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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions

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  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Salespeople may have said the transmission was fixed in 1998, but I know two people with newer models (1999 and 2000) who have already had transmission problems. The owner of the latter model is suing DaimlerChrysler under the New Jersey lemon law at the moment. And DaimlerChrysler made major changes to the differential component of the 41TE and 42LE transaxles (the former used in most FWD transverse cars and minivans, and the latter in the FWD longitudinal LH design) partway through the 2000 model year - so not all the problems were fixed before that point. The newer designs (2000+) require yet another different type of fluid, something DaimlerChrysler has changed several times in an attempt to fix the problems with the transmissions. A mechanic I know says that nothing short of a total redesign will really fix the unit - that it is a faulty design from the get-go that nothing they've tried really ever fixed. Allpar (the DaimlerChrysler enthusiast site) has an editorial that essentially agrees - saying they should leave the design to history and go forward, preferably with a Mitsubishi or Daimler-Benz design (see below).


    The survey may not have an exact date, but it's very recent - they had the news about it on the website just a few weeks ago.


    The enthusiast editorial on the faulty transmission design is here:


    http://www.allpar.com/ed/tips/trans.html

  • pat84pat84 Posts: 817
    As a former DC owner, I think it may be the stop and go, bumper to bumper East Coast traffic, with A/C running, that results in over heating the transmissions and causing excess wear.
    Generally, with the exception of LA, Seattle, and Oakland / SF, Western traffic is not near as crowded as East Coast traffic, and you can get up to some speed with resulting cooler running and longer lasting transmissions.
    I would be interested to know if other manufacturers, also experience a similar regional problem.
  • dskoczylasdskoczylas Posts: 22
    I just purchased a 2001 Grand Caravan after selling my 95. Had only one problem with the 95. The front wheel bearing went at 60K miles. I was also concerned about the transmission problems and installed a cooler on my 95. Transmission was great through 75K miles when I sold it. I went to do the same to my 2001 and found that there is already a cooler for the transmission, instead of the lines going to the radiator. Just wondering if I should add another cooler or leave it as is. Any thoughts?
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    It could be that open road driving preserves the DaimlerChrysler automatics. You certainly can't do much of that in New Jersey.

    However, other automakers do just fine in designing automatics that work fine here in the Northeast - why not Chrysler? And why has it kept producing a known-troublesome unit for over a dozen years now?
  • dovey1dovey1 Posts: 13
    I am having terrible wind noise and thought that I read the roof rack crossbars were being replaced by the dealer and there is a TSB for it. Anyone know the number of that TSB and if it applies to model year 2000? Going to the dealer for service on Wed. and like to be "armed" with the proper answers. Thanks in advance.
  • palmetto2palmetto2 Posts: 1
    I am curious to know if this recall
    was prompted by any serious accidents.
    I bought my 01 van on May 13, drove
    around town until June 5, left on a
    2000 mile trip and then found out about
    a recall when I called the dealership.
    When I contacted the dealership on June
    15, they said not to drive the van in,
    but to have it towed in so they could
    fix it. No one ever contacted me about
    this until I called in when I heard
    something on television about a recall.
  • cgaydoscgaydos Posts: 116
    And I thought my dealership was bad! I drove off on a Monday (4/30) and they called on Thursday saying that they needed to tow the car in. My beef was that I asked them if they'd done the recall work BEFORE I took delivery and they said they had.

    I too would be interested in hearing if there were serious accidents. Didn't see any in the NHTSA database, but I haven't checked for a few weeks.
  • edgarmacedgarmac Posts: 6
    Re mag #623: Early in its life my 89 Caravan/3.0L would not idle in hot weather. I had to keep my foot on the accelerator to keep it from stalling. Dealer could not fix. I finally found a mechanic who could. Problem was a wire which was rubbing some hot part and intermittently shorting out.

    New subject: I had 3 nerve-wracking episodes with the A604 transmission in this thing very early in its life, but they apparently fixed themselves because it's gone 100,000 miles since then with no problems.
  • irfanhirfanh Posts: 2
    I have a 92 Grand Voyager LE and for the past couple of month I have experiened a wierd problem, dealar have'nt figured it out yet either.

