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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • nsrpnsrp Posts: 1
    I know there is very little difference between Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans. How can I find out if the transmissions are interchangable?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    If the transmission is from the same model year and from a van with the same engine, then it is a guaranteed match. Then again, even if the engines are different, the thansmission might match (i.e. the 3.3 and the 3.8 liter engines use the same tranny, errr, I think).

    If you sniff around on the web you might find a site that I found a year ago or so from a transmission rebuilder from the southwest (Arizona I think). On their web site they have a grid that shows by model year and engine what transmission the various Voyagers, Caravans and Town & Countrys (hmmm, when you pluralize "Town & Country", is it "Town & Countrys" or "Town & Countries"?) have used. Let us know how you do.

    Best Regards,
  • ckmnacckmnac Posts: 12
    We bought a 1998 Dodge GC from the original owners last April. The van had 113,000 miles on it and owners had all of the paperwork showing repairs done. One thing that was replaced was the tranmission at 103,000 miles to the tune of $1300.

    Just the other day we were driving it (milage now 126,000) and it started clunking into gears while shifting up. It does jerk into first while downshifting but we were told it was just a computer problem and nothing to be concerned with. Today we took it to be looked at were told that it needs a new transmission. The old warranty was 12 month/12,000 miles so it is no good. But you would think this one should've lasted more then 23,000 miles.

    I'm taking it for a second opinion in a few minutes because I'm having a hard time believing it's the transmission again. I absolutely love this van, I mean it has it's quirks as any car with high milage would but so far it has run great engine wise. I'm just worried this transmission thing could be very costly in the long run.
  • I doubt the transmission was replaced for only $1300. Even one bought at a salvage yard and installation would cost more than that.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Based upon the price it's quite obvious that this was an extremely cut rate job, a fact that you've already been made aware of by 97xpresso. In addition to that, I'd also bet that the wrong transmission fluid (i.e. non-ATF3) was used, which by the way is a guaranteed death sentence for this type of transmission. BTW, incorrect transmission fluid could also easily explain your hard shifting situation.

    Regardless, it sounds like you're going to be shopping for a new transmission in the very near future. :-(

    BTW (again), I also have a 1998 GC (with only 107,000 on the clock) and so far at least it's been just about perfect (unscheduled maintenance so far: Battery - replaced with a DieHard for about $75, Vacuum Battery tray - about $125, and Drivers' door switch - about $8), so I'm curious to know which high mileage "quirks" you're experiencing as it's very likely that I'll have to deal with the same things pretty soon as well.

    Best Regards,
  • ckmnacckmnac Posts: 12
    Ok, well I guess I got some good news. The other transmission shop scanned the computer and says it just needs flashed. I called the dealer and it will only be $45 with tax. The tranny guy said it should fix the problems but if not come back. He drove it and of course it didn't act up once.

    Here is exactly what the invoice from the original owners says about what was done:

    1998 Caravan transaxle overhaul with rebuilt torgue converter $1,300

    Not sure what that means, I guess I assumed it meant a rebuilt tranny. The guy at the other shop said it would be $1800 for a rebuilt one. The first transmission work was done in Mansfield, OH so not one of the richest towns in the world. :)

    The little quirks it has are no big deal really - I did have the battery replaced a couple of weeks ago and the fan relay was replaced in August. But it's things like the dome light not working (and we know it's not the bulb), the windows don't work in the cold, the key doesn't work on the drivers door, and the headlights are very dull and probably need replaced. Oh and the delay for the wipers doesn't work quite right. The wipers will come on as they are suppose to and after ahile just stop coming on. You then have to switch it to high and back to the speed you want until it happens again.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, interesting list of goodies...

    "...the dome light not working (and we know it's not the bulb)..."

    Yup, that's why I replaced the drivers' side door switch. Assuming that you have the same problem, you can buy the part for $8.00. Putting it in is simply a matter of one Philips head screw and one clip on wire.

    "...the windows don't work in the cold..."

