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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • V Cheng,

    I'm still planning to solve that problem for my DC this weekend. And will use RTV sealant this time. Now, should I apply the sealant on the surface first, then gasket on top of it or gasket on the suface first, then apply sealant on the gasket? Thanks!
  • indydriverindydriver Posts: 620
    I don't blame you for moving on. After all, no one can be expected to throw good money after bad. Fortunately for those of us who like the vehicle, your reliability record is not typical of the brand. Every manufacturer has problem vehicles, it's an inevitable result of mass production. Our human reaction is to expect more perfection for more money, but the facts are, even the Mercedes, BMWs and Porches of the world have problems. Try as they might, no manufacturer has a zero defect record. The real test of any manufacturer's integrity is whether or not they stand behind their warranty. When we accept a warranty on any item of purchase, it is essentially a contract defining certain rights and obligations. In my experience (and it appears yours as well), DC has always fulfilled its warranty obligations and frequently goes above and beyond. While I understand your frustration (I'm sure I would feel the same in your shoes), it appears from the information you supplied that your vehicle is over six years old with 96,000 miles. This is way beyond the warranty DC issued and you accepted when you bought the vehicle. If they have already replaced two transmissions, it sounds as though they may have made some accommodation to you on the second one. When does a manufacturer's warranty obligation ever end? Most reputable firms bend over backwards to service gray areas when claims occur at or just past the expiration limits. But at some point, every manufacturer just has to say, "No." Again, I don't disagree with your expectations for greater service life but, in all fairness, it appears DC did everything they said they would do.
  • bakelly11bakelly11 Posts: 64
    I have had the 1996 Voyager and then the 2001 Voyager. That's it. I'm done.

    Now, at 42,000 miles, I'm giving up and buying a Sienna. Chrysler has let me down.

    Here are some of the problems I have with my 2001:
    - Car pops into neutral every 4-6 weeks. I was driving 65 mph and my car dropped into neutral. A few weeks ago, my daughter was in the back seat. I started to cross a busy highway and the car popped into neutral. I almost got rear-ended!!! That's it. It is too dangerous. The dealer has told me for the past 10,000 miles that they can't fix it because they can't reproduce it. So I guess they just expect me to continue driving until I crash!
    - The power door locks don't work anymore.
    - The sliding door doesn't slide open during the winter months.
    - Interior lights go on/off without being turned on/off.
    - Car doesn't start at times. Takes 10 to 15 minutes of waiting.

    In all of the cases above, Chrysler told me they can't fix the problem because it doesn't happen in front of them. The service manager was right next to me when the power door lock didn't work. He saw it and agreed!

    Had the many problems with our 96 Voyager as well.

    I stopped into at least 10 dealerships. Decided to try Sienna.

    Bev
  • My mother has owned a number of vans, all of them chrysler, since they were first introduced as a model. He most recent, a 1996 dodge grand caravan has had a number of infuriating problems, but it has been a good relieable car for most of its life. Our latest problem has been a driver side power window issue. It works some of the time and is obviously a loose connection, but we are having a terrible time finding an honest dealer (this seems to be the plague of the chrysler corporation) our latest quote was for over 700 dollars to fix this problem. If anyone knows of a dealership in the new england area, particuarly in connecticut or new york city with a good reputation, please let me know. thank you
  • indydriverindydriver Posts: 620
    That school is not hosted by Chrysler but by the CT/NY small business administration ;-)

