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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • Sorry for discussing a old topic, but I thought
    I would give my experiences with the Transmission on the Dodge Caravan. I own a 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan ES and it had 42000 miles on it and on my vacation it went into limp mode while I was passing going 75 mph. I limped into a Dodge dealer and it cost me $1800 to get it fixed. I immediately signed up for an extended warranty so that this would be covered for the rest of my vacation. I sent a letter to Dailmer-Chryler Customer Service complaining that a transmission should not go out once the warranty expires. They saw that I purchased the extended warranty after the fact and said that showed confidence in Chrylser products and that they would refund the transmission cost minus the deductible from the warranty. So I got a check for $1700, but had to buy the extended warranty, which I was going to buy but waited too long. So write your complaints down and send it to Daimler-C and see what they say. It saved me $1700. But I will not buy another DC when I exhaust this one!
  • New car edition of consumer reports is out...Dodge Grand Caravan is now on the "recommended" list--CR says the reliability has improved...
  • r10r10 Posts: 6
    Oddly enough the title does not read "Would Odyssey owners please come here to bash Dodge Caravans?"
  • i have noticed that going up a grade the speed will begin to fall back. i just noticed a new technical service bulliten on the national highway institute about this problem. has any body had the same problem or has had it fixed. also does anybody know anything more about the service bulliten on that problem.
  • TorgoTorgo Posts: 1
    I have a 98 GC ES that loses speed going up hill. Mine seems to work fine on the first hill, but somehow can't handle going down a hill and then back up. Complained about it when I first noticed it, but figured that dealership wouldn't find anything wrong. Now I try to use the cruise control only when on relatively flat road. Lowers frustration level. I would love to see a technical service bulletin on the subject.
  • THERE IS A TECH BULLITEN OUT FOR THE CRUISE CONTROL THAT WAS ISSUED IN AUG OF 1999 I FOUND IT ON THE NATIONAL TRAFFICC HIGHWAY SAFETY INSTITUTE HOME PAGE
  • I have a 93 with cruise. 3.3 engine. it works fine but has to shift on steep hills. I recently bought a 99 with the 3.8 engine... more torque... it now climbs the hills easily and doesnt have to shift. The 3.3 has performed flawlessly for 100k miles, but the 3.8 really does have a lot more torque and handles hills better. I did notice that I could usually hold speed without it shifting down by taking it out of cruise and running the gas myself. Maybe I saw the hills coming and anticipated. cruise cant do that.
  • Edmunds has the most car problems I have seen. If enough people post their problem on this site. They will surely do something about your problem.

    "Government engineers analyze the problem. If warranted, the manufacturer is asked to conduct a recall. If the manufacturer does not initiate a recall, the government can order the manufacturer to do a recall.

    We do not have to receive a set number of reports before we look into a problem. We gather all available information on a problem. Your report is important to us."

    http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/
  • We are in the market for a 2000 Caravan and we can't decide on the 4 or 6 cylinder engine. We test drove both and didn't notice much of a difference except the 4 cyl. didn't have the same oomph when passing compared to the 6 cyl.

    Can anyone offer any insight or guidance
  • I always regretted not getting a V6 in my Camry for two reasons. First is that the cruise control lags a bit then has to down shift at the slightest up grade. Second is a little extra power is just what's needed to get you out of trouble some times.
  • A friend owns a 4 cylinder Voyager. He describes it as a dog, that is, seriously underpowered.
  • Another point about buying the 4 cylinder...most people whgo buy a minivan want at least 6 cylinders. This may lower the resale value of the 4 cyl.
  • Go with the 6 cyl. A 4 Cyl is to small for a van.
    While you may not notice the difference on a test drive, when you add passengers, cargo, and turn on the a/c you will really feel the difference.
    The fuel mileage will not be much less with the 6
    but the performance is night and day.
    good luck
  • A classmate of mine works for a company that tests vans for Chrysler. Apparently, for the test facility, there is a failure rate of over 50% for the front end assembly (struts, support). I don't know if other makes have similar problems. These guys must catch most problems, because I don't see people here posting about front end problems in general with their vans.

