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Caravan/Voyager Suspension

viclipviclip Posts: 1
edited August 17 in Dodge
I have a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan with over 50,000 miles on it.
The first time I took it in for service, early 2005, there was a loud knocking in the front. A loose ball joint was repaired and everything seemed fine. The noise returned in October 2005. Now I am told I have to replace the entire rack and pinion steering. The vehicle is less than four years old! Can this be right? The mechanic tells me he has seen a lot of this type of problem in the Dodge. Is there a manufacturers defect happening here? Should there be a recall of some sort? WHAT SHOULD I DO? I love this van and want to keep it for several more years, but this is an unacceptable situation.
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Comments

  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    I would take it somewhere else, maybe a place that only does suspension and alignment work. Don't mention the rack, only the noises. These vans can make all kinds of noises that can be resolved inexpensivlly. Sway bar bushings, sway bar end links, ball joints etc. It may turn out that you need a new steering rack, "entire" because nobody rebuilds anything any more, and yes it's expensive.
  • socalawdsocalawd Posts: 542
    I have a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan with over 50,000 miles on it.
    The first time I took it in for service, early 2005, there was a loud knocking in the front. A loose ball joint was repaired and everything seemed fine. The noise returned in October 2005. Now I am told I have to replace the entire rack and pinion steering. The vehicle is less than four years old! Can this be right? The mechanic tells me he has seen a lot of this type of problem in the Dodge. Is there a manufacturers defect happening here? Should there be a recall of some sort? WHAT SHOULD I DO? I love this van and want to keep it for several more years, but this is an unacceptable situation.


    I had a problem that was almost the same. Does it make this noise every time you go over a bump?? I had my sway bar bushings replace and the noise was gone, this was at 50K miles. There was a rack and pinion problem in the mid 90's but I think that is much better now. If you really like the van don't let your first problem deter you. Buying new will cost alot more than keeping that car going for another 100K miles.
  • I have an 05 GC with alittle over 40,000 mi.Started making awful noise when I would hit a bump, lots of rattling. Local Dodge dealer says rack and pinion is leaking and sway bar bushings and links are worn. Is this normal???????
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    If you live in Detroit with it's aweful roads (worst in the nation!!)....it MIGHT be understandable. Anywhere else - I'd say NO!
  • My 2002 Caravan started the clunking when it had 15,000 miles. I took it to the Dodge dealer when it had 21,000 miles, and unfortunately about 40 months, 4 months past the 3 year warranty. The Dealer charged me $44.00 to tell me it needed the sway bar links replaced to the tune of $245.00. This is totally a black mark on Dodge. These link bushings should not need replacing at 15,000 miles. The parts department at another Dodge garage told me they replace tons of these links. Dodge knows there is a real problem with these links, yet they refuse to warranty them. Now I know why every American is buying imported cars. By the way there is a jobber on E-Bay located in Canada who sells a pair of OEM links for $35.00 plus $15.00 shipping. Dodge gets $47.00 per link at the Dealers. I only takes about 10 minutes a side to replace the links, and the Dodge garage charges 1.6 hours to replace their $47.00 links.
  • Dodge knows there is a real problem with these links, yet they refuse to warranty them. Now I know why every American is buying imported cars.

    Sorry, but your wrong about your statement. I'm an American and prefer American over Imports for various reasons. We have a 01 DGC EX and in Nov. 2004 we had a clunk sound in the front, when going over bumps. Took it to the dealer and this is what needed to be replaced. 1) Front link, sway bar; 2) Link sway eliminator; 3) Bushing-sway eliminator and 4) Cushion, front sway bar. Total parts was $173.12. (This was covered under our Maximumcare warranty, so we only had to pay $100) At the time of repair, we had 52K. We now have over 67K and have not had this problem. I can't say right now if this is a problem or not as you and others have suggested. (Only time will tell). But, what I do know and believe, is the environment and road conditions will have a big effect on these suspension parts, and others for that matter, as well as driving habits and the amount of weight that is being carried around on a daily bases. We live in Chicago and have some pretty rough roads in certain neighbor hoods. Not to mention the weather conditions. So, if you can prove that these parts have worn out prematurely, then you are right. :)
  • although I haven't done them myself yet, everything I read in other forums says that they are inexpensive to buy and very easy to change.

    If you're not a do it yourselfer you should be able to get them done at any type of garage. They don't require a dealer's expertise.

    Start with the bushings. People say they quiet a lot of problems. Go from there to more expensive things.
  • teo05teo05 Posts: 1
    on my 05 Dodge GC at 6000 miles had left front sway bar replaced and now at 13,500 miles had the sway bar and bushings replaced - all at the dealership. I drive on relatively smooth roads. Needless to say I am very nervous about this vehicle ... and it's still makes noise in the front end. Maybe this is one for the lemon-law.
  • I purchased my 1999 T&C out of your idea of "buy American". That is such an expensive lesson to me.

    This van is noisy and loose nothing compared to my wife's previous Legend. She drove the legend for 8 years @120K and then this van 7 years @105K to the same office through the same routes for the past 15 years.

    The van starts making noise at around 50K. It feels like falling apart over a bump or hole. It is noisier than a cheap 20 years old Nissan Sentra and it is giving 14miles per gallon.

    Give me a good reason to keep it...?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, I find it odd that some folks have such complaints about their vans. One of our GCs is very similar to your T&C, and has a similar number of miles (103K), driven over roads that are probably as bad if not worse than the ones that you describe (mostly roads in and around NYC and Boston), and yet, it has none of the same issues.

