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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,032
This topic is for those who are experiencing
difficulties with their Dodge Caravan.

Here is a link to the prior discussion:

Dodge Caravan Problems

KarenS
Vans host

Community Manager If you have any questions or concerns about the Forums, send me an email, karen@edmunds.com, or click on my screen name to send a personal message.

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Comments

  • etagetag Posts: 14
    Hi

    I replaced two connectors that attach to
    the speed sensors on my 93 caravan tranny
    using the kit for that purpose from Chrysler.
    It appears to have helped the frequency
    that the limp mode occurs, but it still does occur.
    I might have another loose wire in the
    miles of wiring in the vehicle. oh well.
    It is odd but I noticed that going thru a
    turn at speed seems to cause the problem.

    any one have a solution?
    I don't want to sell or trade before I fix it.

    etag
  • Hello, I have a 1994 Plymouth Voyager and I am having transmission problems. When I slip it into reverse, it goes forward, when I slip it into neutral, it also goes forward. Now does this sound like a problem with the linkage or do I need to purchase a new transmission? Could somebody help me with this please :)

    Cheers
  • In the last 20 plus years we have owned a van/minivan and a station wagon/ sedan. The unfortunate tradeoff has been that the quality level of the station wagon sedan from Toyota and Honda do not compare with the quality level of Ford and Chrysler.

    After reading the Troubles with Grand Caravans / Voyagers, we have been quite fortunate. In 117,000 miles, one set of struts, warranty covered, one transmission at 75,000 warranty covered, one ABS pump warranty covered, one radiator, 3 sets of tires, 3 batteries, 1 set of rear shocks,cassette player plays only the right channel, rear window wiper does not work, 1 set of new wires plus routine maintenance.

    Nonetheless our 96 Honda Accord Wagon has 55,000 miles with only rountine maintenance. The 87 Toyota Corrola went 93,000 miles on routine maintenance with no brake problems as long as you used Toyota parts,a timing chain and a battery. The 79 Toyota Corrolla wagon went 119,000 miles on routine maintenance, 1 battery (at 110,000) and 1 starter replacement.

    Needless to say as we begin the search for a replacement for the 91 Caravan it warms my heart to see Toyota and Honda finally have viable alternatives to the Chrysler products.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I have a 89 grand voyager with 4 speed automatic and 140,000 miles with no trouble. I drive very fast (80 mph), tow small trailers (not at the same time, the trailer couln't take it), go offroad hunting, and haul tons on kids and other crap. My family has had over 6 chrysler minivans and 1 has had the transmission problem. It was cured easily by changing the fluid to the correct Mopar type, NOT DEXTRON!!!, I don't know if this has been discussed here before but the Dextron will NOT work in the chrysler. Even the dipsitck and the Chilton's manual say Dextron, they are wrong. My van has started to smoke a little and now I am considering rebuilding the heads. I just can't bring myself to mess with a otherwise good thing. I always get over 20 mpg, I love my van, and I may own many other cars in my life but will always have a Chrysler minivan to cover all the other's shortcomings!
  • The dipstick dictates the wrong fluid? AMAZING.

    guitarzan
    Community Leader/Vans Conference
  • DC Can't even manage to get the fluid recommendation right on their own dipstick. UNBELIEVABLE!!!

