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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • good4ugood4u Posts: 18
    After having the mechanic tow our PV, they called us. It needs a new fuel pump, water pump, timing belt, and other misc. things. It is ranging anywhere from $800-$1100.. quite expensive for a van that has basically everything new in it with only 120K @ 9 years old. Now we're trying to decide... trade it in or fix it?
  • Is the mechanic a DCX dealer or an independant?
  • good4ugood4u Posts: 18
    it's an independent mechanic... We found a 2001 Ford Windstar to replace it, but we're not sure if we should just put the money into the Voyager and keep it running because it's had basically everything else fixed in it.
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    Sorry to hear you had so much trouble with your Dodge minivan. I'd get rid of it if it was me. I did buy a 2005 DGC and so far I love it. Hoping I have better luck than you. It seems you have had the worse luck of anyone I have ever read about. I'm really sorry to hear that.

    I see your a new member to these boards. I'd like to welcome you aboard.
  • I have a 98 Ply GR Voy Expresso with 135K and no unscheduled maintenance except for a highway trip where some debris decided to take out the a/c. The van also survived a run in with a full grown male deer at 75mph on the Taconic State Pkwy about 30k ago. Other than that it gets near 30mpg hwy and does whatever I ask of it.

    My girlfriend's parents have had their 2005 Honda Ody for over 2 years now just about and have had no problems whatsover...including brakes, tires, nothing.

    So yeah, just because you have had problems with your van doesn't mean that the rest of them are garbage. Sometimes you just get a dud. Both the Ody and the DGC/Ply are fine choices for a minivan purchase depending on what you want.

    If I were you I would not consider fixing the van except to sell it. If you consider it entirely unreliable why waste your time? Seems counterproductive to me. If things suck, I get rid of them. Then you can stop wasting time on here being unhappy and start enjoying the ride in some other vehicle. Life is too short.

    good luck
  • Other than that it gets near 30mpg hwy and does whatever I ask of it.

    Wow!You sure have a good one, our 99 Caravan Sport (a smaller, lighter vehicle) has never gotten anywhere near 30 mpg in 90,000 miles, in fact getting near 25mpg would be unique.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, interesting, I've got a 1998 GC Sport with the 3.8 (and 108K on the clock), and if I really keep my speed under control (i.e. CC @ 65mph), I can get 25 mpg without too much trouble, that is assuming 1) no A/C, and 2) I'm not driving into a head wind or some such.

    FWIW, when I said I can get 25 mpg, that “25” is based upon the OBC display That having been said, through testing I've discovered that the display is about 5% optimistic meaning that it would actually need to show 26.25 for me to actually be getting 25. Hmmm, 26.25 might be a bit of a reach at 65 mph, maybe at 55 it would be possible, however, I think I'm allergic to driving at anything below 70 (assuming no traffic), so it's highly unlikely I'll ever find out if a true 25 mpg is possible. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    The best my van did (Dodge GC Sport 3.8) was 32.5 mpg at steady 55 mph, cruise on, AC on, one person, no load, no wind, gently rolling terrain in Pennsylvania. This was measured by filling up and driving, then filling up again and calculating.
  • good4ugood4u Posts: 18
    Thanks for your input. We decided to fix our Voyager (yet again!) and wait on the Windstar because we already have car payments. Otherwise, the private party value for the Voyager is $3995. It has 126K on it. It's been rust-proofed, and the exterior and interior are in mint condition. Like I say, we've put a new transmission, engine, a/c compressor, clock spring, head gasket, and now water pump, fuel line, and timing belt in it. If we decide to sell, do you think $3995 would be a reasonable price, or could we possibly go up because of all the repairs/new parts we've put in it? :lemon:
    (spent about $8600 for repairs within the last 5 years)
  • Does the independant mechanic live near a lake river or ocean? He might have a boat payment to make. Listen to Click and Clack the tappet brothers. http://www.cartalk.com/
  • good4ugood4u Posts: 18
    No, we don't anywhere live near the ocean... The mechanic doesn't have a boat, either. We know this local mechanic very well in person. They have the highest prices in town, but the most reliable and trustworthy! (Quality over quantity) I'm just curious.... I'd hate to get just the book value for the van if we've put so much money into repairs. It almost seems like keeping it would better so we don't get ripped off. But I don't want to do that, either. :sick:
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    A couple of thoughts:

    Thought 1: Given how reliable the DC vans seem to be for most folks I have to wonder if maybe you aren't getting the best service for it after all. Said another way, are all of the problems/maintenance expenses you've incurred due to the fact that your van hasn't been properly maintained.

