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I recently put about 1,000 miles on my 2007 Caliber SE in one long road trip, which I was confident would go smoothly. On the way home, I was on my way into a small town for gas when my car suddenly went into what I've seen referred to as "limp mode" immediately after driving over a construction-related bump. I went from having full control to almost no control at all, with incredibly jerky movement limited to maybe 5 MPH at best. A warning light I had never seen before of an electrical bolt in between two inverted parentheses was on, and I was certain my car was dying. I pulled over, turned the car off and waited for about ten minutes while I called a family member in an attempt to determine what I should do. I decided to drive the car to a nearby parts supply store--that was all that was open at the time--to see if they had any ideas, but I was surprised to find that the car began working normally, as if nothing had ever happened. I spent about an hour debating whether I should drive the car home knowing that it could stop working in the middle of nowhere, but the town I was in did not have an auto mechanic or a decent place to stay so I took the risk. I made it home and there were no further problems for several weeks.

Now I'm finding that my car is entirely possessed. In addition to having the car suddenly start limping for no reason, my instrument panel lights have started to turn off entirely at random, along with all of the lights illuminating the radio and air conditioner controls. This has happened while driving numerous times, and tonight the issue became permanent. When I start my car or turn the headlights off and then on again, all of the lights in the car flicker five times (always five, as if whatever is causing the problem is programmed to do that) and turn off. Additionally, as I was driving earlier today just as the sun began to set I was entirely convinced that my low beams were not working at all. After pulling the car over, turning it off and turning it back on again I noticed that the lights were once again working normally but I still could not get my instrument panel to light up. I have also found myself in several situations at night in just the past week or so where cars driving behind me will flash their high beams at me several times, as if trying to tell me that something is visibly wrong with the lights on my car. I thought nothing of it until other problems began appearing more frequently in the past few days, but now I'm thinking my car is having some sort of major electrical problem.

I have two young children who are almost always in the car with me, and my wife works in a nearby town that I am required to commute to and from twice a day, with one of those times being at night. I am entirely convinced that whatever this problem is will only get worse and that I'll end up stalled out in the middle of the highway with no lights on, but this is my only car and if I stop driving it my wife has no other way to get to work. I'm in a catch 22 situation of not being able to afford driving my car any longer due to obvious safety concerns, but also being unable to stop driving it due to the possibility of having my wife lose her job. I've thought of buying a flashlight and using it to illuminate the dashboard until I can get the car looked at, but that seems like a ridiculous thing to need to do and it would probably only make driving even more dangerous.

I've read a number of similar comments indicating that problems similar to the ones I've been having are frequently caused by a faulty TIPM which has been recalled in some other car models. I can barely pull together the $1,000+ I'll need to fix the problem if that's what it ends up being, but are there any other possible causes? I've read a number of stories involving people who have had faulty TIPMs, but ended up going through thousands of dollars of needless repairs before the mechanics finally determined that the TIPM needed to be replaced. There is only one Dodge dealership/mechanic in my town and I really don't like dealing with them, but it seems as though I have no choice but to take my car into their shop for repairs. As someone who knows very little about cars, how can I emphasize to them that I believe the TIPM may be the cause of the problems I've been experiencing? I don't want to sound like an idiot or like I'm being too pushy, but I also know that I couldn't afford repairs beyond a TIPM replacement if they wanted to troubleshoot the problem by replacing various parts until they found the right one. If I can't figure this problem out after one or two repairs I'm afraid it will never end up being fixed, and all of the money I spent to buy myself a car that *actually worked* will be wasted. Help!
 

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It could be the TIPM...or it could be a few other things.

It's not uncommon for Chrysler products to develop bad grounds as they age (at least here in the northeast...corrosion causes them to go bad). The fact that you went over a bump and suddenly had this problem makes me think it could be a bad ground. There's a link to the service manual for Calibers on the forum...it's a sticky somewhere. Get a copy of it and locate the main body grounds in the engine compartment. You'll see wires with round connectors on their ends, which are fastened to bolts sticking out the body. Check each one for corrosion and/or a broken/loose ground wire.

The problem could also be caused by a shorted wire in the main wiring harness that runs from the TIPM, under the battery, and outside the driver's side front fender. There are few areas where the harness can rub against the body of the car, resulting in a shorted wire. If the grounds are all good, then check for this as well.
 

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Just finished working on my '07 SXT that had experienced a series of "no start" situations. After jumping the last time and driving toward home, while bouncing around a corner, all the accessories started to blink. When home, the car died again and refused to jump start. I pulled the battery to inspect the wire looms, battery cables and grounding studs. The grounding stud next to the battery popped right off in my fingers. There was also a good amount of corrosion at the exposed end of the negative battery cable.

I had a replacement set of the power wires on hand and proceeded to remove the starter to get to the positive terminal. All-in-all, it took about 2.5 hours to remove, rewire and replace the starter and remount the battery-to-body ground with a large sheet metal screw. When I jumped the cables to the battery, I had all power function (ignition) back. So, I re-installed everything and it is back on the road. Hopefully for a few more years.
 
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