    I have had good luck with almost all the dealers here in Indy after I go out of my way to establish a relationship with one person.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,784
    I have been lucky I guess to have received great service over the past twelve years on my two Caravans from my dealer. I've gone to the same service adjuster the whole time and they have often gone above and beyond what is required in order to satisfy me. In fact, this dealer is the main reason I would consider getting another DC van when the lease expires on my '99 GCS next spring.
  • I tried to replace the PCV valve for my 98 Caravan sport (3.3L version) today, however, I got problem taken the old one out. Does anybody else got the experience and know the solution for this?
  • steelengsteeleng Posts: 71
    I also have a 2001 DGC and I have found the shifter detents to be problematic. I have found that most of the time the shifter will hang up between detents rather than dropping into the detent as it is supposed to do. This could be what is causing your transmission problem. If the shifter hangs up between neutral and drive it is possible for it to slide into neutral while the vehicle is moving. I have not actually had my van do this but I am careful to make sure that the shifter is fully engaged when I change gears.
  • mulfomimulfomi Posts: 56
    I have a 2001 T&C with the 3.8L engine and I have a kind of thump in the front somewhere when driving over rough roads or bumps at slower speeds. On smooth roads, there is no thumping sound and I dont hear it at higher speeds but that could be because of road/wind noise and kids. I had it at the dealer and they heard it as well but they said they could not find it. They said they put in on the lift and checked all the suspension components as well as steering components and nothing was broken or loose. The service guy told me they tried to do some road test where they attach sensors to different parts of the car and then take it for a road test listening for the sound so they can identify exactly where its coming from. Unfortunately, it was raining that day and they couldnt tell. I am taking the van back in again this week since no rain is in the forecast to have then check it again.

    Anyhow, my family and I are driving to Florida from Ohio (about 20 hours) next week so I am not excited about having something amiss in the front end before the trip. The service guy told me everything is fine and safe for the trip but I told him to check it again so he is. Has anyone else had anything like this happen where something has broken or come loose in the front suspension or front end that was not easily identified? I just really hate the thought of driving with my family all that way there and back when I know something isnt right.

    Sorry for the long post.
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    My last minivan was a 1990 Caravan that I traded in 3 years ago. Was a good van overall, but it had that problem that you mentioned with the bumping sounds. It was quite noisy driving down the dirt road I live off of. However, a friend of mine mentioned something called a strut bearing plate that could cause this problem. So I went to the dealer and bought 2 at $60.00 a piece and had my friend install them for me. This fixed the problem! However the suspension design may or may not be much different from my van which was based on the first generation design. Anyway the strut bearing plate is what the strut mounts to and allows the strut and spring assembly to turn with the front wheels. The bearing plate then mounts inside the front strut towers with three nuts which can be seen under the hood over top of the wheels. I know that these wearing out has alot to do with living on dirt roads as the sand gets up in there and eats away at the bearing surfaces. This may or may not be your problem, but it might be a place to check out. I found that by pressing down on the front bumper with the hood up I could imitate the sound and see the play which was causing it. Hope this helps! Goodluck.
  • dennisjadennisja Posts: 1
    I have a '89 Plymouth Grand Voyager and the brakes have gone out completely. The pedal goes to the floor. I replaced the Master Cylinder thinking that should fix it, but no luck. It seems that only the rear brakes are working. I was thinking it may have to do with the Height control proportioning valve in the rear. Has anyone had a similar issue and what did you do to fix it?

    Thanks, Dennis
  • jrc346jrc346 Posts: 337
    Yeah actually I did! It was with another kind of of vehicle, but I think that I may be able to help. I had my pedal sink to the floor, though if I pumped it, I could stop but the pedal would eventually sink to the floor again, if say for instance I was at a stop light. It was my master cylinder that was bad, and it went all at once. However, it was my rear brakes that were not working instead. I think it goes both ways though. Just out of curiosity did you bench bleed the master cylinder, and did you also bleed all the brake lines after the new master cylinder was installed? This might be a really good place to start if you haven't done this yet. It will take two people though and it is kind of meticulous. If you have a shop manual this can provide ALOT of information on how to do this. If you have bled the brakes and the master cylinder then you may have a broken brake line (though you would see brake fluid everywhere). Does the brake light come on when you depress the pedal? Beyond this I guess I don't know if I can offer much more help and I apologize for that. I hope this helps and if not maybe someone else here can. Good luck!
  • Traded in my '96 Plymouth Grand Voyager SE 28D + rear AC (purchased new Aug 30, '95) on a '04 Sienna.