    Thought 2: Which van would you consider a better value at any given price:
    - Yours, which seems to have had an inordinately high number of component failures (regardless of the reason), and as such has had lots of work done on it (which in my mind at least implies questionable maintenance AND a future maintenance nightmare), or
    - Mine of a similar vintage but with ~20K fewer miles (107K on the clock), which has been maintained by the book and other than the Battery, the Drivers' Door Light Switch and the Vacuum Battery Tray, has all original parts from the factory (errr, also with the exception of consumables like tires, brakes, blades, belts and hoses). In addition, it doesn't use even a quart of oil between 7,500 mile oil changes, gets decent mileage (for a van with the 3.8) and is in top mechanical condition.

    I ask that question because I'm quite sure that my van wouldn't even come close to fetching the kind of money you think your van is worth, and quite frankly, I'd much rather gamble my money on a van that has been historically reliable.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • good4ugood4u Posts: 18
    Well, we did have the oil changed at a different company 1 week before it broke down this last week. We don't usually take it to this company, but our regular mechanic was closed. We get the oil changed every 3,000 miles, with yearly maintanences done every 12,000 miles. Could these people have POSSIBLY messed around with it? They checked everything over and told us the van was in grade A-condition. HMMMMM.... that makes me wonder. I'm not blaming them, but it's such a coincidence. The van has been properly maintained. I don't know of many people who take as much pride in their vehicles as we do. We even rust-proofed it and get it detailed every 1-2 years, which has nothing to do with the mechanical maintenance, but we're proud of it.... when it works.
  • Our Caravan has the instantaneous MPG readout and can you believe it? We've gotten as much as 99 MPG!
  • He did say he calculated the 32 MPG by measuring between fill-ups so I don't really see what the issue is. I know my van's overhead display is also a little optimistic so my 30MPG hwy trip was probably more like 29 but it was also loaded to the gills with cargo and I was babying the heck out of it because of the load. Driving down from the mountains of VT to CT made the trip easier on the fuel tank but I still think it's an impressive number for a minivan stuffed with things. Especially considering the fuel consumption another vehicle would get doing the same task (pickup, SUV, small truck, full-size van).

    Also, my normal mixed mileage is about 25mpg which is probably 80% highway. Thats really not bad mileage at all for a minivan. My '90 Accord only betters that number by about 4mpg and cannot haul nearly as much. The caveat is though that I drive a lot slower in the minivan (65 on the hwy) and am much less aggressive since it is not exactly nimble. Also, it is only me in the empty minivan for most of the driving. The accord would get 30 if I drove it like a minivan I'm sure.

    This is all on a '98 vehicle with the 3.3 V6 engine. It may not have any guts but it is excellent on fuel.

    If it was just a joke forgive me, it's after work. But there is no reason a well maintained DCX offering within the last 7 years or so should not be able to get near 25mpg HWY when calmly driven with no cargo. It IS probably harder with the 3.8 though.

    Actually, on just about every vehicle I've owned (barring a very disfunctional Chevy Caprice) I've gotten at least EPA mileage but almost always better than EPA numbers. Maintenance is key I think. We have a full size '88 Bonneville that has no trouble getting 28MPG HWY with the gutsy 3800 series V6 GM motor.

