By on August 18, 2015



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Brett writes:

Brett here. Got a weird one, or maybe it is not that weird since it involves a Chrysler product and electrical gremlins. My father drives a 2006 Jeep Commander, 5.7-liter HEMI, basically loaded. Overall, he likes the Jeep. It has about 104k miles on it. Anyways, it is his forth Jeep and he is having some weird electrical problems.

Imagine that, a Chrysler product with electrical problems…

So, randomly it wont start. Currently happens about once a week. He drives it to and from work about 5 miles each way. Fortunately, his wife works with him and they drive 2 cars everywhere so he is never really stranded anywhere. Family dysfunction here: there were many times that he, his wife, myself and my brother would all drive somewhere separately. Anyways, my dad and the Jeep were at my house the other day and I was taking the Jeep to the store. Tried to start it and it just cranked and cranked. Stopped, waited a minute or two and tried again an it started right up. It was like it wasn’t getting spark or fuel.

Second random issue was the front windshield washer pump stopped working. While troubleshooting, I realized that the rear pump didn’t work either. I listened for it but could not hear the pumps turning on. I decided to check the fuses. Once determining that Chrysler indicates that 4 different fuses could affect this on some random forum I figured what the hell. I pulled each fuse from the two separate fuse boxes under the hood and from the one under the dash (one at a time). I didn’t find a failed fuse — but guess what? The pumps started working. Should I slather some dielectric grease on the fuses and hope for the best?

I am guessing these two issues are related. My google-fu didn’t turn up a likely culprit. Any suggestions? He had previously indicated that he is considering a new vehicle, my suggestion was to trade it one a new vehicle before more gremlins show up.

Sajeev answers:

Hey Brett. With no shop manuals in hand, I’d be surprised if these problems are related. Most newer vehicles have unique body control wiring/modules and a mostly sovereign powertrain control module. I mean, Chrysler’s done some bizarre R&D things in the last 40+ years, but…

I reckon we need more information for the no-start condition. Maybe there’s a stored trouble code in the computer? Perhaps the crank position sensor (or maybe its wiring) is intermittently bad, hence the Jeep cannot know the right time to send spark/fuel to the motor? The intermittent nature makes me think that sensor is toast.

According to this thread, there’s one pump for the Commander’s front and rear windscreens. But this thread says there’s two pumps? 2006 might be a transitional year, if the part numbers between 2006 and 2007 on RockAuto are any indication. Fun stuff without a shop manual and no way to leave the Internet for this query!

I’m stumped: considering both front and rear sprayers are not working, I reckon you got one electric motor…and it’s flaky. The replacement looks pretty cheap. It might be worth testing the motor and its wiring with an old fashioned multimeter. Well, after you purchase a proper shop manual to get real insight into the circuit.

Have fun with that!

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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21 Comments on “Piston Slap: Commandeering The Commander’s Electrics?...”

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Many electrical mysteries can be traced back to grounding issues. Check the connections on the earth strap between engine and body, and battery and body.

  • avatar

    Imagine that. Chrysler must be the only brand (on this site anyways) that has electrical probs, tranny issues, front ends falling apart, rust, bad mojo, makes babies cry etc etc.. Looks like if you say it enough, it must be true!

    Your problem is not so weird and with some basic troubleshooting, you can narrow it down. All cars use computers and they are affected by not only ground problems, but also by EMI, static and, to a degree, cosmic events. Bits moving across a wire, be it via a chip or foil path can easily be flipped or corrupted (if the conditions are right).
    That is assuming they are making to where they have to go- which in your case, I don’t think they are. More than likely, your ECM or BCM (as Mr. Mehta pointed out) is probably to blame. If the computer cannot get a pulse from the crank and cam sensors, it can’t calculate air/fuel and it will be a no go. You would have a code if it were indeed crank or cam sensor so I am going to say one of the onboard computers or their connection is to blame – not uncommon for a near ten year old vehicle.

    I am reminded of a friend’s Lexus GS400 (I know!!! Unbelievable!!!) that would not shift out of park and whose lights would not come on in auto mode. BCM AND a bad ground were to blame.

    • 0 avatar

      You ChryslerCo fans should start a club with the VW people so you can complain how persecuted you are.

      • 0 avatar

        They should make it a merger of equals with their German friends. That always seems to work out well for Chrysler.

      • 0 avatar

        Interestingly enough, i have had more consistent issues with GM products than Chrysler vehicles.

        I cant speak for their newer vehicles, but i had a ’01 PT Cruiser and ’04 SRT-4 and they were bulletproof, had no issues at all.

        Between my wife and i, we have had 2 cobalts,1 sonic, and one 2013 impala through the years. All of them had brakes that shake when slowing down from highway speeds. All of them have had the airbag warning light go on and off sporadically and often. And now my 2013 impala keeps giving me the warning chime that my passenger is not wearing their seat belt…….when i am the only one in the car.

