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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,931
    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.

  • 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: 2,931
    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,
  • 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?

  • 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? it frozen?....and there really isnt any place to get a pry bar behind it to try & worry it lose.

    Thanx in advance!..

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

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