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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • I used to believe this too. However as my life has become more and more busy, and "value" has taken on a different meaning for me, I find two things:

    1) the resale value on the back end typically makes up for the price difference on the front end (that's why my other car is now an Acura, instead of a Taurus)

    2) in my point in life I just don't have the time to deal with the hassle of taking the car in to the shop for repairs like this.

    - Rob
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I'm taking our 2003 with just over 55K on the clock in for new rubber tomorrow. It doesn't really need new tires just yet, in fact we could probably get another 10-15K out of the OEM Bridgestone Turanzas. The problem is that these things, worn as they are, stink in the snow.

    Last summer I bought 8 Goodyear Assurance TripleTred tires from TireRack.com for our two GCs, and promptly had the first 4 mounted on our 1998. Even though the 1998 doesn't have traction control and our 2003 does, the older van with the new rubber can literally run circles around its newer sibling. I figure even a small accident due to the lack of grip of the older tires and I will have lost way more than their remaining value.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • I don't have the receipt in front of me but here's what I recall:

    - *BOTH* front headlight bulbs burned out at the same time (brights worked; low beams did not); cost: ~$50 ; I don't necessarily blame Chrysler for this...though one must admit it's a bit odd for both to go out at the same time, and at 42,000 miles

    - Driver side sliding door locking mechanism was broke; about $100 to repair it. This was not defective before 36,000 miles.

    - Dashboard M.P.H. gauge light was broke. About $75 to repair this. This was not broke before 36,000 miles.

    - Something was wrong with the front-end suspension. I forget what. But it didn't happen before 36,000 miles. This was about $325.

    If the follow-up logic is that none of this should be covered under warranty because they weren't broken before 36,000 miles - I don't necessarily disagree. My point would be that the manufacturing company should take a consumer-oriented stance on this and say "you know, our vehicles SHOULD hold up better than that. So here's 50% of the cost back on this repair.". That would seem fair to me.

    - Rob
  • Upon riding on the front passenger side of my vehicle today, Grand caravan 2001, I noticed that my feet were getting progressively colder, even with the heat on high. Upon further inspection I noticed that ice cold air is pouring out of a vent on the floor, but next to it where the center console is, warm air is also escaping, but the cold air is overpowering. Then, to add insult to injury, it cannot be shut off. I tried turning down the heat, changing over to defrost or vent heat only, and ice cold air was still pouring in. The only way to disable the cold air is to turn the heater completely off. This also explains why it never feels completely warm in the vehicle even though the vents are blowing out hot air. This is not a very pleasant thing to deal with when the temps have been below 10 degrees. I tried to search the forum for this problem but it seems to have been futile. Anyone have similar problem or a possible solution? My passengers thank you.
  • eric6eric6 Posts: 10
    Diyguy,

    Do you recall what the problem/part was when it was under warranty? Do you know what the cost was?

    I know I am going to have to eat the cost, just trying to prepare myself.

    By the way... thank you for responding.

    Eric
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    - Something was wrong with the front-end suspension. I forget what. But it didn't happen before 36,000 miles. This was about $325.

    I wish you better luck than us on that one. We owned a 1996 Sebring Convertible that had a moan coming from the front suspension. (Started around 34,000 miles) Four months and 5k miles later (wouldve been more, but it lived at the dealer ship for a long time), the service techs decided to order parts to completely rebuild the suspension. They wanted us to pay in full for the parts, and the rebuild labor charges (well over $1k).

    After some voice raising and finger pointing (service manager to us, calling us crooks not wanting to pay for stuff they had ordered post warranty), we kept the car as-is and traded it in at our faithful Honda dealership and got a Civic for the trade-in. Good choice on that Acura, btw. They are some of the prettiest immports on the road.
  • I have a 2001 Town Country AWD with 62000 miles. Car broke down and I need a rear differential housing and the coupling which will cost $1900 and $1300 respectively. On top of that I need three $300 items, solenoid, heater line, and I think valve covers. I'm getting the full parts list from the dealer. I just got off the phone with Chrysler and not only will they not pay for any of it, they were downright nasty.
    Any comments on the repair costs?
    These Chryslers are absolute garbage.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    These Chryslers are absolute garbage.

