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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Question 573 asked whether the 2001 transaxle is the same one that has been used in past years. The answer is, yes, it is. Take that at face value; subsequent posts claimed that it's "similar" - it's not; it's the exact same model that's been used since 1992.

    Fluid specs have changed, firmware may have changed, and warranties have changed - but the unit itself is the same one that's been used since 1992.
  • cesarpcesarp Posts: 47
    a confession from a former AAMCO manager.

  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    scanner: Carpoint ratings imply the '94 and '95 CC vans are among the most reliable vehicles made - "minimal" problems in all categories. While my experience with a '95 has been in that category, both Consumer Reports reliability surveys and Edmunds reliability ratings indicate these vehicles are below average overall and CR shows above average transmission problems (survey of April '99 published April '00) at least through '98. CR shows for '94 Caravan/Voyager V-6 FWD >15% serious problems(same for GC/GV), average '94 vehicle 5.0-9.3% with serious problems.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    The connection between the AcuraRL - Honda Odyssey and the topic of this forum would be?
  • My '90 GV LE with 135K has gradually developed a noticeable front end "wobble". It is most noticeable when accelerating hard from a stop or if you completely lift off the accelerator at 70+mph. My dealer-who I have an excellent long-term relationship with and trust their judgment and honesty-immediately went to the front axles. Apparently, they have had a lot of experience replacing these parts in this generation DC van. The left side bearing boot had been torn open allowing grease out and dirt into a large ball bearing-end of discussion, replace it. They did the left side, drove it, still felt the wobble and called me for permission to do the right side, which I gave. When I went to pick it up, the SM asked me to test drive it first because they weren't really satisfied that they had solved the problem, and, sure enough, the wobble was bad as ever. Turns out, Mopar no longer makes these parts so they had to buy rebuilts from a local axle shop. This means guaranteed parts but not guaranteed labor like it would be if Chrysler was providing the parts. Total tab was $414 with $194 in labor. I ended up leaving it with them as I was not satisfied with the result v. expense. They will try to work something out with the axle shop this am. SM says the vehicle is safe, but doubts if they will ever be able to return it to "like new" without factory parts. I can live with this since this is now a third vehicle and can be limited to around town driving, but I'm obviously not satisfied. Anyone have other ideas on the problem? By the way, I have ruled out tires-they are new and were just rotated. Dealer has also checked motor mounts but thinks they are in good shape.
  • mark194mark194 Posts: 15
    I don't have any experience with an old van, but I do have experience with old cars. Just because the tires have been ruled out because they are new and just rotated doesn't rule them out completely (how about the wheels), how are the struts, tie rod ends, ball joints. Did you check the bushings on the sway bar? How about the wheel bearings (those are a nightmare to replace)? Don't feel bad about the left side axle, its the "why did you" on the right side. They should have been able to check a bad joint without replacing it,(thats one reason I do my own work).
  • dovey1dovey1 Posts: 13
    Does anyone know where the tether anchor bolts go on the 2000 Caravans? I want to put a child's safety seat on the capt chair behind the driver and must tether it. Of course the dealer doesn't know or even know what part # to order for the bolt. Thanks in advance.
  • Thanks for the comeback. My personal time/mechanical inclination is pretty much limited to oil and filter changes these days, so I personally haven't checked any of the things you mention. Other than the "wobble" under abrupt acceleration/deceleration, the thing drives pretty good i.e., straight and smooth. It seems like it comes through the frame into the body so something eminating from the primary drivetrain seems logical to me. I've had a sway bar bushing failure on another car recently and it was totally different from this.

