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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • I replaced my headlights with Sylvania xtravisions a few years ago and noticed a little improvement. The Silverstars were about twice the cost at that time. I thought they were brighter at the time but now I think they were brighter because they were newer than the OEM bulbs I replaced. I recently replaced 1 standard bulb on my Altima and after turning on the lights saw a big difference in brightness between them and replaced the older one also.
    Aiming the headlights a little higher will improve visibility on minivans
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    We live in a semi-rural area with lots of dark wooded two-lane roads meandering all over hill and dale. To my way of thinking, that is the most challenging environment for headlights, and where my 530i with its Xenon headlights showed their obvious superiority to halogen lights ti the greatest extent. Given that more than half of my daily 80+ mile commute is over such roads, good headlights are essential, especially when the roads are wet and/or when conditions are less than clear. Even though I've only spent a couple of days behind these new bulbs, I can tell that there is a very definite improvement in their ability to light up the road, however, contrary to the back of the Silverstar packaging, these bulbs do not even remotely rival Xenon headlights.

    Regarding your comment that said, "I thought they were brighter at the time but now I think they were brighter because they were newer than the OEM bulbs I replaced."

    I did a little reading about how halogen lights work and discovered that they use a regenerative process that keeps the bulb just as bright as it was the day it was made, all of the way through the day it burns out.

    Best Regards,
  • jamooseejamoosee Posts: 2
    I appreciate your response. I was leaning towards an Odyssey or Sienna but my wife's bro-in-law is a DCX employee. Needless to say, I lost the fight in order to support the company he works for. Unfortunately, I am paying the price for being supportive.

    Also, I have had electrical problems with windows and locks, steering gremlins as well as the sliding door almost falling off. I also live in the city where it was built and with my wife being a teacher, she feels that she must also support the parents who work there. I say to h--- with the patriotism and give my cash where it is appreciated.

    Sadly I have different neighbours with the same vehicle who absolutely abuse them with extremely poor if not rare maintenance without a hitch. Luck of the draw I guess.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Sadly I have different neighbours with the same vehicle who absolutely abuse them with extremely poor if not rare maintenance without a hitch. Luck of the draw I guess."

    Figures. :confuse:

    Maybe the moral of this story is that in an effort to keep an American car running in peak condition one must abuse it and not maintain it. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • "I did a little reading about how halogen lights work and discovered that they use a regenerative process that keeps the bulb just as bright as it was the day it was made, all of the way through the day it burns out"

    From my experience this is not true. Halogen bulbs become dimmer over time. Replace a new bulb, turn on your lights and compare it to the other bulb that is a few years old and you will see the difference. Bulb mfgs package 2 bulbs for that reason. I believe it has something to do with the gas inside the bulb.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Halogen bulbs become dimmer over time... ...I believe it has something to do with the gas inside the bulb."

    Please take a look at the linked discussion regarding Halogen Cycle lamps vs. Tungsten-Halogen lamps: - HalogenWorks.htm

    I don't know when the industry switched over to the Tungsten-Halogen process, however, the bulbs that I removed from the 1998 DGC were just as perfectly clear as were the new ones that I replaced them with.

    Best Regards,
  • Our 99 Voyager, 3.0L automatic has been a royal pain since we first got it. Four trannies in the first year,
    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.
    Four trannies in the first year I find hard to believe, but if true you should have contacted the Chrysler Corporate office. I apologize for sounding harsh but you should have never tolerated such shoddy service. Maybe they were trying to repair the trans. rather than replace it.
    The dealer is correct brake fluid level will get lower as the brakes wear, and will overflow when new pads are
    Toyota and Honda make good cars but they are not as perfect as Consumer Reports makes them out to be. Their dealer don't have service departments for show. I had to wait ten days to get a Nissan dealer to change my alternator with a factory re manufactured unit for $450.00
    They also learned that putting a vehicles power train into a minivan puts more stress on it resulting in Odyssey transmission problems and Toyota motor sludge problems.
    Take a look for yourself 6&forumid=9 wforum=5
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I am bringing in my wife's T&C this afternoon for another steering related issue. Last fall we experienced a whining comingf orm the steering column. Brought it into the dealership and they replaced some part on the steering column. It was leaking power steering fluid. Yesterday, my wife took the van to the grocery store and she called asking if her PS fluid was low? I said it shouldn't be since it was serviced 2 weeks ago. The fluid was not low, but when I took the car around the neighborhood, I did hear a whining/groaning sound when the steering wheel is truning. So, back to the delaer we go.