    What is under the hood of your DC Sport?
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    I don't rely on the over head computer when wanting to know my mpg. I noticed if I am driving down the freeway and didn't reset the computer when I started the van up, I get a much lower reading then if I get on the freeway and then reset it. It can be as much as 10 mpg or more. I am only a mile from the freeway and ride on it about nine miles. I could understand that if I were only on the freeway for 3-4 miles.
  • "We know this local mechanic very well in person"

    It' a good idea for some repairs to shop around.
    Repairs like trans services, and tune ups I go to the Chrysler dealer because they are usually more familiar with the vehicles quirks. Brakes, shocks etc: are to costly at a dealer so I use an outside shop or do it myself. Mr daughter left me her car to take for inspection while she was away. I took it to my shop where I have been bringing 3 cars for 6+ years. The Maxima failed inspection because of a faulty knock sensor code that brought on the check engine light. It's located under the intake manifold and the shop wanted $375. plus $150. for the part to replace it and would need the car for 2 days. I found a shop that specializes in Maxima repairs, the owner told me to buy the part on ebay for $95. He changed it in 15 minutes and charged me $60 with an oil change.
  • For the last three days, the Edmunds site will not "remember me" and I have to sign in every time I visit. I have not changed anything on my computer and all the other sites I visit several times daily still remember me as usual. I've been visiting Edmunds Forums for over a year and never a problem before. Can't find a way to email tech guys so hope the Moderator of this site can help. BTW, cookies are still being accepted and I have checked and several Edmunds cookies are in the cookie folder.

    Thanks,

    C.B.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hey Gang, I've got a problem that maybe some of y'all have already encountered and may even have come up with a fix. Story (coming from me, what else?) follows:

    Last night Mrs. Shipo called from work (some 30 miles away from home) and informed me that she had a flat and that, given the cold and the wind, she was in no mood to even attempt to put it on herself. Being the dutiful husband, I had my Mother-In-Law feed the kids and off I went.

    The first thing that I noticed was a very nice split/cut in the sidewall of the right-front Goodyear Assurance TripleTred (with all of 2,000 miles on it) on her 2003 DGC ES. "Hmmm, no nail in the tread caused that flat." I thought to myself, "Damn!" She later admitted to hitting a curb a few weeks ago.

    I opened the lift gate, popped the jack and the "Lug wrench" out of their opening and proceeded to crank down the spare tire. After a few moments of cranking I checked to see how much progress I'd made and was surprised to see that I'd made none. All I could see was the cable hanging from the middle of the wheel holder all of the way down to the ground. I yanked, pried, pulled, shook, kicked and otherwise applied every inducement I could think of to get that damn tire to drop, ummm, including a few choice words, some of which are even in the dictionary. :blush: No joy.

    "Well, no matter," I thought to myself, "I'll use the spare in mine." I opened up the back of my van, cranked down the cable and... no tire, just a cable reaching the ground. What are the chances of two Caravans (5 years apart in vintage) suffering the same stuck spare tire syndrome? I applied some of the same persuasions to my spare tire and it did manage to drop after only about 30 seconds. Cool! On with the spare, on with the engine, Reverse with the transmission, and "grind, grind, grind" from the front of the van. Grrr. Up with the jack, off with my spare. I could clearly see where the caliper was making contact with the inside of the wheel. Apparently the 2003 has a different spare wheel offset than does my 1998.

    Emboldened by my success with getting my spare to drop, I went back to work on hers, inventing a few new epithets in the process. No joy, again. In the end I had to leave the van there with my spare holding up her front-right corner. I found a new tire this morning, had it mounted, drove back to her office, put her wheel back on and now all is well, except her spare tire is still stuck.

    Any ideas?

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ... I have dropped the spare every spring and cleaned/lubed the whole assembly. Since Murphy's Law applies here, I have never had a flat tire.

    There are small rubber contact patches where the spare tire abuts the frame. These pads are put on with a bitumastic compound, which over time, can actually bond to the sidewall pretty strongly.

    I would suggest dropping the cable, and removing the bracket that pushes the tire up. Following that, try soaking a solvent between the tire and the frame liberally, perhaps allowing it to soak overnight. Following this, prying, coupled with cursing, and an optional sixpack of beer should do the job.

