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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    This situation can either be considered a problem with the vehicle design, or it can be considered insufficient maintenance. The fact is that brake fluid absorbs water. Period, full stop, the end. I used to turn a fair wrench on cars back in the 1970s, and any car that has gone more than two to three years (depending upon climate and driving style) on DOT-3 is going to have cloudy brake fluid. Leave it in there for four to five years and there is going to be a bunch of rusty sludge in the brake lines. Many auto makers, BMW for one, specify a complete brake system flush every two years. That may be a bit excessive, however, experience has suggested to me that three years is probably good for most cars.

    I've had the brake fluid flushed on both of our Caravans every third year, and folks, if you could see how cloudy the fluid has become during that period, you would never consider leaving it in there for much longer. FWIW, I just did a brake job for a neighbor's 2001 Honda Odyssey with about 48,000 miles, and yup, same drill, I bled the brakes and out came the sludge that used to be brake fluid. So, from my perspective, a 1996 T&C with the factory fill of DOT-3 went 9 years..., WAAAAY beyond the call of duty. I'm thinking that you're lucky it went that long.

    Best Regards,
  • tsu670tsu670 Posts: 289
    Thanks for the comments, Dale, but nowhere in the original posting did it say the brake fluid was the original factory fill of DOT-3. Also, the fluid that was expelled to the deck did not contain any rust or sludge. After the brake lines were repaired, the system was bled and the fluid that came out was clean.

    The technician that did the repair was surprised how the rear brake lines ran alongside a rail for awhile, then turned upwards and ran over the gas tank where salt could collect and corrode them. It is this design issue that is of interest to the gentleman who called from NHTSA.

    Just curious, but in your '98 Grand Caravan do the rear brake lines take the same route over the gas tank (near the tank filler neck)? Thanks. Ken
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I'll slide underneath tonight when I get home at take a look-see. I'll report back later.

    So, your brake lines corroded from the outside? Yikes, I've never seen that one before.

    Best Regards,
  • Just curious. Don't they make the brake lines out of a non rust metal now? :D
  • pfutzpfutz Posts: 7
    Were you ever able to fix this problem? I am experiencing the same thing.
  • Petras,

    did you figure out if that was the issue, as my 91 gc 3.3 dies on me as well , it driveing me crazy :sick: it just shuts off on me while im driving , i have to pull over and put it in park and hopefully it will start up again.....
  • theburltheburl Posts: 1
    Had the same problem for over a year and still no resolve until one day got so mad that I hit the dash on top right by the transmission selector and Voila', the gauges came on and started right up. No joke.

    Did some investigating and found out that what is happening is the anti-theft is not releasing control of the pcm because the pcm is not fully initiallizing due to a failed power on test. Sounds complicated but ultimately the problem is traced to a bad connector on the back of the Speedometer cluster. I took the dash board out (about 1 hour) reseated the connector, reinstalled (1 hour), and problem is much less frequent now (once every 6 month) which is solved with a hit on the dash.

    Dealer says the wiring harness needs replacing but that is a joke.

    Take care and good luck.
  • petras2petras2 Posts: 104
    the shop didn't get a chance to look at it yet..maybe tomorrow... after it stalled, we had no luck getting it restarted, it cranks ran fine for 5 years after we had the module replaced last time... back then it was around $350 P+L...
  • tsu670tsu670 Posts: 289

    Yes, I believe the lines are stainless steel, but that material is not 100% rust proof, just rust resistant. Some exhaust systems (pipes) come from the factory made of stainless steel, but eventually they corrode, too.

    I have a digital picture that I'd love to post, but not sure how to do that here. "Help" panel suggests that photos need to be part of a website (URL) that can be linked to. Photo is on my hard drive. Is there a way I can just copy and paste the image?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Okay, I just crawled out from underneath our 1998 GC and yes, the brake lines join at the center of the axle beam and rise up together toward a unibody frame member, and from there forward over the top of the fuel tank. They reappear from over the tank under the left side sliding door along the fore/aft unibody frame member and from there head up toward the engine compartment.

