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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • I just want to be sure that I'm understanding you. The dealership didn't do the brake job, it was a brake shop? If the brake shop and not the dealer did the brake job, how do you know that the brake pads came from the dealer? The brake pads might not be made from the correct material for your van causing too much heat build up. The reason that I am asking about the pads, I once did a brake job (pads/rotors) on my Buick and the brakes overheated within 2 miles of driving. Turned out to be the wrong pad material. I wouldn't expect much help from the dealership when it comes to answering your questions about your problems if they aren't getting paid to do so

    Could be a bad master cylinder that is causing your problem. I just hope that they aren't just throwing parts on hoping that this or that will fix the problem. I hate to warn you, but with enough heat to melt the brakes that soon you might be looking at replacing the wheel bearing sooner than expected. Just keep in mind that if the wheel bearings need early replacement it was probably brought on by the part that caused your brakes to melt.
  • Thanks for the info just4fun2. We purchased the brake pads directly from the delearship ourselves and then had another shop install them. The only reason we had another shop install them is because the dealer was too busy and couldn't get around to doing them for about a week. The dealer warrantied the brake pads and the shop warrantied the work, so those are being replaced free of charge. I don't think the dealer would sell us the wrong brake pads, so I can't imagine the pads being the problem, unless somehow they were just defective. The shop is also in the process of examing the vehicle to see if there is some other problem that is causing the pads to heat up. We trust the guys at the shop, as we've known them for years and had them work on other vehicles in the past without any problems. While searching online I did find somebody else with the same problem, they said their pads were getting hot and grinding down to nothing in a short period of time. They had posted a message on one of those mechanic repair boards looking for an answer, but they haven't received a response yet. The post was a couple months old, so I am guessing they probably won't receive a response. Anyway, right now we are just twiddling our thumbs waiting for the shop to figure out what the problem is. If they can't find out what's wrong then we'll have to schedule a visit to the delearship, but from talking with them, it sounds like they don't have a clue what's wrong either.
  • I've never posted anything to a forum before so please bare with me....I have a 99 caravan, which so far has been a really reliable van.

    Today I noticed a smell when I turned on the ac....either like something's burning or a sulfer smell....has anyone had this problem or know what could be causing it..any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
  • Unlesss your 2001 Voyager is a 4 cyl, your AC compressor is warrantied 7 years or 70,000 miles which ever comes first, regardless of ownership. Why did you pay for this repair?
  • Not according to the 2 delearships in our area. We bought the compressor at the delearship and had the delearship install it. They said the compressor was not covered and in fact they said it is a part that is not covered under most warranties. As it is we only have a warranty on the engine and transmission though. Also the new one they installed only has a one year 15,000 mile warranty on it. So if it goes out after a year, it will not be covered again. And to top it off neither one of the delears in our area had the part instock so we had to drive 100 miles to get pick up the compressor ourselves and then take it back out to the dealership out here for them to install it. They claimed that even though the dealership that was only 100 miles away had the part in stock that it would take them over a week to have it delivered here. That's another problem we have had with the delearships out here is they have been very unhelpful.
  • If you have a link to a website or some paperwork showing that the a/c compressor is supposed to be under warranty for 70,000 miles, please forward it my direction though, so I can take it to the delearship and see about getting a refund.
  • I have seen other similar posts on this board about this problem. If you do a search for it, I'm sure it will pull up those posts. But from what I remember I heard several people say they needed to basically deodorize thier a/c by using a lysol spray in it. Like I said, you may want to seach the forum if you haven't already, but I know I have seen this same problem posted on here before.
    Best of luck
  • Thanks for the info...but I'm going to contact the dealer now. I went to try the ac again today to see how it was "doing", and instead of a smell the whole thing cuts off and goes back on by itself. I checked all of my paperwork and it should still be covered THANK GOD, the van has less than 50,000 miles on it. Thanks again for the input.
  • I don't have a scanner, and I can't type, but I will highlite the letter sent to affected vehicle owners: "This letter is to inform you that the warranty period on your minivan's AC compressor has been extended to 7 years or 70,000 miles, which ever comes first." It then states applies only to certain 2001, 2002 and 2003 DC, DGV, CV, and C T&C minivans equipted with a 6 cyl engine. It gives the reason for the extension, and then states: "If you have already experienced an A/C compressor failure and have paid to have it repaired, you may send your original receipts and/or other adequate proof of payment to the folowing address for reinbusment:

    P.O. Box 610027
    Port Huron, MI 48061-0207
    ATTENTION: Reimbursment

    Good Luck, I'm sure there's more info out there, and this applies to the compressor, parts and labor, but no other A/C components
  • The dodge dealer wants 4 hours to install a fuel sender. I think it`s a pretty easy job and I told them I would bring the vehicle in with very little fuel in the tank. It`s covered under warranty. I think I`m getting jerked around here.
  • I was told by the Transport Canada Office (which is like our NHTSA) that Chrysler will have a Recall on their Mini Vans for RUSTED BRAKE LINES starting sometime in September. Has anyone else heard about this recall?
  • Global TV - Calgary - network
    Chrysler is recalling 23000, 2001 and 2002 Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country ... The rear brake lines can rub together and become corroded. ...

