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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have a 92 Dodge Dakota, std 5 spd, 3.9L engine, 4WD. I put a re-manufactured engine in about 6 mo. ago. The transmission was rebuilt about the same time. Have a new battery, and have replaced all 4 relays (in the engine fuse box).
But, the truck will not start until the relays stop clicking which happens shortly after I turn on the ignition. From the time I turn on the
ignition switch until I can start the engine is approx 5 minutes. This only happens the first time I start the truck each day. Once it's started and driven, the problem goes away, and the truck acts normal for the rest of the day.
Here is the starting sequence (for the first time each day): (1) Upon turning ignition on, the oil lamp and the maint reqd lamp will light on the instrument panel. The check engine lamp will NOT light at this time. (2) After about a minute, the maint reqd lamp will go out. (3) After another minute, I can start to hear the relay(s) clicking rapidly. (4) After another minute, the rapid clicking of the relays is very noticeable, and they
continue their clicking. (5) After another minute or so of rapid clicking, the check engine lamp starts showing dimly and flashes at the same rate as the clicking relays. (6) About 15 seconds later, the clicking relays slow to a stop, and the check engine light burns brightly. That's when I know I can crank and start the engine. NOTE: Upon starting the engine, it acts like it hasn't been started in years, burping and farting (backfiring) and running roughly on a few cylinders for around 20 or so seconds, then smooths itself out, and runs normally.
The
Dodge dealership in Carlsbad Car Country closeby doesn't have the print schematics, so has told me they can't help, but recommended an auto electric shop in Vista. I took it there, they analyzed it and told me I need to replace the computer. That just doesn't sound right. Besides, I can't find one (a computer).
Anyone have any ideas? I have checked the grounds that I know of (the two from the negative side of the battery, and the
wiring harness ground located by the computer. It's a brand new battery, and the 4 relays have been replaced. The fuel pump isn't that old (4 years?) and seems to act normally. Don't know what else to check at this time. Help! Thanks, Bill S., Oceanside, CA [email protected]
 

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This is definitely an electrical problem and doesn't seem to be the computer, though it could be. I would imagine that given the relay is clicking before you start the vehicle one of two things is happening: The first being there is a short on one of the positive wires going to the starter/ignition relay causing it to trip so quickly. When the relay has finally had enough it stays in the closed position (completing the circuit) so you're able to start the vehicle. Or, more likely, there is a problem with your ignition where you put in your key. I would take a safe bet that is where the problem lies. Attempt at replacing the ignition lock cylinder (PN LC14530 through RockAuto) or the ECM (PN 797662 through RockAuto or go to a junkyard Car-Part (you'll most likely need just the Federal Emissions Standards ECU, don't worry about California).

I would assume that it would be the ignition relay that is making the rapid clicking noise (cylindrical relay yes?). That being said, start with the ignition tumbler itself and work from there. If the shop where you brought the vehicle to is a good shop and has come highly recommended, it just might be the computer itself, but I'm with you that it doesn't sound like it's the computer. If they offer a warranty on there work if the ECM replacement doesn't work, hopefully they will reimburse the price of the part, but not the labor.

Get a second opinion as well through another dealership or another small independent shop (with ASE certified technicians of course).

Also, what led you to replace the relays in the first place? Did you remove all the relays at once and replace them, or did you replace one by one? Not that there's really a big difference relay to relay, but there should be a difference between an ignition relay and other relays.

It would help as well if you can pull codes from the engine as well by turning the key three times from ON OFF ON OFF ON after the clicking has stopped. Or, you can stop by an O'Reilly's and the scan tool they have should have an OBD1 Chrysler adapter to pull codes. Don't worry about the Maintenance Req light as that comes on at a certain length of time/mileage and cannot be turned off without going to the dealership.