    Don't have that problem, yet.

    "...the key doesn't work on the drivers door..."

    Hmmm, on mine, if I use the key in the door (instead of the key fob), I have no problem locking the door, however, when I unlock it, the power locks will unlock and then quickly relock. I've found that if I very slowly turn the key to unlock, and as soon as the locks click open I return the key to the middle (as opposed to turning the key to the stop), the van will unlock and stay unlocked. As I almost ALWAYS use the key fob for all locking and unlocking duties, this isn't what I consider a problem. If it ever becomes an issue, I'm pretty sure that this is either a worn out or dirty electrical switch, and the repair cost would be very reasonable.

    "...and the headlights are very dull and probably need replaced."

    Hmmm, I've seen some vans with yellowed lenses and have always wondered about that. Our van has been garaged for most of its life and the lenses are still perfectly clear, as such, I wonder if the garaging has anything to do with the lack of yellowing. Having said that, our generation of van was never known for having great headlights, quite to the contrary really. The lights on our 2003 GC are WAY BETTER than those of our 1998.

    "Oh and the delay for the wipers doesn't work quite right. The wipers will come on as they are suppose to and after ahile just stop coming on. You then have to switch it to high and back to the speed you want until it happens again."

    A time or three the intermittent wipers have stopped mid-use on our 1998 as well. What I have noticed is that this only happens on the lowest setting, and only if I've gone from off to low by carefully clicking over the detent. If I "click" twice (i.e. to the second lowest setting), and then ease the knob back into the first position, the problem never happens. Clearly this is simply just a worn out switch and as such should be a fairly cheap fix.

    The only other squawk that I have is that the multifunction overhead display doesn't get the temperature correct. How do I know that? Simple, it can go from -40 to 120 and/or anywhere in-between in a matter of moments, regardless of what the actual temperature is outside. Here again I could care less and as such I haven't spent any resources to debug the problem.

    Regarding your transmission, unless your receipt from the transmission repair specifically states the proper transmission fluid was used, I'd have that sucker drained (torque converter included) and completely refilled. A new filter would be considered mandatory as well.

    Best Regards,
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,981
    "overhaul" is not the same as rebuild. They are technically different terms.

    Overhaul means you leave alone what's good, replace what's bad. So you have a mix of new and used parts.

    Rebuilt means you bring everything back to factory specification.

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  • Hi, we have a 2002 GC ES AWD. When we fill the gas tank it only registers 7/8ths full on the dashboard fuel gauge. Any idea what the problem might be? Thanks
  • Gentlemen,

    I have never posted to this site, but have found it helpful in the past with several issues.

    Recently, my van has just made a "click, click" sound when attempting start. After a few clicks it eventually starts. More noticeable in the morning when cold.

    Any advice?


