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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • Just laid down $3100 for a very clean 98 Caravan (private), switched my insurance, drove it for 3 miles to test, and let my wife have it... when she called me to report a fire that required the rear right interior to be ripped out, as flames were coming out the speaker grill! :cry: No apparent previous damage, no aftermarket add-ons... just a short? Can speakers get that hot, and so what about the fusing system? Anybody got a gray front-ended wreck to scrap out?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Assuming that pressurizing the cooling system indicates an internal engine leak, they would then do a compression test. If the test shows low compression on two adjacent cylinders, that's a head gasket leak. If the compression check is ok, then that would indicate a cracked head.

    Hmmm, I'm thinking that there is a third possibility. I've wrenched on plenty of engines (in years gone by) that had neither a compression problem on any cylinders or a cracked head. The problem would instead turn out to be a failed head gasket between a coolant gallery and either the lifter valley (on "V" type engines) or an oil return drain, both of which will allow coolant to drain into the oil pan without a crack or a low cylinder.

    FWIW, while I haven't performed a compression test, I have no indication that there is a low cylinder (which doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't one). I suppose a cylinder leak down test and a borescope could help rule out a leak into a cylinder, however, having that diagnosis performed will cost at least half of the total cost of overhauling the top end of the engine.

    Best Regards,
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    I've also been thinking some more about it and you're right. Not saying this is the same but the GM 3.8L engines have had a terrible problem since 1996 with leaks from the intake manifold into the engine.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    why don't you run some block sealant. Maybe you have a really minor defect in the gasket in a non-critical area.

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  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Why don't you run some block sealant. Maybe you have a really minor defect in the gasket in a non-critical area.

    Back in my "Wrenching" days I saw too many plugged up heater cores from the various "stop leak" products. Of course I lived in San Diego in those days and so a plugged heater core was of little consequence. I now live in southern New Hampshire, and trust me, there are times when I need every calorie of heat I can get from the heater core (and I'm a guy who likes it cold).

    The course of action that I've embarked upon is to flush out my (new as of last month) Ethylene Glycol coolant and replace it with Amsoil Propylene Glycol (which is apparently far less toxic to bearings) sometime next week (whenever it gets here). I'm not a fan of Amsoil (or their marketing practices), however, if there is even a shred of truth to their claims of leak elimination, the Amsoil PG might just do the trick. If by November (when I'm expecting to do my next UOA) I'm still showing coolant leakage I'll decide whether to take a chance on a stop leak product or just fix the problem, regardless of whether it's a bad gasket or a warped or cracked head.

    I'll keep y'all posted. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • I have a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan. I was recently coming back from a trip when my wife noticed a humming noise coming from under the van. When we got home I jacked up the van, put it on jack stands, started the vehicle and found the source of the noise.

    I'm wondering if this noise is the fuel pump, or something else? And if it is the fuel pump (or something else) how difficult would it be to change the component. I consider myself handy with a wrench.
  • jasonmwcjasonmwc Posts: 6
    I have a 2006 GC SXT with 2200 miles on it. Recently I have noticed that there is a noise (almost like something rubbing) and a very slight vibration in the steering wheel when I turn. I was wondering if anybody else had noticed this. Thanks.
  • zlfanaticzlfanatic Posts: 18
    I have a 96 Caravan that the stock cassette radio keeps going in and out, sometimes it would work fine and then the next time I start it nothing. I have talked to other Dodge and Chrysler owners that had the same problem, they just replaced the head unit. Is there a repair for this? :cry:
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    I have a 2001, and received a recall notice about exactly what you are describing. It was something about condensation from the AC unit dripping into the radio (in the dash) causing rear speaker to catch fire!? I never took mine in, as I have installed an aftermarket radio/CD player. They said this recall was to install a shield on the radio.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    well that clogging comes from overkill...people add more than the recommended amounts, that's what causes the problem. Or they use shoddy products. We're talking filling up defects the size of a fingernail scratch, not plugging a hole.

