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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • caravan2caravan2 Posts: 198
    Hello,

    I have the same Airbag light problem. Mine is 1997 Dodge Caravan. Is there recall form that? Would this also cause "Service Engine Soon" light also? "Service Engine Soon" light came first and then Airbag light latter intermittant and goes away by istself.

    Two other questions:

    1) Is it dangerous to drive like this? Will Airbag go off for no reason? Would airbag work when it is needed?

    2) If it is not covered by recall, is it difficult/expensive to fix?

    Thank you,
  • rubberduckrubberduck Posts: 5
    It is just the speedometer that doesn't work, all other gauges work fine, the only other things that don't work are the day time running lights and the cruise.
  • ahzooahzoo Posts: 7
    My GC is quite a bit older than yours ('95), but my radio has worked only sporadically over the last few years. I can't quite find rhyme or reason to it, although sometimes I think damp weather conditions may be a factor. Like your wife, I have found that sometimes it will work but then become loud with static and won't turn off until I turn off the engine.

    I decided not to spend money on it and, happily, it did work during a recent road trip. But, with a 2001, you may just want to replace yours. Good luck!
  • chuck7429chuck7429 Posts: 2
    I have a puzzling electrical problem:

    When the ignition is switched off the radio continues to play (like it should). When the driver door is opened the radio and clock display are switched off (again, like they should). When returning to the vehicle and switching ON the ignition the radio and clock remain OFF (that's the problem). Disconnecting and reconnecting the battery will return the clock and radio to operation - but only temporarily.

    This problem is coincident with needing a new battery.

    I have checked the accessory relay by switching it with another known good relay without success.

    The problem appears to be related to the open-door curoff. Thus far I have not found any information on how this works.

    Any suggestions?
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    ... one needs to be careful, if any circuits are on, eg when a door is open, connecting the new battery can cause funny stuff to happen. I have seen a Dodge Caravan have flashing four-way flashers after replacing a battery. That case was cured as follows, and this may work for you.

    Shut off the car, and make sure no accessory circuits are on (ie the radio is off, door lights are off, and also that any door switches are properly adjusted etc.) Disconnect the battery for 10 minutes, and then reconnect.

    I hope this works for you. It did for my friend. If it doesn't, please post back too.
  • Hi

    I have exactly the same problem with my 95 Dodge Grand Voyager. It's been in top the dealer three times to try and resolve and they can't find anything wrong. Eventually the transmission acted like the clutch was slipping when under load i.e. lots of revving with little or no forward motion and a bad burning smell. I sent it into a little transmission shop and he has had the unit apart several times but not able to fix it. He is replacing the unit with a secondhand one. Hopefully that will resolve our problem. BTW I bought the Dodge in Kansas but it now resides in the UK (120k miles later )!
  • 5bucks5bucks Posts: 10
    Hi,

    Has anyone gotten anywhere with the instrument panel failure? I have a 98 Grand Voyager. This problem has been going on for 2+ years now. Initially it was very intermittent. Everything would go dead for a few minutes then come back. Over time the period of non functioning has become longer and longer. At one point they were out for 3 months, then came back for a few weeks. Only to go out again. This is very frustrating. I've read the stories of others going to dealers for new body control modules etc and paying over $400 with no resolution to the problem. Here's what I've tried so far:

    1. Checked and reseated every fuse and relay in the vehicle
    2. Disconnected battery for 30 minutes in hopes of ressetting the BCM. Checked/cleaned all battery connections.
    3. Reseated all electrical harnesses under the dash.
    4. Tried to find the BCM ground which I read somewhere was located on the passenger side B pillar - couldn't find anything that looked like a ground

    Some other interesting details:
    1. I definetly lose some engine power/performance when the gauges go out - it's not huge, put don't have the same kind of passing power as when the gauges are working. Very noticeable when trying to pass uphill at highway speeds.
    2. Check engine light always comes on when problem starts but then goes off after driving for 10-20 minutes
    3. Cruise control still works (minus the dashboard indicator light) normally when the dash goes out.
    4. Low fuel audible "ding" still sounds (minus he dashboard indicator light) when the dash is out.
    5. Intermittent wipers function somewhat intermittently when the dash is out. They'll swipe a few times, then I have to adjust the timing knob to get them to swipe again.
    6. Red LED indicators for A/C, rear wiper, and fresh air bypass flash a constant and consistent on/off with no pattern for about ten minutes when the van is started without the guages working. I had read that these lights can display trouble codes.

