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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    Back before we decided on which mini-van to buy I hung out on a bunch of them including the Toyota site. This seemed to be a big problem over there and was as I remember it from using the recirculate instead of the fresh air setting on the air conditioner. It was found that if you use the recirculate or what ever they call it on DC vans that you should run it on fresh air for a while offen so it introduces fresh air into the duct work keeping things clean. How they found this was it was only happening to the users who always used recirulation. Don't know what you do but could be the answer.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Check the ac condenser drainage tube for blockage.
  • I agree with dmathews. I always keep my ventilation system set on fresh air, unless I really need recirc, then I use it for a short period of time and put it back on fresh air. I never have problems with musty smelling ventilation system. On the other hand, my wife uses the "set it and forget it" method, typically leaving it on "Max" (recirc) all summer and her vehicles would stink. However, her 2000 GCS Sport automatically resets the A/C system to fresh air every time it is started up (a great feature IMO) so no problemo. Bgood2day, I would think DC would still have this feature on the 2001s?
  • I just got my transmission replaced. Reverse gear went out and I limped home. Just as I was going into gear and moving, chirping sound would go off and the van would go into limp mode so I could limp home. I was coming back from the store (same day I got the van back) and I heard, what I thought, were four chirps like a switch. What is this, and should I be concerned?
  • gallygally Posts: 3
    Among the numerous problems I have had with my '96 Grand Caravan, currently 2 are bugging me:
    1) Fuel Gauge: When the tank is between full and 3/4 full, the "out of fuel" bell rings and light comes on intermittently and the gauge drops a little momentarily. It happens at different rates but it can be as often as every few seconds. Very annoying!
    Dealer wants $400 for the "module" plus labor including dropping the gas tank and is not sure that will fix the problem.
    Has anyone experienced this same problem?
    Is there any way to fix it cheaper?
    *** Is there any way to disconnect the "out of fuel" bell? ***
    2) Front-end "clunk": When I put the van in reverse and back out of a parking spot or my driveway, I hear several clunks or thunks coming from the front end. I have already has the bushings on the stabilizer bar replaced and the alignment done.
    Has anyone experienced this problem?
    If so, what else needs to be fixed?
  • Go through the salvage yard. I got an ABS master cylinder for $100 compared to the $450 the dealer wanted ($450 for core charge). I believe very highly in getting used parts from reputable recyclers.
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    What kind of 1996 Grand Caravan do you have? How many miles does the van currently have?
  • I have to say that after spending a few hours (on work time thankfully) reading thorugh the past few hundred posts, I especially enjoy posts by: Carlton1, 4adodge, and indydriver (among others). As well I enjoyed the part about Chryslers future under Mercedes. If Chrysler products share hardware with Mercedes products, then we will all benefit. And for whoever it was that said that twenty somethings wont be driving vans, I beg to differ. I am 29, and am on my second van, the first being a 96 Ford Windstar, and the current being a 01 DGC. Past cars have included: 87 Dakota, 91 Z24, 94 Probe GT, 96 Windstar, 99 Malibu and now the DGC. I chose the DGC strickly for styling and comfort reasons. I prefered the way it looked to all the other minivans, and the interior rocks! I will never be without at least dual zone climate control again. The imports always end up looking akward the exact moment that their replacement model comes out, and the new Windstars interiors have gone down hill and their styling has turned clunky. The DGC may not be the best minivan out there in every category, BUT overall I feel it was the best choice. And aside from 1 very minor warranty repair, there are no problems with this car. And even if there is, so what? Its covered by warrantly. As for Chryslers future, there are many models that I am looking forward to getting: Liberty, Grand Cherokee, Concord LXI, future Durango models, as well as more vans. So I am doing my part to ensure Chryslers continued vitality!!
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    jimmeh, anyone who is in their twenties and feels secure enough to drive a minivan rocks, in my opinion. I am a teenager who enjoys Chrysler minivans for the same reasons as you. They are the most comfortable and attractive yet functional minivans on the market. Enjoy your new van!

    -Adam
  • I have really one problem with this van (which I like alot and am basically very happy with). The problem is an annoying squeaking/creaking noise coming from the floor area near pillar B on the passenger side. The exact area is in front of the second row seat. And the noise is noticeable when any pressure is placed on the floor or when driving. I thought the creaking was from the power door track but cannot really tell. Has anyone experienced such a problem?
  • you would think we would have learned our lesson after the first one. Now on our second Voyager/Caravan transmission (same as the other one) went at 50,000. Dealership and DC Corp says, "Sorry, not covered".