    Chrysler should also look at the 1999 Models. I just had my 1999 Dodge Caravan up on a lift and it has the same design problem with the brake lines rubbing together. When the brake lines rub together, the zinc coating is removed and the brake lines will rust out.
  • Out of the blue, with no warning at all, neither of my keys will turn in the ignition of my 2002 Dodge Caravan. Has anybody else heard of, or had this problem? If so, what's the cure??
  • strekstrek Posts: 14
    Thought I would add my 2 cents to the discussion about the reliability of the Dodge Caravan.
    I have a 95 Caravan SE with 183,000 miles on the clock. The following are the items on which I've had work done:

    Fuel pump replaced under warranty.
    Serpentine belt replaced by the dealer and guaranteed for the life of the vehicle.
    3 brake jobs.
    1 A/C compressor.
    2 rebuilds of the transmission - It should have only been once, but I foolishly took it to AAMCO the first time and it lasted just past their warranty (12 months). Second time to the dealer at 112,000 miles. It's still working fine.

    It's been a very reliable, comfortable vehicle and I would buy another without hesitation, but this one's just getting broken in so I expect to have it for a few more years.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Maybe you need a new battery?

    Try to get a jump start from someone. If it starts, then drive immediately to a autoparts place that can check out your old battery and charging system-these places usually do it for free, in anticipation of you buying a battery from them if needed.
  • I'm pretty sure the battery is working, all the lights and door alarms work, I just can't get the keys to turn in the ignition. I'm calling the mechanic this morning. I was just hoping to find someone on here had a similar issue.

  • Did you try your second set of keys and the spare key? Some times the keys get worn and will not turn in the ignition. :D
  • OK, I went to the dealer today (after trying both keys multiple times) I was going to purchase a replacement key to see if that would do the trick, but the parts guy talked me out of it, he said he didn't want me to waste my money. He told me to go home and put the key in the ignition and tap it with a hammer. He said that dirt and build up get in there and sometimes just knocking it loose works, but that it would only be a temporary fix and the cylinder in the ignition would probably have to be replaced. So, I came home and did what he said and now the key will turn toward me (allowing radio to come on) but still won't turn the car on. I'm going to wait until my husband comes home and see if he can hit it harder, maybe then it will work. The parts guy at the dealership said it happens all the time and they eventually have to fix the ignition cylinder.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    On your initial post you neglected to mention that the key wouldn't turn in the ignition, so I assumed battery might be bad as you said it wouldn't start, not that the key wouldn't turn. This is a whole different story. You might also try rocking the steering wheel and shift lever while trying to turn the key. Sometimes these park/shifter interlock systems get hung up if there is any load on the steering wheel.
  • Yeah, as I said in my initial post, niether of the keys will turn in the ignition. I'll try rocking the steering wheel and shift lever while trying to turn the key. It's worth a try at this point. Thanks
  • I just thought of something. If your steering wheel is locked, you will not be able to turn the key to start the engine. (This is an anti-theft feature). I know for a fact that the only way to turn the key, is to turn the steering wheel to the right and hold it there, which is hard even for a young guy like myself, and turn the key at the same time. This is a good feature, but very tiresome after while. We no longer lock our steering. Hope this helps. :)
  • We are having trouble getting the spare tire released from underneath our 2002 Grand Caravan sport. The owners manual didn't come with the car (used) and we are at a loss.
    Please help!
  • Assuming that you have the crank down spare. You need to locate the van jack department. (It should be inside the left rear well in the cargo area.) On the jack housing cover/door is an illustration how to use the jack, crank down the spare, changing the tire and where to place the jack under the van. NOTE: In order to crank down the spare, you need to have everything out of the cargo area to turn the crank. The crank bolt is located underneath a round plastic cover, about the size of a silver dollar, in the center on the floor in the cargo area. Only use the jack handle supplied to crank down the spare. Use of any other tool might strip the plastic crank down bolt.
  • Thanks for your help...spare is on!
  • Ok, took the Caravan to the dealer and it was the cylinder inside the ignition $265 to get it fixed. The service guy said it's very common, so for anyone else who owns a 2002 Dodge Caravan, Watch Out!!
  • where do I find location for the "output" speed sensor on transmission for 1997 chyrsler town and country 3.8L
  • where is transmission speed sensor (in put) located on 1998 chrysler town and country 3.8L 4speed automatic?
  • My van has had a gradual, more noticeable play in the steering wheel since we first bought it. The wheel slips about 1-2mm in both directions of steering. It doesn't appear problematic, in so far as driving and stability goes, but I hate the play in the wheel that I know shouldn't be there (at least it never has been there in any other vehicle I've ever owned). It feels like it's in the steering column and I have no experience removing the shrouding and all the components in that area to look; I'm especially worried about the airbag. I'd also like to fix it myself if possible.
    I have mentioned it to Chrysler dealership mechanic before and he said, "it'd be very hard to troubleshoot", which to me means "get a second job to pay for this fix".
    Any similar incidents or anyone know how to fix?
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    I can't help but think this is another case of someone who has heard all the mean mouthing and is now convinced that everything that's gone wrong with their Chrysler mini-van proves the negative comments true. But it doesn't. And when doesn't a mechanic say "that's a common problem"? That's the best way for a mechanic to deflect any potential scrutiny of his diagnostic and repair credibility. If its a "common problem," the customer will be much more accepting. And of course you have to deal with the Chrysler haters in the repair business, of which I've known more than my share (What does your mechanic drive?).