    Has anyone heard of any issues with the power steering in these vans?
  • My van is a 98 caravan, and not only snow but rain puddles have caused my belt to fall off. I've had 3 belts in two and 1/2 years and of those three belts have had to have them put back on seven times now. Nobody has been able to figure this out. My splash guard is in place, tension is fine, but the tension pulley was slightly out of alignment so I am now having that replaced to see if it helps, but I have not been given any guarantees that this will help either. Good luck.
  • Ok, so the dealer said I needed the transmission flush. Just to recap GC2001 ES,(63,000 miles) taken in for a recall and dealer comes back with a host of issues that I need to have completed. I decided to check the transmission fluid color myself to see if it was really a burnt orange. Well, I checked the dipstick twice, wiping the old off each time, and I noted it was a pink color. Now I know when it is freshly put in, it is red. I also read somewhere on here that you're supposed to check it at hot and cold. Will this make a difference? And does the color sound right? I know alot of folks may say, just have it done anyway, but I am really strapped for funds and don't want to spend unnecessarily, yet my van is my second baby too. Comments? Thanks
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    That's why I recommended the pan-drop, filter replacement and re-fill with ATF+4 only. At 63,000 miles this service should be done,(even if your fluid is pink and clean) Even though the dealer has been jerking you around, I would not trust this service to an independant, as they most likely will not use ATF+4. Try to persuade your dealer to just do the trans service as described in your owners manual (and in THEIR service manual) without the flush, it should come out to less than $100.00 Your "second baby" will appreciate it
  • I had this happen to me after 96k of driving. My problem was the Mopar belt the dealer installed. I had them install one a few years back and never had problems, but the newer ones are slightly different and it came off in 2 inches of rain. I couldn't go around the block without it coming off. If your tensioner and pulleys are good change the belt with a Dayco. I used #5060968 for the 3.3
    Here is the link
  • gino45gino45 Posts: 52
    I have a 2001 Caravan and though I have not yet noticed any loss of steering fluid I am experiencing a shuddering/groaning when turning the steering wheel with the tranny in park. The steering also feels heavier than usual when driving. From what I could see on the web, I think that my steering pump is bad. I'll be taking into the dealership to have this confirmed. Does anyone know if changing the pump is an easy chore, or should I let the dealer tackle it. BTW- Fish8- I've read quite a few complaints about our vans having steering rack and steering pump problems.
  • lastwraithlastwraith Posts: 350
    Actually the article basically says that although the process results in greater efficiency and lumen output over the life of the bulb it certainly does not suggest the bulbs are as bright at the end of their life as they are at day 1. The walls of the of the bulb WILL stay crystal clear due to the newer process keeping the gas away from the walls as it redeposits itself on the filament but the filament still wears thin, increasing resistance and thus decreasing light ouput.

    The only reason I mention this is that I also wondered whether the Silverstars simply seemed brighter because the old bulbs were shot. Much like when one installs new speakers in their car and marvels at the wonderful sound. Well sure, the old ones were nearly garbage by the time most people look for a replacement! Although many stock speakers are simply cheap garbage from the beginning, price is everything in most cases unfortunately.

