December 19, 2009
Back in June of 2009, I solved the Dodge transmission problem after a bit of research and wrenching. From the comments on that post, it looks like a lot of Caravan owners found that post useful, and as a result, I've committed to posting any Caravan repairs that I do.
On the way down to California, I noticed that my minivan's left tail-light was out. I figured that the problem was likely a blown bulb. However, the lights came on when we hit the brakes and when the turn-signals were used, so that ruled out the bulb. Driving around with a single tail-light out wouldn't be a big deal, except that were were pulling a little trailer behind the van, and the wiring on the trailer apparently depended on the left tail-light. Ie., with no left tail-light, we didn't have any trailer lights. Driving through the night with no lights on the trailer didn't sound like a safe way to go, and since I didn't have the tools handy to do the repairs, we ended up driving through the night with the hazard lights flashing.
Because the problem was electrical in nature, I figured that picking up a repair manual for the minivan was probably a good idea. A few weekends later (after my wife got pulled over for the tail-light), I picked up a Haynes repair manual and tackled the problem.
I was originally confused about the problem, because it didn't cross my mind that the lights would be on separate fuses. I assumed incorrectly that they should have been on a single circuit, so I thought that the problem was a bad connection or failed ground. This is why it's handy to have a repair manual with a good wiring diagram.
After flipping through several diagrams, I found the one on exterior lighting, and zeroed in on the left-light assembly.
I followed the brown/yellow (BRN/YEL) wire up to the fuses and was surprised to see the wire meet a 15a fuse. Just to confirm, I followed the right-light assembly and saw that it met up with a separate 15a fuse.
According to the diagram, this fuse was located in the "junction box" which is the fuse panel below the steering column. Removing the cover was a matter of turning a plastic screw and pulling the clear plate, after which I looked for the 15a fuses. As it turns out, there's only two of them - one labeled "RT PARK" and one labeled "LT PARK."
As expected, the "LT PARK" fuse was blown. Fortunately, I had an extra fuse available which fully solved the problem.
Near as I can figure, if the trailer lights draw everything from the left circuit, I should probably consider throwing a 20a fuse in there instead of the 15a fuse. The trailer hookup was an after-market add-on, and the original 15a fuse didn't account for an additional set of lights. Now, overfusing isn't generally a good idea (it can overheat your wires), but I believe that the 20a and 15a circuits in the van use the same size wiring, so I shouldn't have any concerns about the ability for the wires to handle the additional current.
Anyhow, problem solved. The tail-lights are working just fine now.