Piston Slap: CAN Busing Around a No-Start Van?
Bob writes:

Hello Sajeev,

My wife’s 2012 Grand Caravan has a quirk: an intermittent no start condition when the key is inserted into the ignition and turned. Dash lights come on, but engine doesn’t crank. Doesn’t seem to matter if I cover the brake or not. Doesn’t seem to matter if the row the gear selector a couple times. After 3 or 4 attempts of turning the key it suddenly starts and drives.

I researched fuse boxes, but the symptoms don’t quite match. I researched the neutral switch device, but once again symptoms don’t quite match. Ignition switch might be the culprit? My red herrings:

  1. The car has stalled, intermittently, a half-dozen times while driving to work at roughly 35 mph. Pull over, and it restarts.
  2. My best friend’s wife has a 2013 Town & Country with the same problem. We were both shocked.
  3. When we first bought the car, we lost the one and only original key. So not wanting to pay the dealership fee of $500+, the internet found a guy who could do it from the back of his car for $200. The keys are Dodge keys, but not Grand Caravan specific. They have worked fine, but I wonder if once in a blue moon the ignition switch decides it doesn’t like the impostor keys? And my friend, who has the same problem, has their original keys?

The van has been a godsend for our three kids and dogs, so the idea of going to a SUV or Mega-truck sounds like a lot of money for less space, but I can’t have her driving around wondering if she will stall in traffic, or — more annoying — just can’t start after loading up to go somewhere with the kids. The dealership is useless unless they can replicate it. And it never does it when you want to show someone.

Perhaps the car is possessed by the ghost of passenger from its prior rental life?

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Piston Slap: An Update (and a Request!)

Sajeev writes:

That’s right people: I need more user-submitted queries to keep this series alive!

The same rules apply, just about anything besides the “Help Me with my First World Problem Car Purchasing Dilemma” is on the table. If you’ve seen it on an automotive message board, let’s tackle the issue here. I need your content!

sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com

No more begging, let’s get back to Craig the Audiophile looking to cancel his noise-cancelling Grand Cherokee:

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Macchina Brings Car Hacking To The Masses

Tuners and researchers have searched for ways to pull data from cars and modify it ever since the introduction of the first on-board computer in the late 1960s. The advent of fuel injection and computer-controlled engines in the 1990s brought computerized tuning front and center. And while the OBD2 standard — made mandatory in 1996 —standardized the interface and made it easier to read diagnostics and log some parameters, modification and advanced logging was still complicated and expensive.

Professional tools and open source hardware popped up in the past decade to allow deeper access into a car’s electronics, but most ready-made products were still expensive. Open source variants also required knowledge of soldering and programming. Now, Macchina has taken the best of both worlds and packaged it into an inexpensive product that should prove useful for researchers as well as tuners.

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Exclusive: Say Goodbye to Chip Tuning – Open CAN Bus Going Away in Two Model Cycles

According to someone that I consider to be an impeccably reliable source, you can say goodbye to being able to fiddle with your car’s electronic control devices to make it go faster because chip tuning and the open CAN bus that allows it are going away.

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  • Kwik_Shift I'll just drive my Frontier into the ground as planned. Possibly find an older "fun" car to collect.
  • Lorenzo The solution is so simple: if the driver shifts into neutral without applying the parking brake, the horn sounds and lights flash until the parking brake is applied. After the third time, the driver should be insulted by a voice saying, "Shouldn't your wife be driving?", or "Where did you get your license - Dollar Store?"
  • Akear About 7 years ago crazy Mary said there is no future for Hybrids and GM would concentrate on EVs. Barra has an amazing ability to make the wrong decisions on just about every issue. I used to think Rick Wagoneer and Roger smith were the biggest GM idiots. I am not so sure now.
  • GBJT I’ll keep my 2021 Tundra and wouldn’t buy a 2022 Tundra due to the twin turbo V6 and transmission.
  • 2manyvettes Um, somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I clearly remember a story about used EV's in China rotting away in a field somewhere because nobody wanted to buy them, much less dealers wanting to sell them. Anyone, anyone, Bueller,Bueller?