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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    My consumption range is as follows, for a 3.8l GC Sport:

    Worst (in winter, city stop and go): 16 mpg.
    Usual City: 20 mpg.
    Usual highway: 24 mpg.
    High speed driving (>85 mph, with AC and loaded): 19 mpg
    Best (at 55 mph, with AC and light load: 27 mpg.

    (all figures approximate)
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    FWIW, my fuel economy figures also seem to be the same as yours, about 23 mpg at best on a long trip with a fair amount of highway driving. Since I do a lot of uphill driving, my average fuel economy is mostly about 15 mpg. The interesting thing is that on the same routes with courtesy vans, model years '97-'01, that I have driven (for the ones equipped with either the 3.0L or 3.3L V6) the fuel economy is only slightly better.


    Drew
    Host
    Vans, SUVs, and Aftermarket & Accessories message boards
  • We bought our 2000 Grand Caravan used with only 3,500 miles. We love this van, but the brakes started a "grinding" noise at about 6,000 miles. We first mentioned it to the dealer at 7,500, and officially began a trail of repairs at 10,000 miles. We are now at 16,000 miles, and it has not been fixed (we keep being told they "can't find anything wrong." Finally on the 5th service visit my husband insisted on being along for the test drive, and the mechanic heard the noise. Still, they "can't find anything wrong."

    We have requested an arbitration hearing under the California lemon law, and it's scheduled for Tuesday morning (Sept 11th). I'm looking for info from others who have suffered through similar problems, to give me some background before the hearing.

    ANY assistance would be appreciated. Please, point me to this or any other website that might have consumer comments on this subject.

    As time is running out, please feel free to write directly to: z1x1us@yahoo.com.

    Thanks so much for your help!
  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    Sometimes a problem like this is made overly complex due to ignorant service people at the dealership. Which dealer are you using? Have you tried others?

    If you're in the South SF Bay area, you might consider calling on Dannick's in Sunnyvale. They've built a solid business for years working primarily on DC minivans, *and* they'll give you the straight scoop when the dealer will not.
  • HI,

    Bought a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan EX in July. Didn't notice anything on the test drive, nice features, nice van. Out on the road later I noticed a jerking motion whenever the van would shift into overdrive around 45 mph and would continue (not as noticeable) at higher speeds as well, almost like the engine was skipping or like driving a stick shift too slow for the gear you're in. I was told by the dealer I had a torque converter/computer problem that might fix itself after a 5,000 mile break-in. 5,000 miles came with the problem still there. The dealer consulted Chrysler and replaced the torque converter and pump. When I picked the van up the mechanic said the same symptoms were still there but to drive it and see if I noticed any improvement. None noticed, now the dealer is supposedly consulting the regional service manager for advice. Anybody out there with a similar problem? Advice?
  • Has anyone else had this problem yet? I need to replace our front calipers due to a caliper piston starting to crumble. I discovered its not metal, but a form of phenolic plastic.

    Our 99 T&C with about 43,000 miles on it started to make a few warning sounds from the front brakes... peeking into the wheel showed the pads were fairly warn. Well, I guess 43k on a set of front pads is acceptable.

    I bought a new set of pads, disassembled and removed the rotors. They were fairly rusty,had some groves etc, and new ones were $17, so I just splurged for new.

    During cleanup I removed the old pads after squeezing the piston back into the caliper. I had kept the old pad there to prevent the c-clamp from leaving marks on the piston. I was surprised when I removed the old pad on the passenger side, and saw that some of the edge of the piston was cracked and rusted away....??? I pressed on the damaged section with my finger, and more pieces came away in my fingers. Never having a plastic piston, I did not know what to make of it.

    After some research, I found that these are "new technology" phenolic pistons. I called the local Chrysler dealer and discovered that replacements would be identical.

