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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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Comments

  • h20guyh20guy Posts: 64
    I'm throwing my hands up in the air in defeat. You've proved it all beyond the shadow of a doubt!! I'm just not sure what you proved? :) BTW: thats a new flag your flying isn't it?
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    For those who wish to look at data rather than whether Carl's conclusions are better than John's(h20guy) you could check out the April '01 Consumer Reports reliability surveys which compile about 500,000 subscribers reports from April '00. However, since Carl objects (it doesn't support his view), you could look here on Edmunds for reliability scores and for example, the '95 Caravan score is 6.6(the range is about 4.9-9.9), '95 Honda Accord 4 dr EX score is 8.2; '96 Caravan-5.2, Honda-8.8; '97 Caravan-6.6, Honda-8.9; '98 Caravan-8.1, Honda 8.2.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    Since those years were a completly different vehicle than the 1999 and later Odysseys. The only thing shared is the name.
    Go read in the Town Hall Odyssey Problems forums to read of the many problems with 1999 Odysseys. Check out April 2001 issue of CR on many problems of 1999 Odyssey. It will be interesting to see how the Odyssey holds up when my sister and brother in law get their NEW 2001 Taffeta White Odyssey EX.
    The Odyssey has some nice features: Large, economical standard 3.5L V6; adjustable middle row seating (bench or separate seats with armrests); large cargo behind 3rd seat; "Magic Seat" for even more cargo space. I would like to see DC incorporate them in DC vans...or have Honda include some nice DC features such as separate temperature control for driver, front passenger, and rear passengers; high quality stereo with both cassette and CD. It would be nice if both also had the large 25.5 gal fuel tank and optional 8 passenger seating of Venture or the more comfortable seats of Sienna.
  • andyeandye Posts: 4
    I have a '98 Grand Caravan Sport with tinted windows and find that the backup lights are practically useless. Just to be well balanced, Chrysler put useless fog lights on the front. This is my second Chrysler van following a '90 Grand Voyager. I like these vehicles and have had reasonably good performance otherwise, but would really like to find good fixes for the light problems. Does anyone know of a replacement for the backup light assembly or good low profile under the bumper lights? What about the fog lights? Any suggestions for enhancing them or a replacement that will fit the bumper cutout?

    I'm new to this group and apologize if this issue was chewed on way back in the other 633 plus messages.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Carl, in #628 you said "None of the MANY friends who own DC minivans have had problems while more than 50% of Honda Accord owners owned by friends have had major mechanical problems." So the reliability data in my post #632 is comparing Caravan to ACCORD. What that has to do with Odyssey reliability I do not know. In post #628 did you mean to say your friends had problems with Odysseys?

    Andye: You did not say the size of your fog light cutout, but Subaru has a kit for mid'90's Legacies that is 3 3/8"x4 3/4". I wonder if aiming is your problem since fog lights are made to illuminate low and a bit closer than standard low beams. The issue of adequate lighting seems rather subjective, though some owners have reported improvements they liked but I do not recall the details - hopefully you will get further replies.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,893
    Van Airbags New Worry For Chrysler

    Steve
    Host
    Vans, SUVs and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • I've been reading in several forums about transmission problems that owners have experienced, and how they will never buy another Caravan/Voyager again. The following sites contain some useful information [useful to me anyway] specifically concerning Caravan/Voyager transmission maintenance issues.


    http://www.allpar.com/fix/trans.html

    http://www.allpar.com/fix/trans-testimonials.html


    I'm wonder if many of the owners that have experienced transmission problems are actually affected by someone using the wrong fluid type from the get-go. I'd be interested in finding out what the percentages are that this is the case, and in many of these failures, the initial cause of degradation of the unit itself.


    Without competent and knowledgable service people in our auto stores, independant shops, quick change oil shops, and even certified dealerships... how do we really know that they used the correct transmission fluid when replacement or topping off is needed? How do we know they are recommending the correct transmission fluid at all? Many people don't stop to question the recommendation, thinking those individuals should know what they're taking about, heck, they work in an auto parts store...