    The SM acted like this was a common repair for ten year old Chrysler minivans so I am wondering if anyone else on this board has had it.
  • cesarpcesarp Posts: 47
    Our 88 GC never had any problems with CV joints and it had 170K when we gave it to family member. One option might be to pick a set of CV unit from the bone yard (from a good vehicle). Also, have the dealer check the engine/tranny alignment to the frame. Hope this helps.
  • We had to replace the front axles left and right on our 96 GC LE. It happened at about 83,000. They were replaced with rebuilt units. Funny thing was they were having trouble finding the right set the day I brought it in. So later that day, the shop called up saying it was ready. We picked it up to head home...and we drove about 2 miles. Then we slowed down for a dip in the road (sewer system in this part of So Cal is not very well developed since we dont get rain often)....BAM CLACK POW! The right axle fell off along with airborne bearings and grease all over the road. We pulled the van over to check and saw it was all over. We called Winston Tire store, so they sent the mechanic over and a tow truck. When they towed it back to the shop...they showed us the rebuilt right axle was a whole inch shorter than the original. Luckily, the shop replaced the axle with the right one and a day later everything worked fine. The mechanic who worked on our van looked like he was sh***ing bricks when saw it. It wasn't his fault, it was the parts warehouse fault. But anyways, we have never gotten so much good treatment ever from a repair shop since that incident. They rotate and balance all the tires on all our cars for free everytime we come in! Even if that incident never happened, we still would have brought our cars to that shop. Good people.
  • mark194mark194 Posts: 15
    Could it be something as simple as a lost wheel weight on one of the front wheels. Rotate the front to rear and see if the problem follows the tire. If not jack the vehicle up and support it under the control arm, start the engine and put it into drive (with your foot on the brake), slowly release the brake and check to see if that side wobbles, you may have to remove the tire to get a good look at it(wouldn't hurt if you had someone to assist). Do the same on the other side, it may surprise you as to what you may find. I've used the method successfully many times. I hope this helps.
  • What symptoms did your van have that led to axle replacement? Did it vibrate like I described?
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Of course DaimlerChrysler isn't the only automaker with problematic transmissions. It is, however, along with Ford, one of the two automakers with historically troublesome 4-speed automatics (GM stands alone among domestics with relatively trouble-free automatics across the line).

    If Honda is having troubles with automatics, the trouble is relatively recent and it's entirely possible.

    However, I know enough people who have had trouble with DaimlerChrysler 4-speeds as late as 97-98 - despite proper maintenance - that the problems have not entirely disappeared. Ours was older than that, but failed - despite meticulous maintenance - not just once, but twice.

    Our Toyota and Subarus have had no automatic transmission troubles at all - one Toyota, in fact, having gone almost 200,000 miles. Same maintenanace as the DaimlerChrysler unit, different outcome.

    Maybe they have finally fixed the problem in the last couple of years - in a couple of years, we'll have the reliabiltiy statistics to tell the story. If Daimler truly has extended the warranty to 5/60 on the newer units, that should be a sign of hope (since it shortened the 7/70 warranty to 3/36 a while ago, when it was faced with something on the order of $3 billion in warranty costs with the longer warranty).
  • at low speeds...accelerating from the stop, the wobble was very apparent. Then as you got up to would dissipate. But occassionally you would feel it. It was apparent at 70mph but not much. The wobble was mostly felt during accelerations. We checked the balance and the michelin MX4 Rainforces we had on them were pretty new. Gotit lifted on the rack and the mechanic ran it there it was...both front axles were wobbling. It's a good chance it could be your axles. Although our 90 Voyager SE w/275,000 miles never had to be changed...everything was original down to the engine and tranny. To be sure..get it on a rack and run it while its in the air and inspect the axles.

