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kevfish1

1998 dodge ram computer??

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Hi, I recently brought my 1998 Dodge Ram pick-up to a local repair shop to have the timing chain cover gasket replaced, along with the timing chain.

When the mechanic was done the check engine light was on and the battery was not charging. The alternator was tested and it is fine. The mechanic tells me that i need a new computer in the truck. I am also told that he did not do anything that would have caused the computer to fail. Truck was fine when i brought it in.

My question is-- What could he have done to cause the computer to fail? Or could the problem actually be something else? Have to wait till next weak for the computer to come in. Also worried about the billing, and who should pay for what?

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Coincidence? I think not. I think the mechanic should be held liable for the total cost. I'm far from a mechanic, so I have no idea what he did, but evidentally he did something.

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I know of some tech's that don't like to disconnect the battery while doing repairs(Bad, Bad habit). There is a possiblity that they didn't disconnect the battery, and arched the possitive lead on the Alternator causing the voltage spike to the PCM shorting it out.

Just a possibility.

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I agree with BBB, but we all have arched a post on alt and not had it pop the computer. I am inclined to think that he missed a ground wire, broke the plug in the back of the alt, or something simple. It seems to coincideantal that he did this work now you need a ecu. I would force him to find the reason this went and force his hand on the expense. It worked when you took it in, there is not reason for it not to work when you picked it up, especially if all he did was change the cover.

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A truck that old there know way that you can prove he did anything wrong. Maybe you can talk him in to give you a deal to repair the problem.

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i do not think that he knowingly did anything wrong. On the other hand i know that there was no check engine lite on or charging issues when i brought it in

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Take it to a dealer for a second opinion. I bet an updated flash or reprogram will fix it. Find out what caused this issue (if they can), have results put in the invoice and bring back to repair shop. If they are reputable at all and if they are at fault, something will be worked out.

They do not have a DRB (factory scan tool) I assume, so after the computer replacement, it would be going to the dealer for a flash anyways. The customer never knows the test drive includes a swing into a Dodge dealer some times grin

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Are u recommending that I just pay this Mechanic for changing the gasket and take it to dealer to get the other problem fixed?? I then am going to have to pay 2 bills- way more than what I was quated at the 1st place?? And if he messed something up then what??? Or do i leave itr there till fixed and then hagle over bill???

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flash is a way to reprogram the computer or like reboot. while it does a reset when you turn the key off, there is always memory on it. flash clears the old codes and restores the defaults. my suggestion is to talk to the mechanic. tell him you want to know what caused it and find out if he has a dealership style scanner. many places cheaper scanner that can read and clear the code but not do much more. This is why it was suggested to take it to the dealer. They are the ones that can flash the ecu. Is the alt charging now? Did your mech say what caused the alt to stop charging? if it bench tested good, it is a wiring issue that caused all of this, possibly something caught in the cover and got pinched. might cost you more but if the dealer can identify and document the cause and repair take it to the orginal mech for repayment. good luck

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A flash is a Chrysler term for computer software update.

Very rare I can recall that the PCM had to replaced, unless a water leak occurred. Most times a re-inject of the computer software/updated can fix many things, like charging system issues.

IMO, it sounds like they are not giving you any other choice than to replace the PCM. Either you have to flow with what they are doing, agree to the repair and price, hope for the best on the haggling of the price after the repair, or bring it (or at least call) to a Dodge dealer and see if the issue can be proven of its cause and most likely a $100 repair, verses what ever the aftermarket shop is charging for a PCM. If it works out, then you can bring the invoice back to the shop and show them the findings. Maybe they will do something or not.

Basically it would come down to if you want to pay $300-$500 for a new PCM from the shop or maybe a chance at a $100 from a dealer?

Is the computer (PCM) they are replacing a new, refurb, or used unit?

In the end, the shop you have brought it to has given you their response on what is wrong, their "no-wrong" doing and what is needed to fix it. My thoughts are they are not going to to haggle when it comes time to paying the bill. Your verbal authorization to fix and pay is needed. They will not go ahead at this point with out that (might have been given already by yourself if the PCM is on order) will halt all repairs.

If it where me, I would verify the gasket work has been done, pay for the gasket repair, take the Dodge to a dealer, find out what is actually wrong, then call the shop before you have it fixed, talk with the manager or owner, if they refuse helping or fixing, have the dealer fix it, move on or go to small claims court with the findings form the dealer.

There is another way, but I do not care to discuss it on a public forum grin

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The Mechanic told me that he brought the alternator to the parts store and had it tested and it was working fine. He said or implied several times that he did not do anything that would have caused this and that it must have been like this when i brought it in. I am not sure how he knows that it is the computer and i really dont know what he has for scanners. I have always heard the guy is a good mechanic but have not used his services in the past

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Is there any way that you could get the P-code from the tech that worked on your truck? I would be interesting to see how many codes are in it now.

With the code, it might help us out on trying to help you.

I would have to guess that there was a wire pinched/cut off that came from the pcm that controls the regulator.

Aftermarket shops can do reflashes on PCM's if they purchase the program for their scanner. Snap-on Motus and Mac Mentor both have the capabilities to reflash.

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Quote:
Aftermarket shops can do reflashes on PCM's if they purchase the program for their scanner. Snap-on Motus and Mac Mentor both have the capabilities to reflash.

I guess it is a 98. I know newer models require the dealer to do them because of the newness.

Heck you can buy a Chrysler DRB III with updates grin

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Being in the business as long as I have, I have seen just about everything but yet nothing surprises me anymore. If you had brought your truck in for this repair and they called you and said your headlight was burned out would you be suspicious even though you know that they where both working when you brought the truck there?