Possible ASD relay?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you, kind sir, for your advice! To answer your question(s), I bought and replaced all four relays located in the engine compartment fuse box (driver's side, behind the battery) in order to see if it was a fuse problem, but the new fuses didn't change a thing. The fuses are cube shaped and about 3/4ths of an inch in length, width, and height (like an overgrown sugar-cube). Just yesterday (7 Dec), I pulled the code (12-15-55), which, according to Haynes, means the vehicle speed sensor circuit. Don't seem to think that has anything to do with the clicking, since the clicking happens before start-up (cranking), do you?
Will check the positive wire(s) going to the starter, as you advised. Then tackle the ignition system. What bothers me is that when the clicking stops, and I'm able to crank and start the engine, it runs real ragged for about 20-30 seconds before it smooths out and "cooperates" normally. And, if it is shut off before reaching full operating temperature, I have to put up with the clicking upon restart once again (though when cranked and started it runs smoothly without the belching and backfiring). Once it's at full temp, it's good for the day.
Crazy, huh?...!
P.S. Every once in a while, once the clicking stops, I'll go to full start (cranking) and it won't crank at all. Nothing. It takes a couple more ignition-offs-then-ignition-ons to get it to crank and start.
P.P.S. You are absolutely correct about Fed emission standards (vice CA standards) --- I checked with a smog-cert buddy of mine, and he said the same: Just buy an ECU with fed specs, cuz they get smogged to fed specs (not CA) even though we're in CA, cuz those CA specs weren't around in '92 (the year of the truck). Still a little wary (like you are) that the problem lies in the ECU. Although it was the Dodge dealership who recommended this auto-electric guy, I'm still not convinced.
P.P.P.S. What's ASD? automatic shut-off, or something? Do I have one? Can't find it in my Haynes repair manual.
P.P.P.P.S. Any possible chance that the problem is in the starter/voltage regulator? In my P.S. above (about sometimes getting "nothing"), it reminded me of my old '57 Cad when it's voltage regulator quit working. Just got a click, then nothing.
 

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since the clicking happens before start-up (cranking), do you?
Sounds most likely that it's an ignition lock cylinder issue.


Then tackle the ignition system. What bothers me is that when the clicking stops, and I'm able to crank and start the engine, it runs real ragged for about 20-30 seconds before it smooths out and "cooperates" normally. And, if it is shut off before reaching full operating temperature, I have to put up with the clicking upon restart once again (though when cranked and started it runs smoothly without the belching and backfiring). Once it's at full temp, it's good for the day.
The poor running before normal operating temperature, and running quite rich, is most likely due to a faulty Coolant Temperature Sensor. When the CTS goes bad in many vehicles it will read incredibly cold, so cold that the engine will just pour fuel into the combustion chamber and basically flood out the system, even though it can run, but barely. Once the engine reaches Normal Operating Temperature, the CTS reads fairly well and can idle the vehicle, but still runs rich, but maybe not rich enough for you to tell immediately.

P.S. Every once in a while, once the clicking stops, I'll go to full start (cranking) and it won't crank at all. Nothing. It takes a couple more ignition-offs-then-ignition-ons to get it to crank and start.
Still makes me lean toward the lock cylinder. I'd start by replacing the ignition and then the Coolant Temperature Sensor.

P.P.P.S. What's ASD? automatic shut-off, or something? Do I have one? Can't find it in my Haynes repair manual.
The ASD is the Mopar Auto ShutDown relay. From what I can tell, if the relay is bad in a vehicle, usually newer ones, but I believe some '92s had them (maybe?) it's like a fuel pump shut off switch, like the ones in the Fords where the button was located in the trunk if the vehicle got into too hard of an accident or the vehicle stopped/started suddenly. Basically it's there as a safety mechanism to keep the fuel from pumping.

I highly doubt that there is an ASD relay in the '92, but sometimes manufacturers do weird things.

Just to wrap it all up, start with replacing the ignition, or at least taking it out and checking contacts, checking wires on the column as the protective casing on the wires can get rubbed away after years of turning the wheel, using the blinker, etc, and can arc onto one another. If that seems to be the problem, you've got one solved.

Then, do a coolant flush, replace your thermostat, radiator cap, and Coolant Temperature Sensor (because when was the last time your coolant got flushed? Probably been way overdue anyway).

Also, go here for Technical Service Bulletins

Edit: Just checked through the TSBs on the website, looks like it might be ECM or Fuel Pump. Check your fuel pressure first and then go from there. Leaning towards ECM. Can pick them up for about $125 online through Car-Part, basically a nation-wide salvage yard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The poor running before normal operating temperature, and running quite rich, is most likely due to a faulty Coolant Temperature Sensor. When the CTS goes bad in many vehicles it will read incredibly cold, so cold that the engine will just pour fuel into the combustion chamber and basically flood out the system, even though it can run, but barely. Once the engine reaches Normal Operating Temperature, the CTS reads fairly well and can idle the vehicle, but still runs rich, but maybe not rich enough for you to tell immediately.


