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Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

 
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Old 10 Sep 2016, 10:22 am
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Default Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

OK folks, my 2003 GT is at 216K and has been relatively well behaved its whole life. However, in the last few weeks it has been throwing lots of unrelated codes and i am beginning to think I may an electrical noise problem with the ECM or somewhere else.

P0300 - random misfire
This was the first code that started coming up. Noticed a valve cover leaking oil into the plugs. Plugs were old anyhow so I replaced the valve cover gasket, plugs and wires. Code still comes up almost every day. Ran a few tanks of injector cleaner - no change. Checked compression - 135-145 on all cylinders. Vacuum is good too. Have not checked coil resistance yet.

P0480 - fan control circuit
This goes off every few days. Fan seems to be operating fine. I have not checked if the variable speed is working but the fan is coming on and the car is not overheating.

P0703 - brake switch B malfunction
Brake lights are working, cruise control is working. Puzzled.

P0501 - Vehicle speed sensor range/performance
This one popped up for the first time yesterday with the other three above. Torque converter seems to be operating fine, speedometer is not jumping.

One other random problem over the last few months is that my ABS and traction control will turn off randomly for several miles. This could be related to a VSS problem but the code is brand new.

Given all these random codes happening at once, I am beginning to suspect that maybe the problem is a bad ground signal to the ECM might be causing erratic reading from multiple sensors. Any other thoughts would be appreciated.
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Old 10 Sep 2016, 10:38 am
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Default Re: Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

First I would suggest doing a battery load test. Make sure you have good battery cable contacts. When you have it tested make sure they key in the amps that the battery is suppose to hold.

Check the group of ground wires going to the drivers side inner wall. Sometimes they get corroded and you can't see it from the outside.

Do you leave the PT Cruiser outside for long periods of time? Sometimes critters love to eat wires as they find a sleeping spot in the engine compartment. They find a nice spot below the battery support plate where the transmission is located..
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Last edited by ptcruisersteve; 10 Sep 2016 at 10:42 am.
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Old 10 Sep 2016, 12:36 pm
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Default Re: Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

Quote:
Originally Posted by ptcruisersteve View Post
Check the group of ground wires going to the drivers side inner wall. Sometimes they get corroded and you can't see it from the outside.
Could explain everything. I will check for a voltage differential first between the negative terminal at the battery and the firewall while the car is running with lights and A/C on. The drop should still be negligible. Anything more and I think we have found a culprit.
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Old 11 Sep 2016, 11:17 pm
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Default Re: Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

Didn't get to the ground wire this weekend. Besides, the CEL went out. Tonight though I got two new codes:

P1687
No Mechanical Instrument cluster bus message

P1681
No I/P Cluster CCD/ J1850 messages received
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Old 12 Sep 2016, 12:28 am
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Default Re: Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

P1681 - No Fuel Level Bus Messages

Possible Causes:

Data Bus circuit from BCM to PCM is damaged or it has failed
Fuel level Bus message to the PCM is invalid
BCM is damaged or has failed
PCM unable to communicate with the Body Control Module

P1687 - No Cluster Bus Messages:

Possible Causes:

Data Bus circuit from SKIM to PCM is damaged or it is open
PCM unable to communicate with the Body Control Module
PCM has failed
SKIM is damaged or has failed

I would suggest checking the ground wires going to the PCM also.
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Old 12 Sep 2016, 12:31 am
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Default Re: Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

I would suggest using an ultragauge or scan tool to keep track of the battery voltage as you are driving your PT Cruiser. You might have a random voltage drop causing all the gremlin codes.
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Old 12 Sep 2016, 10:03 am
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Default Re: Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

I guess the bad ground could cause momentary battery voltage changes. I keep a volt meter plugged into the cigarette lighter but I obviously can't keep my eye on it all times. Except for the CEL coming on, the car is operating just like normal.
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Old 13 Sep 2016, 07:01 am
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Default Re: Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

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Originally Posted by sawdust123 View Post
I guess the bad ground could cause momentary battery voltage changes. I keep a volt meter plugged into the cigarette lighter but I obviously can't keep my eye on it all times. Except for the CEL coming on, the car is operating just like normal.
i feel bad for you because issues like this can take a lot of work to trouble-shoot to find the exact damn cause.
i recommend to buy a alldatadiy subscription and go to the power/grounding section and print out all the grounding locations for the damn car and not only check them all but also remove them, clean up the mating joints and apply dielectric grease and check for the resistance to the battery ground terminal. and pay attention to your power and grounding to and from your PCM as well.

hope you find the exact cause.
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Old 13 Sep 2016, 08:04 am
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Default Re: Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

Quote:
Originally Posted by _PTGT03 View Post
i feel bad for you because issues like this can take a lot of work to trouble-shoot to find the exact damn cause.
i recommend to buy a alldatadiy subscription and go to the power/grounding section and print out all the grounding locations for the damn car and not only check them all but also remove them, clean up the mating joints and apply dielectric grease and check for the resistance to the battery ground terminal. and pay attention to your power and grounding to and from your PCM as well.

hope you find the exact cause.
This is all generally good advice, but please be careful with the dielectric grease. The internet treats it as if you should coat all electrical parts in that crap. The fact is, it does not conduct electricity. It is an insulator. That is the point. I have seen batteries that worked with that stuff slathered over the terminals unable to crank over the car.
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Old 17 Sep 2016, 06:06 am
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Default Re: Trouble codes galore... and I don't believe them

Quote:
Originally Posted by ptcruisersteve View Post
Check the group of ground wires going to the drivers side inner wall. Sometimes they get corroded and you can't see it from the outside.
Thank you Steve. I am tentatively calling the problem fixed right now. I sprayed some contact cleaner over the area where the wires meet the sidewall and the codes went away. I haven't thrown any codes for more than an entire tank of gas now.

I really need to do a better job cleaning the area. The contact cleaner is only so effective. However, what a big change. The problem had been getting progressively worse with time (a few more codes and speedo stopped working intermittently).

I am pretty certain that the typical mechanic would not have looked here for the problem. I am hoping to get one more year from the car. By then it should be nearing the 250K mark.
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