    As for Toyota, we have 3 in our driveway. IMHO, the best built cars in the world. Never had problems with any of them. The only chrysler vehicles we have had were 3 minivans. I feel confident that chrysler and the 41TE has been improved. Thats why we bought a 2000 and have a 100K Mile extended warranty just to be safe. =)
  • Thanks. Your symptoms were identical to mine. I picked mine up yesterday afternoon after replacement of both axles with rebuilts and it still has the wobble to some extent. My son (the regular driver) says it's better. It does ride very straight, smooth and quiet at any steady speed below 65. I had my dealer call the parts supplier back to tell them I was dissatisfied and see what they could work out. Best offer was another set of rebuilts at no charge and I pay another $140 in labor to repeat the swap with no guarantee that it would get any better. So, I took it home.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    I know how you feel about problem automatic transmissions. My dad got a 1950 Chevrolet with an anemic straight 6 cylinder engine connected to that engineering marvel called "Powerglide". I do not know how many times that "Powerglide" had to be overhauled when the reverse would no longer engage. GM had a history of very poorly designed automatic transmissions until they replaced "Powerglide" and "Dynaflow" with TurboHydramatic 400 in the mid-60's. GM later had those lower numbered TBH that were also poorly designed. On the other hand, those early Chrysler "Fluid-Drive"
    were quite un-impressive also..."all the slippage of an automatic with all the inconvenience of a clutch."
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Ironically enough, Chrysler used to be very good at designing transmissions. Its older Torqueflite models found their way into Rolls-Royces.
  • Fresh oil on the driveway under the newly replaced front axles.....
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    And I apologize to eneth if it leaves #601 hanging in the air.
    We do not normally keep vehicles past 4 or 5 years of age...Seems to cost about the same to drive new ones and let someone else worry about any repairs and inconvenience.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    See page 71 where the 3.3L V6 with 4-speed auto is rated the best of their test...and states the Voyager either tops every ranking or ties for top score. (They did NOT include stretched minivans of
    GM, DC, Windstar, or Odyssey).
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    No doubt they've smoothed out the performance issues; that's not the question. The question is, have they ironed out the durability issues - and given all the warnings about 15,000-mile fluid/filter changes (which other makes don't need), I think that answer is clear. Baby it and you might make 75,000 miles; use it normally (fluid every 30,000) and you won't.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    John P. got his '90 Grand Voyager with about 10,000 miles from his Baptist Preacher. Last time I saw him in 1996 before I retired, he had driven over 110,000 miles with no problems and no service
    other than lube, oil, and oil filter changes. He would drive it 1200 miles non-stop after work to visit his family in southern Illinois and praised the great comfort.
    Kurt J. never had the automatic transmission serviced on his '96 Grand Voyager he got as a used
    vehicle from an auto rental firm. Had 87,000 trouble free miles when he traded it in on a 2000 Grand Caravan LE.
    My sister got a used '86 Caravan at about 20,000 miles and sold it when it had about 170,000 problems. She says the third owners love it and are still driving it.
    Our daughter got a used '88 Voyager LE with over 80,000 miles on it and they never had any transmission problems. Unfortunately, a person illegally turned into and struck her van at the left front wheel...totalling her Voyager. She received no injuries but was
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    At least two people I know very well did not even have any service performed on Grand Voyagers 4-speed automatic transmissions.
    .....She received no injuries but was very upset
    that the insurance company would not pay to repair
    her beloved Voyager LE. She and her husband gave
    their '93 Mercury Sable to his parents and got a
    new 2000 Chevrolet Malibu when they could not get
    the '88 Voyager repaired. Would prefer a DC minivan but did not want larger car payments at this time. (Her husband drove a Honda Accord before getting his Mercury Sable).
  • I must be lucky we own a 1993 GC with 200,000 km with the ogrinal tranny. The scret regular oil changes every 5ooo km and change the tranny oil and filter every year ( about 30,000km). But watch out for the rear wiper motor replaced twice which means cutting off the wiper arm too, so $150 motor plus $20 wiper arm. also the front tie rods repaira are a killer.
  • has been great... had to replace the starter at 96k (miles). thats it... also have a 99 now..
    only complaint is the headlights..
    has anyone found a solution?..i do have fog lamps and they help...
  • The "service engine" light on my '97DC began appearing about 6 months ago, with about 25k, and right at the 36 month mark. It also became difficult to start when cold, as if the starter was freezing up. The dealer said the battery was dead. And with a new battery the Check engine light stopped coming on. They also changed the serp. belt and tensioner, and charged me $340. Well the check light is back, and the starter is sticking again. The same dealer now says it needs a new starter and another battery, but does not have an answer as to why, or where the problem is stemming from. Is there a possible call back on any systems in the 97dc that anyone may know about. This sounds like more than a starter problem to me. The van just turned 30k.
  • i remember many years ago.... was a pontiac station wagon..they replaced the battery, then the starter, then the alternator... turned out to be a short in the electric tailgate...
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    In 1979 our 1976 Nova would not start when it was 20 degrees below zero. Jump from dad's car would not turn it over. Jump from brother's new Sear's "Die-Hard' and it started like it was summer. Decided to get a new Firestone "Forever" battery before the next winter. It was dead a few months later. Went back to Firestone where I was told voltage regulator and alternator were defective. Left and went to Chevrolet dealer where it cost a few dollars to tighten alternator belts. I believe that Firestone store sabotaged my car...trying to rip me off selling me parts I did not need. Have not been back to Firestone for anything since summer 1979.
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