        The brake and airbag issues happened/are happening in both the 2006 & 2007 cobalt we had and the newer 2012 sonic and 2013 impala. Seems lazy to me that they have not addressed common issues in 6-7 years.

        None of these issues have been catastrophic, or left me stranded, but they have made me conclude that we are most likely done with GM products moving forward.

        /end rant

        • 0 avatar

          Not surprising. GM vehicles have stranded me repeatedly even after fixing something as obvious and isolated as an alternator (twice) and
          a wiper motor, relay, switch (nearly killed me in a rainstorm).
          You’d think these things were figured out by 1985!

          • 0 avatar

            it is disappointing. I want to root for the hometown teams, but not when they keep getting basic things wrong.

            I have written off other manufacturers as well, not leaving myself much to choose from moving forward, lol.

            No List:
            1. GM – same problems over and over.
            2. VW – great looking cars, internet tells me they are unreliable.
            3. All German makes – great looking cars, will dominate your wallet for maintenance.
            4. Honda – reliable, but nothing in their line up appeals to me.
            5. Subaru – some fun cars, but have had family members have bad experiences recently.

            Maybe List:
            1. Toyota – seem to be reliable, cant really get excited about much in their line up. I want to like the FRS, but they need to address the power delivery in that car first.
            2. Chrysler/Dodge – i like RWD platforms, i have had good experiences with their older products, but the internet tells me it will fall apart ;)
            3. Hyundai/Kia – seem to be decent cars, waiting on something compelling to come from them that isnt $40k+
            4. Mazda – me likey the miata, just need to convince myself i could DD it

  • avatar

    My dad’s 2000 Grand Cherokee and his 2005 Grand Cherokee both had the exact same starting problem. It was the crank shaft position sensor both times. Take it to have that sensor checked.

  • avatar

    My MIL’s T&C had a problem where the power doors refused to open. You had to pull a fuse to reset the body computer, and it would work again.

    Apparently there was a software update, or else this would happen every few years. It sounds a lot like the 32-bit millesecond counter that was in Windows 95.

    The Commander is from the same era as that T&C. I wonder if the windshield washer problem has a similar fix?

    Oh, can the body computer prevent the vehicle from starting?

  • avatar

    “Perhaps the crank position sensor (or maybe its wiring) is intermittently bad, hence the Jeep cannot know the right time to send spark/fuel to the motor?”

    The first place that I would look – I wouldn’t call it the most common Chrysler electrical problem but it is an issue and there is no rhyme or reason to it; sometimes it starts and sometimes it won’t.

  • avatar

    Crank position sensor. Simple and cheap to repair.

  • avatar

    On Chrysler vehicles you can check for stored trouble codes without a code reader. Cycle the ignition key to on(not start)-off(not lock)-on-off-on and it will flash the OBDII P codes in the digital odometer. Some googling of the codes that pop up will help you learn what’s going on assuming that the problem has tripped a code.

    • 0 avatar

      Didn’t know that. The bad part is I have a reader and didn’t even think about checking codes.

    • 0 avatar

      I did not know about this ignition trick, I have a code reader but will try it anyway! Thanks. As Sajeev stated, first check for stored codes, it will narrow down things like an immobilizer fault (for example).

      If no codes are present, it can be an intermittent crank signal. I have seen crank & cam sensors cause similar issues and never trigger the CEL. On the VQ35 this has been especially true. On the 5.7 I believe the starter must be unbolted in order to access the crank sensor, it is straight forward but not a 3 minute job.

      Along the logic of bad grounds, have the battery tested. Most shops will test them for free.

  • avatar

    This motor has both a crank and a cam position sensor. Be sure to check both. One sensor failing can lead to a no start, sometimes it takes both. It all depends on what the ECM needs.

  • avatar

    ” I didn’t find a failed fuse — but guess what? The pumps started working. Should I slather some dielectric grease on the fuses and hope for the best?”

    Loose wire at the fuse box, perhaps?

    (I had that cause intermittent injection pump failures in my old Toyota pickup, well over 100kmi in.

    The dealer had … fun diagnosing that, but in a loyalty-earning move did not charge me for the diagnostic hours.

    Anyway, “randomly dies and fiddling with fuses might have fixed it for no obvious reason” fits in with either “dirty or old fuse*” or “loose wire”.

    * Replace fuses due to age. Seriously. It’s ten years old. Replace all the fuses. You won’t regret it.)

  • avatar

    When playing with the fuses and something starts working again replace the fuses. A lot of the older fuses use lead and i have found the connections do get dirty. I also put my money on a dirty ground connection. After living with 10-15 years old cars in my early life i have found the first thing to check when something does not work is the ground connections. Most of the time it always works but you have to know where all the ground connection are located. That means you have to get the shop manual or at least the electrical manual. When you think of all the salt they use in the snow belt in this country you will always find remains on some connection on a 10 year car that is always parked in the street. Ask me how i know this!

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