet, it gonna hurt!!!!!

They should have it diagnosed in a very short time.
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Old 03-03-2008, 08:57 PM
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HammerZ71 is offline
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Default RE: What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help

I agree with Gone Fishin, not saying it is the 'puter, but a good indicator is the fact that you never got a CEL. If the 'puter is fried, it can't send a code.

Hooking up the scanner will tell them if it is the problem right away though, so at least the diagnostic time won't break you.
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Old 03-03-2008, 09:35 PM
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Default RE: What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help

I am not as familar with the full size vans as I should be, but I would make sure that if the van has a PCM fuse that the fuse is not blown. I have seen many, many powertrin control mdules fail. Either they will have a code for "internal controller failure" or they are not communicating with the diag tool. I would also check the "ASD" (automatic shut down) relay. This relay controls spark and fuel supply...Wish I could be of more help....
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Old 03-04-2008, 07:13 PM
chadmech28 is offline
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Default RE: What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help

sounds like it's a coil, I have worked on lots of these vans and i have never replaced a pcm yet. The coils will stop on these at any time i have replaced lots. Now if you are checking for spark on these may sure it's a load bearing tester not just a light. Sometimes these coils will produce spark but just to weak to run. I would bet almost thats what it is. Let us know what happens.
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:28 AM
rcazwillis is offline
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Default RE: What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help

I had a '97 1500 that did the same thing. It was the computer. Fortunately, the computer is part of the emmisions system and covered up to 70,000 (or something like that). If it is the computer, check the warranty for emmisions. Dodge should cover it.
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Old 03-05-2008, 11:35 AM
KC9JVC is offline
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Default RE: What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help

I had a ECM go out in a '89 Ford Bronco and it did the exact same thing. Driving down the road and it just shut down, coasted onto the shoulder and it wouldn't restart. I had someone cycle the key while I stood by the fuel pump and I could hear the fuel pump everytime so I knew it wasn't that, after about 20 mintues on the side of the road in the middle of the WI deer/gun season I concluded I couldn't fix it there and called a tow truck. Between the 35 mile tow back to civilization and the shop fees, it came to about $1000
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Old 03-05-2008, 01:05 PM
SmittyRN is offline
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Default RE: What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help

ORIGINAL: LexingtonVanDriver
What happens when the 'computer' goes bad?
Everyone knows it builds Terminators and tries to kill us all. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!
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Old 03-05-2008, 06:51 PM
kenihemi is offline
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Default RE: What happens when the 'computer' goes bad? Please help

In my 04 hemi ram, with the pcm fuse out, it will not crank.
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:44 PM
tbone188 is offline
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Default 03 Ram 1500 Van

Me in NJ Van in Ohio, I bought it the owner said it ran poorly last time 2 years ago. I went with wife to pick it up. Brakes locked took rear wheels off and repaired, finally got rolling and the van ran great, wife loved the van. Got halfway through Pa and it died on the tpk. Tried gas because she said she thought it was getting great mileage because the gauge never moved. Gas didn't work,even tried a little in intake. Nogo. Towed it back to NJ, mechanic said it was the ecu and NO ONE had one new or used! We found one in Fla for 159.00 waiting for it now. Did find an outfit in Texas that would re-program it for 300.00--maybe next time. I think the online name was ECU
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