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Caravan/Voyager Suspension

245

Comments

  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    I agree with Shipo. The days of struts or shocks going bad at 40-50K is long gone. We have 88K on our 1996 Caravan SE Sport and I notice absolutely no decay in ride or handling performance from when it was new. Likely will last as long as we own it, maybe another year or two.

    We are getting some creaking/clunking in the front suspension that seems to go away after a few miles. I believe it is probably the sway bar links or the rubber sway bar bushings finally wearing out, neither of which will result in catastrophic failure, so when I get time, I may attempt to replace them myself. Appears they are reasonably easy to get at. Any one else have any do it yourself experience on these components?
  • You might not notice a difference in the ride on a vehicle with 88k because they gradually get soft.
    If you have them changed then you will feel the difference immediately. It restores the stifness and will help your tires last longer. It will feel like a new vehicle.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "You might not notice a difference in the ride on a vehicle with 88k because they gradually get soft."

    Struts and shocks don't "get soft", basically they work until they spring an oil leak (or in the case of gas charged struts, a gas leak). Case in point, our 1998 DGC had nearly 80,000 miles on it when we bought our 2003 DGC. Both vans have the "Touring Suspension", and both had very similar driving characteristics when the 2003 was new. Now that the 2003 has 63,000 on the clock and the 1998 has 112,000 on the clock, they still have very similar driving characteristics. So much for "gradually getting soft".

    If someone replaces the struts before the old ones have worn out (i.e. sprung a leak), then the only thing they might "feel" is the difference between the valving of the OEM struts vs. the valving on the replacement struts (assuming that the new struts aren't OEM replacements).

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    When I get my wifes van serviced I plan on having the dealership address the steering whine that we are still experiencing as well as the front suspension seems to be groaning slightly. Anyone familiar with this groaning problem? We love the van, but these issues have my wife a little nervous on how long this van will last. We plan on keeping it for at least 5 or more years.

    BTW: The van only hav 16K miles on it.
  • chuckgchuckg Posts: 69
    badgerfan- What you're probably hearing are the stabilizer links going bad. If you have the tools and can get at them, you can replace them yourself.

    A good mechanic would put your vehicle on a lift and jerk them with his hand. If they are bad you'll hear them clunk. This is a common problem with Chryslers.

    Also, the part you purchase may have a grease fitting in it. Keep that in mind when buying.
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    What ever the cause, get it fixed now while it is still under warranty. Don't let the dealer stall you by saying they can't "duplicate" the problem, or that sound is "normal". If it was out of warranty, they wouldn't stall you if you needed a steering rack replacement, costing big bucks.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    I am very aware of how a vehicle begins to behave when the struts are starting to deteriorate. Our 1996 Caravan still handles and rides like new. No boatlike floatiness over undulating surfaces, tires are wearing perfectly evenly, thus there is absolutely no reason to change struts. As I stated before, strut and shock design has come a long way since when they used to last only 40K-50K. I haven't needed to change a strut or shock since the 1980's, and all our vehicles are kept until about 100K or so miles.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    I have taken a look at the sway bar links, also known as stabilizer links, and it appears there is fairly wide open access to them. I may not even have to take the wheels off to replace them. Sometime this summer I will probably go about replacing them, and maybe the sway bar (stabilizer bar) bushings as well.

    The reason I suspect these rubber bushings may be at least part of the source of the clunking noise is that the clunking seems to go away once we have driven a few miles. My theory is the rubber is getting old and hard, but once the sway bar gets exercised a bit the bushings soften a bit and the clunks subside.
  • gino45gino45 Posts: 52
    I've got a 01' that groans when turning the steering wheel at slow speeds or when the vehicle is stationary. My mechanic did not notice a steering fluid leak and therefore ruled out a problem with the steering rack or pump. I later took it to a dealer who recommends changing a return line and the steering reservoir ($60 for parts with 1 hr labor). There is a tech bulletin out on this topic, so I guess it's a fairly common occurrence.
  • Tommorrow I will test out everyone's theory. I am going to Sears for 2 rear shocks. The OEM"S have 110k on them and they are not leaking, but the suspension feels soft to me and it bounces 2 or 3 times after I push down on the bumper hard.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    What will you prove?

    Chances are extremely good that Sears doesn't make a shock with the exact same valving as your OEM shocks. Assuming that is the case, if you put in softer shocks, then the car will bounce more, if you put in stiffer shocks, your car will bounce less.

    Thinking about this a little further, even Chrysler didn't put the same shocks, struts, springs and anti-roll bars on all of their vans. The upgraded and higher end vans have what is (or at least was) referred to as the Touring Suspension (which we have on both of our vans). That suspension has stronger/stiffer components all of the way around when compared to the lower end vans, and as such, it will allow less bounce.

    Said another way, the only way for you to put our "Theory" to the test would be for you to have your dealer put in new OEM shocks of the same rating as the ones that you currently have in place.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • mrbizness1mrbizness1 Posts: 85
    Ok, I had Sears install Monroe sensatrac shocks and struts. My van is the sport version and it now feels like it did when it was new. It's very hard to push it down on the bumper and its lost the boat feel.The front struts were a little damp so they might have lost some fluid, but the rear shocks were dry. I know some of you disagree with me but after a 100k miles suspension parts likes shock etc: can't possibly be as good as new.
    Shipo, the OEM shocks might be a little different then Monroe's but not by much. Any way FYI it costs $450 out the door with a alignment and I got a $50. mail in rebate.
    good luck
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Dude, I'd really love to let this go but I just cannot. Why? Because you are giving some very bad advice.