    Unless you have plenty of money to spend - save it and buy something else. Those that have had no problems are few and just very lucky.
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380
    hey engineergirl,

    the new ones have a 7yr/100k powertrain warranty...now you can get that tranny fixed for a small deductible...
  • gallygally Posts: 3
    It is a Grand Caravan SE with just over 60K miles on it.
  • What a struggle!! OK you Honda lovers, bring on the badgering. Even after our '98 Grand Caravan SE broke down in the FAST lane of the 405 freeway in LA, I still like the van. Trans failed at low speed (25 mph)-basically seized and halted the van. Kinda scarry on the freeway in LA, but knowing who to call made the situation less traumatic. DC told us that any repairs are our responsibility, since vehicle is out of warranty @ 75,000 miles. We previously owned 2 Ford Aerostars ('87 & '93). The Dodge by FAR is more reliable and COMFORT and DRIVEABILITY is unsurpassed. The Toyota had bad blind spots, Honda was WAY too cost prohibitive. (I could have replaced the broken trans 5 times with the money we saved buying a used Dodge vs. a used Honda). Plus, my wife loves it!! I have to admit, though, DC MUST so something about this transmission. Has anyone had any luck getting blood out of the DC stone?? Sorry for the bad cliche'! Web
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    If the 4 speed automatic in our 2000 Town & Country went out tomorrow, I would still want to come back for another Chrysler van. They have too many useful features that the others just don't have. I guess that makes me a slave to Chrysler...
  • Too many people questioning DC minivans for me to sit idly by. We know dozens of people with DC minivans of all sizes and shapes with all various engine/transmission combinations. ONLY 1 transmission failure and that was on a 1996 T&C LXi with 150,000 miles on it. Guess what? The owner had transmission repaired and is AGAIN using the T&C to tow a rather large trailer. He and his wife are not worried about DC transmissions.
    Meanwhile, I have a 2002 T&C eL AND a 2001 Ody EX in my driveway. The Odyssey was treated very well by the first owner and is in mint condition with only 11,507 miles on it. Each has nice features that I wish could be had on both minivans. I like the Magic Seat and clever seating arrangement of the Odd EX BUT I like the Triple Zone Temperature Control of T&C eL where driver, front passenger and rear passengers can each select the preferred comfort level. I also love the complete overhead console of the T&C eL with compass/outside temperature/Trip Computer.
    It is fun to drive the T&C eL and then switch and drive the Ody EX. Each is quiet, smooth, comfortable, etc. I find it very difficult to notice any difference in the driving and handling of the 2 minivans....or with my prior 1999 GC SE. All 3 are great minivans. Our daughter purchased our 1999 GC SE from the Chrysler dealer at the time we traded it in with 37,240 miles.
    I have also driven a 2002 Odyssey EX-Nav-Leather with added RES with MSRP $34,000. We do NOT buy a minivan with all the features offered by either DaimlerChrysler or Honda.
  • AND the facts are, Adam's family does own a 2000 Town & Country that he drives daily. His father drives the 2001 PT Cruiser.
    Here is the post repeated for convenience:
    ...."If the 4 speed automatic in our 2000 Town & Country went out tomorrow, I would still want to come back for another Chrysler van. They have too many useful features that the others just don't have. I guess that makes me a slave to Chrysler..."

    It would REALLY be nice if Odyssey owners would stop trolling in all DC minivan forums to justify buying an Odyssey. My wife and I own a DC minivan and I drive a 2001 Odyssey EX quite frequently. Both are nice minivans. I do not have to trash the Odyssey to be satisfied with our DC minivan.
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380
    carleton1,

    i doubt half those dc minivan trashers own anything other than a bicycle...
  • Have you checked the motor mounts, specifically the top end mount? On transverse mounted engines there is typically a top end mount to limit and cushion the pitching that occurs when the engine shifts into forward and reverse. It sounds like the rubber seat within the top mount on your vehicle has failed and that may be causing the clunks you are hearing when shifting into reverse.
  • The logic of the average minivan buyer seems to be "bigger is better". The newer Honda and DC minivans seem to be getting close to Expedition size. Is paying $25 - $30K for a minivan that has the same motor and transmission as a smaller and lighter $15 - $20K sedan make any sense ? Of course the motor and trany are not going to be as reliable in a larger truck as they will in a sedan. DC knows how to make a long lasting transmission, their trucks don't seem to have any problems. At one time luxury makers like Jensen and Auston Martin bought transmissions from Chrysler.