    On second thought, it is a Chrysler product. I believe it!
  • It is a confusing, tough decision to make when deciding on purchasing a new minivan. Big money investment! I used to (until recently) sell GM products and after the bad comments from owners on the GM minivans, I wouldn't want one. The quality control is the pits and long term problem-free durability is looking very unlikely. I've always had good luck with the Chrysler products I've owned including a 1988 Voyager. The van finally was sold at around 158,000 miles when it started to "nickel and dime" me which may have been in part due to greedy and B.S. slinging mechanics... I don't know... I'm mechanically inept. So now I'm looking at a 2000 Dodge Caravan Sport. Checked out the Toyota Sienna and didn't like the blind spot on the C-pillar, and seating position wase not as comfortable as in the Dodge. Price on the Toyota is sticker or more. The Honda Odyssey is a nice van... love how the back seat folds down into the floor. But the radio is worse than my Metro's and the local Honda crook... I mean Dealer... is charging a whopping 10 grand over sticker! And that's on a used "demo" model! No way am I paying over MSRP. The Mazda is too small and too underpowered. The Nissan Quest is nice, but crash tests are horrid, back seat can't be taken out, and kinda expensive for an overall mediocre van. Ford Windstar was a nice ride, but for me personally, the seat cushion was too long and hit me in the back of my knee... very uncomfortable. And so I am back to the Dodge. Good discounts allow for me to dip into my pocket and purchase the extended warranty (a good bet with the reputation of these vans). Still don't think any van on the market is worth the price they are sold for, but what can the consumer do? Thought about a used van, but with the low interest rates on the new models, it's actually less costly per month to buy new. Also have the new car warranty so you're not paying car payments AND repairs. Anyone have any comments on the Caravan Sport with the heavy-duty suspension. Good, bad or ugly responses appreciated. I'm interested in the short-wheelbased model, not the grand, which according to Consumers Reports has a better repair record and is Recommended.
  • Personally, I wouldn't touch any DC product with an extremely long pole (even with a Hungarian). Experiences of friends, comments of mechanics whom I trust and reading here was more than enough for me! Remember, even if all of your problems are covered under the extended warranty. What is your time and aggrivation worth? Time spent at the service dept, time spent stranded on the road, etc.

    In most parts of the country, you can get an Odyssey for MSRP. Suggest you check out the "Honda Odyssey Prices Paid" topic for recommendations of dealers and stratigies for findig one.
  • The only US vehicle I've ever owned is my current '93 Caravan 80,000 miles, most frustrating vehicle I've ever owned--typical trans. and a/c problems. I also own a 90 Nissan Maxima 152,000 miles routine maintenance and 1 rusted exhaust pipe at 135,000 miles.

    What is so interesting is how people accept their fate as a chrysler product owner saying things like "I've only had 1 transmission problem and it was fixed under extended warranty--I like my car". What? Folks, the transmission SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY PROBLEMS for at least 150K miles of driving! You SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BUY an extended warranty in order to be a happy customer.
  • I understand where you're coming from concerning the problems that seem to occur on the Chrysler vans. I've talked to owners of these vans and, even with some repairs under their belts, are overall very pleased with the vans. Hmmm... maybe it's the syndrome of just liking the vehicle so much, you're willing to put up with the "quirks." I had an '88 Voyager. Loved the doggone thing! But, had replaced the a/c compressor, had engine work done to the tune of $900 to stop smoking and oil gulping, brake caliper fell apart (130,000 miles), steering rack needed work, then started encountering some computer and/or some other expensive repair at about 158,000 miles that caused the van to want to stall when stopped with the a/c running. So, I got rid of the ol' gal. But boy did I love that van. Why? I dunno... I guess like someone says they love their spouse even though they forced them into bankruptcy and cheated with the FedEx delivery guy/gal... still, you love 'em. I know, doesn't make sense when all those statistically reliable Toyotas and Hondas are cruisin' down the street. But I just LIKE the DC vans... the power seats fit me perfectly and after a rather nasty back injury, comfort is important. I like the Honda too, but refuse to pay sticker plus when the Dodge Caravan stickered at $26,715 is now on sale for $20,986. For a difference of about 6 or 7 thousand from the Honda, I'd rather put the savings in the bank and put that towards a new van when my old Dodge finally bites the dust. It's like anything else I guess, when emotions set in, reasoning goes out the window. And those dang Caravan Sports are just soooo cute! Also, I had purchased a brandy new Honda Civic wagon back in '84. My experience with the Honda was awful. It died in my garage and had to be towed. It rattled and clunked within a year's time like it was 10 years old. The The engine performance and power dropped dramatically after about a year old and the parts and repair bills were astronomical. I traded it in in '87 for a new Dodge Shadow ES turbo. Never had the Dodge back to the dealer for anything! Run like a dream until some moron rammed into the back of me and crushed the life outa the poor thing. But even then, I walked away from the accident angry, a sore neck, but without a scratch after being hit at 45 mph by a Pontiac 6000. So, even with Honda's good record and lots of personal testimonies as to the greatness of these cars... I still say it's a gamble. I had a '91 Metro... great little car... now I bought a '98 and am in the middle of Lemon Lawing it for ongoing brake problems that eat up rotors every two months. Go figure.
  • jcg3jcg3 Posts: 2
    I bought the Grand Caravan ES model in May of 1998. All the extras on it. Brand new. At 42,000 miles the transmission goes out on it as I am coming home from a business trip. Towed to the dealership - for a new transmission. Van was exactly 1 year old. I was told from the dealership that I should have taken out the extended warranty. Can you believe that a $30,000 + van has a transmission that goes out in exactly 1 year -with only 42,000 miles on it - and serviced exactly as recommended in the owners manuel. My feeling is that you shouldn't have to take out an extended warranty on a $30,000 van. A van of this type should last well over 100,000 miles if maintained correctly.

