The Totally Integrated Power Module (TIPM) is the gateway or distribution box for nearly the entire electrical system in late-model Chrysler products. Its main purpose is to take the commands from various switches and other modules and send those commands in the form of voltage or ground to wherever it needs to go. You name the electrical system, and chances are, it runs through the TIPM. But, the TIPM isn’t without its own faults, which is why I renamed it, “Trouble In Power Management.”
Customer complaints are endless when it comes to power management problems with the TIPM. From no-starts and intermittent problems to the common assessment by customers that, “My car is possessed,” these modules can be a real headache. No matter what the circumstances, if it’s got a TIPM under the hood, chances are you’ll be diagnosing a problem regarding an electrical function on the car that runs through the TIPM.
Here are a few of the most common issues I’ve seen over the years.
- The fuel pump not turning off
- The air bag light stays on with no service codes
- The engine stalling while driving
- The starter cranks but won’t start
- The horn going off at random times
- Power windows not working
- Doors locking or unlocking themselves
- Intermittent blower motor
- Trailer lighting issues
- Coolant fans inoperative
- No-start signal
- Wiper issues
- Reverse lights intermittent or not functioning
- ABS problems
- No A/C
- Radio shuts off while driving
- The customer hears a whining sound, similar to an electrical relay partially making contact while it is parked in the garage.
Some of the other common problems you’ll see are not so much the TIPM’s fault, but are generated by the vehicle owner themselves. An example might be a customer adding a snowplow with super bright headlights wired to the factory low beams, which overloads the factory circuits. For some, the thought never occurs that they shouldn’t overload the electrical circuit beyond its natural capacity.
I try to inform these customers of the way today’s vehicles are designed, which is to carry the load for which it was originally designed and not for supporting various accessories. Additional features should be added as an entirely separate circuit straight to the battery source with their own fuses or breakers. These should never be tied into the factory systems. Trailer lights are a biggie. I still find vehicle owners who instead of using the trailer lighting leads, will just sling a few wires with scotch locks onto the factory taillights. They’re just asking for problems.
The cost of TIPMs vary. Some are as little as a few hundred bucks while others can run close to a thousand dollars. Of course, there are a few adventurous souls out there who will take the TIPM apart, replace the burned-out relays and patch the board up or create some sort of bypass for those sections that fail more than others, such as the fuel pump or starting systems. But, I’d like to think if there is a problem with the design, it needs to be addressed by the engineers of the vehicle systems, who can make the improvements and modifications. Mainly, I don’t want to take the responsibility of saying that I fixed a TIPM problem and then have the customer come back with another complaint and having to start from scratch.
For all their issues, diagnostic work on these systems is pretty straightforward. You should always check all the powers and grounds to the TIPM, then check the connections as well as the inputs and outputs. Once you have narrowed down the TIPM as the source of the problem, the replacement is simple. Even though technically the TIPM does not need to be programmed, it does need to be configured to the car. Therefore, a “Restore Vehicle Configuration” will be needed, which requires the VIN to be entered into the TIPM.
One method that seems to work well, but not all the time, is to close the hood and turn the ignition key to the “RUN” position while waiting at least twelve seconds. The TIPM will collect the necessary vehicle configuration and VIN data from the PCM on its own. After twelve seconds, turn the ignition key to the “OFF” position and then back to the “ON” position and verify proper vehicle system operation. Of course, the PCM (and CCN) has to be in working order for it to function properly. I’ve had limited success with this method because the tire ratio may not transfer over. That’s when I have to break out the scanner. On some occasions, even though it’s rare, the anti-theft system locks out the starting signal, which requires getting the four-digit security code from the dealer and using a scanner to restore the theft deterrent system.
For those using the factory scanner or its equivalent, try this method:
- Install a battery charger.
- Verify that the charging rate provides approximately 13.5 volts. NOTE: Do not allow the charger to time out during the reconfiguration process. Set the battery charger timer (if so equipped) to continuous charge.
- Connect the CH9410 StarSCAN ethernet cable to the StarSCAN and to the dealer’s network site.
- Connect the CH9404 StarSCAN vehicle cable to the StarSCAN and the vehicle.
- Place the ignition in the “RUN” position, then power “ON” the StarSCAN.
- Select “ECU View.”
- Select “TIPMCGW” or “FCMCGW.”
- Select “MISC.”
- Select “Restore Vehicle Configuration.”
- Follow prompts on StarSCAN to complete the reconfigure procedure.
- Once complete, wait one minute and turn the ignition key to the “OFF” position.
- Remove the StarSCAN unit, cable and charger from the vehicle.
- Verify proper operation.
With some of the aftermarket scanners, you might actually have to drive the vehicle and then come to a stop, rotate the steering wheel and press on the brakes in order to get the ABS to sync.
On some of the models, the TIPM is on national backorder, meaning, it’s more likely the sun will burn out before you get a replacement part. But, they’re working on it. Hopefully, a reasonable and affordable replacement is manufactured before these cars end up in the scrapyard. As a technician, the repair is simple. As a consumer, well, it’s sometimes hard to comprehend that it’s going to cost more than a few hundred bucks just to get the reverse lights working again. In the end, that’s just the way it is when it comes to solving “trouble in power management” problems on late-model Chrysler products.