    Last year I bought a Maxima with 65K miles on it, Do I worry about the transmission exploding ? No.

    Why do minivan owners care so much about about size and not about repair bills ? The smallest minivan still has way more room than the average sedan. Why do they want them bigger ?
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    I looked an an 02 DC/GC this week and it's the same size as my '94 GC. Overall, it's the same length as a Lumina sedan which is probably a foot longer than the Maxima.

    The DC trans issue does not appear a major concern anymore since DC replaced so many under warranty including mine, which by the way did not explode; the shift quality just slowly degraded.
  • have you ever tried to put a 32" TV set into your Maxima? Or pick up 6 people from the airport and each of them have their own bags?
  • Gotta agree with tomtomtom in that when it comes to people moving, there's nothing like a minivan. A Suburban or other SUV could get the job done. For us, smooth ride, and ease of entry/ exit are important. After owning 2 Aerostars, both short and extended (happily), moving up to a GC was going light years ahead. The creature comforts/ride and overall room have me convinced to stay with DC. I'm not into bashing Honda, Toyota, or any other make. I do like to BUY AMERICAN whenever possible.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    I owned a '91 Caravan (short wheelbase) for 8 years. When I had two small kids, it was plenty big enough, and I really appreciated the small size (about the length of a compact sedan). But then child #3 came along, the other two grew and got into Scouting (meaning camping trips with lots of gear), and all of a sudden the Caravan got a little small. So instead of getting a '99 CS (my plan), I got the GCS for about the same payment (due to bigger discounts on the GCS). And now that I have it, I really appreciate the extra room inside--leg room and cargo room. And as has been noted, the GCS is still only the length of a mid-sized sedan. But I prefer a small car (I have an Elantra) for personal use, as I don't like driving a bigger car than I need.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,140
    Let's stick to the topic and let the flames die down please.

    Steve
    Host
    SUVs, Vans and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards

    Moderator
    Need help navigating? stever@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • A intrepid is 113" wheelbase with 3487 Lbs. A Town and Country is 119", 4358 Lbs. That extra 1000 Lbs. has got to take its toll on the drive train. I love the idea of a minivan and I have owned vans. But as long as people buy a product that breaks, the manufacturer will sell them. Yes you can haul people and objects with a minivan that you can't with a sedan, but so can a pickup or SUV that usually have a motor and transmission designed to handle the extra loads. Chrysler had a great idea with the minivan, but I don't like the way they have executed their idea. Why not make them smaller or design a power train that can handle the extra load ?
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380
    maximarocks (sounds familiar),

    we all buy vehicles that are gonna break, eventually, doesn't matter what brand it is. in late '99 or early '00 dc upgraded the differential on the 41te (minivan tranny). that was the last remaining weak link in the powertrain. this info from a dc tech friend of mine. i have no doubt that the dc minivan tranny is now fully competitive (performance/reliability) with any other likestyle tranny out there.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Point is that with the DC you know there's a good chance the trans will break before 50K so you get the 70K powertrain warranty and let DC pay for it.

    If you must have a vehicle that will go gazzilion miles without breaking you probably would have to buy a manual trans sedan with overhead cam engine like the Accord.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    Why single out Chrysler for the powertrains they put into their minivans? All minivans (except Astro/Safari) use basically the same design--the design Chrysler pioneered almost 20 years ago. Other vans like the Odessy, Windstar, Sienna, and GM vans are similar in size and weight to the DC vans, and have powertrains used also in cars. Yes, a truck or full-sized (truck-based) SUV can handle heavy loads better than a minivan, but with a huge penalty in comfort, handling, and fuel economy.
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380
    pluto5,

    what evidence do you have to support your 50k mile theory?? my dad has a 96 t&c with 80k...no tranny work except for fluid/filter change. electronics tech at my office has a '92 gc that had it's original tranny til approx 120k...same van now has well over 200k with no other major parts replacements. and of course both vans have the 41te tranny.
    i know some folks had early (low mileage) failures, both those have been mostly limited to the late 80s through early-mid 90s tranny. a blanket statement saying the current tranny is only good for 50k is utterly ridiculous...and shows that you have no idea about all the changes that have occurred to the 41te since 1995.

    as for accord ohc engines...timing belt failures have zapped a number of those engines...!
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