    Guitarzan
    Community Leader/Vans Conference
  • We are going to purchase a 2000 minivan. Can someone tell me which is the most reliable american make van. Is it Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager, Chevrolet Venture, Oldsmobile Silhouette, Pontiac Montana, Chevrolet Astro, GMC Safari, or Ford
    Windstar. Any feedback would be appreciated.
  • In March '98 we dumped a very tranny-troubled '93
    Aerostar and opted for a 5 year lease on an upgraded '98 Grand Caravan SE with the 3.3L 4spd. We haven't had any serious problems (yet)and it currently has +/- 30,000 miles. Other than the
    normal maintenance items we have returned the
    vehicle to the Dealer for the following extraneous
    issues:

    - 376 Miles: One side of the metal strap that
    holds the gas tank to frame re-bolted. Actually it was never originally bolted due to the bolt hole not being properly threaded. Found out the hard way when we heard strange metal scraping noises as if bottoming out through minor dips in the road.

    - 4,805 Miles: Returned vehicle for Satisfaction
    Notice # 771 - Radiator Fan Relay & Reprogram PCM
    (?)

    - 5,156 Miles: a) Dealer finally agreed to re-align front-end which had been pulling badly to
    the left since shortly after taking it off the lot. The alignment did not fix it 100% - so they
    rotated all of the tires which miraculously seemed
    to cure the problem. I'm hoping it's not one of
    those tire issues I read about in other posts.
    b) Front windshield replaced due to 'bubbles' in
    the upper left-hand corner lamination (tinted area
    by visor) - I thought it only cosmetic, but they
    initiated the replacement - thank you very much !
    c) Finally got them to detail the vehicle to clean
    up overspray from the Permaplate they applied at the time of purchase, and other interior grease/dirt left from their mechanic.

    - 13,071 Miles: a)'Check Engine' Light came on -
    some 'L/R Valve not latching' - Trans. pan removed
    and inspected for metal - Valve Body Assembly
    required replacement. Hope this isn't a prelude to the notorious Transmission problems I've read in this and similar Chrysler related posts. (I
    thought it was just Ford Aerostars that had the
    tranny problems !?!)
    b) CD Player intermittently wasn't working - has
    since 'corrected itself' no thanks to the Dealer.

    - 16,427 Miles: Dealer installed CD Controller
    coming off dash due to sloppy install - finally
    fixed.

    - 17,213 Miles: 'Check Engine' Light on again !
    This time for 'Evap Monitor Flow Failure' - found
    that the 'Purge Solenoid Connctor' was not making
    good contact - the pink/black wire crimp at the
    'Evap. Solenoid' repaired

    The only other intermittent issues we have noticed
    are:

    - Kind of a shimmy at various speeds.
    - Strange 'squelching' noise when cranking the
    wheel out of a drive-way. Tends to be the
    combination of turning the wheel when the front-end is descending down a surface like the sidewalk
    portion of a driveway.
    - Right sliding door doesn't always slide as
    smoothly as it should - most likely just needs some lubrication.

