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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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Comments

  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Window regulator motor failures are somewhat common on that year Voyager, but I would suggest checking the switch first. The driver's side window switches get wet more from being opened in inclement weather and corrode the contacts.

    Regards,
    Dusty
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    dusty - that was a well composed post and very informative (like many of your other posts). thanks.

    some questions if you don't mind: are we asking a lot (maybe too much) of a transmission in a FWD mini-van? someone once suggested to me that because these vehicles are heavy (like trucks), and because of the tight packaging and placement w.r.t. the engine and the drive to the front wheels, many mini-van manufacturers have a problem with transmission longevity.

    would you suggest servicing by the dealership, or would servicing at a chain be acceptable?

    what do you think is an appropriate / reasonable expectation for the lifespan of a transmission in a chevy, honda, toyota, mazda, ford etc. mini-van with appropriate scheduled maintenance performed? 100K, 125K, 150K, 200K?

    why are transmission rebuilds so expensive, and what sort of lifespan should we expect out of a rebuild?

    last - when a transmission is replaced, does one need to worry about other parts being replaced as well (say a torque convertor)?

    i wish someone made a manual transmission mini-van!

    thanks for any followup to any of my questions. regards.
  • My Dodge Caravan's auto trans will periodically shift from 3rd to overdrive several times in a row. Sometimes it feels as though I am driving over railroad tracks. AAmco checked and there were no bad codes coming from the computer.
  • hansiennahansienna Posts: 2,312
    You were lucky since most transmission repair shops usually tell people they need a complete transmission rebuild ... whether they do or not. :blush:
  • uga91uga91 Metro AtlantaPosts: 1,065
    How quickly do you think it should be done? Maybe it won't take that long--maybe they are telling you that so you won't come back in 30 minutes wondering if it's done yet.
  • I've had this happen a couple of times and have found if you constantly drive with a low fuel tank, the fuel pump gets hot and shorts out. After you leave the van on the side of the road for 15 minutes or so, it cools and it will restart. Replace your pump and keep tank half full or above. My aftermarket pump was about $140.
  • as you are facing the trans from the front it is on the drivers side front of trans housing, just to the right of the shifter control. it is a small 1 inch diameter gray/white sensor with a two wire connector. you may need to take off the drivers side wheel splash shield to see it. The input and the output sensors look very similar. the input is about 10 inches to the left behind the solenoid pack (under the trans lines) They both work exactly the same way (small a/c generators run by magnet. they fail fairly often and are fairly cheap
    Good Luck, Gene
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    To a certain degree the mini-van evolved into something a little different than the originator -- Chrysler -- envisioned. When first introduced the Caravan & Voyager power and drive train was four cylinder with a three-speed transaxle. This first generation Chrysler design was actually very reliable, especially the transmission which was based on the A-413 K-car unit.

    Americans are an impatient lot. As the mini-van platform became more popular, larger and heavier (Grand Caravan), there was a demand for increased performance. The introduction of more powerful engines actually exacerbated the problem of a vehicle that was designed to be a car but ended up being used like trucks and taxis, a use scenario that manufacturers never anticipated to the full degree. This put actual use into and beyond the margin area of reliable design.

    Design engineers are faced with criteria that are in direct conflict with each other, such as comfort, performance, fuel efficiency, emission standards, safety, cost, and usability. Change to the limits on one type of design consideration sometimes translate to a change in the limits of another. Compromises are not the exception, but the rule. The inherent compactness of the mini-van concept translates to a very close balance of subsystems and various design considerations. In order to improve the long term reliability of the transmission, for example, would probably require the addition of weight or a change to the packaging parameters in such a way that would impact cost, or some other subsystem design or desirable feature and would change the vehicles competitiveness in one or more areas.

    I think there are competent transmission servicers or rebuilders among dealers, chains, and independents. Dealers have one advantage that independents and chains do not: they have the correct diagnostic tools, hopefully properly trained technicians, and factory parts. Independents and more so chains, may sometimes be more motivated to use an off-the-shelf, "factory rebuilt" by a third party supplier in order to expedite a repair. This usually translates to a higher cost for the owner. The big problem in my opinion nowadays is the proliferation of off shore transmission replacement parts.

    What is a reasonable expectation for transmission life? I've seen them go out at 4 or 5K, others of the same design and manufacture go 250,000 miles. I don't know, but in the auto industry the accepted design target is (or was) 100,000 miles. Most go that and more without trouble as long as they are well maintained and not stressed too often.

