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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,695
    I have a '99 GCS with 42k, still has the original rotors, have not been turned or anything. All service has been done by one Dodge dealer (same one I've been going to for 12 years). Maybe the Coke cans in '99 used better steel.
  • indydriverindydriver Posts: 620
    Sorry, I meant the aftermarket rotors.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    by a company called PowerStop (Try Google, otherwise I wll dig up the invoice). They are cross-drilled and cadmium plated, with different part numbers for the left and right sides. There are two sizes: 11 inch rotors for those vans with 16 and 17 inch factory wheels, and a smaller one for the 15 inch wheels. They were about $200 for the pair. I added a set of Hawk HPE pads.

    Total expenditure was about $270 delivered. I installed them myself easily.

    Highly recommended at least from my point of view.
  • Whenever i apply breaks on my 99 DC, it kind of groans. It can be listened only if standing outside the van, even a small move will cause it to squeek.. (coming from front wheels i guess)
    Replaced rotors and breaks.. i think its not due to that.
    Secondly the steering goes tighter if i have to do a tight parallel parking. i mean go forward and back (NY City streets :) Normally it is good though. Is it normal..
  • pmaceypmacey Posts: 33
    I've read a few threads here re: the known problem with blown head gaskets, especially with the 4 cylinder engines.

    In our case, we have a head gasket problem with a 1998 Voyager 2.4L engine, which is past it's 36K mile/36 month warranty (Did the 1998 Voyager have a 7 year powertrain warranty?)

    Had a independent shop determine we had a blown head gasket, while doing other work on the van. They did not replace the gasket (also thought our local dealer indicated we should keep a eye out for a blown head gasket last time we had the van in for non-warranty work)

    I've read about TSBs, secret warranties, extended warranties, and good will assistance that DC will offer to fix these problems, possibly for free.

    See:

    http://neons.org/neontsb/TSB/09/090598.htm

    http://www.lemonaidcars.com/secret_warranties.htm

    I called 1-800-992-1997 for DC Customer Service, described the above (they were quite helpful) and ended up with a reference number for my local dealer to replace the head gasket (after they determine it is not a valve cover leak, which I would have to pay in full for), BUT I have a $200 co-pay, based on the the mileage of 52K

    Has anyone with a 1998 2.4L Voyager past 36K miles had DC replace their head gasket for free or less than $200, going through DC's Customer Service group?

    Any thoughts on how I can lower, if not wipe out, my co-pay?

    Thanks in advance.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,209
    I had an '89 Voyager 2.4L for ten years. It came with a 7/70 warranty on the engine and drivetrain.

    I had three head gasket repairs. The first two were under warranty - the last one was at 77,000 miles and, after a brief conversation with the service manager, I paid $150 for that repair. I could have raised a bigger stink since it had been fixed twice before, but I didn't want to push my luck too hard since I was out of warranty.

    As I recall, shops usually ground the head in place instead of removing it and sending it to a machine shop. Some people blamed this procedure for the repairs failing.

    I asked that the head be reground at a machine shop at the last repair but I don't know if they actually did anything different. I drove it another 22,000 miles without further problem until I traded it.

    Considering that your warranty has expired and the mileage, and that this is the first gasket problem you've had, your co-pay doesn't seem too bad to me.

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  • pmaceypmacey Posts: 33
    Hi Steve, thanks for your reply.

    My wife currently has the van at work, but when she comes home, I'll look it up in the warranty book to verify if the van has a 7/70 Powertrain Warranty, if so, I would think that should cover the cost of replacing the head gasket, no?

    DC Customer Service response and my dealers comment about keeping a eye out for the known problem of blown head gaskets for our engine (yet not offering to take care of it), make me think I won't be able to go the 7/70 route for a free fix.

    If not, just seeing if DC has a precedent for fixing this problem for free, perhaps due to a 'secret extended warranty' on head gaskets.

    Will post a update when I have one available...thanks again.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,209
    I remember that the 7/70 warranty was a big factor in getting the Plymouth. I think that the longer warranty was introduced for the '89 models, but it's been so long now, I can't really remember.

    Our Voyager wasn't the most reliable vehicle in the world, but it mostly served us well, and I still like the 5 seat, short wheel base "boxier" style better than most of the new vans out there.

    We did one 11,000 mile trip in it from Anchorage to NY and back (with a few detours) and hauled a full cedar chest, canoe, bikes and a bunch of other junk in it without complaint. The little 4 banger had enough oomph surprisingly, and from the 3.0L reports I've read, we probably had fewer problems with those with the six cylinder and 4 speed tranny.

    Sorry for the trip down memory lane! Good luck with the gasket fix.

