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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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Comments

  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    I think it would have been a lot cheaper to have taken it to a dealer and had them check the code and fixed it from the start.
  • Hello,
    I took my Gr. Caravan 2001(63,000 Miles) in for the heated seat recall. Two hours later they called to tell me that they took the "courtesy" of checking my trans. fluid and that is was orange/brown instead of red, so it needed a flush. $150.00 Then he proceeded to tell me that the mechanic had a hard time starting it, so they checked my plugs, and they were worn down, so it needed a complete tune-up including cleaning the throttle body, etc.,$250.00. Next, he says the mechanic heard a sound when he pulled it in to the garage, and that my left strut and bushing is worn, but is covered under my extended warranty. The thing is, I have to wonder if these things are legit.or whether since they are making no profit on my recall job, that they are coming up with these other things. I bought this used so I don't know what the other party had done to it, but I keep it maintained with the oil changes, and fluids filled, etc. It runs like a top for me and I was surprised when he came up with all of this stuff. Does this sound "right" to you, do you think I really need all of this done at 63,000 miles? I haven't said yes to the repairs yet, I'll wait for your responses. Thank you all for this great forum. :confuse:
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I'm inclined to say that I'd seek a second opinion.

    - The trans fluid? Maybe.
    - The plugs? Not likely. I pulled the ones out of our 1998 3.8 at 100,000 miles and they still looked serviceable, not new, but certainly not yet ready for replacement.
    - Cleaning of the throttle body? Our 1998 has 108K and our 2003 has 59K, neither have ever had their throttle bodies cleaned, and both were just recently given a clean bill of health by our local dealership.
    - Left strut and bushing? Hmmm, sounds fishy as well.

    Anybody else?

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    Ditto.

    At 63,000 miles your transmission should be serviced. Note: I did not say flushed. Just a pan drop, new filter and refill with ATF+4. They will pressure you to get the flush, but I wouln't do it to my vehicle. Your original spark plugs will last at least another 40,000 miles, don't let them say otherwise. If it runs "like a top", your throttle body dosn't need cleaning. I had a Neon that did benifit from throttle cleaning, but I paid the dealer $7 for the aerosol can of Mopar Combustion Chamber Cleaner, and did it myself. As far as the front end work, IF it is a warranty issue, why not? It will cost you the deductable though. Bushings and end links probably are worn, but the left strut is no good?
    They must be replaced in pairs, but like I said, IF it's covered, go for it.
  • Thank you all for your responses. After picking up my Gr. Caravan form the dealer today, the printout of what they say my vehicle is due for,doesn't quite match what the service guy told me on the phone. Here is the updated list: Tune-up with ignition wires,$357.44. Fuel induction cleaning, $249.95. Trans fluid flush, $155.00
    Also says here that front struts are worn, as opposed to their original comment of just the left one. I do believe I will have the front struts done, as they are under warranty, and the transmission filter and fluid change makes sense too, but what about the other items mentioned? Would you think a vehicle with 63,000 miles on it would need the other things?
    Thanks again for responses.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Before we get too much further into this discussion I need to ask, what engine do you have in your van?

    I ask because I just checked the Owner's Manual for our 1998 and Spark Plugs are indeed due for replacement every 30,000 miles for both the Mitsubishi built 3.0 liter V6 as well as the 2.4 liter I4. By the time our 2003 was built the 3.0 V6 was dropped but the 2.4 was still being built (may still be for all I know), and it also required new plugs every 30K miles.

    Now, if you have either of the Chrysler built V6s (3.3 and 3.8) then the 100K tune up applies across the board.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • My engine is a 3.8
    It runs great, with no hesitation, or rough idling whatsoever.
    Thanks
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Well if you've got the 3.8 then I'd be inclined to make a little noise regarding their assertion that you need plugs and wires and a cleaning of the intake system. Then again I might simply be inclined to run to another dealer or even find a competent independent mechanic. Am I saying that your current dealership is a bunch of crooks? No, not exactly, at least not yet. That having been said, "Where there's smoke, there's usually fire."

    Like I reported yesterday, I had the factory plugs and wires on our 1998 replaced (per the Chrysler recommended maintenance schedule) last October or November after almost exactly 100,000 (99,800 IIRC) miles and over seven years of use. I checked them before I took it in for the 100K service and the wires were still supple with no visible cracks and the three (front) plugs that I pulled still looked good enough to run another 50K miles.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    I would still ask them to do the standard transmission service as described in your owners manual. No where does it state that your transmission should be flushed. I've seen dealer coupons for $79.99 for the standard transmission service, so $155.00 for a "flush" is not out of line, but why do it? Also have them do the warranty front end work, and say that you don't have the necessary funds at this time for the engine work. As Shipo said you're good till at least 100,000 miles with the 3.8
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    I had a mechanic tell me once that even though these vehicle's plugs can last 100,000 miles, it's a good Idea to replace them around 60-80,0000 as they have a tendency to get corroded in there at 100,000 miles and are very hard to get out.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "I had a mechanic tell me once that even though these vehicle's plugs can last 100,000 miles, it's a good Idea to replace them around 60-80,0000 as they have a tendency to get corroded in there at 100,000 miles and are very hard to get out."