    So far at least, our (very late build) 1998 GC Sport 3.8 is quiet, rattle free, gets 22.5 mpg on average and has cost a total of about $200 in unscheduled maintenance. In my case I'd really love to have an excuse to buy a new car (I love the Audi A3), but with a car as stable and reliable as our GC, I'm going to have to admit that to get a new car it will be more of a case of "I want it" as opposed to "I need it". ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • Give me a good reason to keep it...?

    No car note! :)

    But seriously, that's something that you would have to look into your self. In our case, we have over 67K and our van is over 4 yrs old. It's been very reliable and we bought it used with 37K and paid cash. It was the best investment for us, since we prefer not to buy new. (New for us is not a need). Our 2001 was Daimlerchrysler's first redesign since I think 1996. That a long time with no change. So our van has more updated stuff that your van probably doesn't have and better suspension components.

    The questions that you should ask your self:

    1) How much have you spent on non maintance repairs?
    2) Have you been doing and following the regular maintence schedule?
    3) How reliable has it been?
    4) How much is it worth now? (Probably not much)
    5) How much to get the rattles fixed?
  • jhartjhart Posts: 10
    Replace the rear shocks if you have not done so. For some reason they get noisy at the mount. Also the front struts get noisy when reaching their age limit. Ball joints and sliding doors are also another noise problem. As for your mileage, my 96 GC gets 25 mpg at highway speeds. (120000 miles) I replaced the sparkplugs and wires.(PLATINUM PLUGS!) If you have them replaced you will have to ensure the rear bank plugs are REPLACED as they are hard to get to and mechanics will not try to do it if not coached. Been there done that. You will pay for six plugs and only get three. Good luck!
  • Boy does this sound familiar. Around 20k and again at 30k mileage (actual numbers in my receipts) I took my '02 eX T&C in to have a klunking noise in the front end/steering checked. Both times came back no problem found. Couple months ago I complained again about the noise getting much louder, check it again. Van at that time was 38 moths old and just hit 40k. Got a call at the office that the front end needed (rattled off list of front end parts) and would be about $587. I argued that I had the van in twice to fix the same problem while it was in warrenty and now that it was JUST out of warrenty they want nearly $600 to fix the same problem! Kid has to check with manager, calls back, van is out of warrenty, bill stands. Told the kid, if I'm going to pay $600 to have the front end fixed it won't be with them! When I came to pick the van up at 5:00, kid was gone, ticket is with the cashier. Get the ticket from cashier and there is a $92 charge for the vehicle inspection and nothing written on the ticket as to any of the items that needed to be fixed. On the way home the noise is twice as bad as when I brought it in and in the last two month has progress to sounding like the front suspension will fall off at any moment!

    Note: I curently have the '02 eX T&C and an '03 Sebring LXi from this same dealer.
  • jhart1jhart1 Posts: 16
    If you are having that much trouble with your front end alignment then something is bent or broken. The repairs should be good for 12 months or 12000 miles at least. If not your dealer is not customer oriented. Also, when the car was brought in and repaired/inspected EACH TIME the VIN should have been entered in a data base for further use. I would request a copy[s] of same and send it to an attorney along with a non-interested mechanics estimation of the problem. Apparently the dealer 'sells' vehicles and doesn't worry about service or repeat customers. If all else fails ask around truck stops or other trucker hangouts for a good "front end man" who can do four wheel alignments and knows how to inspect ball joints half shafts CV joints and sticking calipers caused by collapsed brake lines. My 96 GC has original (but worn out) front struts but it brakes straight and tires wear evenly. Good luck.
  • The AAA or CAA will give you names of garages that will inspect your car for a fee. You can probably get this info from their website without membership.

    These garages charge a fair hourly wage to inspect. They don't expect to cash in on the repairs by inspecting for free. You might want to find one of these for a second opinion. Although I'm sure, like doctors, they don't like being played against one another.

    However, I'd bet they would charge far less than $100 for a similar inspection.

    Swaybar bushings don't last long on these vehicles and they do make the van sound a lot quieter. But they are simple to replace and are often done by home mechanics. No need for a dealer repair. Same goes for other steering components.
  • My 01 Dodge GC (50,000 miles) also needs a new rack & pinion. I had the sway bar links & bushings replaced within the past year. Does it seem right that I'd now need the rack & pinion replaced?
  • engr2go1engr2go1 Posts: 10
    I have 183,000 miles on my 98 Grand Caravan. When I talked to a mechanic he said that even though I am not having problems like extra bounce, sway, etc, I should replace my struts before getting an alignment. Thoughts? What is the life of an average strut? Is it based on mileage, age, ...? :confuse:
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Is there any oil leaking from your struts? If you rock each corner of the car and then step back, does the car rock more than another one or two undulations? If "No" on both counts then I say "Horse Hockey" to your mechanic's recommendation. Get the alignment and keep on truckin'. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • ViperggVipergg Posts: 24
    If you have never changed them then it is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy overdue . Generally they should be replaced between 60-80000 miles . That being said you are going to notice a bigggg difference in the way it rides if you get new struts and I would also get new shocks for the back if plan on keeping the vehicle. Had good luck with Monroe Sensatracs.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Sorry, I've gotta take issue with your post. I've been a car guy for decades (and have even turned a wrench for a considerable portion of that time) and I've never seen any evidence, scientific, empirical, anecdotal or otherwise that suggests that struts and shocks automatically go bad at 60-80K miles. The simple truth is that as long as the seals stay intact and don't leak out the internal fluids (an obvious condition as there will be oil all over the shock/strut housing), then they don't need to be replaced.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    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: 1,565
    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: 1,565
    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.
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