    Please allow me to vent in this forum.

    The Plymouth has to have been the most unreliable vehicle I have ever owned. From the day I took delivery (where the driver's door colour didn't match the rest of the vehicle), to the week I traded it in, the vehicle had been nothing short of a nightmare.
    In 95K km's (57K miles) here is a short history of the major repairs it required:
    -tranny failed.
    -emergency brake mechanism failed.
    -windshield cracked (dealer said improper installation on the assembly line)
    -water pump failed.
    -serpentine belt pretensioner failed.
    -front wiper motor replaced due to 'wiper ghost' problem, then replacement failed.
    -rear wiper motor failed.
    -front heater blower motor failed
    -A.C. compressor failed
    -A.C. evaporator failed (leak) a year later
    -A.C. condensor failed (leak) a year after that
    -rear hatch pwr lock actuator failed
    -rear cooling vent (rear A.C.) seized, replaced.
    -driver's door weatherstrip fell apart.
    -front passenger door weatherstrip fell apart.
    -ABS brake module failed
    -trim strip on rear hatch fell off - replaced under warranty 3 times (turns out it's held on by double faced tape that dries out).
    -fuel pump/fuel level sensor module replaced due to inaccurate fuel level readings.
    -front rotors rotted out in first 18 months, replaced with Raybestos rotors, which have lasted 6 yrs and are still good. (muffler shop that put in the Raybestos rotors said Chrysler OEM rotors are made of composite steel which is basically a bunch of compressed Coke cans.
    -wiring block under dash 'collapsed as the dealer called it' and had to be replaced.
    -wiring block on firewall shorted out causing heater blower motor to work only 1 speed, replaced.
    -sliding doors on both sides of the vehicle kept going out of adjustment so many times I finally gave up and lived with the wind noise.
    -fuel tank collapsed internally, causing erratic fuel level readings, extended warranty wouldn't cover it, dlr wanted $400 for new tank...I said forget it and lived with it.

    More annoying than all the failures was the arrogant attitude of Chrysler Canada.
    When I bought the van, salesperson said buy the powertrain warranty as there are known tranny issues. I did. ($750 CDN)
    When I realized what a lemon I had, while the van was still under the bumper to bumper manufacturer's 3 yr/60K km warranty, I decided I'd better purchase bumper to bumper extended warranty. Chrysler Canada refused to let me upgrade (pay them more money) the extended warranty, which had not yet even come in to effect. They said that "once you make an extended warranty choice, that's it, you are stuck with it." I then asked if I could abandon the power train warranty (lose my $750) and purchase a new "bumper to bumper extended warranty"...Chrysler Canada said NO, only one extended warranty allowed per vehicle.
    I sent a letter to Chrysler Canada customer service pleading with them to let me buy an extended warranty, and I tried to get them to see the logic in the fact that had I not yet purchased any extended warranty, I was still within the OEM 3 yr warranty, and could have bought one, had I not bought at time of van purchase. Chrysler Canada refused.
    Keep in mind that the dealer did try to go to bat for me with the "district rep" to no avail!

    Then dealer suggested I buy Chrysler used vehicle extended warranty...filled out the paperwork and Chrysler Canada bounced the application, saying that since I was the original owner of the vehicle, it wasn't a used vehicle and therefore I couldn't purchase a used vehicle warranty.
    So dealer sold me an aftermarket warranty from a company called Fadaguard, for $1000 CDN.
    I made over $6,000 in claims on that extended warranty!

    The warranty was good till 104K kms or Aug 30 2003 which ever came first, and since I couldn't afford to drive the vehicle without a warranty since it was so unreliable, I traded it in last week on a 2004 Sienna LE - 8 pass.