    Hmmm, I've never heard that from any of the four dealerships that have worked on our vans. I'm not saying that it isn't so, I've just never heard of it. That having been said, motoringmama was told by her dealership that her plugs were shot and that the van was running poorly as a result.

    Thinking about this another way, I was curious what a plug with 100,000 miles on it would look like before I took mine in for its last service and as such, I decided to pull the front three, take a peek and then put them back in. The good news was that I didn't notice any unusual corrosion, and had no problem pulling them out.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • jamooseejamoosee Posts: 2
    Absolutely the last Chrysler product I ever get sucked into buying (I worked in Chrysler management from 83-92). I got a fantastic price due to a relative working for them. It has turned into a money pit. Our 99 Voyager, 3.0L automatic has been a royal pain since we first got it. Four trannies in the first year, all fluids leak. Have taken it to 3 different dealers in town while under warranty. eg . a loud rattle in the front of the engine (sort of like a plane taking off) twice noted on repair visits but the usual "normal condition" response (one dealer told me to turn the radio up and I won't hear it). My water pump must now be replaced, hmm maybe the rattle from way back was the pump but now I am out of warranty. This pile of junk is 7 years old with only 84000 km (52000 miles) and has been maintained extremely well. I have been adding brake fluid since day 1 with the dealers never finding the leak. They attribute it to wear of the brake pads. I will not be fooled again into buying one of their vehicles again, regardless of the deal I get. I just traded in my 95 Camry at 160000 km for an 03 Accord. Sorry DC, but you can't compete with the big boys. I pity my friends who work for DC because they can't say anything bad. Side note : Lee Iacocca suggested years ago that Chrysler managers should only get one company vehicle so that they would have to buy other vehicles from a dealer like the regular population. That way they would know what it would be like to suffer at the hands of a dealer. The managers threatened to mutiny so he backed down. They just don't care about the little people that have to fork out and be treated like crap by the dealers. Sorry for the anger but I have just about had it.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    As I read through the litany of problems you've had with your "Chrysler" the first thought that occurred to me was that most of the problems that you've encountered were from the "Mitsubishi" side of the house (i.e. the engine and its immediate components). Maybe that's why Chrysler dropped that engine from its lineup of MiniVans.

    Thinking about this a little further, I'm surprised you even bought the thing in the first place. Why? Because by mid 1998 when we got our first van, there were widely known problems with that engine in virtually every vehicle it was installed in, Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth and Mitsubishi alike. When we ordered our 1998 I did a little research just to make damn sure that I didn't get ANY mill made by Mitsubishi. Oh, and one of the other things I found out while doing that research is that on vans with the 3.3 and the 3.8 liter Chrysler engines, you also get a different and much stronger transmission. Needless to say I'm quite glad I held out for a 3.8 liter van. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • timbob1timbob1 Posts: 9
    if the plugs need to be replaced they are covered under the federal emmissions warranty - look in your owners manual - dbl platinum plugs or not - its not a bad idea to replace them for peak perfomance and better mpg. - fuel induction and injector cleaning is a good idea about every 30K - seems excessive I know - but gas quality is down especially in the midwest - should be done - if not buy a premium f/i cleaner from your local parts store - use MMM(3m), or another good brand - NOT STP - buy a fuel system cleaner not just injectors. a throttle plate cleaner wouldn't be bad either(make sure safe for Fuel inj.)
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Ummm, I beg to differ.

    "...dbl platinum plugs or not - its not a bad idea to replace them for peak perfomance and better mpg."

    I've never seen any evidence, scientific or otherwise, to support that statement. In the case of my 1998, when it was brand spankin’ new it was a struggle to get that thing up to 20 mpg on the highway. Last June I changed consulting gigs and started commuting nearly 100 miles a day and as such was able to establish a very consistent mostly highway driving routine. Between June and October when I had the 100,000 mile tune up performed, that van delivered a very consistent 22.5 mpg. Between October and now (almost 9,000 miles) that same van over that same commute has delivered a very consistent 22.5 mpg. I'm thrilled with the difference. ;-)

    "fuel induction and injector cleaning is a good idea about every 30K "

    Hogwash. Modern fuels must meet certain minimums of detergency and purity, and once again, I've never seen any evidence, scientific or otherwise, to suggest anything to the contrary. Actually, quite the opposite seems to be the case, fuels are getting cleaner.

    "buy a fuel system cleaner not just injectors. a throttle plate cleaner wouldn't be bad either(make sure safe for Fuel inj.)"