    Usually on freeway, when I am doing 55 to 65, after a few minutes, all of a sudden the speedometer needle starts to move freely between 55 and 100. At this point I know the problem is starting. A little later the movement becomes quick like a pendulum, going back and forth, and as soon as the needle gets close to the 90 or 100 mph mark the car takes a jerk. I am only doing 60 or so at this time. At that point the needle either stays at 100 and wont accelerate OR it would swing back towards the 60 mark but as soon as I accelerate the needle starts going towards 100 again and again the van takes a jerk. This may go on for a while then I may be able to maintain 60. But the speedometer needle is still moving slowly around the 60 mark and as if wanting to go back to the 100mph mark.

    I have had so much trouble with this as it happened when we were driving back to Virginia from NewYork. I had no choice but to manage 50mph.
    It looks like the jerk is somehow related to the speedometer needle.

    I have had the transmission checked, and electrical testing done as well. Dealer says, bring it when it is actually doing it. Well, it has started doing it more frequently so I may be able to do that. But would really appreciate if anyone has any ideas or suggestion or has experienced anything like this before.
    thanks for your help
    =>Irfan
  • buckeye74buckeye74 Posts: 4
    I HAVE 1997 GRAND CARAVAN WITH 58000 MILES. I NEED NEW TRANSMISSION. THE VAN IS NOT EVEN 4 YEARS OLD YET. DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THERE IS A RECALL ON THIS TRANSMISSION AS I KNOW OF SEVERAL PEOPLE WITH TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS WITH THEIR MIMIVANS FROM CHRYSLER. THIS IS WHY I WILL NEVER BUY A CHRYSLER PRODUCT AGAIN. EVEN KIA AND HUNDAI HAVE BETTER POWERTRAIN WARRANTIES ON CARS COSTING 10,000.00. ANYONE PLEASE HELP!
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    or did you buy it as an ABUSED vehicle? Since DC minivans are the most commonly available minivan for rental or fleet usage, there is a very high possibility any used Grand Caravan was abused while driven by someone who did NOT own the vehicle.
    Owners of vehicles do not abuse a vehicle whereas most renters or driver's of a fleet vehicle drive in a very irresponsible manner.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    I know of at least a dozen people who've owned DaimlerChrysler minivans, and have required transmission replacements on them. All of them purchased brand-new minivans, and at least a couple of them are even more fanatical about maintenance than I am - it's by the book and by the dealer.

    A failed transmission in a DaimlerChrysler minivan is a matter of course - not a matter of abuse, in many circumstances.
  • gunga64gunga64 Posts: 271
    Everyone I know that has owned a dodge or chrysler has had the ac go out on it not once but twice or more. Everytime I meet someone that owned a Dodge or Chrysler I ask them right up front did you ac go out, they say yes I then ask them did it go out again they say yes. IIn fact I just spoke to my statefarm rep and she said exactly above. It appears that they last about 1 1/2 years or 2 years then bamm they go bad. Then right after the normal warrenty is over bamm bad again. I know people that have replaced their ac 4 times.

    When went looking for a new car the dealer tryed to sell me a used Dodge Caravan, I said no I do not buy Dodge/Chrysler, he asked why I said because they don't know how to make ac.
    He tells me well maybe they figured out how to build them now. I told him since they never acknowledged the problem existed, why would they fix it.
  • scannerscanner Posts: 295
    As I've never had any transmission or AC problems.


    http://carpoint.msn.com/Vip/UsedRelOver/Dodge/Caravan/Used.asp

  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Mark(buckeye74), Returning to your question from yesterday, no recall has been mentioned here and is not likely but you could check at www.autosafety.org. There have been owners that have had major help from Chrysler even though out of warranty. The strongest case requires documentation of preventive maintenance as specified in the owners manual. You might check out Consumer Reports Oct '99 article "Hidden Warranties" p.20-23. One poster on these boards, Hoofer, had a failure of his '96 tranny at 65000 and with complete maintenance record had most of the replacement covered by CC.
    On the topic of AC, I have a '95 Caravan with no AC failure, or even need for service, at 6 years and 70000 mi. Obviously the truth is somewhere between "they all fail" and "no one I know has had a single problem".
  • h20guyh20guy Posts: 64
    that I know out of 25 people: they have had Zero trans problems in 200,000 miles.It must be the weather or something ,can anyone please figure it out? If you live in places that don't relate to others thats what makes vehicles break down RIGHT? OH P.S. these 25 people are all my close friends. ;)) READ MY PROFILE. PPS Forgot to tell you I told my Sister to buy a Caravan. ;)
  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    Honda Accords are obviously not vans and have nothing to do with vans, so please stay on topic. In addition to this, comparing an early '90s era Honda versus basically the entire decade ('90-'00) of Chrysler minivans is not really a fair comparison, especially considering the extremely small sample size of under 10 people.