    click, click, clicker
  • If you have the original battery I would start testing there.
  • Thank you for the insight. I will have it tested, although it is a die hard purchased in 2004.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Maybe the starter?
  • I had a car that was doing that. A few weeks later the starter solenoid went out :mad:
  • petras2petras2 Posts: 104
    the overhead display on my 96 initially started flashing illegible symbols for a few weeks and then quit altogether, nothing is displayed, anyone experience this problem? thanks
  • i have been given a 1987 caravan with 150k on it. the timing belt was shot. i replaced the belt, tensioner, water pump, valve seals, sepentine, and ac belts. car would start and run for 20 seconds and quit. have replaced the tank fuel pump, fuel filter, distributor, fuel relay and shut down relay. no change. put a snap on computer on it and the only code was a " 26 fuel injector driver ".
    don't know what that means but am leaning toward the ecm. any suggestion and am i on the right path
  • While it is at the dealer, i would recommend that they also flush the transmission, replace the filter and refill with ATF+4. Normally I would just recommend a pan drop and refill, but unless the "overhaul" was done at the dealer, you don't know what kind of fluid is in there now.
  • good4ugood4u Posts: 18
    Our 1997 Plymouth Voyager SE is currently sitting outside a county building in a parking lot. Why? Because it died and wouldn't restart. Thank God our 2000 Hyundai Accent and 1998 Mitsubishi Mirage will get us through the weekend.
    It started when the tranny blew @ 60K. We're still waiting for the next one to blow. We know someone who has replaced 6 transmissions in their Dodge Caravan! Engine blew @ 70,000 miles. Clock spring/horn @ 85K. Seat belts were recalled (isn't that reassuring?), and we've had to replace 4 air conditioning compressors in 3 years, each $1500. Most of them were covered by warranty, though. If we would have known this van was going to give us so many problems, we wouldn't have bought it. Since we put so much money into it, it's not worth trading in/selling because we would only get $2400-$2800 due to the 113K we've put on it. We bought it from a LARGE dealership in town in March of 1998. Not one of those crappy, small dealership. I'm saying we paid $25,000. Yeah, that's right. $500/month for 60 months. We paid it off in 2003. Most of the problems happened before we paid it off.
    Don't let any "good" quotes on the Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country/Plymouth Voyager fool you. Japanese vans such as Honda and Toyota can last 5-10 years longer, or more. You get more for your money with less mechanical problems. Pay the extra $$$$ for a foreign car, and I'll tell you why. Japan and Korea put an extra $400 part in their cars that reduces shaking and rattling and increases the life span. No joke. American car manufacturers know it, but this part is a tricky part to put in, so they won't do it. God forbid they pay their employees another buck to help a consumer.
    That's why Ford is laying off 30,000 workers, and Toyota is hiring another 10,000.
    Oh yeah, we have a 1989 Plymouth Acclaim sitting in our driveway right now with 100K. It needs a tranny. We put $500 into it 3 years ago. Brand new tires, too. Then the tranny blew. That's when we got our 2000 Hyundai Accent. It had 45K on it when we bought it for $4500 in May of 2004. Now it has 70K.... not a single problem. 35MPG, too! Our Mitsubishi Mirage has 107K, and we bought it from the same private dealership as the Hyundai. $2500 in Sept. '05, no problems yet. That's driven 85% highway, too.

    Our Voyager's "service engine soon" light has come on a few times, and the mechanic said it was nothing.
    So now it's sitting there, all alone, in the dark, because it can't start. It's unreliable, and it can act fine one MINUTE, and then DIE the next! That's what happened to us. We found ourselves coasting down a hill, when the spedometer read 40MPH. We were only going 25. It's not a battery issue. It tries to start, but we just can't get it to run.
    I think it has a cult. As do all other Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth vans. If you're looking into buying one, don't waste your money or time. Don't let the good safety ratings fool you, either.
    Our brakes went out @ 14,000 miles.... just after we bought it. I mean, not the "squeaky" noise. They were full-blown SHOT. Did the same thing @ 55K. We've had the roders replaced 6 times!
    Another thing, the dome lights always flicker and go out. They've done that for about 4 years now. Not convienent in the dark.
    It's not easy to just go out and buy a new vehicle ...... nor in the budget.
    Save up for a foreign one, though. You'll be a million times happier you did it!
  • good4ugood4u Posts: 18
    I just posted a big message(read above), but we're not sure why our 1997 Plymouth Voyager SE just died and wouldn't restart. It acts like it wants to, we crank it, but it just won't turn over. It's -5 degrees outside, could that be a factor? We garage it at night, but could it be something with the fuel line, or is it a starter or ignition problem? Please reply or e-mail me if you have any suggestions.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    You make lots of accusations and claims in your post; however, as I read it you must blowing off steam because there is very little substance behind the things you've said.

    Like/believe it or don't, the DC MiniVans are some of the most reliable on the road (assuming proper maintenance of course), and for every disaster story such as yours there are many, many stories like mine (1998 DGC, 107K miles and $200 in unscheduled maintenance).