    Other than that we have been very happy with all
    aspects of this vehicle - power, comfort,
    roominess, etc. I do have to admit I'm impressed
    with the new Honda Odyssey and actually tried to
    trade-in the GC for one in a package deal with our
    CR-V purchase, but we were still 'upside-down' on
    it's lease. Oh well, we'll enjoy for a while
    longer - not sure if we'll opt to buy at the end of it's lease in 2/2003. Depends on what's on the
    market.
  • I'm on my 3rd DC minivan ('88 Caravan, '90 Grand Voyager SE and '94 Grand Caravan ES). The ex got the '88 which ran great. I kept the '90 until about 185k miles when I decided I wasn't going to fix the A/C again. BTW, it got a new tranny at 90k and the paint was beginning to peel. Now the tranny on my '94 is going out. It's at the ford dealer right now while I'm test driving a '98 Windstar but the problems posted about Windstar's on the Ford Town Hall seem to outnumber the DC problems many times over. I read an article on-line about an attorney that's going to file a class action lawsuit against DC for the trans problem. He's sending me the info but I can't wait for the help, if it ever comes, from a lawsuit. This Windstar seemed like a good deal but now I'm not so sure I shouldn't just replace the tranny on the GC and go on.
  • Why are you limiting the field to American vans?
  • mphatmphat Posts: 1
    I've got a 1996 DC Sport 3.3L that occasionally acts up. My wife will back it out of the garage onto the driveway and then shift to D to pull out our circular driveway. The van will just rev, then she will try reverse again (again it still revs)she will then coast backward into the street and shift to D again and really rev it up and then it will finally engage. Our driveway is on a slight incline 2 foot rise over 35-40 feet so its not steep. If anyone has experienced this and knows which Technical Service Bulletin to suggest I would appreciate some help. It goes in to the shop next Monday for a recall and I want them to see what they can do for the intermittent problem. I still love the rig I just wish a diagnostic code would accompany the problem tranny.
    Mark H.
    send me an email at gocougsgo@msn.com
  • I'm currently considering the warranty from WarrantyGold (the one from internet) for my 98 Dodge Caravan. It seemed that they offer cheaper price than the Chrysler. Does anybody has experience on this? How good it is? And is it worth to buy? Many thanks!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    You might get more information and feedback on the Warrantee conference of Edmunds. Think of this contract like insurance. Purchasers money goes to the company. Claims are processed and if all details are satisfied, claims are paid, if a detail is missing the claim is not paid. At the end the money paid out to warranty holders is less than that paid in by some percent for company overhead and profit. If you can afford the possibility of paying more than average in one or two years, you will be ahead in the end. You also avoid the effort of documenting claims.
  • My wife and I have leased a 1996 Grand Caravan SE and are in process of turning it in (end of lease) and acquiring a new van (make uncertain at this time). The problems we've had with this van, however, discourage me from getting into another Dodge van any time soon, but maybe (when compared to other vans) this isn't so bad. The problems we've had are:
    Battery went bad inside of two years.
    Passenger-side sliding door rollers - replaced twice, third set is failing (door slides slow and requires effort to close).
    Windshield wipers - turn on for no reason, wipe back and forth a few times and then stop, usually not in proper stop location. Also, when we turn the wipers to the intermittent setting, the wipers are on full (as though there is no intermittent capability). When wipers are turned off they stop immediately, regardless of where on windshield the blades are (they just stop!). Takes several clicks of wiper control to get wiper blades to normal stopped location (at base of windshield).
    Rear brakes - tinker toy quality. Several visits to brake shop, drums turned, drums replaced, master cylinders replaced, shoes replaced. Still dissatisfied with brakes.
    Air-conditioner - this one hurt the wallet. Compressor failed in August of '98. New compressor $800.00
    Infinity ten speaker stereo (cassette w/o CD) - replaced once. Unit currently in van is bad (volume controls don't work a majority of the time. Turn up volume, gets quieter or no effect. turn down volume, sometimes no effect have to turn knob 10, 20 times to affect volume).
    Serpentine belt idler tension pulley - the shaft that holds the tension pulley to the engine block broke completely off, allowing the tension pulley to fall off and get entangled in serpentine belt which was in process of coming off due to broken tension pulley. Dashboard lights lit up like a space shuttle launch gone bad. Immediate and complete loss of steering (had my wife been driving she would have crashed!). It was all I could do to manhandle the steering wheel and get us off the highway and out of traffic. Vehicle towed to Dodge dealer and repaired. Called Chrysler customer hot-line and they took care of bill for this, but still had the aggravation of another mechanical problem on this vehicle.
    Cruise control - van accelerates on its own. I haven't taken vehicle in for this yet.
    Power door locks - driver door lock does not always work when locking doors. It sounds as though mechanism slips. You can hear motor for door lock spin, but lock does not go up or down. On several occasions we've had to use key and manually lock driver door.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Sorry to hear your discouraging problems. You might want to get a look at TSBs on your vehicle. Topic 59 post 184 says there is a TSB on the wipers repaired by a new multifunction switch. Steering problem would be worth reporting to the NHTSA. www.nhtsa.dot.gov
  • Thanks for your information! There seemed lots of problems with Dodge Caravan posted from this site, especially engine and transmission. And the factory only offers 3 years warranty on it. I'm wondering if I need to have any protection solutions ahead. If I'm not wrong, what you suggested is forget about the extended warrantee, do maintainance work on Caravan regularly. If it is really broken, it just my bad luck and repair it. Is that correct? Thanks again!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    First, you must research reliability from other than case reports on Edmunds such as www.intellichoice.com, Consumer Reports April Auto issue and Carpoint.com. I think intellichoice shows $1000 average repair cost or less for 5 year/70,000 miles on a '98 Caravan. I'll bet that a warranty would only cover a portion of these repair costs and cost considerably more. The Chrysler V-6 engines have a very good reputation. The 4 speed transmission was poor in '89 and '90 with somewhat slow but steady improvement. I have had a '95 for 1 year and am careful about the transmission. It must be serviced every 15000 miles. Care to use the correct fluid is important. I've added a transmission cooler ($32 for cooler + install kit at Auto Zone). I keep it out of overdrive when below 45 mph city driving. My repair expenses for 10,000 mi = $65 for a battery. If I use $1000 for 70000 mi, my budget should be .14 per mile, or $140 for 10000. I'm $75 to the good. Does a warranty cover a worn out battery - I bet not. I hope this helps.
  • My sister-in-law was in an auto accident on 12/23/99 in her '94 Dodge Caravan. She was in a line of traffic waiting to enter a mall when she was hit from behind and pushed into the vehicle in front of her. The rear hatch popped open (my nephew was sitting in the rear - 5 yrs. old), the air bags never deployed (but had on the car in front of her and behind her) and her seat snapped causing her to be in a laying position when she came to rest (which put her in premature labor at seven months!) Do you know of anyone else who may have had any of these problems or any recalls which she wasn't aware of to fix these problems?
    Thanks
  • Royallen, too bad you have not been here giving that advice for the past 10 years! If all Chrysler owners followed your habits, no one would perceive any problems at all with their transmissions. As a matter of fact, the population at large would probably double the life expectancy of most transmissions with such good habits. Good work! Are you a mechanic?