    Daimler Chrysler was quoted in one of the Toronto papers in the last month as wondering why they are losing a significant percentage of their market share...duh...with products like the one I had, it doesn't take a genius to figure out why!
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    As jrc346 said, you do need to bench bleed the MC. If you aren't sure what that involves, get your hands on a Chilton's or Haynes and it wil be in there. Also, for the wheel cylinders or calipers, speed bleeders are worth their weight in gold, making bleeding a 1 person job. They are available at any auto parts store.
  • I'm no mechanic but I too had a thump when going over bumps (hey wait...I'm starting to sound like Dr. Suess). My neighbor is a corporate mechanice for Ford and told me it was the...??? I FORGET the name of the piece but if you look directly behind the wheel it's the straight vertical piece (not the shock) that's about 15-18" tall and is connected by a bolt/nut on the top and bottom. If you grab this and can move it at ALL (mine only moved about an 1/8" of an inch but it was causing all the racket) then that's the culprit. Surely someone else here will know what that piece is called. But I'd think your dealership would have found it - it's fairly obvious. Just my .02/worth.

    - Rob
  • tomtomtomtomtomtom Posts: 491
    Are you or your friend referring to the stabilizing link?
  • mulfomimulfomi Posts: 56
    Yes, it was the stabilizing link. On the second examination of the vehicle, the dealer found that the links had failed and were replaced under warranty. The van is fine now except that the rear brakes now squeek. It seems that whenever I see this particular dealer for something, something else seems wrong when I get it back. Cant wait till the warranty is up (did I just say that?) and I can take it elsewhere. Not sure why they missed this the first time it was there.

    Tomtomtom, have you had this problem with your van, or is this a widespread problem that I had not heard about?

    Thanks to those that responded to my earlier post.
  • tomtomtomtomtomtom Posts: 491
    No, I just happen to know the name of that part. As for the squeaking brakes, my 2001 T&C has been doing that since 7,500 and I took it to Midas and they said it was the build up on the pads and rotor causing the noise but the pads still good. They cleaned up the brakes and asked me to come back at 15,000. The squeak stopped for a few hundred miles and started to squeak again. I took it to Midas at 15,000 and after the inspection the pads still good and should last until 30K according to them. So I guess you have to decide what you want to do...annoy the heck out of the drivers stopping next to you or pay to have it replaced. By the way, I live up the hill so I need to keep the pressure on the brakes every morning when I go downhill. So I guess these pads are very long lasting.
  • Glad to hear you found the problem. You mentioned you couldn't wait until the car was out of warranty to take it to another dealer. I haven't purchased many new vehicles but, of the ones that were new, I could take them anywhere and the mfgr. honored the warranty. I'm thinking of one car I purchased about 60 miles from home (I'm tight; always shopping) and my dealer around the corner - literally - worked on it for two years with no problems. By the way that was a '97 Pontiac Grand Prix. I racked up 100,000 miles in two years and it was absolutely the BEST vehicle I've ever owned. If those d*mn cars weren't so ugly now I'd go back to Pontiac in a heartbeat (and who was the IDIOT that approved the AZTEC!?!?!?).

    Later,
    Rob
  • himileshimiles Posts: 1
    Am I just lucky or what?

    I am the original owner of a 98 grand voyager which has just turned 130,000 miles. (I drive 84 miles round trip to work and back). It has the original 6 cylinder mitsubihi engine with the original 3 speed automatic transmission. When I searched Edmunds 5 years ago, everyone recommended this engine and tranmission (and no other!). Good advice so far.

    I have replaced brakes and battery once, and all belts and hoses twice. Last year I had the A/C recharged and it is still going strong. I change oil every 5000 miles. No other problems. The car looks and runs GREAT, so far.

    The guys at Uncle Ed's Oil Change tell me they've seen a lot of these (fleet vans) approach 200K.