    After reading the posts of owners that finally scrutinized the shop or the mechanic that worked on their vehicles, I am now going to take a more active role in finding out was used to replace or add to my transmission. I know there are other things that can cause transmission failure, but this one simple factor seems to be a major player in the difference of a healthy unit or one that will cost big bucks in the longrun.


    Just purchased our 1st minivan. 2001 DGC ES 3.8L. New to this forum. Wanted to share some of my finding with other owners. Regards!

  • fetch33fetch33 Posts: 3
    Help! The paint on my white DGC is flaking off the rear hatch. There is a place about 5" by 3" on the top of the hatch and a place starting under the window about an inch square. The paint can be scratched off with a fingernail. I took it to a body shop and the technician told me I had a bad E-coat. Has anyone heard of this problem? Do I have a snowballs chance in Hades to get Dodge to pick up the tab to fix this? It's out of warrenty, BTW.

    Lisa
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,893
    This discussion may be of interest.

    Steve
    Host
    Vans, SUVs and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    rbrilliantes: Your hypothesis that wrong transmission fluid "seems to be a major player ..." in failures seems unlikely to me. At least since the mid '90's I would guess it is a "minor player". Could you give some data to support your conclusion.
    Wouldn't the Chrysler warranty payment department be overjoyed if all they had to do was document that a failed unit had dexron in it and deny the claim for owner error. I've never seen a post of an owner having this happen. On the other hand, the high failure rate in '89 and '90 before the Mopar 7176 fluid was formulated was in part fluid related. Do you suppose the dealers got notice in bold print when this fluid change was made.
    There is considerable evidence and owner posts here that transmission failures have occurred in vans getting exclusively dealer service and in some cases vans that have not had enough miles for even one service. I think it is important to not blame the victims of these failures. One Edmunds poster, Hoofer, has a web site devoted to the methods and benefits of preventive maintenance. He even sends fluid samples for spectrographic analysis and when his Caravan transmission failed at about 67000 miles and well out of warranty, he was able to get Chrysler to pay most of the replacement cost because he had used the dealer for each prescribed service. I would not be so lucky because I bought my van used and I do my own service. When it fails I'll be out of pocket as will most of us with vans past warranty. Other important factors in reducing transmission failures are the following: 1)Read the load and trailer weight limits and avoid exceeding them, 2) models before'99, add a transmission cooler ($35 if you do-it-yourself), 3) If the engine temp gage rises anywhere close to the high mark, do something to limit the heat such as turn off the AC and/or turn on the heater or slow down and shift to a lower gear or stop and cool down, 4) avoid excessive wheel spin when on slick roads or stuck 5)do not shift into "D" while rolling backward, 6) when parking on a grade-engage the parking brake before shifting into "P", 7) turn overdrive off in slow city driving (per my '95 Caravan owners manual).
    I like my wife's '95 Caravan and I hope I'm luckier than Hoofer and others with premature failures.
  • hclelandhcleland Posts: 2
    I have a 93 GC, and need to give my van a charge, anyone know when the ac in these vans were updated to the 134a AC gas??

    Was thinking of doing it myself, any advice??
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    The refrigerant requirement should be listed under the hood somewhere -on the radiator cowl, or another sticker somewhere near there.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Heath: Haynes repair manual says R-134a was used in '93 and later models- maybe you're in luck. Also note I've had repair techs say that major parts replacement are required if a system loses its charge to eliminate the leak and my local mechanic who services a '92 Camry I own says this is not the case. The car has no detectable leak now (just recharged) and he suspects the seals develop slow leaks in sub 0 winter conditions and are sealed otherwise. He does not recommend an $800 parts swap to get 4 or 5 new $.75 seals.
  • drjdrumdrjdrum Posts: 1
    I bought a brand new 2000 TC LX almost a year ago. It has been in the dealer shop six times for an alignment problem that they cannot fix. The van will consistently veer to the right - you must always apply corrective steering to keep it straight. No matter how many times the van is put on the rack, it always loses it's alignment after a few hours of driving. Also, I have a constant "crackling" sound in the steering column when turning. Anyone else encountered these problems?
    Thanks
  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    Some suggestions:

    1 - If they can't fix it in six tries, you may have recourse under your state lemon laws. Suggest you start following the lemon process as defined in the law.
    2 - Has someone from the service department rode with you in the car and heard the crackling noise? If not, set up a time mid-day to have them do so. Once they understand the noise and how to duplicate it they are much more likely to fix it.
    3 - Sometimes an alignment problem is due to a defective tire. I had one with a broken belt. Have you rotated tires to see if the characteristics of the pull change?
    4 - Have you been going to the same shop? Sometimes a given service department just is not good at diagnosing certain problems. Try calling a well-respected local mechanic who specializes in DC minivans and ask if he's seen this before.
  • andyeandye Posts: 4
    Changing spark plugs on my '90 Voyager was a snap once I learned to put the van on ramps and slide under to easily reach up to get the rear three plugs. Just looked under my my '98 AC Sport expecting the same clear space... surprise! I found heat shields blocking access and an exhaust manifold pipe also in the way. Does anyone know the "easiest" way to replace these plugs without going to a mechanic?
  • fawkesgfawkesg Posts: 9
    ...in a 1996 Voyage (Base)?

    We have had two head gasket replacements (one after only 500 miles and then another at 40K).

    Then we discovered oil leakage into the air intake manifold. The dealer said it was due to a gummed-up PCV valve and replaced it, did an "induction" cleaning and replace the plugs. A month later I discovered oil was still leaking into the air intake manifold.

    The dealer then tried replacing the "Cam sensor" as he thought this might be where the leak was. When that didn't work, he replaced the valve cover as there is a "baffle" in this cover that is supposed to prevent oil from being drawn into the manifold. This has just been done, so I am not sure whether the problem is fixed or not.

    The dealer gave me "a big break" on parts and labor (which was true--I was only charged $230 for the Cam sensor and the valve cover work.) This made me think that maybe they didn't quite get if fixed or it was a latent defect problem. I went to the web and found two TSB's on this engine dealing with oil seepage at the CAM sensor and oil seepage through the valve cover baffle. The upshot is valve cover problem is (according to the TSB) often misdiagnosed as a head gasket problem.

    Now I wonder if I really ever had head gasket problem, or if it was the valve cover all along! I'll cross my fingers and hope the problems fixed. If not, I would appreciate any suggestions.

    [Please excuse any terminology errors--I know nothing about engines.]
  • fawkesgfawkesg Posts: 9
    ....or is it just marking its territory?
  • mrl859mrl859 Posts: 168
    I leased a new T&C LTD in May 98. After approx. 3000 miles, the transmission began to go into neutral on acceleration(freewheel, the lever did not pop into neutral) driving in the mountains, with no warning. The van was still driveable to complete our day in the mountains. The transmission had to be replaced at the dealer. Over the next 41,000 miles, we never had a single transmission problem or issue. I just leased a new '01 T&C. While I will buy an extended warranty for protection, the van is too nice of a vehicle to pass up for the possible transmission concern.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    They took it into Dodge dealer who added some dye to find the source of the leak. The Caravan has not leaked since and the van now has almost 29,000 miles. Magic? Meanwhile, our 99 GC SE is 26 months old and has 27,331 miles with zero problems. It appears that we will never have problems with our GC just as none of the many friends who own DC minivans. Most owners of DC minivans are repeat buyers since the DC have been completely reliable.
  • n9dhhn9dhh Posts: 1
    My wife has a '96 Grand Caravan DE, with nearly 80,000 miles. We've replaced the starter, the head, now the transmission is leaking.

    Along the way, the service light started coming on. It has been said that we're getting a is-fire on cylinder 1. That led to replacing the head, due to a cracked rocker-arm support.

    Anyway, replaced the head, cleaned the injectors, new plugs, still getting the light.