    I was able to get up underneath the car well enough to shine a flashlight rearward above the fuel tank which afforded me a pretty good view of most of the run of the brake lines. Even after seven complete winters spent exclusively in the north east (NYC and Boston metro areas), I was unable to detect a single spot of corrosion anywhere on the brake lines.

    Hmmm, I'm wondering if Chrysler changed the material for said brake lines between 1996 and 1998. Doesn't hardly seem likely as brake lines have been made of pretty tough stuff for decades but I suppose it's possible.

    Best Regards,
  • gteachgteach Posts: 1
    There is a fan control module, it looks very similar to an old Delco ignition module. It is usually located on drivers side of engine compartment near the front, sort of under the battery tray area. It is a warranty item. there is a recall on this. Go to Chryslers web page or call the local dealer with your VIN # to find out if it is covered, The part is around 70 bucks I think.
  • I did a quick search and didn't find anything, so...

    I have a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan ES with 31,000 miles. Knock on wood, it has been very trouble free. I want it to stay that way so I asked my dealer if they recommend an auto trans service at 30,000. They said yes. They flush the fluid out and do not change the filter - cost is $140.

    Dodge sends me service coupons every few months and they usually have one for an "Automatic Tranmission Tune-up service drain/replace" for $119 (was $89 on my jan 05 coupon). The coupon says they change the filter, install new fluid, make nec adjustments, etc...

    I asked the tech advisor about the coupon and he said that it is not good for the "flush" service. I'd be interested in anyone's advice/experience. It's situations like this that make me think I should not listen to the dealer and just go by the manufacturer's service guidelines. Should I do the "flush", should I do the "drain" and get the filter replaced? Should I say the heck with it for now?
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    At 31,000 miles I would not get the trans flushed, especially if they are NOT going to change the filter? Under normal usage the owners manual says no trans service is needed for "life" of vehicle, but does require a pan drop, new filter and refill at 48,000 when used under "severe" conditions. I do not drive my van under severe conditions, but I will go for the pan drop, filter and refill at about 48-50,000 miles for my peace of mind, I will never get it flushed. Also never get fluid changed at any location but a DC dealership.
  • tsu670tsu670 Posts: 289
    Yep, sounds like the same routing of the lines on our '96 T&C. I was wondering the same thing about the brake line material. Maybe the lines on our van came from a bad batch or something. We previously owned 2 other Chrysler-made minivans without any such problems. One was a '94 Grand Caravan LE with 72k miles before someone ran a red light and totaled it (no injuries); the other a '90 Grand Voyage SE that we drove for 15 years and 150k.

    I hope my original post doesn't panic anyone. I wouldn't have said anything except the guy from NHTSA (DOT) said they had received similar complaints and were investigating the matter, so there must be some validity to the problem. It won't stop us from buying another Chrysler minivan, however. In fact, my wife is trying to use this incident as an excuse to get a new one with Stow 'n Go! I get this kind of nervous chuckle every time she says that... :blush:
  • petras2petras2 Posts: 104
    the shop did confirm that again it was a bad powertrain control module,,,they're sending it to an electronics shop in hopes of repairing it...only the dealer sells new ones...he thinks the underlying cause of them going bad is a bad coil so i'll replace that too....good luck with yours....
  • ginnygginnyg Posts: 1
    2001 grand caravan windows radio ac take 30 seconds up to 5 minutes to work when I start the van. Occasionally they will all work when I just turn the ignition key. Just noticed the malfuntion indicator light came on the dash. Can anybody help me?
  • jgablejgable Posts: 2
    How did the repair go? I have same exact problem and would like to know if fix was successful.
  • dougt2dougt2 Posts: 3
    Hi All

    1998 GC, 140K, stalls on slow (<10 mph) right hand turns, otherwise runs normal. Owned since new, no wrecks. Replaced plugs and wires, still stalls. Any ideas?

  • hayneldanhayneldan Posts: 657
    Check battery connections, make sure they are tight.
  • bbmombbmom Posts: 4
    Yes, the dealer said the radio had an internal short in it. I had an extended warranty and the dealer replaced the entire radio. Good luck with your problem.
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