Intermittent Dash Lights/Gauges to Zero

bfairweath

Well-Known Member
My '03 has had this happen a few times recently - ABS, Brake, and Air Bag light comes on, all four gauges on the right side of the cluster drop to zero. It's done it on startup as well as after a few minutes of driving. I have a Blue Driver scan tool. It does show some Class 2 network comm failures. I've cleaned a number of the ground points, tried (unsuccessfully) to change to my backup ignition switch (might be shot from riding around in the glove box for 6 years).

I've watched all the videos and read all the posts about troubleshooting the Class 2 network. It just doesn't seem like I have a node that's dying and taking down the network. It's very intermittent. Hasn't happened in about five days. I can still communicate through the OBDII port while the condition is happening.

Weak battery? The battery is old. It seems to crank okay. Here's what's got me thinking that - problem showed up last week when it was in the 30's here in WI. It's in the 70's this week and hasn't happened.

Ignition switch? I did buy a new one to try.

This is my wife's DD. She's already demanding a new vehicle. If I don't make this problem go away quick, it might be the end of the TB. Dealer said they'd give us $683 on a trade in. Thanks.
 

Attachments

TJBaker57

Well-Known Member
My '03 has had this happen a few times recently - ABS, Brake, and Air Bag light comes on, all four gauges on the right side of the cluster drop to zero. It's done it on startup as well as after a few minutes of driving. I have a Blue Driver scan tool. It does show some Class 2 network comm failures. I've cleaned a number of the ground points, tried (unsuccessfully) to change to my backup ignition switch (might be shot from riding around in the glove box for 6 years).

I've watched all the videos and read all the posts about troubleshooting the Class 2 network. It just doesn't seem like I have a node that's dying and taking down the network. It's very intermittent. Hasn't happened in about five days. I can still communicate through the OBDII port while the condition is happening.

Weak battery? The battery is old. It seems to crank okay. Here's what's got me thinking that - problem showed up last week when it was in the 30's here in WI. It's in the 70's this week and hasn't happened.

Ignition switch? I did buy a new one to try.

This is my wife's DD. She's already demanding a new vehicle. If I don't make this problem go away quick, it might be the end of the TB. Dealer said they'd give us $683 on a trade in. Thanks.

That does look like a loss of serial data. There is a gray data wire from the data splice pack under the left end of the dash up to the cluster. Unless the underdash area has been disturbed though I wouldn't expect that wire to be any trouble. The connector at the top of the cluster maybe. Or the cluster itself. Truthfully I am just guessing here though.
 
OP
OP
B

bfairweath

Well-Known Member
Yes, you're correct. I have an additional generic Bluetooth OBDII interface for Torque. I should have explained better. I was able to communicate with both/either while this condition was happening.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Did you check the battery connections? That can cause weirdness too.
 
OP
OP
B

bfairweath

Well-Known Member
I had the negative on and off several times when I was messing around with my spare ignition switch. Didn't really check the positive. I'll take a look at that.
 

MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
Sketchy 10 Amp Fuse in Slot #24 of Power Distribution Center...or the Slot itself? Can't hurt to pull it, Clean the Tangs, Spray out the Slot with CRC Electrical Contact Solvent... and Plug it back in.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
And corroded fuses and contacts.
 
OP
OP
B

bfairweath

Well-Known Member
Here's a update. It's been about week since the TB has misbehaved. Went on a 350 mile trip this weekend. Everything normal. One big difference between this past week (everything normal) and the week before (intermittent dash lights nearly every day) is the temperature. It's been in the 70's this past week vs. the more normal 30's-40's the week before.

What do you guys think of my weak battery theory? Could it be causing this behavior? Colder temps = lower battery efficiency = electric gremlins. We've supposedly got one more day of 70's then back to the 40's on Tuesday. Again, it seems to be cranking okay, but the battery is old - maybe 6-7 years.

There may be some credence to Mooseman's suggestion about battery connections. I put my meter across the battery terminals. The voltage readings are very erratic with the truck running or shut off. There is no visible corrosion. Going to try reading just the battery with the cables disconnected tomorrow. I could occasional get a good, steady reading with one meter probe on the positive post of the battery and one on the ground point right behind the battery.

Note: my meter is good. Reads steady 12.6 on my other car as well as my lawn tractor.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
At that age, that battery owes you nothing and I would change it just on age and to eliminate it as a possible source of these issues. Good time to clean the connectors too.
 

Mektek

Well-Known Member
I don't think it's a battery issue. I have a old battery and while the voltage drops to 9.6 when cranking it still starts OK and the instrument panel works normally. In a northern climate a replacement would be needed, but here I can eke out a few more months of use.
 

Redbeard

Well-Known Member
I have a old battery and while the voltage drops to 9.6 when cranking it still starts OK and the instrument panel works normally. In a northern climate a replacement would be needed, but here I can eke out a few more months of use.
Many years ago I would do the same thing-eke out a couple of more months until I toasted an alternator that had been pushing out to much amperage and died. I believe it cost me about $170 for the alternator on that truck vs about a $50 dollar battery. (this was probably 25 years ago on a nissan p.u.) I didn't think that was too cost effective. An older battery will try to take all the alternator can push out causing it to stay excessively warm shortening it lifespan of the alternator considerably. Especially if it is pumping out at 100% of it's rate 100% of the time. Since then I have purchased a DC amp-meter to see how much the alternator is pushing out electrons.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
:iagree:
These trucks are sensitive to voltages. If they're off or the battery is dying, it can wreak havoc on the electronics. And it WILL eventually leave you stranded.
 
OP
OP
B

bfairweath

Well-Known Member
At that age, that battery owes you nothing and I would change it just on age and to eliminate it as a possible source of these issues. Good time to clean the connectors too.
Good point. I have to test my theory tomorrow through Friday. Temps will be normal for WI this time of year. If it misbehaves - new battery this weekend.
 
OP
OP
B

bfairweath

Well-Known Member
Okay, so much for the weak battery theory. Truck behaved all week in cold temperatures. Maybe Mooseman hit it with a battery connection. It really hasn't misbehaved since I had the negative post on and off several times while messing with the ignition switch two weeks ago. I say "really hasn't" because the TB is my wife's vehicle and she said that the dash lights came on for about a minute after she started it the day after I messed with ignition switch. Yes, I asked if it was the normal light check at startup and she said definitely not. She's not the best at diagnosing abnormal behavior (of a vehicle anyway).
 
OP
OP
B

bfairweath

Well-Known Member
Another update - truck misbehaved a couple of times this past week on some of the colder mornings. I broke down and put in a new battery this morning. There was quite a bit of corrosion on the positive post. I was also wrong about the age of the old battery. When I took the box off, I discovered it was about to have it's 8th birthday. Not smart to go into a WI winter with an eight year old battery - electrical gremlins or not.

I can now get a constant voltage reading with my meter across the posts. I could not before. That may have been a symptom of the corrosion on the positive post. It's a constant 14.78 volts with the engine at idle and no accessories on.
 

Online statistics

Members online
9
Guests online
479
Total visitors
488

Forum statistics

Threads
20,870
Messages
603,218
Unanswered questions
2
Answered questions
2
Members
14,169
Latest member
quarryroader
Top Bottom