    Mini-van rebuilds, like any other FWD car, are more expensive because they are not just a transmission but also the drive axle. They are not as nice to work on, either, because of FWD. A quality rebuild should provide at least the same amount of trouble free miles as the factory original. In a rebuild a lot depends on the quality of the diagnosis, the selection of replacement parts, a super clean rebuilding process, and a technician that's not in a hurry. Usually a torque converter is considered part of the transmission, but like any other component would not be considered a candidate for replacement unless it showed signs of a defect.

    And believe it or not, manual transmission was available in the early Dodge and Plymouth mini-vans.

    Best regards,
    Dusty
  • My problem of not starting was caused by the 3-wire harness that came from the back of the '96 T&C minivan being crushed by the transmission. When the trany seals were replaced they put it back on the mounting bracket right on top of the wires which shorted out the signals going to the BCM.
    I've also had intermittent problems with my Chrsyler minivan not starting and last August it finally failed so the mechanic could trace it to a intermittent short in the $365 starter.
  • Hi I need serious help!! I have a 1995 Dodge Caravan SE 3.3 Auto with Air and cruise. I can be driving or even at a stop doesn't matter and the transmission will go into a second gear lockout. in other word stick in second gear. the only way to get it out and possibly shift is to turn of the vehicle and reset the computer. is this typical and how or what can I do to correct this situation. please help.
  • lmanlman Posts: 1
    I have seen some similar problems in this forum. I have a 1998 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport SE. Earlier this summer, it would not start. Most of the dash lights would not turn on and it would run for about 3 seconds and stop. If you tried 3 times, it went completely dead. We had been using the key to get in because the keyless was dead. I saw an earlier post about the key entry triggering the alarm system. I replaced the battery in the keyless and we started using that but had the same problem just yesterday. The problem has been popping up since June and everytime it is the same. Three times of running 3 seconds and then nothing. We let the van sit anywhere from an hour to sometimes overnight. Go back and try again and it starts fine until the next time. Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    Lman
  • Sounds like the chip in the key or the unit in the steering column has gone bad. The car is designed to start using a non chip key but shut down in 2 to 3 minutes if it cannot read the chip in the key.
  • I will place this entry here and let the forums moderator decide if this is the proper place for it.

    Topic of noise experience by at least one other owner besides myself of exhaust and other noises in 2005 S&G minivans came up in the #240 range of posts in another forum dealing with 2005+ T&C minivans.

    I bought my T&C Touring with leather, luxury and trailer tow groups in mid July. From day one, it exhibited the following faults:

    1. A noisy exhaust system. At any rpm over about 1300, a motor boating or glasspack muffler sound is very evident coming from the engine compartment through to the front driver/passenger area. By 2000 rpm, the noise is intolerable! I know it's coming from the front because it doesn't get any louder with the windows open.

    2. A loud, irritating whine/moan from the a/c compressor at all speeds. It is especially noticeable at engine speeds below 1300 rpm when the exhaust noise isn't helping to mask it. Easy to diagnose because it vanishes the minute I switch the a/c compressor off.

    3. Noise coming into the front compartment from the front wheel wells. Even at very slow speeds and over very small pavement imperfections, I not only feel the slight bump, I also hear it. The tires themselves are as good as I can expect from OE tires and really make little noise over a wide variety of pavement surfaces.

    None of these noises were evident on any of the vehicles I test drove or on a couple of similar vehicles belong to neighbors. Even the beater 2005 entry-level lwb minivan my nearest Chrysler dealer uses to drive service customers home has none of them.

    I went all the way up to the service manager at the dealership from which I bought the car, only to be told that all the sounds were normal - even when he and I took a vehicle off the lot and I could hear none of the noises in it, he swore that my car was the quieter of the two!

    Yesterday the district service manager came to the dealer nearest me (the selling dealer is about a 70 mile round trip away and I can't afford to waste gas on unfruitful trips). I quote verbatim from the service report given me afterward in part 2 of this tale.:
  • These are actual quotes:

    1. "Customer states there is a groaning/drone sound in exhaust system from engine area at 1300 RPMS and above.
    Being determined by Chrysler Product Engineering
    Test driven by district rep . . Confirmed noise present.
    District rep notified customer that engineering is working on resolve.
    Customer will be notified at that time."

    2. "Customer states that there is a whine sound from engine area when a/c is running.
    Normal operating condition per Chrysler district rep.
    Test driven by district rep . . all sounds are normal and can be heard in like vehicles."

    3. Customer states tire/suspension road noise from front end over any imperfection in roadway at any speed.
    Normal operating condition per Chrysler district rep.
    Test driven by district rep . . tire noises on test drive are normal and can be duplicated in like vehicles."