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  • lengenelengene Posts: 1
    I have a 98 Plymonth Espresso. We have the same kind of trouble. We never know when it is going to happen. Whenever this happens, I start the car and it dies immediately. It will start 3 times and die. After the third time it will not even turn the engine over. It is sometimes 15 minutes or sometimes overnight before it will start. The previous owner had the same problem. It has been to a Chrysler dealer 2 or 3 time and a local mechanic without finding the cause.
    The last two times that it has happened I disconnected the battery, the first time for about 15 minutes and today about 45 minutes. After reconnecting the battery it started both times. I am still experiment what to do when this happens.
  • gino45gino45 Posts: 52
    I have a 2001 with the same problem. It was noticeable when turning the steering wheel with the vehicle parked. Also noticed it a low speeds when turning the steering wheel. Symptom was a shudder feel in the steering wheel and a rubbing noise. There is a TSB on this. I finally took it to the dealer and they replaced the power steering reservoir and a return hose. The original hose was only a few inches long. They replaced it with a length of rubber hose that's a foot long. They also replaced the power steering fluid with ATF4. The cause of the noise vibration is due to air being trapped in the steering rack. The longer hose is suppose to cure this. I've notice a decrease in the symptoms after the work was done, but still feel a bit of a shudder. The dealer mentioned it could take a while for all the air to purge itself out of the system. I'll report back after my next oil change if it turns out to cure the problem fully.
  • gino45gino45 Posts: 52
    Anyone know of any tips on how to change the PCV valve on a 2001 caravan with the 3.3L engine. I can't seem to get a wrench behind the rear valve cover to unscrew the valve.
  • i have a 01 grand caravan, when you go over bumps it has a very fast clunking noise up front, doesnt do it over smooth bumps or dips in the roadway though.I found a broken sway bar link so i replaced both links and sway bar bushings,and i actually think it might be worse? any suggestions or simmilar problems? thanks in advance
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    We had both outer tire rods replaced in april because of a clunking noise from up front when going over the bumps. That solved the problem.(We have an 01 DGC EX with over 77K)
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I brought my Wife's 2005 T&C into the dealer for an oil change and to have them look into a creaking noise under the car and a clicking ot ticking noise coming from the belts in the engine area.

    The dealer just called me back and said the spare was loose under the car which caused the creaking noise. They told me an edge of the belt in the engine is getting chewed up on one edge and tech needs to find out whats wrong with it. Does anyone have any info on these issues? Common to this van?

    These 2 new issues are on top of other issues we have run into in the past: Steering fluid resevoir swapped for new, new power steering lines installed. Rear buzzer (?) replaced when it quit working.

    All this in only 19,000+ miles.....making us a bit nervous. At least with our extended warranty, we get a free loaner. I'm drivng a Jeep Liberty Limited. We have gotten our money's worth from them providing loaners to us while its in the shop.....
  • jdvoigtjdvoigt Posts: 4
    Replaced the evaporator and drier due to hole in evaporator. A/C cooled fine for about 10 days, then was "cool" but not cold like it should be. Brought it back in, and they found a bad expansion valve. Replaced that, and again, it was cold for about 7-10 days, now barely cool. System was pressure checked and there appears to be no leaks. This has been going on for about 4 months now, and I don;t know what to do next. If anyone has any ideas what else it could be, please respond.
  • ecnirpecnirp Posts: 20
    2002 T&C EX - 51K miles.

    This morning I took the car out and had no problems. 6 hours later I go into the garage and the van will not start up. There was a little bit of light on the dash and then I lost it when I turned the key. Just the old clicking noise.

    Jump started the car and took it around the block. Lights on the dash were flickering on and off and the gauges were not stable. Then then the battery light came on so I parked the car.

    Do I need a new battery or could it be the alternator or something else? Is there an easy way to diagnose? Could a shop just hook something to the battery to determine the issue?

