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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Thank you for the points you made. I'll have to check out the pressure question as I assumed the dipstick tube was essentially a vent, but that could be wrong. The 32 pitch or higher thread is also an excellent idea.
  • We just got rid of our 96 grand caravan le with only 69K miles. Three reasons: bad rotors $300, water pump pulley $350, broken bolt on the cylinder head $890. No more for me. I just bought a 99 taurus wagon le.
  • Our 1996 Dodge Caravan chirps every mile or so. I am thinking it might be a pulley somewhere or a belt. I know that there are not any birds in the engine. By the way, we just bought an extended warranty for the van from Allstate so we would feel good about it for the next couple of years. We have 78000 miles and 'assume' the trans will go soon. We thought about buying a new van but we like this one and taxes alone on the new van would exceed the cost of the warranty.
  • gmusic7gmusic7 Posts: 42
    re posted from the dodge/chrysler minivan topic

    1984 Cutlass Supreme: other than maintenance, it had no problems, original engine and tranny, 167,000 miles. car was rear-ended and was totalled.

    1978 Chevy Van: 170,000 other than maintenance, same tranny, same engine, we call it the ferrari because of it's poor gas mileage (no offesnse to ferrari owners), but it still runs well.

    1991 Chevy Camaro: 102,000 same as above, no problems.

    1997 Dodge Caravan (Base): Grinding brakes finally resolved with different brand brake shoes. frozen calipers, left and right sliding door locks malfunction, (why is the door totally inoperable if the power locks fail?), the popular wiper problem: they have a mind of their own. and now at 45,000, the tranny decides to fail.

    lack of maintenance? remember the previous cars listed at the top of this post? all GM...not that all GM cars are great either...but at least the ones listed above are/were going strong at over 100,000 miles and no problems.

    should've stayed with GM. gave chrysler a chance, they failed miserably. they're nice to look at, they're nice to sit in, but start putting on the mileage and prepare for something to go wrong. just from my experience. sorry if this is too long.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    By "eyeball" the transmission pan is very close to 1/16" thick in your example. It is also vented via the filler tube so there is no pressure to seal. Since it's not due for service until next summer, I will not have further follow-up until then. Thanks again for your advice.
  • ellb1ellb1 Posts: 1
    We would love to get some info on a class action suit against Daimler-Chrysler (Dodge)! We are the unhappy owners of a 96 DGC-LE, 93k miles 2 trannies, one fuel pump, numerous wiper motors, door locks, electric windows, broken driver's seat , everything plastic broken (since the car was about a month old),a broken steering belt, 3 batteries, and 2 radios later, and a car that dies any time the gas gauge is under 1/2 tank...and so much more. Aren;t these vans meant for driving? We figure the reason they are a low risk for theft...they read these too! We had an extended warranty...a lot of this stuff happened after the 75K. Help!
  • I bought a '99 base GC a year ago. It now has 15k miles and has had no problems. It was driven off the lot at the dealership and hasn't been back yet. The advice I have gleaned is to adhere to the "severe" service maintenance schedule. I plan to replace the fluid and the filter in the trans shortly. We bought this minivan based on our very good experience with a '90 Caravan with the 3.0L engine and the 3-speed transmission. It now has 105K miles. Aside from recommended replacement of the timing belt and the oxygen sensor at about 90K and normal items such as brake pads and shoes and one battery, I think the other repairs have been pretty reasonable. At ca. 95K I had the fuel pump and the engine computer replaced. I have a suspicion that the faulty computer may have hastened the demise of the fuel pump. These two items cost about $700. I must admit that I may have contributed to the computer problem when awhile back during an oil change, I spilled about half a quart of oil directly on top of the computer! The only problem I had early on was the gas-charged struts for the rear hatch had to be replaced.
    I have replaced the trans filter and the fluid on the '90 three times. Prior to the last change I was getting some shudder at 45 mph on hills. I finally adjusted the kick-down and the reverse at 95k for the first time. I have always used Dextron but I now know to use ATF+. After the adjustments and Pennzoil Dextron that said it would eliminate shudder, I have no shudder and the trans works great. I do all my own basic maintenance.
    My only problem with the '90 now is a minor oil leak that may be coming from the rear camshaft seal or the valve cover gasket.
    One final thought. In '90 the regular Caravan cost me about $16k new, with AC, the V6, and the auto being the only add-ons to the base price. The 1999 Grand Caravan with 3.3L, 4 speed, tilt, cruise, power locks, windows, etc, cost me $19.5k new. Given reliability comparable to that I have had on the '90, I'd say the '99 was a much better deal. Time will tell but so far I am happy with both our minivans and I feel we have gotten good value out of them.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    I would think a web search should answer your question. Also you might find help at the Center For Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy agency at
  • I have a 96 Grad Caravan I have had weird gremlins with the power windows each side has had to be fixed 3 times. I feel it was due to a power regulator burning the window regulators out. I mentioned this to my dealer and he told me I didn't know what I was talking about and replaced the units again.