    I can't wait for my Honda Odyssey to come in. I hope to have better luck with that van. I will pay more for a reliable product. I hope the Honda Odyssey is as reliable as has been written about . I will let you know within a year.

    I put over 40,000 miles on my vehicle each year. I won't be buying anymore Dodge / Chrysler products. They may look nice, but having a nice looking vehicle on the side of the road with the hood up - waiting for a tow truck is not my idea of fun.

    When you are at the gas station filling up next time, and you see someone with a dodge / chrysler van, ask them about their van. More than likely, they will tell you about their problems with them - especially the transmissions, and what number they are on . (in transmissions)
  • I understand your aggrivation with the tranny on your DC van. I've read that around 40,000 miles the transmissions (4-spd) goes kapput. Not good, but it does point out that spending the extra couple bucks for an extended warranty is wise. As for Honda Odyssey... read some of the posts from owners in Town Hall. The Hondas ALSO have been having transmission problems! I've read a suprisingly substantial number of complaints on this van as well. The only van that seems to be very dependable is the Toyota Sienna. It is also very expensive with no discounts (at least at my local Toyota dealer) and I've seen some "off-lease" and used Sienna's that seem to be falling apart. Similar Chrysler vans seem to take the abuse in stride (except for that blasted transmission thing). Reading all this only confirms my opinion that probably the Caravan will be my next vehicle. But I will check out some Toyota dealers in "the big city" first just to see if there are any negotiations and try the van with the power seats.
  • Let me be certain I understand. You know the caravan transmission is junk, but you plan to buy one anyhow??? Complete failure is "that transmission thing"?
  • jcg3jcg3 Posts: 2
    You know that Dodge has a transmission problem, but you plan on buying one anyway. No wonder they haven't fixed the problem. You keep buying them, and pay for the new transmissions, or the extended warranty. Who are the idiots? Not Chrysler, if you keep letting them get away with this.
  • We are very worried about the fuel smell in our 93 Grand Caravan. At first, the dealer said it was due to cracks in the gas filler tube. That has been replaced, the gas cap has been replaced, the problem has returned, and the dealer has no idea as to the cause. Has anyone else had this problem?
  • You've got to look at the whole equation before determining your decision. Yes, the transmissions have a reputation for problems (although I've read quite a few comments and spoke to people who've never had a problem). But it is still more cost effective to get the extended warranty and buy the DC van, than pay sticker plus for a Toyota or Honda and still run the risk for repairs that will, on average, cost more than the Chrysler. It's a risk. Yes, Chrysler should re-do those transmissions if the problems are this widespread. But for the six or seven grand difference between a Caravan and Oddey, that's gotta make you go "hmmmm."
  • The possibility of being stranded on the road make me go hmmmmm. You need to determine how much you're willing to pay for reliability over the time you intend to keep the van. For me, I'd pay more up front in order to get a van that will likely go 200,000 miles.
  • ferousferous Posts: 226
    I have one of the first new style DC minivans. My 1996 was first on the road in 9/95. Have I had problems?... yes. Has it been worth it?...yes. I bought a '96 SE Grand Caravan with the rear air/heat and BUILT in CHILD SEATS, the biggest plus in the minivan market. When I bought this van, NO ONE built anything like it. I had it in for service under the standard 36/36 warranty 8 times before it ran out. I got lucky on the tranny. I saw a oil leak at 32K, and they rebuilt the whole thing (I didn't know about the tranny history then).
    After the warranty ran out, I have replaced the A/C comp., the belt tensioner, Rad. Fan switch, rotors where defective (pitted/flaking), and a couple of other small things.
    I now have 72K on it, it's paid for, and I plan on keeping it till it dies for good. It still meets everyone of my families needs, which the other vans couldn't meet back when I needed to buy one. Would I buy another??? Yes! I might change my mind when someone else builds a minivan that will haul by family of four + friends with all the extras including pulling my pop-up camper at 75 mph on the highway.
  • Can you say "the Odyssey can!"?
  • Jhconcord, these problems can be difficult to pinpoint. I don't know how they can be diagnosed, but I know some common things to check.