    You claim that the rear of your DGC Sport now rocks only one time with the new shocks but it rocked three times with the OEM units. Furthermore, you seem to be using said claim to support your assertion that shocks and struts "gradually get soft", contrary to the rather learned opinions of several folks here. With your various posts in mind, several comments come to my mind:

    1) There is no way to compare the OEM shocks to the new ones unless you can come up with the specific specification for each (i.e. piston diameter, valving, oil reservoir and such). As such, the differences you've noted between your old and new shocks are irrelevant.
    2) My suspicion is that your van has the softer base suspension (the Touring Suspension was a separate option from the “Sport” option, I know, I have a 1998 DGC Sport with the extra cost Touring Suspension). If that is the case, your observed differences between your old and new shocks are doubly irrelevant.
    3) Last Thursday you wrote to badgerfan that he probably couldn't tell if any degradation had occurred in his van with 88,000 miles on it because the shocks go soft oh so gradually. However, today you claim that your van is now riding and handling as it did when it was new. Interesting. What makes your senses so special that you can tell the difference and badgerfan (and by extension the rest of us) cannot?
    4) FWIW, my 1998 DGC Sport with the optional suspension has 112,000 on the clock (and on the OEM shocks and struts) and it doesn't even rock a full bounce at either end after vigorously rocking the van. I checked ten minutes ago.
    5) You've not offered any evidence to support your assertion that shocks and struts gradually give out as they age. If you have any scientific evidence to support your theory, the rest of us would love to see it.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Well, I have slight comfort in the fact that we purchased an extended warranty. So, we are at least covered for many years to come. The dealer has already replace the steering fluid resevoir, lines part of the steering shaft. The last time I was in the service rep said that some noise is normal, but if it gets worse bring the van in and they will look into it. Since I get a loaner with the extended warranty, I don't hesitate to drop off the van.
  • mrbizness1mrbizness1 Posts: 85
    Shipo, I would never give anyone bad advice I was only stating a fact "before I replaced the shocks when I pushed down the rear end would bounce a few times, now it is hard for me to push it down and it comes up and stops,no bounce" I have been driving in the NY metro area for 40+ years. Anyone who drives in this area of the country knows that between the heavy truck traffic that goes through NY towards New England and the winter weather the roads are a disaster for car suspensions.
    I used the words "drive like new" as a figure of speech because I don't remember exactly how it drove when I first drove it in 12/97.
    The evidence I have that shocks and struts gradually wear is the way my car feels after they were replaced which is all the proof I need, and my wife's opinion. She drives it 95% of the time Don't take my word for it go to a dealer for a new car test drive.

    http://autos.yahoo.com/maintain/repairqa/steering_suspension/ques102_2.html
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    My comment regarding your "bad advice" was referring to your claim that folks should replace their shocks and struts at some arbitrary mileage.

    I have no idea who wrote the article that you referenced, however, there was zero scientific evidence presented to support its claims. What I'm looking for is someone to step up to the plate and explicitly call out the gradual failure mode.

    Is it the inner pressure seals? (usually causes obvious oil leakage)
    Is it the upper oil seals? (always causes oil leakage)
    Is it that the oil looses its viscosity? (not real likely)
    Is it that the inner valves fail? (usually causes obvious leakage)

    FWIW, our 1998 DGC has 112,000 miles, 72,000 in and around the NYC metro area and the remaining 40,000 miles in and around the Boston metro area. So far, no leakage and no gradual failure of the damping capabilities.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • holts1holts1 Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 Grand Caravan and my sister does too. I got the extended warranty through Chrysler and had every inch covered - at least I thought. Then the heater hose corroded and it will cost about $300 to replace. The air conditioner is covered, but not the heater. My sister had the same problem and my mechanic said that Chrysler is known for this problem. Don't we have any say as consumers? Why do some problems result in recalls, but one like this that can leave me and my 3 young daughters stranded in the middle of nowhere no concern of theirs? I don't get it. My family has always bought Chrysler - Man, I should have bought the Toyota Sienna!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Ummm, correct me if I'm wrong, however, I've always considered things like belts and hoses to be "normal wear items". Said another way, the heater hoses on your van are somewhere between 3.7 and 4.7 years old. I don't car if I'm driving a Toyota, a Dodge or a BMW, I change my belts and hoses at 4 years. Why? They wear out.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    Heater hoses do not "corrode" Hoses are made of rubber. Perhaps they meant that on one of heater lines the fittings or lines that are not rubber corroded?

    Our 1996 Caravan with 88K miles has all original hoses except those connected to the water pump. Those at the water pump were changed when the water pump failed a few months ago. We are now on the third serpentine belt, but the second one failed prematurely due to when the water pump shaft started wobbling the serpentine belt jumped a couple of grooves and shredded the edge of the belt.
  • mrbizness1mrbizness1 Posts: 85
    I find it interesting that many people say "they wish they had purchased a Toyota or Honda" when they have problems with their U.S. vehicles. Toyota and Honda make good cars, but have problems also despite what you read in Consumer Reports. You can read some of their problems here.

    http://www.odyclub.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=da5662321b0d13ad61520572b749f94- 1&forumid=24

    http://www.siennaclub.org/forum/index.php?s=702760eb5f6bf13bf28cdb637ad95d07&sho- wforum=5
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