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  • We just bought a 2002 Caravan SE with just over 35,000 km. We had tested it out in the city but live 110 km outside of the city. On the way home on the highway, we noticed that it pulled left too much. We took it back to the dealership and they aligned the front end. It was out 3 degree.
    This did not fix the problem, we have had it in 3 times and they have rotated the tires, re-adjusted the alignment etc but it still wants to wander. Strange thing is, it does not only wander to the left but also to the right. You have to constantly correct the steering yet the head mechanic says it is the way the Caravan handles. The dealership allowed us to try another Caravan, same model. year and mileage and it was much better.
    Anyone had this problem and know what it might be? The dealership has promised to fix it but we need to figure it what to fix !
    You can email us at candlemaker@telus.net if you have any info. Thanks for the help.
  • Hi Jodi,
     If you are still reading these posts, please let me know if you figured out what was causing the pulling. We are having the same problem, thanks, Judi
  • strokeoluckstrokeoluck Posts: 99
    I'm no mechanic but could it possibly be the tires? If you've tried everything else what about having them throw a set of tires on (if for no other reason than to at least cross one more possible solution off the list), at no charge to you initially, to see if it works. If it does work perhaps you could strike a deal that would have you pay for a pro-rated portion of the tires.

    We have a '96 Grand Voyager and never had any such problem.

    Just a thought,
    Rob
  • Thanks Rob,
     We were thinking of the tires but they did rotate them from back to front. It still does the same thing. We have a friend who was service manager for a tire outfit for years and he also thinks it is the tires.His Grand Caravan drives nice and strait.
    We were thinking of taking it to an alignment shop, not saying we have a problem and see what they find.
    Another friend thinks it is a twisted frame since the body and tires do not look to be lined up right.With the body style and the color( red) it can be deceiving. The dealership has vowed to see this through with us but how much do we spend and for how long? We only bought this van on May 1/03.We felt the pull on the way home on the highway.You feel it at lower speeds but the roads in the city are rough from the frost
    ( Northern Alberta) and it is hard to tell
     anything.
    I'll keep posting with anything new.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,695
    >>> Another friend thinks it is a twisted frame since the body and tires do not look to be lined up right. <<<

    You know, before you posted this I was thinking, "it sounds like a twisted unibody." Where did you buy this van? Have you checked its history to see if it's been in a wreck? A body shop should be able to check the unibody alignment.
  • We purchased the van from a Chrysler dealership in Edmonton Alberta Can. They have a good reputation so I know they will look after us. We did a search on it through carfax.com but all it found was that some one had owned it before us, and we knew that.
    We are thinking of demanding they trade us to another we can live with.
  • drivvendrivven Posts: 54
    We've had two DC mini-vans, a 1988 Caravan (short version) and a 1995 Grand Voyager. Mechanically we've escaped a lot of the problems we've seen on the forum (knock on wood), but we have had a recurring problem in the handling arena.

    This usually happens to my wife, she being the principle driver, so it's not first hand experience, but here's the issue: When braking on damp pavement, usually asphalt, the vehicle will SLIDE rather than come to a smooth stop. This has happened on numerous occasions and the last time it occurred she ended up diving for the ditch instead of plowing into two vehicle in front of her. The ABS has cut in, but to no avail. Thanks to ABS she'll slide straight, but not come to a sane stop.

    My question to the forum is; has anyone else had this happen to them? When stopping on damp pavement, asphalt in particular, have your front tires lost grip with the pavement and the vehicle actually slid to a stop???

    We think perhaps that it may be because of the construction of the van, its higher center of gravity, and when the brakes are applied the mass rotates forward and most of the force is on the front tires touching the ground at only two relatively small patches. The rear breaks are virtually helpless. Any thoughts, and certainly any instances of the same phenomena?

    Also, has anyone heard of any other mini-vans experiencing the same problems?
  • We took the van back to the dealership today and told them there was a MAJOR problem with the steering and they better fix it!
    They adjusted the alignment yet again and something to do with frame adjustment. Our salesman told us that it should now be as good as new. On the drive home it was much better. Not perfect but much better.
    They are going out of their way to please us so we are happy about that.
    Will keep you posted of anything further. Thanks
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,209
    Thanks for the update, Candlemaker2. Sounds like you have a decent dealer up there, and that's often 90% of the battle.

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  • xingze_caixingze_cai Posts: 47
    I back up my 98 caravan (sports model) from garage this morning, then change it to drive gear, after apply the accelerator pedal, the car seemed not in the drive gear, press it harder, still not, and I can hear the sound from engine, etc. After several tries, the drive gear is in place. I'm not sure what does this mean? Any body got idears? Thanks!
  • strokeoluckstrokeoluck Posts: 99
    Hi all, has anyone ever replaced the struts and shocks on their minivan? I have a '96 Plymouth Grand Voyager. Shop tells me I have original shocks/struts on van and it's starting to ride like a buckboard (true). Bill would be $600-$700. I'm wondering if I can tackle this on my own.

    To gentleman w/braking problems. We've never had that problem w/our '96. The only time we've slid when braking is on severe ice in Winter. We don't have anti-lock brakes but our tires are in good shape.

    Thanks,
    Rob
  • drivvendrivven Posts: 54
    Thanks for the comments strokeoluck. I neglected to mention that the tires on our Voyager have perhaps 9000 miles on them so rubber is not a problem. Don't know if this issue is anti-lock related, since the ABS provides you with straight ahead braking, but not necessarily quicker stops!!

    All we know is that it's very disconcerting to my wife who experiences it only when the pavement is slightly damp.