    Again, what's the point? The van that motoringmama is driving is by her own admission, running very well. Back in the 1970s when I was a plebe mechanic, one of my mentors popped the hood of a Chevy Pickup truck, started it up (it started immediately and ran smoothly), and then pulled the air cleaner off of the top of the carb. With the air cleaner housing removed the scene that was revealed was to my untrained eye, revolting.

    Apparently there had been some blow-by leakage (I'm thinking from the PVC system), and a HUGE amount of oily dirt and grime had built up all around the carb. My mentor then asked me what I would do with this truck. I told him that I'd fix the PVC system and then pull the carb and rebuild it.

    As he was a former sailor he was always very fond of using colorful language and this moment was no exception. The translation of what he said was basically along the lines of, "Wrong! Fix the [lousy] PVC system and leave the [mother] [loving] carb alone. If it ain't [flippin'] broken, then don't [flippin'] touch it."

    End of lesson. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    As many of y'all with 1996 through 2000 model year DC MiniVans have surely noticed, our vans are not endowed with the greatest headlights on the planet. Yesterday as I pulled up in front of my garage I noticed that my 1998 DGC had turned itself into a "Padiddle" (i.e. a car with one headlight). Very annoying that, however, after nearly eight years and nearly 109,000 miles, I don't reckon the burned out bulb owes me anything.

    Once inside the house, to the internet I went and did a little research. What I came away with is that there are now some options that will improve the lighting situation to a fair extent. In the end I opted for the Sylvania Silverstar 9007ST Halogen bulb inserts for something like $37 for the pair.

    http://www.sylvania.com/ConsumerProducts/AutomotiveLighting/HighPerformance/Silv- erstar/ProductLine/

    Tonight I had a chance to try them out and they are very definitely a substantial improvement over the factory bulbs, and while they are probably still a little shy of the 2001 and later MiniVan lighting scheme, the difference is no longer so obvious.

    So, for all y'all still running with the factory bulbs in your 1996-2000 MiniVans, you might want to consider dumping twenty bucks per side and upgrade your lighting. I just wish I hadn't waited eight years to do it myself. :blush:

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    Interesting you found an improvement. Consumer Reports (not that I go with everything they report or I wouldn't have a Caravan and a Taurus in my garage) recently tested aftermarket Silverstars on four or five different vehicles and found they were actually inferior on all but one of them, and were not much better than the OEM halogens on that exception as well.

    Believe it or not, I have yet to change any bulbs, front or rear, inside or out on our 1996 Caravan except one fog light. (fog lights are in most respects aesthetic only devices anyways) I did a Rube Goldberg rebuild to it as it had sprung a leak and allowed good old Wisconsin winter salt water in and corroded everything. After pricing a replacement(way too expensive), I reworked the socket, resoddered the wires, and with liberal used of clear silicone caulk, sealed it back up myself. Hasn't failed since in about four years.

    Getting off subject some, but I have noticed that the vast majority of one eyed cars on the road seem to be VW Jettas and Passats. Does VW have an inferior bulb supplier, or a overly vibratory bulb mounting or what, or is this just my imagination?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Interesting you found an improvement. Consumer Reports (not that I go with everything they report or I wouldn't have a Caravan and a Taurus in my garage) recently tested aftermarket Silverstars on four or five different vehicles and found they were actually inferior on all but one of them, and were not much better than the OEM halogens on that exception as well."

    Hmmm, I wonder of those vehicles that didn't improve used an OEM bulb supplier that provided a better baseline bulb. What I found when I pulled the old (OEM) bulbs was that they were made by the same manufacturer (Sylvania) as the Silverstars, and maybe within the Sylvania product line the Silverstars are indeed better. Kind of a weird paradox.

    As for your VW Padiddle sightings, IIRC, the whole Padiddle thing originally started with the old Beetle (when you were a teenager on a date and saw a one-eyed Beetle you were supposed to kiss -- geez I'm getting old), so I wonder if VW is simply trying to keep the tradition alive. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • travfam1travfam1 Posts: 5
    I am leasing a 2005 Town & Country Touring. Nice Van, except for all the problems. Fourteen months into the lease, a fluid leak appeared under the van behind the front wheels. After 7 trips to the dealer, the problem was fixed. New power steering pump, rack and pinion unit, and 2 heater hoses to the rear. Now with only 7500 miles and 22 months to go on the lease, the van has developed this very loud and annoying creaking sound from the front drivers side. Almost sounds as if a weld has come loose, or two pieces of metal are rubbing together. The dealer's shop foreman drove it and couldn't believe what he was hearing!! Vehicle is at the dealer until they fix it. I have had it with this thing. These problems shouldn't be happening on a relatively new vehicle. I have a 15 year old Nissan that doesn't have these problems. Buy American, they told me. NEVER AGAIN!!!! Any ideas out there as to this latest problem?? Please let me know. Thanks.
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    Sounds like sway bar bushings and/or end links. Good thing your problematic van was leased, not purchased. My 2001 with close to 50,000 miles has been trouble free, so far.
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