    I really like that "... can be duplicated in like vehicles." Sheeesh - even the droning exhaust sound can be "duplicated in like vehicles," it seems - DC engineers wouldn't be working on a fix if it couldn't!

    So . . . I'm batting .333 at the moment. At least I got someone to admit that DC knows it has a problem with NVH in one area. I might have gotten a higher average if I had had the time to hang around waiting for the rep to show up, but I had other things that had to be done that day. He only shows in my area once a month, anyway. Now I just have to keep badgering DC about my other two beefs because I KNOW that other DC minivans don't sound like that!

    If the noises were coming from the redesigned floor pan area that was changed for stow and go, I might be more tolerant, But I really can't see that DC has made any major changes in the driver's area forward.

    Watch this space for further developments.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    i'm curious - i don't own a DC, but i thought i'd toss out some stuff (minivan driver to minivan driver). these are things i might check if i were faced with a similar set of issues.

    if you place some sound deadening material in the Stow-N-Go area, does it mitigate the noise at all?

    does your vehicle use the exact same tires (manufacturer and model) as the other vehicles you test drove that were quieter? the tires (composition and tread design) can have quite a dramatic impact on road noise. plus - check tire inflation pressure. are you at the extreme of the tire manufacturer rating? you might want to consider adjusting inflation and see if that mitigates at all.

    did you have someone look underneath the vehicle? i'm thinking one mis-aligned or missing exhaust system hanger, or some heat shield, and it's possible a resonance in one are of the piping could induce a resonance in another area. think of a string plucked under different tensions. depending upon tension, you get a different number of standing waves (thus different frequencies - more tension, higher frequency, and potentially different amplitude (wave height)). maybe your vehicle has a hanger or shield that is not connected properly, or making contact with the underbody of the vehicle.

    good luck.
  • My Dodge Caravan, 1998 has just had a similar failure of the brake lines - Rusted through where the braided line meets the solid line, along the left frame just past the junction block. No collection of debris, just two rusting lines - dripping clear brake fluid. Vehicle is still solid at 124K, but for the price we pay, and with maintenance (that the dealer does) I would expect more.

    I'm almost certain the dealer will claim no knowledge of this kind of problem, as he did for a head gasket problem a few years ago. (I paid for that replacement - 78,000 miles).

    How do we get their attention to the problems/dangers?
  • Hi..Im attempting a timing belt & water pump replacement on my just purchased 98' Voyager with a 2.4l. 4.

    Ive done this on other cars before but every new car is a challenge.

    The only problem Im having is getting the power steering pump to budge after loosening the 2 bolts that APPARENTLY are suppose to be for slacking it up for removal...... NO dice! & I cant see the entire pump since it sits low behind the head.

    Ive cut the belt off so it doesnt slow my progress down but eventually Ill have to get a new belt on it....

    Any ideas, tips, etc on how the pump swings free?...is it frozen?....and there really isnt any place to get a pry bar behind it to try & worry it lose.

    Thanx in advance!..

    Dave.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,564
    I don't think the dealer or Chrysler is responsible at that kind of mileage....sounds almost like an electrolysis issue....strange.....do you live in a place where they salt the roads at all, or do you live near the ocean?

    MODERATOR

  • Good possibilities, however, in Frederick MD, they don't salt the roads and we're nearly 80 miles from any salt water, not that I drive near there more than a couple times a year. The rest of the brake lines are clean and solid - no rust- just the area where the braid meets the steel of the lines is rusted - and rusted through.
  • Howdy.... I have a 2001 and for the life of me I can figure out how to get to the rear bulbs.... I have a right rear brake light out and cannot seem to find any way to get to it without taking apart the whole rear paneling......

    As far as your problem..... it sounds like a grounding problem from the socket.... just for kicks run a ground wire to the bulb .......

    Thanks
    Bill
  • Howdy.... I have a 2001 and for the life of me I cant figure out how to get to the rear bulbs.... I have a right rear brake light out and cannot seem to find any way to get to it without taking apart the whole rear paneling...... any ideas???

    Thanks
    Bill
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,564
    Well electrolysis often takes place at a point where two different metals touch or connect. Not much you can do except swap out the lines for new ones and maybe grease up those junctions.

    MODERATOR

  • What you may try & I did this with my 91 Voyager v6, was to replace both speed sensors &input & output) at a pretty low cost (about $13.00 each) .

    These can be found thru www.rockauto.com.

    They arent really easy to replace because they are down low on the front of the trans but its do-able with patience.

    It may or may not fix the problem but, its a low cost approach to eliminate one item that can be the cause. It worked for me & I had the same problem you have.

    Good luck.

