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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I can't tell you what to do, however your experience is another good justification to stick to a 3000 mile oil change interval, with conventional nonsynthetic oil. Any contamination like you have would accumulate at a lower concentrations with frequent oil changes.

    Hmmm, interesting. I guess it all depends upon perspective. I've been using synthetic oil and extended OCIs (10K-12K miles) for the last 100,000 miles on this van, and even with the coolant contamination, the UOA (which can be seen at shipo, "Synthetic motor oil" #6389, 8 Jul 2006 9:40 am ) shows that the engine is in extremely good condition. If I was to switch to a 3,000 mile OCI, I would be changing my oil every four to five weeks, no thanks, that's just too much like work. :P

    Regarding keeping the van and methods of keeping it running, well, I figure that I can do a complete top end overhaul for about $650 (about what, two car payments?) and given that the engine is still only consuming a quart of oil in 7,500 miles, I figure the lower end is in pretty good condition. True, the van is nearing 120,000 miles, however, it seems to be in good enough condition to easily make it to the 200K mark and then some.

    As you mentioned, the other option is to buy a new one, however, given the number of miles that I'm currently driving (29,000 in the last 12 months), and the number of miles I'll be driving this time next year (the company that I'm contracting to is moving our offices twenty miles further up the road), buying new (or even used but newer that what I have) is money down the drain at a rather quick rate. I'm thinking that from a pure financial perspective, nothing is going to beat this van.

    Of course, truth be told, I've had a new car every three to four years for the last quarter of a century and I really WANT another new one now. It's just that I've never had to consistently drive so many miles and so new cars made more sense from a financial perspective.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    Too bad you live on the East Coast----I have a very good used '96 Caravan I could sell you! :)
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Funny thing, when I read your last post, that very thought occurred to me. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    You didn't say which engine you have and it may not make any difference but last summer, I changed plugs and wires on our 01 with the 3.8L engine. It took a little patience but really wasn't that bad and I certainly didn't do anything with the cowl.
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    A good repair facility can pressurize the cooling system in order to determine if there are internal leaks. The cost of the diagnostics might well be offset by pinpointing where your problem is before diving in before possibly doing an unnecessary repair.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I've asked about that elsewhere and so far no answer. So, assuming that there are no leaks in the radiator, the heater core and the hoses, how exactly do they pinpoint where the leak is inside of an engine without partially disassembling the engine?

    I ask because I'm pretty sure the leak is from a bad head gasket, however, I don't want to tear it apart to find that both gaskets are fully intact (meaning that the problem is most likely one of the two heads).

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    Thanks Shipo. I will be doing it in a few weeks. I will let you all know how it went. It looks pretty easy from you instructions.
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    Sorry about that. It's the 3.8L engine. So how did you get at the rear plugs and wires? How long did it take and was it hard? :D
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    From what I remember, it was mostly from the top and mostly by feel(and maybe a few bad words). I've also done my Bonneville and that was much worse. You'll have to use a combination of extensions and a swivel but again, I felt it was pretty straight forward.
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    Assuming that pressurizing the cooling system indicates an internal engine leak, they would then do a compression test. If the test shows low compression on two adjacent cylinders, that's a head gasket leak. If the compression check is ok, then that would indicate a cracked head.
  • Just laid down $3100 for a very clean 98 Caravan (private), switched my insurance, drove it for 3 miles to test, and let my wife have it... when she called me to report a fire that required the rear right interior to be ripped out, as flames were coming out the speaker grill! :cry: No apparent previous damage, no aftermarket add-ons... just a short? Can speakers get that hot, and so what about the fusing system? Anybody got a gray front-ended wreck to scrap out?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Assuming that pressurizing the cooling system indicates an internal engine leak, they would then do a compression test. If the test shows low compression on two adjacent cylinders, that's a head gasket leak. If the compression check is ok, then that would indicate a cracked head.

    Hmmm, I'm thinking that there is a third possibility. I've wrenched on plenty of engines (in years gone by) that had neither a compression problem on any cylinders or a cracked head. The problem would instead turn out to be a failed head gasket between a coolant gallery and either the lifter valley (on "V" type engines) or an oil return drain, both of which will allow coolant to drain into the oil pan without a crack or a low cylinder.

    FWIW, while I haven't performed a compression test, I have no indication that there is a low cylinder (which doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't one). I suppose a cylinder leak down test and a borescope could help rule out a leak into a cylinder, however, having that diagnosis performed will cost at least half of the total cost of overhauling the top end of the engine.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    I've also been thinking some more about it and you're right. Not saying this is the same but the GM 3.8L engines have had a terrible problem since 1996 with leaks from the intake manifold into the engine.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    why don't you run some block sealant. Maybe you have a really minor defect in the gasket in a non-critical area.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Why don't you run some block sealant. Maybe you have a really minor defect in the gasket in a non-critical area.

    Back in my "Wrenching" days I saw too many plugged up heater cores from the various "stop leak" products. Of course I lived in San Diego in those days and so a plugged heater core was of little consequence. I now live in southern New Hampshire, and trust me, there are times when I need every calorie of heat I can get from the heater core (and I'm a guy who likes it cold).

    The course of action that I've embarked upon is to flush out my (new as of last month) Ethylene Glycol coolant and replace it with Amsoil Propylene Glycol (which is apparently far less toxic to bearings) sometime next week (whenever it gets here). I'm not a fan of Amsoil (or their marketing practices), however, if there is even a shred of truth to their claims of leak elimination, the Amsoil PG might just do the trick. If by November (when I'm expecting to do my next UOA) I'm still showing coolant leakage I'll decide whether to take a chance on a stop leak product or just fix the problem, regardless of whether it's a bad gasket or a warped or cracked head.

    I'll keep y'all posted. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • I have a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan. I was recently coming back from a trip when my wife noticed a humming noise coming from under the van. When we got home I jacked up the van, put it on jack stands, started the vehicle and found the source of the noise.

    I'm wondering if this noise is the fuel pump, or something else? And if it is the fuel pump (or something else) how difficult would it be to change the component. I consider myself handy with a wrench.
  • jasonmwcjasonmwc Posts: 6
    I have a 2006 GC SXT with 2200 miles on it. Recently I have noticed that there is a noise (almost like something rubbing) and a very slight vibration in the steering wheel when I turn. I was wondering if anybody else had noticed this. Thanks.
  • zlfanaticzlfanatic Posts: 18
    I have a 96 Caravan that the stock cassette radio keeps going in and out, sometimes it would work fine and then the next time I start it nothing. I have talked to other Dodge and Chrysler owners that had the same problem, they just replaced the head unit. Is there a repair for this? :cry:
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    I have a 2001, and received a recall notice about exactly what you are describing. It was something about condensation from the AC unit dripping into the radio (in the dash) causing rear speaker to catch fire!? I never took mine in, as I have installed an aftermarket radio/CD player. They said this recall was to install a shield on the radio.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,648
    well that clogging comes from overkill...people add more than the recommended amounts, that's what causes the problem. Or they use shoddy products. We're talking filling up defects the size of a fingernail scratch, not plugging a hole.
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