QUESTION: 2001 Town & Country Limited 3.8L V6
Hello! I currently have my Town & Country at the dealership because it died as I was backing out of my driveway. It had been acting very strange for the past couple of months i.e. radio turning off unexpectedly, speedometer and other needles spinning like crazy, and the A/C not working (except at high speeds.) Also, but I don't think this would be related, the radiator fan (the one on the driver's side) stopped working. It seems to be stuck. Well, it was still drivable with that one fan out but it would begin to overheat if idled too long. A couple different mechanics (after hearing of the car's symptoms) recommended I take it to the dealer to be repaired because it was most likely a computer problem. Well, the dealership just called to tell me that my power train control module is bad and that the part is $851 and the labor is $250. That seems pretty outrageous to me, especially when I find the same part online for less than $300. I am curious to know if I can possibly do this job myself and if it is safe to buy a PMC online, as I have found a website that will sell me a VIN-specific remanufactured PMC for $245. To be honest, I don't even know where the PMC module is located in my car.
ANSWER: Before opting for a replacement PCM I would find out from the dealer shop what fault code numbers are showing in a readout of your present PCM. Then if the vehicle is derivable I would verify that an a nationwide autoparts store like Autozone/Advanced Auto who will do a readout for free, or an independent shop that will do a readout for around $40. Let me know what fault code numbers are present and we'll compare that to the shop manual's suggestions. I am not certain that all you problems will be fixed with a pcm replacement because several of them are not related to the pcm. I would help you deal with each problem, one at a time, to see if they are remediable that way. I can't take them on all at once but will do them in steps until they are resolved. The PCM is located in front of the battery and power distribution box, just behind the headlamp module but in the engine compartment. The plugs can be removed (lift tabs that hold it in place#. Then there are two bolts on the top edge of it that hold it in place, and finally there is one bolt hidden behind the headlamp housing which once removed will be revealed as it holds the lower edge of the PCM through the metal panel that separates the headlamp from the engine compartment. The headlamp housing is released by removing three bolts on its top surface, and pulling it forward. You can unplug the headlamp plug from the bulb to move it further forward for access to that bulb. So basically, I would do some more investigating before 'buying in' to what the dealer wants you to do. Please 'rate' my answer #see below#. Thanks, Roland
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QUESTION: The vehicle is not drivable. It had to be towed to the dealership. When they called to tell me what was wrong with the car, they said that they were not able to communicate with the vehicle. I don't remember if that was exactly how they worded it, but something to that extent. Also, will the dealership even tell me the codes that are coming up?
Hi Colleen, A failure to communicate with the PCM should nonetheless producs a code 0600 or 0601. Given the other electrical gremlins that you describe I would want to be sure that there is power getting to the pcm (a failure along that line would produce a code 1684). If there is an independent electrical auto repair shop that you trust you might call them and discuss the whole situation and see whether it would be worth your while to have the vehicle towed to them for analysis. But see what the dealer says are the 4-digit codes they found to be present. No codes at all is suspicious to me that the power to the pcm is disconnected rather than that the pcm is faulty. Because you are paying for their analysis, yes, they should tell you exactly what the code reader is telling them as regards numbers or text messages. Roland