    Dave.
  • The owners manual says with the hatch open, pull the two black plastic plugs next to the lens and behold it will come off. The bulbs are inside the lens.
  • Chrysler Corporation and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is well aware of the rusted brake line problem on the Chrysler Minivans. NHTSA is investigating the problem because of the many complaints that they have received.
    There is a Recall on the Chrysler Minivans in Canada for rusted brake lines which should start in September.

    You should also check your brake lines all the way back to the rear wheels. The design of the holding clamps allow the brake lines to rub together and the protective zinc coating will be removed. When the coating is removed corrosion will occur very quickly.

    The only way that you can get their attention is to notify Chrysler and NHTSA about your problem.

    We had a brake line burst on our 1999 Dodge Caravan. The brake lines were original equipment on the vehicle. We had a brake job done with 31K miles and we now have 47K miles on the car.
    If you check your brake lines you will see that the solid line is made of steel and it is welded to a stainless steel flex segment. The welding of dissimilar metals can cause crevice corrosion which can cause a brake line burst without warning.
    I just sent the following letter to NHTSA in August.

    Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator
    400 7th Street, SW
    Washington, DC 20590

    August 22, 2005

    Dr. Runge,

    A review of the NHTSA complaint site indicates that Daimler Chrysler Corporation has a very serious safety defect or nonconformance that could result in a serious injury and or death. Daimler Chrysler has been notified of this defect/nonconformance on several occasions and continues to deny the problem.

    The metal brake lines on the 1999 Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager, and Chrysler Mini-Vans are welded with dissimilar metals. They have braided stainless steel flex segments that are welded to steel brake lines. This welding of dissimilar metals could cause corrosion of the steel brake lines and results in a brake line burst which occurs without any warnings.

    We found five (5) complaints to NHTSA, on the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) Complaint Site pertaining to the corrosion of Chrysler supplied brake lines which resulted in brake line bursts. There may be more that we didn't locate.
    Ref: ODI Complaint Numbers - 10112174, 10121461, 10023409, 10087291, and 10125674.
    Complaint Numbers 10103217, 10044433, and 10017536 may also be related to this same problem.

    This complaint is very personal to us because my wife experienced a brake line burst in our 1999 Dodge Caravan. If the brake line burst occurred in heavy traffic and/or at highway speed, it could have resulted in her death or serious injury. Ref: ODI Complaint # 10121461.

    We notified Daimler Chrysler Corporation on several occasions by telephone and emails concerning this serious safety defect/nonconformance. They were apologetic about the mishap, however, they stated (1) that they had never had a complaint concerning brake line burst on any of their vehicles, (2) they had never issued a Service Bulletin or Recall, and (3) they could do nothing for me because the vehicle was out of warranty.

    We are appalled by Daimler Chrysler's lack of concern on this serious safety issue and we believe that their lack of corrective action is criminal.

    We are also upset because NHTSA, has had several complaints on this safety related defect/nonconformance and no action has been taken.

    Do we have to have a DEATH before Daimler Chrysler Corporation or NHTSA investigates this serious safety defect or nonconformance?

    What is the LIFE EXPECTANCY of these brake lines?

    How do you stop a vehicle in heavy traffic or at highway speeds?

    Is the consumer or manufacturer, responsible to prove that these brake lines are defective or nonconforming?

    The Safety Recall Compendium issued by NHTSA (3rd Release, June 2001) clearly requires that,

    When to Report (49 U.S.C. & 30118 and 49 CFR Part 573.5 b)
    A manufacturer who has determined that a safety defect or noncompliance exists, must report such a determination to NHTSA within 5 working days. A manufacturer need not have identified the cause, scope, or remedy in order to make a determination that a safety defect or noncompliance exists, at least in some vehicles or items of motor vehicle equipment. If part of the information which is required to fully describe the recall is unknown, notification to the agency must still be made with the existing information within 5 working days. The remaining information is to be provided as it becomes available.

    Who Should Report (49 U.S.C. & 30102 AND 30118: 49 CFR Parts 573.3 and 579)
    Each manufacturer of a motor vehicle has recall responsibility for any safety-related defect or any noncompliance determined to exist in a vehicle or in any item of original equipment. The manufacturer of an item of motor vehicle equipment in which a safety defect or noncompliance is determined to exist (1) is responsible for notifying the vehicle manufacturer and (2) with respect to an item of replacement equipment (including tires), has recall responsibility for the equipment containing the safety defect or noncompliance. (49 CFR Part 579 "Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility".)

    We understand that Daimler Chrysler Corporation has the same type brake line configuration in the 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000 models of their Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager, and Chrysler Town & Country, Mini-Vans.