    I've been trying to find a cause/solution to this problem for over 2 years now. I have yet to read of anyone with a solution - someone please help
  • 5bucks5bucks Posts: 10
    Just found this on another forum...

    Question: 1994 Dodge Intrepid 3.5 mileage: 85000. I also have a problem with my 1994 Intrepid. The engine is a 3.5, with 85,000 miles. The gauges have been working on and off for about three months. The dealer's mechanics have not been able to find the problem as the car is in the shop for the third time. The problem seems to get worse over time. If I pull the battery cable, and replace after a couple hours, the problem will go away for a while. I have even seen the gauges pegged when started, and come to life after about ten seconds. They have replaced the module on the trans, and think it may be another. At about $160/parts per try, I am getting desperate. The problem will occur when the car is cold or hot, sometimes the ignition has to be turned on and off for over twenty cycles before the gauges will work. The air bag light will also come on whether the gauges work or not.

    Answer: Without seeing your car, it is impossible for us to help you here. Intermittent electrical problems are the most difficult to find. Your gauges have circuit boards with hundreds of solder joints. If there is just one joint that has moved and cracked the solder, it could cause the problem you described. In addition, an improper ground connection anywhere in the system could be the culprit. We wish we could help you more.

    Follow-up: Well, the dealer's mechanic finally found the gauge problem. It was a wire in the ignition harness. At least that was what they told me. The ignition and wiring was replaced, +$400 and the car is running great. It took them a while but they found it. Hope this helps others out there, I feel this problem is very wide spread. Thanks 2CARPROS
  • mkc4hiremkc4hire Posts: 1
    I don't know if this is going to help. I've owned several Dodge and Plymouth vans. Not for the machinery but for the drive. They are the best in driveability. Transmissions are their biggest flaw and Chrystler and every transmission shop around well and knows it. Every over-drive transmission I've owned has died between 80-100,000 miles. The last van I bought was a 1997 Plymouth voyager with a 3 speed. These were not supposed to have the chrystler curse on them. It lasted to 115, 000 miles. The transmission guy told me they usually see 160,000 out of them but that is the usual kill point.

    To answer your question, it sounds like you may have a failing torque converter or your transmission has slipped and your plates are glazed. Niether one would show typically until the oil viscosity has thinned out to a minimum. If you have paid a service fee and they found nothing, they should be willing to do the second for free if still existing. I would hold them to that.

    The greatest lesson I've learned is to get away from typical ATF. No more "special ATF 4" or anything else. Chrystler is not addressing the problems with their products so you have to arm yourself. Go to a good durable synthetic like AMSOIL. It exceeds your warranty and it will double your life. A regular fill is about $50-70 and the flush will probably run you a couple hundred but compared to a $2500 rebuild it is gravy. Typical ATF starts it's break down around 240 degrees. AMSOIL and like products start around 440 degrees.This ensures the molecular thickness is sufficient all the way back to the pan dramatically reducing friction, heat and ultimately wear.
    Also, Chrystler is serious about re-torquing the bands every 30, 000 miles. The first time it slips, you are on your way to transmission failure. If you do your own work, one band adjustment is outside the unit, one is inside the unit. If you run AMSOIL, just filter the oil before re-use. Oil never wears out it just becomes too contaminated to do it's job. I would advise all chrystler owners to get a plug kit to install in pan and to use gaskets with rubber impregnated cork (usually found at NAPA). These tips will help you keep a happy van. :)
  • There have been no recent posts on the strut tower rusting problem. Our 1999 Town and Country driver's side strut tower is getting to the point where I am getting concerned it may bust out the top if the vehicle accidently hits a large pothole. The passenger's side is not as bad, but will need attention soon. I need to now how people have been adddressing this problem, is there some kit available from the dealers?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Where do you see this rust?

    I just checked our 1998 GC, and there isn't a spot of rust on either strut tower, inside the engine compartment or underneath in the wheel well. Is there something I'm missing? I'm thinking that if this is a universal problem, our van if any would have it since it began its life in the winter road salt region of northern New Jersey, and now spends its days in southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,286
    ... on certain vehicles where there was a problem with the quality of one of the body stampings, which created a void that traps mud and salt etc. There is a Chrysler approved repair kit that is bonded and riveted on top of the affected parts and properly rustproofed.