    Drew
    Host
    Vans, SUVs, and Aftermarket & Accessories message boards
  • jlewellingjlewelling Posts: 14
    Anyone who claims the pre-1996 Grand Caravan did not have tranny problems is either misinformed or delusional. Tranny failures on these cars were the norm! Check any compiled list of repair records for the Grand Caravan. For the Caravan, esp., the 4-cyl. version, the rate of Tranny failure was much lower. The number of 1996-2001 DC Tranny failures does not seem to be high.

    The 1996-1997 4 cyl. Mitsubishi engines, however, have had lots of problems. In fact, I have been told that Mitsubishi is actually Japanese for "piece of crap." The only good thing about the 4 cyl. Caravan is that it is hard to really get lost driving the car, because you can backtrack you route by following the fresh oil spots. Hey, it not leaking oil "it's just marking it's territory."

    The main thing to remember is that when you think about Dodge, you have to think about "Dodge years." A regular year for a normal car is about 3 years for a Dodge. That means my 1996 Caravan is actually a 15 year- old van. No wonder it costs so much to keep in on the road!
  • edgarmacedgarmac Posts: 6
    My new van is fine, except:
    The large, almost horizontal windshield and huge expanse of dashboard produce an enormous amount of heat if left in the sun for even a short time, and the heat radiates for a long time. I've never felt the need for one of those folding sun shields in my 89 van but with the new van it takes the AC quite a while to get things comfortable. And someone told me recently that there have been instances of the reflective shields causing windshield damage (cracks or some such) but this could be one of those urban legends that the internet people talk about.
  • macmg3macmg3 Posts: 3
    We have bene fortunate enough to have owned two DC minivans and am happy to say I've never had a problem with either one. Our first was a 98 DGC SE and went to 70k miles with zero problems. Our newer 00 T&C LX is going on 24k and also has been troublefree. Both vehicles have been and are a pleasure to own and drive. Problems with these vans to me and my family seem remote to non-existant as they have always offered a means of reliable and comfortable transportation.
  • We own a 94 Dodge Grand Caravan SE with 131,000 miles. We have front and rear A/C. About 2 years ago, we experienced A/C problems. We would have to have the system charged twice a summer just to get thru, but last summer the charge would only last about one week. We recently had the following repairs done: New Front Evaporator,
    H block, and Dryer. Is there any truth to the rumor that a Class Action Law suit is in the works for these Dodge A/C's? Our mechanic said he does an average of two Dodge van A/C evaporator's a week during the summer. I read it somewhere, just not sure if it was on this site.
  • fergy3fergy3 Posts: 1
    My van is in great shape and has been a trouble free vehicle. HOWEVER, recently the paint has started to peel off the roof. Does Dodge even want to hear about it on a 7 year old van? Looking for some guidance. Took some photos, who can I send them too??
  • irfanhirfanh Posts: 2
    I have a 92 Grand Voyager LE and for the past couple of month I have experiened a wierd problem, dealar have'nt figured it out yet either.

    Usually on freeway, when I am doing 55 to 65, after a few minutes, all of a sudden the speedometer needle starts to move freely between 55 and 100. At this point I know the problem is starting. A little later the movement becomes quick like a pendulum, going back and forth, and as soon as the needle gets close to the 90 or 100 mph mark the car takes a jerk. I am only doing 60 or so at this time. At that point the needle either stays at 100 and the van wont accelerate OR it would swing back towards the 60 mark but as soon as I accelerate the needle starts going towards 100 again and again the van takes a jerk. This may go on for a while then I may be able to maintain 60. But the speedometer needle is still moving slowly around the 60 mark and as if just waiting to go back to the 100mph mark.

    I have had so much trouble with this as it happened when we were driving back to Virginia from NewYork. I had no choice but to manage 50mph.
    It looks like the jerk is somehow related to the speedometer needle.

    I have had the transmission checked, and electrical testing done as well. Dealer says, bring it when it is actually doing it.
    But would really appreciate if anyone has any ideas or suggestion or has experienced anything like this before.
    thanks for your help
    =>Irfan

    thanks to everyone who responded to this in the 'vans' section before I was asked to move my problem in this section.
  • gschgsch Posts: 2
    Well, I just got off the phone with the dealer and he told me I need a new trans. I bought it new in Feb. 1998, it now has 49,000 miles. I don't have an extended warranty. The cost to replace the trans is $2200, sounds high. After reading this message board, I see I'm not alone, CC really has a problem.