    Relative to a couple of your points:

    The transmissions... There is a huge base of both scientific and anecdotal evidence that suggests that unless you've made absolutely sure that the proper transmission fluid was used, your transmission is highly likely to fail. Why? Because folks like Jiffy Lube (and other quickie maintenance places) insist on putting transmission fluid in that is not up to the Mopar spec. Put that stuff in, your transmission is a goner, period, full stop, the end.

    The A/C... In the mid 1990s the car manufacturer of the world converted to non-CFC based refrigerant, and that caused lots of problems, not just for Chrysler I might add. Once the manufacturers figured out how to keep that stuff inside the system, problems solved. My 1998 has its original A/C system still fully intact and operational. It's never been touched, even for a recharge.

    The fact is that after experiencing the extreme reliability of our 1998, we wouldn't even take a serious look at the foreign offerings (what with all of their transmission problems -Honda and Toyota-, engine sludging problems -Toyota- and crummy gas mileage -Hyundai-) when we were shopping for another van in 2003. Yup, you guessed it, we got another DGC, and after nearly 60,000 miles its been just as reliable as our 1998.

    As for being "a million times happier", yup, we are. ;-) Sure glad we didn't get a Honda.

    Best Regards,
  • Hey Shipo, I also still have my 98 GC purchased new. It has 108k and has been nearly perfect. Several license plate bulbs replaced (can't figure that out) 2 fan relays are all I have done except for routine maintenance. I have the trans serviced by the dealer every 35k.
    I had the serp belt come off in the rain a few times after the dealer replaced it as part of a PM. The dealer performed a tsp dated back to 1999 for $235 which didn't help. I read somewhere that the mopar belts might be the problem, I replaced it with a Dayco and it hasn't come off since. My next one will be the Town and Country.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hmmm, interesting. I guess it's just dumb luck that I happened to replace my serpentine belt with a NAPA unit.

    Hmmm (again), 108,000 miles huh? Well I'm probably going to catch you in the next couple of weeks as I'm now putting about 500 miles per week on our 1998. Zoom, zoom! ;-)

    A fan relay? How did you know that you needed that part? What were the symptoms?

    The license plate bulb? That's really weird. Looked at another way, it's probably cheaper to just buy a supply of bulbs as opposed to spending the time/energy/money to figure out the source of the problem.