    Sorry you are learning the hard way...we did the same thing so I know how you feel.
  • gino45gino45 Posts: 52
    I had the same problem on my 2001. Blower fan only worked on the highest speed. It turned out to be the resistor. It's located behind the glove box and took me 5 minutes to change. Cost for the part was $20.
  • jhart1jhart1 Posts: 16
    I put two studded tires on the front of my 96 GC. Pulls well in snow and ice as I live on top of a hill. However, the rear end of the van will come around on you in a curve if you are not EXTREMELY careful, especially at speed if you hit ice on an overpass. I am ordering two more for the rear. I am getting four used rims to mount the tires and swap them out in the spring. I buy my studded tires on line from Vulcan tires. I drive the van in foul weather instead of my new Buick. Less of a loss if you get wacked.
  • I also have had bad experiences at my 5 Star dealer when I had a 97 neon. Chrysler did help me out in two instances after being gouged by dealer service. How do they expect repeat customers? My 2001 Caravan (bought used with 24,000 miles) now has 50,000 miles and has been trouble free. Only repair was evap pump diaphram under warranty, and a set of front brake pads which I installed myself. I still have the original tires, which need to be replaced soon. Most of the items you listed I could probably repair myself. If you are not handy, you must find a good, honest independant garage to service your vehicle.
  • Sound like the same problem or issue we had on our used 01 DGC EX that we bought back in Sep. 2003. I had noticed the same thing you described. I found out the cover for the inside cabin filter, which is located on the passenger side under the dash, was missing. I bought another cover from the dealership for about $12. That fixed the problem. :D
  • Thanks for the response.It makes perfect sense and is a lot less then I was sure I would spend! :)
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I should have said, "You folks with the unreliable (by your definition) DC MiniVans have all of the luck."

    Mrs. Shipo and I own two 3.8 liter GCs, both of which have been such models of reliability that even the Toyonda crowd in our neighborhood is envious. Unfortunately I wish all of that wasn't so. Why? Well, we don't really need two minivans, and I'd just love to have a practical reason/excuse to buy a new car. That having been said, I'm having a very difficult time trying to justify replacing a minivan that has cost me all of $200 in unscheduled maintenance over the last 7.5 years and 104,000 miles, and currently has no squawks what so ever. Oh well, given that the 1998, which is now my daily driver, is as close to a free car as it gets, I guess I'll just have to live with it for another year or maybe even two.

    Hmmm, two more years... Let's see, at my current rate of piling up the miles, the 1998 GC would have around 160,000 miles on the clock by January of 2008. I wonder just how much maintenance it will require to keep it running for the next 60K miles. Any bets? ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    Mrs. Shipo and I own two 3.8 liter GCs, both of which have been such models of reliability that even the Toyonda crowd in our neighborhood is envious. Unfortunately I wish all of that wasn't so. Why? Well, we don't really need two minivans, and I'd just love to have a practical reason/excuse to buy a new car. That having been said, I'm having a very difficult time trying to justify replacing a minivan that has cost me all of $200 in unscheduled maintenance over the last 7.5 years and 104,000 miles, and currently has no squawks what so ever