    My 99 has only a few specks of rust at that point, no more than the few others showing up after 6 years in upstate NY.
  • chuck7429chuck7429 Posts: 2
    I followed your recommendation last night and disconnected the battery for ~20 minutes. After reconnecting the battery the radio and clock were again functional. I tried letting the radio time out after turning the ignition off - without opening the driver door. The radio and clock functioned through several cycles of ignition on then off and waiting until the radio timed out. Afther that the radio and clock continued to function normally.

    Until this morning.

    Today I started the vehicle and "yahoo" the radio worked (after sitting overnight). But.....I stopped for gas after about a ~25 minute drive. Afterwards the radio and clock would not function.
  • ru3yrru3yr Posts: 1
    U probably blew a fuseable link (A wire that acts like a fuse) U need to splice in a new Piece. $5 for the wire at local auto parts
  • chuckgchuckg Posts: 69
    5bucks- Here's where I'd start toward a fix. I'm not familiar with your vehicle but I don't think you'll have any problems attempting this:

    1. Based upon the Intrepid solution, I would remove the cladding that surrounds the steering column and check for any pinched or bare wires. I have done this before on my '94 New Yorker and it wasn't difficult at all. I didn't need any special tools and I didn't need to remove the steering wheel to get at it. Just take your time and be careful. While in there, I would also replace the ignition switch. Disconnect the negative battery cable before doing this.

    Also, you may want to try banging with your hand on the steering column and moving your adjustable steering wheel up and down. Maybe that will loosen something up.

    I had a bad ignition switch on my New Yorker. It did all sorts of strange things to the car. I was told that Chrysler has problems with their ignition switches. Don't know if this is true but the new switch fixed my problems. I had a mechanic track this down, but if it happened again I'd do it myself.

    2. I've read posts on this board that people who had electrical problems solved them by replacing the battery. How old is your battery?

    Make sure you post back what you did and your solution. This helps everyone reading this board.
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    I need to replace both the top and bottom door stoppers on both sliding doors. (I have the rubber stoppers). When the dealer tried to install them, the stoppers wouldn't stay in the hole on the door because the metal is pushed in where you place the stoppers. (Not sure how this happened, but my guess is from the old stoppers when making contact with the body of the van when the doors are being slide closed). They told me in order to fix the problem, they would have to knock the dent out which would take about an hours time and cost around $30.00. I figured that I can save us the $30.00 by attempting to do it myself. Any ideas as to how to pull or knock the metal out on the sliding doors? Thanks :)
  • huggybear2huggybear2 Posts: 2
    jeffw1,

    I have a 96 Grand Caravan and I am experiencing the same problem. Please advise the solution to this problem. What was the cost? I was wandering if a person could just disconnect the wire (which one? what color) from the sensor, however you would still have the indicating light on instrument panel, however the dinging would go away.

    It is driving my wife up the wall.

    Thanks,

    HuggyBear2
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,564
    You must have some real gorillas slamming your sliding doors shut! :)

    I would try something like this: Go to your local hardware store, and buy several of the largest size fender washers that will fit through the round opening. Then buy a hex bolt threaded all the way to the head, and a hex nut, and assemble the washers to the bolt and tighten the nut. Put the head and washers through the hole, and grab the end of the bolt with a large vise grips pliers, offseting the bolt from the hole center line and pull toward you. You may be able to pull the metal back flush with the frame for a portion of the hole. Move around the circle and do this repeatedly and you probably will be able to bend it back into place. When you put the new rubber bumper back in, use some clear silicone caulk in the rubber bumper groove to hold it in place better. I lost one of these bumpers on our Caravan for no known reason, and when I replaced it, I did this caulk job so I would not lose the replacement. The hole was not deformed on mine, however.

    Then stop feeding your kids and wife spinach so they lose some of that strength!

    -----An engineer who likes to improvise and save a few bucks wherever possible!
  • huggybear2huggybear2 Posts: 2
    akastu,

    I have a 96 Grand Caravan and experiencing the same problem. Please advise on your fix.
    My wife would appreciate it

    Thanks,

    HuggyBear2
  • Tell me more about this kit, does its installation require a dealer's help or body shop if there is welding to be done. I would also be wary of any welding in the engine compartment, it could damage the engine or ABS control computers.

    Thanks,
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