    Keep us posted. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • good4ugood4u Posts: 18
    I do respect your opinion, but I feel different about DC and Plymouth Voyager.
    We bought our Voyager with less than 1000 miles on it brand new. We've had it properly maintainenced every single year, but something new always is wrong with it. Everyone we know who has a DC or Plymouth Voyager doesn't like it due to the transmission problems, engine problems, and other miscellanious stuff. (Maybe that explains why they're cheaper than other vans)
    I don't know if you've ever owned a foreign car, but we have owned many, and we love them. They last longer, period.
    We owned our Toyota Tercel for 17 years before we bought the Plymouth Voyager. With 13 miles on it when bought, we put about another 240,000 on it. Not one problem. Sold it in 1999 for $425. It's still running today, no problems.
    And about Hyundai's gas mileage, yeah, ummm, our Accent gets 43 MPG, so I don't know what all that talk is about getting bad gas mileage.
    Our van gets 16 MPG, which is horrible. It only has less than 125K on it, which shouldn't give it that many problems.
    Chrysler is notorious for their transmission and engine problems.
    Looking into the mechanics' parking lots and used car lots, these vans are the ones sitting here.
    Once someone can persuade me Chrysler builds a reliable car, maybe then I'll think about reconsidering. Right now, with two Chrysler products broken at 100K and 121K, I think it's the manufacturer at fault, because we bring it in to the mechanic yearly to make sure everything is working right.
  • jim98jim98 Posts: 3
    Let me add to this string: I have had 3 Chrysler Minivans, 1992 Plymouth, 1996 Plymouth Rally and a 2001 Town and Country. Loved the 1992 and 1996. The 2001 T&C was at the dealer for several warranty issues. But that's OK, it wasn't costing me anything. However, after the warranty, had to replace the Air conditioning dryer, O rings and seals in the transmission at 69,000 miles, struts at 79,000 miles (this might be normal wear) but the biggest disappoint was the transmission imploding at 81,000 miles. And the worst thing::: Chrysler doesn't care! Called the Customer Assistance 800 number off their web site. Even though I have been a customer for 14 years, and probably would be in the future, they told me that sometimes this happens to the transmissions, and they are not willing to do anything for me. Sorry. Oh and there is no one else in Chrysler you can take your compliant to. End of Story. WIth that type of customer service, it's not a mystery why Americans are flocking to the Honda's and Toyota's for their minivans.
  • I agree, a transmission, properly cared for, should last over 100,000 miles. Of course DC won't do anything for you, at the 81,000 mile mark, since your vehicle came with a 3/36,000 warranty. I did receive assistence twice from DC when I owned a neon, once when I was barely out of warranty, the other time when the dealer charged me for a costly un-necessary repair. My 2001 Caravan has been very reliable. I know this dosn't help you, and I also know they lost another customer, and all your close friends that you will recommend against DC corporation.
  • Recommend you read Honda and Toyota issues and problem forums before going off on DCX vans. Comparatively speaking the DCX vans 2005 and 2006, have much less problems than Honda and Toyota. Only certain year Odysseys are covered by the trans repair to 100,000 miles Certainly NOT the 2006 models.
  • Hi I have a 2002 ES AWD with 95,000 miles on it. Recently we took a drive to Wisconsin, all highway miles and averaged 18.5 miles/gal. at 75mph. I used to get in the low twenties. Any ideas on what I can do to improve the mileage? I figure I will change the wires and spark plugs at 100k. It's had all its required maintenance. Thanks,
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "I figure I will change the wires and spark plugs at 100k. It's had all its required maintenance."

    While I'm not saying that's not your problem, I had the plugs and wires on our 1998 changed at 100K last October and if it made a difference in mileage, it wasn't by much.

    Were I in your shoes, I'd start by looking at my tires. Is there any excess wear? Are they up to pressure? How many miles on the tires and how much tread is left on them?

    Failing that, I'd start looking at things like the air filter to see how clean that is. What kind of shape is the exhaust system (i.e. is it dented anywhere that might restrict the flow).

    As a long shot, since you first bought your 2002, have the speed limits (or the average speeds driven) gone up in the areas that you drive?

    Other things to consider:
    - When you calculated your "Low twenties" for mileage, was that during the warmer months? If so the problem could simply be the reformulated winter gasoline.
    - IIRC, Wisconsin (and other surrounding states) uses an ethanol blend (which is detrimental to fuel economy) in their gasoline. The question here is, have you gotten "Low twenties" while driving in the midwest?
    - What were the weather conditions on this last trip? Last summer I drove from southern New Hampshire (the Boston area) to northern Illinois (the Chicago area), and normally an east-to-west trip gets pretty crummy mileage due to the "Prevailing Westerlies". On that trip I managed almost 24 mpg in our 1998 at about 75 mph. Not too shabby, however, on the return trip, where I would normally have noticed a small uptick in economy, I only got about 21 mpg due to very windy conditions.

    Best Regards,
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I completelty understand that once you have problems with a certain make of car, you tend to be sour on that brand. But, bottom line is that you own/owned a 1997 almost 10 yeal old car. Do you really think that a 2005/2006 car can be reliably compared to a 1997???? True, back in the mid 90's (and into the early 2000's) Chrysler had probelms with transmissions. But, from the evidence I have seen, great strides have been made in the reliability of DaimlerChrysler Minivans.

    It does sound like you had issues with your van and I am sorry for that, but at some point it should be time to bury the hatchet.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    "WIth that type of customer service, it's not a mystery why Americans are flocking to the Honda's and Toyota's for their minivans. "

    Just wondering if you know who sold more minivans last year than any other manufacturer and who's sales have increased year over year?
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