    Congratulations Mr. LUCKY!!! Keep it up, and keep us posted!
  • Hi alll i am new to this but here goes I own a 1998 plymouth voyager that has ground problems I just cannot seem to locate the right/left cowl ground and instument panel ground Can anyone help with this one
    Thanks
    losing ground in Maine
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 221
    Shipo, Here's a practical reason for trading, the improvement in safety engineering with graded air bags, side and side curtain air bags, not to mention the fuel efficiency of hybrid technology.
    In regards to maintenance costs for another 55K, much of your risk is determined by how you have done preventive care, particularly oil, coolant and transmission care. After that it is driving style, city vs highway and load demands like trailer use, etc. Then some are luckier than others. If I combine two years and 3 vehicles of similar age & mileage (including a '95 Caravan) my 55K of use includes maintenance of 3 CV/axle repairs(1 on van) for $350 and 2 AC refrigerant refills(1 on van) - $175. My wife's van also is loosing paint in tennis ball size patches ?$450.
    So I think the chances are significant for ignition problems of coil, cap or plug wires (if not already changed), paint, CV boots, and/or AC failure. The nice thing is that except for coil failure, you'll always get home and can get service when it is convenient and none is unusually expensive. Roy
  • jhart1jhart1 Posts: 16
    This is a tuffy. My Chrysler service manual from Detroit only shows how to remove the dash, headlight switch etc. in ref. to a ground location. It doesn't show exactly where the ground is or how to get to it. The Body Control Module (over your left leg under dash) has a junction block in front of it that is separate and may contain ground points. The connectors for both should be cleaned and checked. The connectors on the PCM that is located up against the driver side fender behind the power distribution box should also be cleaned along with both ends of the battery cables. Also the Instrument Panel "leg" supports are grounds that apparently initiate in the printed circuit. I doubt that this is a problem but who knows. They show four ground points at the Instrument Panel "legs". As for the cowl you may have to remove the glove box or pillar trim to get to it. Here is the ground points inside the car as listed.
    G200---Inst. Panel Center Support (4)
    G201 "
    G202 "
    G203 "
    G300---Left Side Cowl
    G301---Right Cowl Panel
    G302---Left Rear Quarter Panel
    G400---In Liftgate (rear door) This looks like a grounding strip with several wires run to it)
    Here is the ground locations elsewhere. You might also look under the right rear tail light for a ground associated for a trailer wiring configuration.
    G100---Under Battery Tray
    G101---Left side of engine
    G102---Under Battery Tray (listed twice?)
    G103---Left Rear of Engine
    I think Chrysler made a retro wiring harness repair kit for the engine to alleviate a wiring problem. I was also told that there are grounds close to the radiator but I have yet to locate them. Hope this helps!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Shipo, Here's a practical reason for trading, the improvement in safety engineering with graded air bags, side and side curtain air bags, not to mention the fuel efficiency of hybrid technology."

    Hmmm, well I don't think the relative safety of the newer GCs are much different than the one that I have. Yes, yes, yes, I know, graduated air bags and side curtain bags, and such, however, our newer GC has that stuff and that's the one that does family duty. Now, the Audi A3 6-Speed that I have my eye on is a different story entirely, however, safety in and of itself is not enough of a compelling argument.

    As for fuel efficiency, even if the absurd EPA ratings for the hybrids were true, it would take well over a quarter of a million miles of driving at $3.00 per gallon of gas to cost justify the twenty something thousand dollar difference between my long since paid for GC (which has a very low street value) and something like a Prius. Speaking of the Prius, ugh, what a soulless car if there ever was one. No thanks at any price. :P

    For the sake of argument, let's assume that a Prius could attain 60 mpg (impossible given the speeds that I drive) versus the 22.5 that I get on the GC. At $3.00 per gallon I would save $8,333 dollars per 100,000 miles. Still not a compelling argument in my book.

    As for the current state of my 1998 GC, I just had the 100,000 mile tune-up done on it in October, and said tune-up included new MOPAR ignition components including plug wires. The Goodyear Assurance TripleTred tires are about 10,000 miles into a projected life of 80,000 miles. The original suspension is starting to feel its age, however, I had it checked at the 100,000 mile service appointment and there's still plenty of life left in the struts, shocks, bushing, CV joints, tie-rod ends and ball joints. As for the engine, it's been on a steady diet of Mobil 1 since the 15,000 to 20,000 mile mark, and as such it is as clean and sludge free as the day it rolled out of the factory. That and it doesn't use a full quart of oil between 7,500 mile oil changes, and the oil that I drain out is still amber in color. Not too shabby in my book. The paint? Still perfect. The Battery? That was one of the items that I already had to do, the car is now running with a top of the line Die Hard, and should easily make it another several years. The brakes? I did all four corners (first time for the rears) last June at the 87K mark, and do the fronts every 30K miles or so, whether they need it or not. So, what does that leave? The transmission. It has had its requisite 30K services performed by a dealer and shows no signs of trouble. Even if it does decide to go Tango Uniform, no big deal as it made it to over 100K miles and as such I don't figure it owes me anything.

    At this point, I'm figuring another 60K miles is going to run me maybe a thousand or two for maintenance (brakes, wiper blades, serpentine belt, oil changes, filters, suspension bits, bulbs, switches, fittings and such), assuming no transmission problems and maybe a total of five large if it does fail. Hmmm, sounds pretty cheap to me. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • thank you for the response i will let you know how it turns out kind of not fun having a daytime only van (no headlights) happy holidays
    Dan
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