    Thanks again and we'll wait and see if anyone else has had the experience.
  • drivvendrivven Posts: 54
    Yep, we've replaced the struts on our '95 Voyager - 3 times at least!!! And it handles just like you described, a buckboard. Even after each replacement. Very annoying on the highway. It just kind of "boats" along and at times feels like it's going to bottom out. I thought it could be the springs up front, but a tire shop told me they were in fine shape. Something in my pseudo-engineering mind tells me not so. Something's got to be in a weakened condition up front.
    Can you replace these things on your own? I would imagine but I'd invest in a steel cup if I were you. Make sure you take all the load off the suspension first, and oh yeah, better have a good way of realigning after you do it. Good luck.
  • tmpinmetmpinme Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 Grand Caravan that lost power steering while I was driving it. There was a break in one of the hoses (not a belt) and the dealer replace w/ no problem. He did say that they were now using a different type of hose which tells me they've seen this problem before. Thought people would want to know.
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    The shocks aren't that difficult but the struts are another matter. To me, if you have to ask, then I wouldn't tackle it because it takes a special tool to compress the spring. One thing they do is realign the vehicle so you would have to have that done anyway.
  • pmaceypmacey Posts: 33
    Hey folks, thanks for the previous replies on this subject and Chrysler's "good will assistance" of me only paying $200 for a $700-800 head gasket repair bill.

    Got the van back today (after 3 days in their shop), they replaced both the head gasket and valve cover gasket, honored the $200 co-pay.

    Well, only 15 miles later, the "Check Engine Soon" light came on.

    I tried the on/off, on/off, on trick, also ran it thru the gears and back to park, and get no code at all.

    With the OBDII system aboard this 1998 vehicle, can only a scanner retrieve the error code (unlike my 2001 4.7 Dakota, where using the same procedure, I get codes)

    FWIW, I checked all the connections I could get to, on the powertrain, and reset the computer, which cleared the light...if the problem goes away, fine, it the light comes back on, back to the shop, unless someone is aware of how I can retrieve the codes on my own?

    Thanks in advance.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Doug,1785, my wife drives a '95 Caravan without ABS and it stops as other non-ABS vehicles I've had stop. I have a '95 Subaru Legacy Outback with ABS. Whether wet, snow or ice, I can "stomp and steer" with a nonskid stop every time. I am sure you have a malfunctioning ABS system.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    xingze-1788, If your fluid is full, your problem sounds severe. Does it get better when warm? Also does the fluid look good? A good way to check fluid is to cover a white paper with saran wrap and place drops of new fluid and drops of fluid from the tranny on it. Dark color or suspended particles indicate excess heat and wear.
  • mulfomimulfomi Posts: 56
    Well I made my 1,150 one way trip from Toledo Ohio to Melbourne Florida a couple weeks ago and everything went fine with my 2001 T&C LXI. Drove straight through on the way down (21 1/2 hours thanks to some accidents and construction on I-95) but returned over 2 days. The thumping problem that was fixed just before the trip did not return and the van performed flawlessly. I got 24.5 mpg for the trip. Total trip over 2,250 miles. Kids did great and made the investment in the Chrysler video system worth every penny.

    Thanks Chrysler!
  • pmaceypmacey Posts: 33
    After holding our van for 3 days to fix our head gasket problem (though it only cost me a $200 co-pay), no sooner do we get the van home and the Service Engine Soon light comes on.

    My wife brings it down and they scanned the code while she waited, they forget to write the code # down but it equates to: upstream O2 sensor staying center.

    Being how they just worked on a external oil leak, is there any way they could have caused this, possibly just a loose connection, or they got something dirty?

    Where is this sensor located and is it something I can get to and look at to check connections, reseat, clean, etc?

    This is just too much of a coincidence to believe it happened own it's own, no unless these things are prone to go at 52K miles and with 5 years of service?

    Other than potential emission problems, how long could one drive around like this?

    They want $110 for the part plus 1 hour labor at $78.80...do local garages or even tire stores fix this type of problem?

    Should I call the Customer Care 800 #, give them my reference # for the head gasket problem, and explain to them what happened and see if I can get any assistance?

    If I wasn't unemployeed, I may not tend to be so cost conscience, but at this point, we're on a strict budget.

    Thanks in advance
  • alan555alan555 Posts: 1
    Just got the $2000 bill to replace a 98 Plymouth Grand Voyager transmission. The tranny shop claims this is very common for Dodge/Plymouth. I will never buy one again.
  • pmaceypmacey Posts: 33
    Hi folks, see previous posts re: this subject?

    Is it normal to reset the computer after replacing a head gasket (and valve cover gasket?)

    I ask because after this work was done, we got a Service Engine Soon light, pointing to bad O2 sensor...I suspect they somehow caused this problem, and reset the computer, post inspection of their work, so the MIL wouldn't show up when we picked up the van (give me a break, drive it home, and the light comes on, too much of a coincidence for me to believe in!)

    Thoughts on a tactful way to ask the service dept about this, to catch them in the act?

    Thanks in advance...
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