    So I guess the real question is: has anyone checked out the Silverstars vs a new Sylvania regular bulb? I'd like to know myself, since I was contemplating the "upgrade" as well but put it off since many people seemed to be having life-span issues with the Silverstars (could be a bad install though, halogens are very sensitive).
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Thanks for the response!! The Wife's van is at the dealer as I write this. I hope to get a call today with a diagnosis. I am VERY glad that we bought an extended warranty which includes rental coverage. They gave us a short wheelbase Caravan. Boy did we get spoiled with the rooma nd amentities of our Touring model. There is almost zero legroom for the kids in their carseats on the second row. But, at least we have a van to drive while ours is in the shop. We also miss the power sliding doors. We constantly reach for the power door buttons and guess what? There are none. My Wife REAALY wants her van back!!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    On the surface I have no problem with the concept of the filament thinning out and increasing resistance over time, however, thinking about this a little more... With the regenerative process keeping the deposits off of the inner wall of the bulb and instead re-depositing on the filament itself, how does the filament get thin? Asked another way, assuming that the filament does thin out over time (and I have no reason to think otherwise), where does the material go that left the filament? I ask because this type of stuff is WAAAYYYYY outside my areas of expertise and really don't know.

    Regarding the Silverstars, I have little doubt that they are brighter than the OEM bulbs simply because of their relative brightness to other cars. When we first got the 1998 we noticed it was very marginal in the lighting department, then a few months later I got my first BMW with Xenon headlights and WOW, what a difference. The good news about Xenons is that since they don't have a filament, they don't degrade over time, and as such, they can be used as a relative benchmark. Is the 1998 now as bright as the Xenons? Nope, however, it's a hell of a lot closer than it was when it was new.

    Regarding the life-span issue, even Sylvania states on their web site that life-span and brightness are inversely proportional, the brighter the bulb, the shorter the life. Taking a line from the old Blade Runner movie, "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy." Personally, I have no problem with the concept of replacing the bulbs every four years if they are indeed brighter. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Just got a call from the dealer and they had to replace the power steering pump. So, to sum up, in the less than a year we have had the van and with 13,000 miles on it we have had the following replaced:

    Front drivers seat (defective leather)
    Replaced defective rack and pinion
    Replaced defective power steering pump.

    I consider the last 2 pretty major and am not too happy with these developments.
  • lastwraithlastwraith Posts: 350
    Not really sure myself about your filament question, perhaps the usable part of the filament still thins over time and the gases coat the filament instead of the bulb walls, thus keeping it clear? Just a guess, I also have no idea.

    They very well might be brighter than tradition bulbs, I would also like to know. If you come across a comparison with some real numbers of lumen output over time, please post a link. Are you sure the BMW isn't HID? Those do not have a filament and are much brighter than conventional headlights but it takes a while to warm up to full brightness (sometimes a few minutes and any electronic feed interruption results in a partial reset of this time).

    As for life-span, I would generally agree that the brighter the bulb, the lower the life but only within the same technology generation. Today we have LEDs (though technically not a bulb) and fluorescent bulbs that can match incandescent brightness in most cases, have a much longer life, and operate on less resources. I was hoping the Silverstars were somewhat of a breakthrough - thus yielding greater light output but with at least the same or near same life span.

    I also would change them every 4 years for brighter bulbs, that's certainly reasonable as far as I'm concerned.

    happy motoring
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Are you sure the BMW isn't HID?"

    I don't actually know what HID headlamps are. :confuse: I've been hearing the term for years but I don't think I've ever actually seen a technical description of their construction. As for my BMWs, both of them were ordered with Xenon headlamps which are a gas filled bulb with no filament. They do take a moment to warm up; however, "a moment" is measured as no more than a second or two. ;)

    Best Regards,
  • lastwraithlastwraith Posts: 350
    Hmm, here's a link to HID, taking a cue from yours and using Sylvania.

    Yeah, you probably have HIDs then. Xenon is used most commonly in the autmotive form of HID to start them. Here's a wikipedia link.
    Instead of a filament, there is an arc across electrodes. They use a ballast to start and maintain the operation. Any interruption of current causes them to reset and "charge up" again, like you see happen in a fluorescent. They also look somewhat blue simply because they are so much whiter than traditional incandescents. Similar to why LED flashlights look blue compared to a mag lite or what have you. Not to be confused with the blue bulb HID "replacements" for standard headlights. These are just garbage to emulate the look of HIDs.

    Hope that clears some things up. Also explains why your BMW is so much brighter!

    Take care.
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