Hello all. New member here with a first post. I have pretty much only dealt with Chevy, ford, BMW and Porsche.
A friend was taking my son to a party yesterday when she called me from the side of the expressway to tell me that her 1997 Grand Cherokee was smoking from the VIC. I have never owned a Jeep so I packed a few tools and drove out there to look. I got the VIC removed after about 40 minutes of struggle and confirmed by smell that it was burned up. They went on their way with no issues and I brought the VIC home and disassembled it. There is one component with a brownish colored heat-sink incorporated that has gotten hot enough to crack the black piece inside of the heat-sink and char the board on the back side.
The vehicle owner had agreed to purchasing and replacing a new VIC but I want to ensure before I install a new one that there is not something else that would have caused this component to burn up. I really don't have time to become a Jeep expert and get into shooting wires and stuff if I don't have to so can anybody tell me if this is just a routine failure of a 16 year old electrical component or should I look deeper before replacing the VIC?
Yup, when a VIC dies you just toss it and put in a junkyard replacement (actually, most people here just toss it and never replace it). The only time it's worth bothering getting down and dirty with the electronics is when you're trying to fix the cracked solder joints that cause a couple of spurious error messages.
So, what I'm hearing here is that this failure was likely not caused by some other fault somewhere in the vehicle. It was just a failure due to the inherent weakness in the VIC itself and that it's not worth it to replace it with a NOS one because it will probably just fail again in another 16 years or so?
I can see where you'd be concerned that there is an underlying wiring problem which caused this near fire, such as a short in the harness, etc.. Which is certainly a possibility.
However as you've heard, the VIC is prone to these exact types of failures and I wouldn't feel compelled to look past it. I wouldn't call it common, but it happens. Also as you've heard, most people just remove them and place a cubby hole storage thingy where the VIC once was and call it a day. If the owner wants her VIC, and you found a NOS one for $85, and somebody is willing to pay $85 to have that VIC down there - might as well replace it. If it's good for another 16 years I'd call that a win. If it's good for another 2-3 years I'd still call it a win.
Good luck and welcome to the forum. Hope you stick around after this problem is solved.
ctrout, that's the exact part that went out on two of mine. Personally, I wanted to troubleshoot the VIC, but apparently the number on that device is a special proprietary number with no cross, so it is difficult to get a replacement. It apparently is a MOSFET or an NPN transistor used to "chop" the 12VDC across a transformer to get the required voltage to run the vacuum fluorescent display, this based on surrounding components.
Jeep uses alot of proprietary parts in the electronics, including the pcm. I like my vic and have a spare in the "room". They get $25 at the yard I go to. I just wait till people tear the dash up after something else and pull it.