    1) fuel injectors for leaks
    2) ENTIRE fuel line. If there is a pinhole leak, the gas evaporates before forming droplets which would be easier to find.
    3) evaporation canister---can't think of proper name right now...it absorbs fuel vapors
    4) top of fuel tank (part that cannot be seen) for rust/cracks

    Good luck.

    Guitarzan
    Community Leader/Vans Conference
  • ferousferous Posts: 226
    NO I CAN'T SAY "ODYSSEY"....
    It doesn't have all the options that my family uses every day. Like the built in Child Seats (I have 2 kids under 4 and once you've tried DC built in child seats, nothing works as well) The Odyssey cost $6,000 dollars more for the same options. After 4 years, I have only paid for around $900 in repairs. I'm no math major, but when I factor my avg. miles per year (with repairs) and Michigan RUST, the Grand Caravan is a better deal. Looks better too. Oh, did I mention that the Odyssey would cost more for plates each year! MI bases plates on sticker price. When I lived in VA, I was paying 3.3% of blue book value (in personal property tax) every YEAR on my cars. What's 3.3% of $6,000? $$$$$
  • dave594dave594 Posts: 218
    VA is eliminating its personal property tax for vehicles over 20k.
  • dave594dave594 Posts: 218
    OOPS - that's UNDER 20k. Big difference!
  • To post no 6: I have a 99 Chrysler T&C which came with the firm ride suspension. I tested the normal and firm ride suspensions and for the nominal additional cost, the firm ride suspension gives much better handling, a smooth ride and minimal lean on corners. This option is one of the lowest cost ones you can purchase and will be felt each time you drive. By the way, I have 7,000 miles and the van is perfect so far.
  • My brother-in-law had to go out and buy a regular child car seat because his 2 year old son kept getting out of his integrated Chrylser car seat. Hasn't had that problem with the new child seat.
  • ferousferous Posts: 226
    Each of my kids climbed out ONCE, only ONCE.
  • My comment about the Odyssey had nothing to do with price or features. I was responding to the following comment from you:
    "Yes! I might change my mind when someone else builds a minivan that will haul by family of four + friends with all the extras including pulling my pop-up camper at 75 mph on the highway."

    The Odyssey will clearly do all of thet.
  • postyposty Posts: 1
    With all the problem I hear about DC transmissions, isn't there someplace where objective data can be found? I tried to find it but came up empty. There is a big difference between 1 in 10 and 1 in 1000 DC's having transmission problems (no consolation if you're the lucky 1). If 1 in 10, no way. 1 in 1000 and I would take my chances.
  • The problem is that the one who has the most accurate data is Daimler Chrysler. Good luck on getting it from them!

    Everything else is anecdotal.
  • How did you come up with this $6000 difference between the Odyssey and the Caravan?
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