    What has been your experience? Am I lucky?
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    We have an 88 with the 3.0 that we bought new. Other than the usual bad exhaust guides/seals, it still runs well. We just use it now at our summer place as a knock-around car but it has 195,000 miles on it with no oil burning at all. We just got it out of storage this weekend and after sitting all winter, it fired right up and ran just fine.
  • We had same problem (front end thump on driver side)on a '95 GC. It was particularly loud on I95 tarmac/bridge joins and rolling down Broadway in NY. Could be reproduced in dealer's parking lot on sleeping policemen, or by driving over a 2x4 at 25 mph. Dealer could not solve it after several visits, nor could a specialist tire/suspension place which tried two different sets of new struts etc. No difference. Eventually problem was solved by a nasty unrelated write-off accident.
  • This copy of a letter is self-explanatory. Anyone else come across this problem? Any suggestions?

    "DODGE MINIVAN BRAKE DESIGN PROBLEM
    Despite my wife’s mild and careful driving style, our 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan has for the second time in 24,000 miles of lightly laden suburban use (not in mountains) gradually developed uneven braking said to be because of warped rotors (all round on this model). Machining the rotors under warranty solved the problem for only a few thousand miles before it started again, gradually worsening as before. Both the dealer service manager and our local garage service manager say that this is a common problem on this model because the rotors are too thin. Chrysler HQ (“Contact us”) does not contest the diagnosis but says it’s out of warranty. Questions: are you aware of this model's problem, and is it possible to fit heavier duty rotors (although the dealer has none) rather than endure the same problem again with the new ones (current ones are too thin to machine again and that would in any case just hasten the return of the problem)? Also should Chrysler own up on this one, any safety concerns?"
  • I had a 96 Grand Voyager, rotors rotted out in the first 18 months of ownership...bought replacement (aftermarket) Raybestos rotors, they lasted 5 yrs + (were still in good shape when I traded in my lemon last month).
    The muffler place that installed the new rotors told me that Chyrsler OEM rotors are made in China & are composite steel, ie made of multiple thin layers of steel compressed, sort of like a flaky pastry...or as the muffler guy phrased it, "made of compressed Chinese Coke cans".
  • feldmanbdfeldmanbd Posts: 12
    I'm just curious - do all you people with warped brake rotors torque your lug nuts to manufacturer's specs (I think currently 95 ft-lb) when you put your wheels on? Or are you letting some guy at the shop use an air gun? Last time I had my T&C inspected, several thousand miles later I tried to rotate the tires by myself and realized that the lug nuts were on so tight that if I had a flat on the side of the road there was no way I was ever going to get that tire off (which would be very BAD) - because when they removed the tires at inspection, they used an air wrench without a torque limiter to put them on. Of course I immediately drove it right back there and had them remove the lug nuts and put them on with a torque limiter so they were closer to specification. My suggestion to all you people with warped brake rotors is to either invest in a torque wrench, make sure whomever is putting your wheels on uses one (or a torque limiter on the air wrench, which isn't great, but helps), or just to take lugs nuts on and put them on yourself using a tire iron. With the tire iron at least you'll get a feel and should put fairly similar amounts of torque on all the lugs. Reason for this is, if you're overtorquing the lugs, you'll be compressing the wheel to the rotor with too much pressure and will, of course, warp the rotor, even under light/normal driving conditions. That's not to say that the stock Chrysler rotors may not be just a little weak for the task. Just my two cents. Hope this helps someone out there.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ..which is what I follow (I have my own torque wrench). The original rotors still warped at around 20k miles. Now at nearly 50k with no problems on the aftermarket ones.
  • indydriverindydriver Posts: 620
    What brand did you buy?
  • indydriverindydriver Posts: 620
    I found a Big O Tire franchise owned by a local family and every wheel they touch is hand torqued back on. They do all my brake work and tire balance and rotation every 6,000 miles. I finally had the rotors on my 300M turned at 90,000 miles.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    needle deflection type Craftsman 1/2 inch drive torque wrench from Sears, about $20. Works just fine for torquing lug nuts.
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