    Inswiz, recall or no recall, I don't think I know a human being who would not sue Chrysler if that accident happened as you say!

    Guitarzan
    Community Leader/Vans Conference
  • guitarzanguitarzan Posts: 632
    I suspect you're probably correct. The filters are not like oil filters, they do a long duty. The fluid does get worn out quickly, you're right, especially from heat. Good idea to install a drain plug. Can you drill this with the tranny on the car? Are you going to pull the pan yourself?

    Guitarzan
    Community Leader/Vans Conference
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    I hope to drill it on the vehicle. I have 'til next summer before it is due and I'll need a plan to prevent letting the bit penetrate too deep like grind off part of a nail head and tape it to the bit so only 1/4 " is in front to work. I think I'll put something like clay in the bit groves to limit leaking as the hole forms and have a big rag and big pan to help. I'll also have an hour or two to let it drain if I need to stop before a complete hole is made. Once it drains, it should be easy to get the hole done, tap it for a 1/4 x 28 plug and use an "O" ring to seal it.
  • creidcreid Posts: 54
    I see the aspect of placing a drain plug into your transmission but I wonder how thick the steel really is? Let's say the pan is 1/16" or .0625" thick then you would only have 1.75 of thread lead to hold the plug. I would just check the thickness of the pan before going through w/ your idea. According to Unified Standards (Machinist Handbook 24th Edition) there is a 1/4-32 UNEF that would give you 2 threads per inch if they make a plug w/ that fine of a thread even 40, 48 & 56. I was a machinist for ten years in the Navy & dealt w/ many alterations on engines both gasoline & turbine. I even dealt w/ low pressure & have seen plugs blow. I wonder if there is any pressure build up in the auto transmission? I would just hate for something to happen & your on the side of the road. My 2cents.
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