    We also understand that a change was made on the 2001 models that removed the welded Stainless Steel Flex segment from the brake lines.

    We have copies of emails sent to Daimler Chrysler Corporation concerning this complaint and also emails with their replies to us.

    We also have a section of the original brake line that was removed from my 1999 Dodge Caravan. It can be made available to your testing facilities to analyze the cause of the defect/nonconformance. Ref: attached picture.

    Please keep us informed as to your progress on this serious safety defect/nonconformance.
  • The noises that bother me are coming from the engine bay and front wheel wells into the driver/front passenger area and are independent of the load. Passengers riding in the back don't seem to hear any odd noises. I hear the tire noises from driving over even very small cracks in pavement at slow speeds (15-25 mph) the instant the front wheels cross an imperfection, so know that the sound isn't coming from the rear.

    This is my third DC minivan ('92 owned for 9 years and '99 owned for 3 years), so I have some realistic expectations as to what a DC minivan sounds like.

    My Bridgestone Turanza tires have been standard equipment on DC minivans for some time now and the Tire Rack site shows that DC Minivans owners mostly say they are OK, unlike owners of Toyota Sienas and other Japanese cars that use this tire as OE. I can separate out the noise component created by them by noting the changes in sound when I go from new coarse asphalt to new smooth asphalt to old coarse and smooth asphalt to concrete, both smooth (relatively) and grooved. I find their noise to be as good as any others I had on previous cars (Goodyear and Michelin). My '92 van got almost as noisy as my new one when the OE tires wore out at close to 50K miles.

    I have test driven three other new T&C minivans and found two neighbors who own stow and go versions of DC products. None of the others exhibit the levels of noise that mine does - I can hear a faint a/c compressor whine, but it is very low level and quickly subsumed in other noises. My noise is very loud at slow speeds (quite a bit of my local driving is at 30 mph or less - 15 in the manufactured home community in which I live) before the exhaust noise builds at around 1300-1400 rpm, then adds to the growling roar at speeds of 40-45 and above.

    Two different dealers have looked it over and say they can't find anything.

    One other thing I notice, this car, like the other two DC minivans I owned, exhibits a bit of vague steering and wandering over road dips when the tires are inflated to normal pressures. On the other two, I merely bumped up the tire pressure about 4 lbs over standard and that sharpened up the steering considerably with only a minor increase in ride harshness. This car is so harsh at normal pressures that I haven't tried upping the tire pressure yet.

    This is the most unsatisfactory new car I have bought since the 1977 Dodge Aspen sedan that put me off Chrysler products for 15 years. I don't count the 1988 Dodge Colt Vista wagon because that was made by Mitsubishi and was a good car indeed - it might even still be soldiering on as a taxi in Morocco to this day.
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    This is really weird problem you have. Maybe it's something simple like DCX didn't use sound insulation in your firewall? Maybe it's something so obvious that everyone is overlooking? Keep us updated on this one!!
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    that's a rather lengthy response, but forgive me please, you only addressed the question i posed to you related to tire inflation.

    FWIW, my van's original OE tires were Bridgestone Potenzas (ODY LX) and they were noisy at recommended pressure and moreso with more pressure. They showed a great deal of sensitivity to surface, being louder on concrete and cut surfaces used to channel water. They wore out at about 25K. I replaced them with the ODY EX OE tire Michelin Symmetry, and I'm quite certain, on my van, they are much quieter w.r.t. noise levels...

    I understand your frustration, and the fact that a few dealerships supposidly looked at the vehicle. Unfortunately, it looks like you need to do more sleuthing on your own.

    I was supplying a number of questions to help you think outside the box about potential root causes. I like the suggestion that perhaps they didn't install firewall insulation...Did you check that? I think that more unlikely than other possibilities, but I think you need to start by casting a wide net, and starting as if noone has looked at your car.

    Have you had someone else drive while you ride in the passenger seat? It may help with sound localization.

    Do you have OE or Aftermarket Floor Mats? This is an example of something which might seem like a dumb question, but shouldn't be ruled out.

    Good luck.
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    Do you have OE or Aftermarket Floor Mats? This is an example of something which might seem like a dumb question, but shouldn't be ruled out.

    Maybe someone in the plant installed the carpeting without insulation also???
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Well, I hope this is not a sign of things to come. Over the past 2000 miles I have noticed the Power Steering fluid slowing going down. It had been refilled every 1000 miles or so from the "add" slash to the "full" line. I brought it to my Chrysler dealer and they said the steering rack was leaking, so they replaced the rack. With only 5500 miles on the odometer, this doesn't make me happy. Glad I bought the extended warranty. :mad:
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