    Oh, yes, by the way, since we have more than 36,000 miles on the van, I get to pay for new calipers that are identical to the ones that crumbled after 43,000 miles. To be fair, only one side is crumbling, the other one is fine, but I intend to replace both as a pair.
  • If you went 43,000 miles on a set of front pads, that is MUCH BETTER than the service our NEW Volvo gave us when we had to replace the Right Rear Disc Rotor at 29,600 miles.
    That was just one of many problems. When the rear seals of both axles started leaking oil at 45,000 miles we felt we had endured enough of the "Reliability" of our foreign made car and traded it off.
    We have had far better reliability with GM, Ford and DC than we had with either Volvo or Volkswagen or my sister had with Nissan. Parts and Labor also much less expensive with vehicles from the "Big 3".
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    For what it's worth, my '94 Grand Voyager LE AWD's front calipers have been replaced twice; like yours one side went, both both sides were replaced together for symmetry. First time was three years ago, and the second time was two months ago, when the rotors/pads were also replaced. According to the technican, the caliper was starting to stick causing it to wear the pad prematurely, and causing the rotor to heat up/wear unnecessarily. This happened the last time as well, which is why I thought it was odd. In any case, the pads were covered under the warranty for this case, but the calipers were not. Since they have been replaced once already, they took off the labour charge for that item after I squawked.


    Drew
    Host
    Vans, SUVs, and Aftermarket & Accessories message boards
  • I have a '97 Grand Caravan 3.8 and have noticed that when I fill up and remove the gas cap there is no vacuum. This has been the case for some time and I actually don't remember if it ever had it. On my other car it's there. Is the vacuum there for the rest of you? Do I potentially have a fuel system leak? By the way I have checked for possible DTCs but all is clear.

    Tom
  • I have a '97 Plymouth Grand Voyager 3.8 with 75,600 mi. on it . The other day two intake manifold bolts snapped on start up causing coolant to leak into the combustion chamber. There was of indication of corrosion on the bolts and one of the holes had to be helicoiled. Repair bill: $500.00. Other repairs necessary after the 3/36 warranty expired: Driver side power window track and motor replaced; water pump replaced; oxygen sensor replaced. Items now needing repair: Airbag light on; horn not operating; intermittent check engine light, possibly another oxygen sensor.

    I swore off buying Ford products after our '87 Aerostar. I have now sworn off buying Chrysler products.
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 396
    Our Caravan had a leaky selonoid pack that was replaced at 53K at $380. Now, I see transmission fluid on garage floor again, and it appears it is dripping from back of the pan. On the last leak, the dealer said that it leaked at selonoid pack and dripped rearward.

    At 84K, if it is selonoid pack AGAIN, does anyone know if I can force Chrysler or the dealer to pay for it this time. It is annoying when the same component goes bad twice. At $25K, I expected much better realibility. Our old 89 Mazda MPV with 155K never gave us any trouble.
  • I just purchased a 2002 Voyager, which has a slight 2100 rpm vibration problem. What is the current status of the 2100 rpm problem? Can it be fixed? Has DC issued any instructions to dealers how to fix it? I would very much appreciate any response.
  • I have a 1998 Grand Caravan. On occasion while driving with the air on cold vent, and/or A/C, the heat will come on. The selector will still remain on cold but it will put out heat.

    Is it possible that a drink will have spilled into the temp selector slide?

    Has anybody else seen this?
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    Is it possible that a drink will have spilled into the temp selector slide?
    Yes it's possible, and most likely one of us Odyssey owners did it while it was parked with the door unlocked.
  • Anybody else think this is perhaps the least reliable car ever built in history? Anyone ever had to replace thier gas tank due to leaks? Every year but one the aircon has failed due to a number of problems. Starter moter replaced twice, alternator problems, horrible brake problems it is endless. I've put an average of $1750 per year into repairs into this dog since I bought it.
  • veritasveritas Posts: 17
    I'm not 100% certain about the 96 and later models, but my 92 Dodge GC had this problem and it turned out to be a plastic vacuum valve body in the heat-a/c system that had sprung a leak, so that even on moderate acceleration my vent or a/c would switch to heat until I let up on the gas a bit.

    The dealer was doing some other work for me when I told him about it, so they replaced the valve body in just a few minutes and only charged me five bucks for the part. But it was beginning to do it again (two years after the first fix) at the time I traded it off on a 99 Limited last May.