    Good luck.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Thanks for the advice. ;-)

    If I ever manage to get her tire to drop, I'll most certainly clean and lube the entire assembly. Unfortunately while her tire does come away from the body of the car by maybe an inch or two, and as such rotates freely, I cannot get it to drop any further. I'm assuming that the nylon pin (which has the cable running through it) is stuck inside the receiver sleeve.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ... you will need to drop the entire carrier assembly. I don't have an 03, but the carrier should be similar to my 99. The whole assembly is mounted on a cross bar that bolts to the frame rails on both sides with several 12 mm (or is it 1/2 inch) bolts.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Ahhh, now that is information that is going to help. I haven't crawled underneath just yet (too much snow and slush at the moment). That having been said, I'll certainly lube up my 1998 before I put the spare tire back up. Even thought that job isn't likely to be too difficult, I think some beer is still in order. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • good4ugood4u Posts: 18
    We had that happen back in December with our 1997 Plymouth Voyager - there was a leak in the side of the tire - and couldn't get the spare off. After about 20 minutes of tugging it from the cable, we found out there's a special way to get the spare out. We had to crank the cable down, then up to the tire, then back down again. The tire eventually came down with it, but that was a new story. We had to figure out how to get the spare off the cable. I don't know how we got it because it was dark, but we eventually did.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The spare comes off of the cable real easy, all you need to do is separate the two plastic pieces that form the "T" shaped wheel hanger (slide the vertical portion of said "T" up through the top horizontal portion) and then slip them through the hole in the wheel.

    Regarding the down/up/down procedure, unfortunately I tried that too. Didn't work. :-(

    Since I took my son and a friend of his Tubing this afternoon, I was already cold and wet so I decided to crawl under the older van and check out the mechanism prior to rehanging the spare tire. From the looks of things, it seems that there is a safety catch inside the receiver for the vertical portion of the inverted "T" wheel hanger. Said catch appears to be designed to release when the nylon winch nut is turned counter clockwise, and engage with clockwise rotation. I'm thinking that it is this catch that is most probably the culprit on our 2003; however, Mrs. Shipo is currently out running errands in it so I cannot check to see of there might be some way for me to easily release the safety and drop the wheel.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • I agree, as I usually check using the "divide miles travelled by gallons put into tank" method. I have no problem getting upwards of 25mpg with mostly hwy driving in the Gr. Voyager so I don't really understand the previous comments by others...

    -Keith
  • 2001 T&C Limited. In 70,000 miles we have had one fuel injector and one rear antiskid sensor replaced under warrenty. I replaced the two warped front brake rotors ($25 each from NAPA) which was an easy and quick job.
    We drive with headlights on and have lately noticed several center console background lights out in the upper horizontal row of switches as well as the lower air conditioning control panel. After digging into these panels I find the bulbs soldered to circuit boards and for all practical purposes unreplacable. The panels come as complete units, $65 for the upper panel of switches, $340 for the lower panel. I think I'll let the next owner decide if he needs background lights!
  • Either: Battery is getting tired, or battery cable is loose on battery, Cable is loose on starter, starter relay, starter. Advise you to check the free stuff today (loose connections, check battery). Then wait for relay or starter to fail.
  • I have a 1991 Dodge Caravan that has a mind of it's own. Here's some history. Two years ago it just died. I discovered that the fuel pump wasn't working. I replaced the fuel pump. Everything was fine for about a month and it just died, again. Sometimes it would start and sometime it wouldn't , but I couldn't trust it to go to the corner market. When I wasn't able to start it there was no spark from the ignition coil. I replaced the iginition coil ( no help ), then I ordered a SBEC unit I found on Ebay ( no help ) then I ordered a Distributor with Optical pickup from a Savage yard in North Caroline ( no help ). When I run the onboard diagnostic it says no ignition reference signal ( code 11 ). I was about to give up when I read in the maintence manual about the Auto SHutdown relay. My problem is I can't find it. The picture in the book shows a typical array of engine compartment relays located next to the battery. None are the ASD relay. Any assistance would be truely appreciated. I'm ready to turn her out to pasture.
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