    Since my ex-wifes '99 Avalon has had the transmission apart twice, the sway bar links replaced three times, the problem with engine oil sludge, a power window that refuses to go up (or down) occasionally, a "Check Engine" light that goes on and off when it wants to, the three fuel injectors that failed costing nearly a $1000, she should be transmitting the same kind of message. But she isn't.

    When these same things happen to a Honda, Toyota, or a Nissan those owners don't seem to think that level of reliability is outside the normal. When it happens to an American nameplate, its a near conspiracy! Since my daily travels take me past three automatic transmission shops I've noticed that at least once a week there's a Honda mini-van sitting at one of those shops. Sometimes two a week. That's just about the same amount I see a Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge mini-van.

    I was in the fleet management business for a number of years with a large machine manufacturer in Rochester, New York. We began leasing Plymouth and Dodge minivans the first year they came out ('84) and still run them. The first years they were excellent vehicles for reliability. There was a turndown in reliability after '90 and up to the '96s they were below average. Almost all of these were component quality issues, such as power window regulators, AC compressors, evaporators, power steering pumps, idler pulleys, etc.

    With transmissions we didn't start to see any problems until the 4-speed electronic versions. The 3-speed automatics were bulletproof. The Ultradrive A604 transmission, which later was revised and renamed the 41TE had a couple of seal problems early on and somewhat later they went through some bad shift solenoids (shift packs) in the valve body. They also had a problem with the the shift schedules and Chrysler issued some TCM reflashes; anti-drain back valves getting clogged and bad electrical terminals. These problems have been long resolved and there are far more people that have gone 150,000-200,000 miles without a transmission problem than there are those that do.

    In my company's experience we found that even when the A604s had a higher than normal problem rate our Ford Windstars were worse and for a couple of years the failure rate of the Chevy AstroVan was even higher than the AeroStar/Windstar. Since then our Chrysler versions continue to have less transmission troubles than either the Windstar or the Venture.

    There are a few of things that must be realized. One, according to the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA), minivans from all manufacturers in general have a higher transmission problem index and failure rate than cars. Minivans were designed like cars with car-like attributes, but are often used and driven like trucks or taxis. On average they accumulate more miles in a three year period than passenger cars, are more often driven over the rated load, more often use to tow trailers than passenger cars. According to one study they see more stop-and-go driving than any other non-commercial vehicle. All this leads to stressing various mechanical aspect of a motor vehicle.

    Chrysler was the first with a fully electronic and a fully adaptive automatic transmission. These transmissions require complete understanding of how they operate and special tools for diagnosing problems. Both of these requirements were not well met by the transmission rebuilding industry and many, MANY Chrysler automatics received expensive rebuilds when in fact the solution was something much simpler, like a TCM reflash or changing the fluid out. And the same thing is still happening.

    In the case of Chrysler automatics, they received a very significant upgrade in '98 that provided increased fluid flow to the overdrive units, as well as a host of other redesigned components or components from different manufacturers to increase reliability and durability. The 41TE that's being used now is a much more refined transmission than just a few years ago.

    Unfortunately a very larger percentage of past Chrysler automatic transmission problems had another negative influence, that being the wide spread use of Dexron-Mercon ATF in a Chrysler transmission. General auto repair and transmission shops used Dexron-Mercon in Chrysler mini-vans when the filter or fluid was changed. Dexron-Mercon will initiate a death spiral in these transmissions and many quick oil change places in this area were successfully sued because of it. Still today I see or hear of Dexron-Mercon being used in a Chrysler product. It is shortly after that shift problems begin and eventually so much friction material will be lost off of the clutches that the fluid gets contaminated and then a shift solenoid or valve body gets clogged, or a governor valve starts to stick, or the seals start to erode.

    If a Chrysler FWD transmission is maintained accordingly, they will outlast most other competitive versions. Don't change the fluid (always use ATF+4 in a Chrysler...), or the filter and I can guarantee you'll have a transmission problem.

  • The window motors you are having intermittant problems with are made in Japan by Nipendeso (sp?). Some other site mentioned if you take the door panels off and spray the motors commutator area hwith contact cleaner they will work fine. Its worth a try
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