    The later models have replaced most of the slider controls with rotary dials, but I'll bet they are still using that vacuum system to open and close the little doors within the system.

    This method of control has always been a weak spot with Chrysler Corp. products. I had a 1973 Dodge Royal Sportsman full-sized van back in 1973 and was climbing the grade from Cheyenne to Laramie, WY on I-80 one cold morning. At that altitude, the vacuum system wasn't up to the task and each time I pushed hard enough on the gas to maintain my speed, the system switched from heat to a/c! I had to stop periodically and let the heater warm up the inside before resuming my trek.

    So you may have a bad valve body or a vacuum hose off or cracked or such.
  • I have a 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager. I just had to replace the fuel rail. The part from the dealer cost $125.00. The dealer told me normally the part was almost $400.00, but this part may become part of a recall due to fuel leaking. I was wondering if anyone has heard of this part being recalled?
  • I can't wait until I get rid of this piece of junk! The tranny was out at 20,000 miles. A new head gasket at 50,000 miles. Constant brake problems. Incessant A/C problems. The list goes on. Not to mention, weird noises when the brakes are applied.
    Come on! I pay $25k for a van and I get nothing but a headache? I WILL NOT BUY ANOTHER DODGE PRODUCT!!!!
  • lmacmillmacmil Posts: 1,756
    1990 3.3l Grand Voyager. Just had major tuneup: plugs, wires, throttle body service, and oxygen sensor. It has made four 200 mile (non-stop) trips since the tuneup plus around town driving and seemed fine. Last Sunday, it stalled after the 200 mile trip and would not start (cranked fine.) It started up about 30 minutes later and has run fine around town since. I'm a little concerned about the next 200 mile trip (when the kid comes home from college.) Fuel filter has never been replaced. Could that have caused the stalling?
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    Sorry you got a lemon. Our 99 GC has 34,500 miles with ZERO problems. My experience is the same as the many satisfied DC owners I know.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Lee: Stalling, especially when intermittent is a challenging problem. Check this web page for likely problems that includes fuel filter:

    http://www.allpar.com/fix/stall.html
  • My husband and I are van shopping-what a nightmare! We have narrowed it down to a Windstar SEL, Grand Caravan ES, or an Odyssey EXL;all 2002 models. I prefer the "truck like" feel in the Windstar and some of it's features. However, the reliability ratings on Consumer Reports are not good. My husband likes the Caravan for it's ride, looks, features. We both feel the Honda is probably the best bet for safety, reliability, insurance premiums, etc. Unfortunately, we find it the most boring in features and drive. I know, I know, it's a van, but it would be nice to have fun while driving kids here and there, running errands, taking long road trips, etc. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
  • real123real123 Posts: 20
    1) My '98 GC has 47k. In the morning, when cold and put in drive or reverse, it shudders or growls in the front. Several buddies were sure it was transmission, especially since it's a GC. The transmission place I went to is adamant that it's not the tranny. They actually reproduced this sound later in the day by pressing the gas and holding back with the brake. They claim something must be loose near the alternator. Anyone have any ideas?

    2) At times, after turning on the engine, most of the electronic gear in the car didn't work (power windows etc). Turning the car off and on again solved the problem. Any ideas on cause and the cost to fix?
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    carleton1,

    How can you simultaneously condemn Consumer Reports for a narrow sample base (numbering in the hundreds of thousands of members) and say that an even smaller base of consumers (your neighbors and friends) could possibly instill more confidence?

    Unless you have a significantly above average number of friends and neighbors, it is that anecdotal evidence that's useless as a prediction of reliability or chances of buying a lemon, not the data published by Consumer Reports (or J.D. Power, or any other organization that uses a sample base larger than the average person's friends or neighbors).