    The problem with the trans is that it goes immediately into limp mode. I thought that it might be the speed sensor,but the dealer doesn't think so. He said 9 out of 10 times it is, but this time, its not.

    I contact CC at 1-800 992-1997, and through their participation program we negotiated my cost to $770. I think that CC recognizes they have a problem.

    I thought that this van would last me at least 6 years. I've had Fords, Chevys, Lincolns and GM and never had a problem with the trans under 120000 miles. This is the first CC products I've owned and probably the last.

    Does anyone have any thoughts or similar stories
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    Greg: Your case will help others faced with out of warrantee problems. Some have stated suspicions that failures are due to use of Dexron fluid by mistake. Any chance this could have happened to you?
    I think CC added an "auxiliary" transmission cooler as a factory installed part in '99. I put one on my '95 Caravan and would recommend it to you if not already in place.
    Next April, the Consumer Reports auto survey data for April '01 will give you an indication if more of the '98s than average are having problems. Average is 2-5% at this age. The comparable data for the '97 GC, reported last April (from the April '00 survey) showed above average transmission problems at 5-9.3%. This may be part of the reason CC is providing the partial repair cost you received.
  • gschgsch Posts: 2
    Roy, I only had the van in for service at a CC dealer. Hopefully they used the correct Fluid. Do you know what mileage/frequency CC recommends for PM of trans?

    Thanks for the info on CR. I'll look for it.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 224
    You might check your owner's manual. Mine has 2 schedules and most owners follow the "severe" service schedule of new fluid and filter every 15K. Buy the way, severe services includes frequent trips less than 5 miles. My own modification is to siphon the fluid and not replace the filter every other service.
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 396
    We have a 97 GC LE with 3.3L engine. So far since new, we have replaced leaky transmission selenoid pack, belt tensioner, water pump, and two days ago the starter.

    We have not experienced any transmission problem (Knock on wood!) I had the fluid and filter replaced at 50K, and 75K at Dodge dealer. One time when it was icy, I was backing out of garage, I put in forward while it was going in reverse fearing getting stuck. The transmission went into limp mode, but then after a day, it snapped out of it, and it has been fine since then.

    I think Dodge GCare still the best looking vans around. It is roomy and it is well layed out. It has excellent highway ride, and its 24MPG is decent.
  • scoyle1scoyle1 Posts: 14
    Avoid DaimlerChrysler products at all costs!! They are unresponsive as a company

    Well,

    My wife called Chrysler today, and here is a transcript of the telephone call.

    Wife - "I am calling because I recently saw numerous reports on the potential for a fuel leak in the Town & Country minivan, and we recently purchased a Town & Country minivan. I want to know what you are going to do about this problem."

    Mathew Long from the DaimlerChrysler Recall Center - "this test wasn't done by Chrysler. It was done by an insurance company."

    Wife - "Not an insurance company, by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety."

    Mathew Long from DaimlerChrysler - "Chrysler has tested the car 50 times and was unable to replicate the results. There is no problem, and there is no action to be taken."

    Wife - "Well if there is no problem, why did you redesign the 2002 model?"

    Mathew Long from from DaimlerChrysler - "For safety's sake."

    Wife - "That is exactly right, for safety's sake."

    Mathew Long from from DaimlerChrysler - "Well we are always redesigning cars for safety's sake. We are always making them safer."

    Wife - "I have had the car for 3 weeks. I refuse to drive it. I am not going to explode in an impact. I can not get my daughter out of the car seat quickly enough. I want to know what Chrysler is going to do."

    Mathew Long from from DaimlerChrysler - "Nothing."

    Wife - "So you are saying that for safety's sake it was redesigned, but you are going to do nothing."

    Mathew Long from DaimlerChrysler - "I am sorry, but it is our position."

    The DaimlerChrysler recall center then gave my wife the number 1-800-992-1997 for customer service in Detroit. I have called the dealer to return the car. Luckily, the dealer had a 30 day/1,000 mile return policy. Needless to say. They are very unhappy with me and said that the report was media induced, yada, yada, yada.
  • lion5lion5 Posts: 1
    I have a 94 Grand Caravan LE and have had the engine shut off while I am driving several times. It always happens when the A/C is running. We've been to several dealer service departments and they tell us they have it fixed then within 6 months we have the problem again. Has anyone else had this happen to them? If so, were you able to have it fixed and how was it fixed?
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