  • krgraykrgray Posts: 1
    I just purchased a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan ES and the strangest thing is happening , the left turn signal will not cancel under normal 90 degree turns. If I sit still and activate the signal light I can cancel it buy turning the steering wheel to the left slightly and the back to straight, however when in motion the signal will not normally cancel.

    Has anyone else experienced this problem and can offer some advice ?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,613
    System could be overcharged, causing condensor to freeze. Is it cold again in the morning and then slowly warms up during use?

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  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    It could be either one although my bet is on the battery. Any repair shop can run a diagnostic on the charging system to determine where the problem is. Assuming this is the original battery, to me you're living on borrowed time with it so if I were in this situation(which I was last winter with our 2001), I'd go ahead and replace it.
  • triciag74triciag74 Posts: 1
    Were you able to fix it yourself? I'm having the same problem with my 2004 Dodge Grand Caravan. The liftgate won't even lift or beep with the remote or interior button. I'm hoping I can fix this myself.

  • hayneldanhayneldan Posts: 657
    try changing fuse #32 (40 amp) in the power control module which is located under the hood on the drivers side. It is the black plastic box near the fender. The top comes off with 2 plastic clips and the inside of the cover shows fuse locations.
  • I am the second owner of this 98 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport and I love the vehicle. However, just recently I seem to be experiencing some electrical problems. I have over 80,000 miles on it and the electrical "shorts" (for lack of better terms) comes and goes. I can drive the vehicle for weeks and then all of a sudden the ABS light comes on and my whole dash display goes blank, the gas gauge reads E, the spedometer is on zero and the temp gauge is at zero too. The locks won't even engage in the vehicle. And then all of a sudden (without me doing anything at all) I will hear a buzzing sound coming from the door locks and everything goes back to working order. Also, two of my lights on the panel that has your heating/cooling settings (the a/c light and the recycled air light) begin to blink everytime you start the vehicle. It stops after a while and as soon as you shut the car off, and back on, it starts all over again. As of this morning my Air Bag light is on and my horn won't work now. Has anyone else had these kind of problems and how do I go about fixing them myself? Is this just a problem with a relay or fuses? I would appreciate any responses at all.... :cry:
  • got2knowgot2know Posts: 4
    I've been searching the forums for a while, and I'd like to get some opinions on the following problem:

    My 99 dodge caravan - 4cylinder had a problem over the weekend with the transmission slipping.

    We towed it into the dealer...the radiator had transmission fluid in it. Since then the dealer has told us the warranty company will replace the radiator, and pay for the transmission to get flushed out. My husband and I are also going to flush the engine, and since the a/c wasn't working they will also replace the evaporator.

    I would like to know, according to the dealer they feel flushing the transmission won't solve the problem....(they said that the torque converter is contaminated with anit-freeze).

    I'm sorry but I always thought that once the tranny would start acting up it would just be better to replace it not flush the system. Any input/suggestions would be appreciated. (our warranty is through interstate - the diamond package)

    Thanks for the help. :confuse:
  • shg1027shg1027 Posts: 2
    I was having the same problem. I changed the fuses and it continued to do it. Finally it quit working and didn't come back on. I had a diagnostic test run. It was my instrument cluster. I found one at a salvage yard in Illinois on line for $39.00. My van is a 1997 with 257,000 miles.
  • Thanks for the info...I will have someone check into that. I will also look online for a instrument cluster and see if that is something that I could replace myself. I take that you have not had any other problems since then?
  • my tansmission is stuck in second gear don't know what is causing it. what do i do? does anyone have any ideas?

  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    I think the dealer may be trolling for business. The reason the radiator had transmission fluid in it is because the transmission cooler that is located inside of the radiator was leaking. It leaked into the radiator because the pressure in the transmission is higher than the radiator, the exception being when everything is shut down and cooled off.
    As far as why the transmission was slipping, my guess is that it was low on fluid due to the leak. For the short time you experienced the problem, I doubt this will cause a long term problem. However, by all means, have them pressure flush the transmission to replace all of the fluid. If it is still slips, then you have a legitimate claim with the warranty company.
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