    That said, a neighbor just got a 2001 Dodge Caravan - it is far better built than anything I'd seen with that nameplate in the past. Daimler's influence is turning out to be a positive one - at least fit and finish wise. Still suspect is the sub-par automatic transaxle and electrical system for which these vans have been known for over a dozen years - it remains to be seen whether Daimler helped Chrysler figure out how to design an electrical system or finally fix the problems with the faulty powertrains.
  • dave210dave210 Posts: 237
    I agree with your worriers concerning the Chrysler vans completely.

    Having had three Chrysler vans so far, the 2001 has been the best in terms of reliability and fit and finish

    My 1988 Grand Voyager LE was awful until I found a good non-Chrysler mechanic. It had a myriad of electrical problems, but luckily no transmission problems, but that may be because the 4-speed auto didn't come out till '89 I believe.

    I paid $20,300 for the '88 Grand Voyager LE, but spent $11,200 over the eight years we owned it in repairs that my local Chrysler dealer said I "had to have done." The Chrysler guys would always say somehting like, "Yeah, sorry, we can't really let you out of here knowing you need new brakes, shocks, etc."

    It was at least $500 dollars every time we'd walk out of there even if we only brought it in for an oil change. Luckily, in the vans last three years, we found a good regular mechanic, and the $500 dollar maintenance bills stopped. Hmmmm, I wonder why.....

    The 1996 Town & Country LXi was good, but it did rattle in certian places, and the rear quarter windows came unglued, so the '96 was reliable, but had its share of quality issues, but at least those didn't cost anything, because by the time the warranty was up, all those little problems had been fixed. Also no transmission woes like three of my other fiends had on their '94 and '96 vans.

    And now the 2001 has had ZERO problems. It's been great, and the improvement in quality and luxury for that matter has been amazing.

    I hope Chrysler has gotten its act together, but only time will tell I guess. I've also learned it doesn't pay to drive a Chrysler till it dies after my experience with my '88. Now driving my Toyota or my son's Honda till they die are totally different stories....
  • calgcalg Posts: 53
    I'm just curious... what made you stick with Chrysler after the problems with your first two vans and your worries about reliability? Did you look around at other vans before buying your 2001?
  • I've recently purchased a '97 Chrysler T&C with the 3.3 and roughly 52K miles on the clock. Looking over the owner's records, I see that the steering rack was replaced at 20K due to a lack of power assist. The van has a bit of an unusual problem, though, that I'm hoping someone knows a little about. A "creak" can be heard upon acceleration from a dead stop, then again while braking, with the noise being more noticeable the harder the acceleration/deceleration. No real shudder can be felt through the column/steering wheel, but in my mind there must be some play in either the rack or some other part of the front suspension. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  • calgcalg Posts: 53
    but I would also like to hear dave210's reasons. It did not sound like he had just a few AC problems at 100,000 miles.
  • This is a repeat of a post that I made in another board but it may help real123 track down a similar problem. I hope it helps.

    I currently own a '95 Chrysler Cirrus and I have had a similar (not sure that it is the same) electrical experience. On a couple of occasions I have started my car and found that none of the auxiliary electrical systems worked. I first noticed it because the steering effort is increased (this car has electronic variable assist power steering). Upon turning off the car and starting it again everything worked fine.

    To get to the point, I have found that it is not an electrical problem, it is the ignition switch. Occasionally, the switch will not return all the way back to the run position from the start position. In the start position all of the auxiliary systems are overridden to route power to the starter. When the switch doesn't return fully the power is not restored to the rest of the cars systems. It is difficult to just bump the key back to the run position without killing the engine so I have found that the safest thing to do is stop the car and reboot.

    I hope this has been helpful.
  • My GC Sport is about 18 months old now, with about 34,000 miles. I have an appointment tomorrow to fix the only defect I've noticed: if the wiper switch is in the intermittent position when the van is turned off, sometimes it won't start up again (until the wipers are turned off and back on).

    I'm just wondering if anyone else has noticed this behavior? I almost cancelled the appointment because it is such a minor thing, but I'm going to have them check the brakes and adjust the headlights also.

    Otherwise, I can't find too much to complain about on this van: the headlights aren't as good as my wife's '96 Subaru, the horn button is hard to find, and retained power windows would be nice.
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