Relentless gauge cluster problem with new-to-me TJ

Mojave

New Member
Original poster
Joined
Dec 18, 2021
Messages
6
Location
Issaquah, WA
Hello Folks, new member here with a question I'm hoping someone can shed light on. Brief introducion: I picked up a '98 TJ a few months ago and have been working through neglect-related problems for a few months now. Replaced all the suspension components, new body mounts (after ditching the body lift), ball joints, u-joints, and some other stuff.

It's the gauge cluster problem that's killing me though. The gauges and dash warning lights work intermittently, but mostly not at all. Occasionally when I disconnect the battery, then reconnect it, they'll work for one drive. Then nothing once I shut it down and start it again. I've read just about every thread I could find on the issue, and henceforth tried all the well known interventions, including:

– Checked all related fuses
– Checked and cleaned all related ground connections related to the cluster. Probably checked them all at least three times!
– Tried a different, know-to-work, gauge cluster
– Soldered new C302 Green Connector (right hand plug) behind the cluster. Bent all the male pins on both plugs a little.
– Did gauge cycle test with pushing the odometer button when the gauges were working. Passed the test.
– New clock spring
– New airbag computer
– Carefully checked and traced all gauge related wires for chafing, cracks, etc.
– Made sure the CCD BUS wires are twisted (They weren't when I got the jeep)
– Checked voltage going to the cluster, including cavities 1 and 2, i.e. CCD BUS (+) and (-). The (+) CCD BUS wire intermittently gets voltage, and doesn't get power when the problem is occurring. According to my rudimentary understanding of the wiring diagram, CCD BUS (+) power goes from the OBD port, to the airbag computer, to the cluster. Since there was consistent power at OBD port, and intermittent power coming from the airbag computer to the cluster, I replaced the airbag computer as a hail mary, thinking it might be the problem. I'd read elsewhere that airbag computer replacement has solved the cluster problem for some people.
– Cavity 9 (C302 plug ground) is consistently grounded.
– OBD port consistently gets voltage at both cavities 3 and 16, and is grounded at cavity 11 as well.

So after replacing the airbag computer and the clock spring, the gauges and warning lights worked fine for a few days. Thought I had the problem beat.

Then they quit again today.

So right after that I disconnected the negative battery cable, let it sit for a few minutes, then hooked the battery back up, and the gauges and warning lights started working again. I've noticed this happening before too, disconnecting the battery and the guages work for awhile therafter.

So my questions is, Is something getting "reset" with the battery disconnect, and is there any useful diagnostic information with this particular characteristic of the problem?

Thanks a million for any advice in advance, I have dozens and dozens of hours into trying to solve this issue.
 
Last edited:
Ok, well, turns out it was the gauge cluster. Picked up a new (used) one on ebay, problem solved. The "funny" thing is that I tried a buddy's cluster that was known to work awhile back. It didn't solve the problem, so I ruled that out as the culprit. I can only surmise at this point that the problem was with multiple components, i.e. clock spring, airbag module, grounds, cluster plug/ pins, or all or some of the above, and I basically had to replace all of them to -eventually- figure out the problem.
 
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