Then, do a coolant flush, replace your thermostat, radiator cap, and Coolant Temperature Sensor (because when was the last time your coolant got flushed? Probably been way overdue anyway).

Also, go here for Technical Service Bulletins

Edit: Just checked through the TSBs on the website, looks like it might be ECM or Fuel Pump. Check your fuel pressure first and then go from there. Leaning towards ECM. Can pick them up for about $125 online through Car-Part, basically a nation-wide salvage yard.[/QUOTE]

Wow, CT! Thanks a mil for the Car-Part link! And, I thought there weren't any computers (ECM/ECU) out there....duh...!
I like your "Edit". It makes a lot of sense (i.e., either fuel pump or ECM). I'd like to stay out of the steering column work, if I can. Besides, the Auto Electric shop gent told me I needed a computer and a coolant temp sensor, too. I bought and installed a new coolant temp sensor about 3 weeks ago to get that part of the equation out of the way. The engine still runs pretty cool (just above the minimum line on the temp gage), but it was a brand new CTS, so...
I also put new antifreeze, a new radiator cap, and new thermostat into the remanufactured engine we installed in the truck about 6 mo. ago.
I'll let you know how it all shakes out shortly. Thanks again for all your help! Best, Bill S., Oceanside, CA [email protected]
 

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This is definitely an electrical problem and doesn't seem to be the computer, though it could be. I would imagine that given the relay is clicking before you start the vehicle one of two things is happening: The first being there is a short on one of the positive wires going to the starter/ignition relay causing it to trip so quickly. When the relay has finally had enough it stays in the closed position (completing the circuit) so you're able to start the vehicle. Or, more likely, there is a problem with your ignition where you put in your key. I would take a safe bet that is where the problem lies. Attempt at replacing the ignition lock cylinder (PN LC14530 through RockAuto) or the ECM (PN 797662 through RockAuto or go to a junkyard Car-Part (you'll most likely need just the Federal Emissions Standards ECU, don't worry about California).

I would assume that it would be the ignition relay that is making the rapid clicking noise (cylindrical relay yes?). That being said, start with the ignition tumbler itself and work from there. If the shop where you brought the vehicle to is a good shop and has come highly recommended, it just might be the computer itself, but I'm with you that it doesn't sound like it's the computer. If they offer a warranty on there work if the ECM replacement doesn't work, hopefully they will reimburse the price of the part, but not the labor.

Get a second opinion as well through another dealership or another small independent shop (with ASE certified technicians of course).

Also, what led you to replace the relays in the first place? Did you remove all the relays at once and replace them, or did you replace one by one? Not that there's really a big difference relay to relay, but there should be a difference between an ignition relay and other relays.

It would help as well if you can pull codes from the engine as well by turning the key three times from ON OFF ON OFF ON after the clicking has stopped. Or, you can stop by an O'Reilly's and the scan tool they have should have an OBD1 Chrysler adapter to pull codes. Don't worry about the Maintenance Req light as that comes on at a certain length of time/mileage and cannot be turned off without going to the dealership.

Possible ASD relay?
I have the exact same problem it's the relay box the relay is plugged into is clicking you can unplug the relay and the clicking will continue
 

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I have the exact same problem it's the relay box the relay is plugged into is clicking you can unplug the relay and the clicking will continue
There are a few relays in that underhood electrical box. Which ones have you 'unplugged'?
 

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Fuel pressure relay in my truck

. . . anyway, here is a neat little tutorial that I picked up along the way that is related to troubleshooting clicking relays.

What to Do For a Clicking Noise in a Fuse Box

Note that in the text it is stated that: Dodge trucks built between 1992 and 1995 have a common problem with the PCM. The main computer board cracks, and it causes the ASD and fuel pump to click on and off constantly.

I cannot vouch for the validity of that particular statement, but if you do go to the link, you may get some helpful troubleshooting tips.
 
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