Is it coincidental? Its not impossible. Did they do something to cause it? Its not impossible either. Its a FRED (Flippin Ridiculous Electrnic Device) and just like any other electronic device or anything that runs on electricity they can go out at any time. Think of how many times you have had a fuse blow and you replaced it and never had it blow again.

I find it irritating when we service an older vehicle with higher mileage for the first time and something goes wrong and automatically its the guys fault that's working on it.

I'll second the "get another opinion" opinion. You already don't trust the guy working on it anymore so why let him make these repairs?

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Yep Jer is right on. Over the years I have seen legitimate issues crop up while the vehicles where in for service and I have seen some issues/repair pop up where the technician did cause the issue. Very rare, but some times when I was told to sell a repair during a repair, I was told by another technician or felt the issue was the mechanics fault. Maybe pride within the shop or maybe the technician is on the brink of being fired and can not afford another "charge it to the shop" mistake. Again, very rare, but the issue was dealt with involving the service manager at this point or in a case where I was the manager, I had to confront the technician. The one thing I can say is, if a issue cropped up and the service manger was involved, the customer always (in my experiences) was treated fair in the end (happy). Most times if a repair is needed during a repair, it is a legitimate failure cause be age, wear or the original concern. Snapped, broken or stripped bolts or studs that occur during a repair where some of the toughest items to sell. I would say in my 11-12 years of working in a service department, "crooked" tech's where far and few between. Most where legitimate, honest, for the customer technicians. Some not so smart as they let on grin, but the vast majority of what was being repaired and customer pay, was just that.

I was thinking last night and this kept coming to mind:

Quote:
The Mechanic told me that he brought the alternator to the parts store and had it tested and it was working fine.

I am not sure what kind of tech this guy/shop is, but why on Gods green earth is he having to bring in an alternator to a parts store for testing? Sounds fishy IMO.

I would get a second opinion before doing any further repairs with the shop/technician.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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I was thinking the same thing. How hard can it be to test the alternator?? I also wonder if he tested the battery? If he told me the battery went I would be able to accept that easier cause the battery is old. I am going in to the shop in the morning and will be asking if he tested the battery and discussing the bill or wha the intends to do? What do I say if i get billed for time diagnosing and for him bringing the alternator somewhere else??

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Well, I went in and talked to the Mechanic this morning, I asked if the problem could be the battery and he said no, that the battery is fine. Said there are 2 wires that go from alternator to the computer so computer must be telling alternator not to charge.

I asked about the computer codes. He said there is a low voltage code and also a tranny code. He said tranny will not shift into 5th gear which would be cause by computer problem. He ordered a used computer for $150. He believes this is the problem. He insists he did not do anything to cause this.

It did rain out the night I brought the truck to him. He did point out that the weather strip on back side of hood is gone. Loooks like it recently fell off or something. speculating that water got in under hood and on to computer and maybe this caused problem????

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Quote:
The Mechanic told me that he brought the alternator to the parts store and had it tested and it was working fine.

Now that I read that again it doesn't sound right to me either!

There isn't a dodge truck on the road that doesn't have that weather strip either missing, Out of place, or resting on top of the motor.

I think the issue is these guys your dealing with might be really good mechanics. However they don't seem to be real good Technicians. There is a difference!

And now they tell you fifth gear isn't working!?!?!?! Something isn't right! One fluky incident I can understand, two and the red lights and sirens go off.

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He said tha tthe computer issue is prventing the tranny from operating correctly. That there is a wire that goes from the computer to the tranny???

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If I recall, the trans is run off the TCM (Transmission Control Module), not the PCM (Power Control Module/Engine computer).

Another case where a "flash" could very well fix the issue smirk

I wish you luck! grin If it where me, I would go to the dealer before any further issues crop up, but that is just me and you need to do what you feel is best.

Something easy and cheap could be turning into something major and costly for no reason (IMO). This is assumed from internet forum diagnosing though.

Again, I do wish you luck!

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Do you recall if the time on the radio or the radio stations needed to be programed back in?

If not, the battery was never disconnected & when hooking the alternator power wire back up, COULD HAVE shorted the Computer.

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Quote:
Said there are 2 wires that go from alternator to the computer so computer must be telling alternator not to charge.

I still wonder how he diag. the PCM as the failure?

Especially if he does has to have the auto parts store do his testing on alternator's.

Quote:
I am going to let him try the used computer.

My fingers are crossed for ya kevfish1. Hope it works out. smile

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The thing that i go back and forth with is that as it was stated, anyone with a volt meter can see if the alt is working. While there are 2 wires to the computer, a signal and return, unless the plug was damaged, or he laid the alt over rather than removing and broke them, would not indicate why he could not see the alt charging. the alt will produce voltage all the time, regardless if the computer is junk. as far as the trans issue it does have its own ecu but it has to talk to the engine computer. i would think that if you had a trans issue too, it would lock out low gear so you would be in limp mode. not high gear. i would also ask him what type of scanner he uses to find codes etc and if he erased them or left them in the computer. a low volt code could be many things. the system for the sensors etc work off of a 5 volt system. while the truck is 12 volts the signal and return are 5 volt so if you have high resistance in a sensor or bad signal/return you will set a code for voltage. i am still thinking he either crushed or pinched a wire in the cover or did not dc the battery which caused the alt if he grounded it to short. but if you say the alt is working on the bench then something in the signal wire is not right. has he made sure the alt is plugged in and the ground wire on the alt is connected?

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