    How can I turn it off? I'm going to trade it this week.

    Thanks.

    sstombaugh@compuserve.com
  • grrobbinsgrrobbins Posts: 1
    Hi everyone,
    I just purchased a 1994 Town and Country with integral Fog Lamps and it is missing one lense cover. Dealer wants $85 for the whole assembly, salvage yard want $69 for whole assembly.
    Does anyone know if there is an aftermarket lense or assembly that will fit?
    Any suggestions on the course of action at minimal cost?
    Also, there is a freeze plug leaking behind/above the bell housing and tranny must come down to facilitate repairs....should I consider replacing/rebuilding tranny while it is out of the car?
    Any suggestions welcomed! Thanks
    George
  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    Here are some dealers who offer discount Chrysler parts on line. I offer no personal recommendation of any of them:


    http://www.dodgechryslerparts.com/

    https://www.partsautocenter.com/

    http://www.buymopar.com/

    http://www.wyckoff-mopar-parts.com/

    http://www.dodge-parts.net/

    http://www.subaruparts.com/


    Despite the name, the last one carries Chrysler as well.


    Best of luck.

  • egustafsonegustafson Posts: 1
    Hello,

    We're new to this list. I hope this has been mentioned previously. We have a 2001 Grand Caravan and the thing squeaks like crazy when driving. Going over bumps and just general road irregularities is when you really notice it. When traveling slowly, the squeaks are not as bad. It sounds like it's coming from somewhere deep inside the engine or the dashboard, but it is
    very hard to nail down. In fact, while sitting in the back seat, it sounds like the squeak is coming from the rear axle area. Very strange and very annoying.

    Of course, when we take it back to the dealer, they say, "we couldn't get it to squeak for us."

    Does anyone have any ideas?

    Thanks!
  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    One other poster mentioned a squeak like this a few weeks back, but I don't recall reading the resolution.

    One thing you have to do is to get the service manager or a mechanic to hear this squeak. Don't rely on them finding the squeak for themselves. Take the car at midday to the dealership you bought it from and request that they ride with you. Make sure they hear the squeak and know how to recreate it.
  • franknet1franknet1 Posts: 1
    Just purchased 2000 GC - Looking for interior accessories - floor mats - Console for area between front seats. Any good outlets for items?? Van seems to be in excellent condition. Has 30,000 miles so far. What should I be looking out for??? Have manufacturers warrantee extended to 100,000. miles. Only complaint so far, wind noise from unknown source. Any suggestions??
    Thanks
  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    "Any good outlets for items?? "

    Check out the links listed in post #653. Many offer pictures and descriptions of accessories.
  • wilsoncj6wilsoncj6 Posts: 10
    hey roy, or anyone else who has done this before: was it easy to add on your trans cooler? i have a '96 gv es 3.3 and would like to add one this weekend. any advice?
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Brett, I have a '95 Caravan with 3.3L. I estimate it took about 1.5 hr, a screwdriver and a knife. The grill is removed to access the front of the AC condenser. The cooler (with mounting kit) was $32 at Auto Zone, 6"x12.5" and 9300 BTU cooling. I mounted the cooler on the upper driver's side using 4 plastic "zip straps" provided. A hose from the bottom of the radiator to the transmission is removed and a new hose connected from the radiator to the upper cooler pipe. Then another hose from the lower cooler pipe to the transmission so hot fluid flows to the upper radiator then from the lower radiater to the cooler and then back to the transmission. After replacing the grill, drive the vehicle and inspect for any leak and top off the transmission fluid- 4-5 oz ATF+3 or 7176 fluid.
  • Hi,
    I had transmission rebuilt on my 95 Grand Caravan (172000 km, just over 100K miles) which I bought used just four months ago. Imagine my 'surprise' when a week after rebuilding it lost drive in reverse. Mechanic who did the work said it's crazy, he never seen transmission engaging but not driving. Well, he's seen it now and working on it as we speak.
    Has anybody had this problem before?
    Thanks.
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