08' Dakota TRX 3.7 ...... Stumped
I'll try to summarize this to avoid writing a novel. Bought the truck, October of last year. Failed to read the Carfax in it's entirety, realized no one aside from the original owner had owned the truck (7 owners in total) for more than 6 months at a time. Ok, well it seems immaculate, and was originally a fleet vehicle...(Mistake 1)
Week 1, battery dies. IOD Fuse (thanks, shit dealer I bought it from).
Week 2, battery cable from starter grounds out and melts, small electrical fire in engine bay. (Thank you Powerade for your grape flavored fire extinguishing powers). Replaced battery cables and wires. (Mistake 2).
Week 4 - Power in truck feels like it's dwindling, system eventually shuts down (no error lights prior), as if triggered by the sentry ignition killswitch feature, except I was going 75 on the way to California in front of a semi. Reset system (12 volts present at time of shutdown) re-tightened and crimped battery cables, back in business. Finished trip without incident.
Week 19, battery cable fries after less than a mile after departure, small engine compartment fire yet again. Battery (New Optima red top) is boiling. Catch a tow back home. **Charging Warning Light Now Present**. Removed starter. Problem identified. Someone had used an air ratchet on the starter when installed (prior to my ownership) and had twisted the contact bolt to oblivion, causing the intermittent grounding. New starter installed by me, with my own human powered ratchet. **Charging Warning** light still present.
Replaced alternator, after a little research on potential issues. New battery.
Week 20 - Day of new battery and alternator install. Driving home from work (less than 2 miles round trip) 3am, charging light comes on, 20 seconds later, truck shuts down mid turn. Steering wheel locks, no power, no brakes, hit palm tree going 5 mph. October 2018. Numerous mechanics signal bad alternator. Replaced one more time before getting smart and realizing that is not the issue.
Where do I start my troubleshooting process from here? One Dodge mechanic said over the phone that there's a hidden fuse box somewhere that holds a fuse pertaining to the communication between the PCM and charging system. Other than that, I'm at a loss as to where to begjn without replacing any more large components.
Thank you for reading....