    I explained the fact that the control panel occasionally lit up items like the low gas light even when I just filled the tank fifteen to twenty minutes prior and my windshield wipers would occasionally turn on by themselves.

    The dealer had in my opinion decided fixing the problem would not occur because the warranty did not give them enough money to diagnose a problem they could not repeat or have the talent to find.

    At 70,000 miles my Caravan started leaking fluids. My Dealer said that it was a leaky oil filter. Even after they changed the oil it still leaks the dealer says that happens after an oil change.

    I don't care for my dealer... I tryed another dealer but he indicated he did not want some other dodge dealers problems. I called Dodge and they got my dealer to fix the window yet again but I feel that since the warranty is up and so is my blood pressure I will dump this thing and not buy another Caravan again.
  • I am new to the town hall, but I have browsed thru most of the discussions for the vans. It seems that '96 and older DC vans have problems with transmissions, but so far the '97 and newer are much better (mine is fine at 43,000 miles).

    A few people (dog-something), find it hard to believe that anyone would buy a DC van knowing that there are transmission problems. Yet when they are told that the Honda site posts plenty of problems, they still are OK with buying a Honda.

    Use your own logic, or take it easy on DC.
  • jfd3rdjfd3rd Posts: 6
    The Way We Were?
    Great movie title but a scary direction for American car manufacturers. Being Dad to four and saddled with a minivan as a family mover, I chose the Candy Apple Red Dodge Caravan ES in 1996 sticker'ing at 29 large. Quite the looker for a mini-van. This was to replace the 87 Ford Aerostar which had served us relatively well with 85,000 on the clock, and we'd now make the move into front wheel drive van-land for snow conquering.
    Was that "Caravan" or "Aspen all over again". The first two stormy years of our relationship included three trips up town on the hook. For all the "1976 right reasons" brought to you at a 1996 price... Cooling fans in-op, Battery in-op, than the classic Water Pump at 42,000 miles 300 miles from home, and take note that these are only the tow truck assisted troubles with my three year old son enjoying the ride from high atop the tow truck cab with Billy-Bob and his home made lunch. Now the dealer goes for the full house reporting "dead spots" in my starter at just out of reach of the warranty period. This apparently a common occurrence. Being a spoiled Toyota owner my mind sees visions of unspoken customer service programs which soothe the troubled vehicle owner and foster a repeat consumer, but I was quickly shaken from my Toyota Land slumber by the cold God Bless American Auto manufacturer policy of "Maybe if more than 2% of the vehicles have problem". 2% of the Caravan, Town & Country, and Voyager market?? That's leave 49 states of customers who might return to the 35K, we'll get it right next time, counter. The service manager did see light at the end of the tunnel with policies now the Daimler headed up the Chrysler name..

    Current undocumented features:

    AIRBAG Light On always
    Wipers like to cycle 2 to 6 times when shut off
    CD Player Skips on high number tracks ( Second Unit )
    Leaking Transmission Fluid from Radiator lines
    Driver Side Sliding Door is rubbing Paint off external door jam

    Daimler Chrysler seems to think they are loosing market share due to the lack of GEE WIZ features like automatic sliding doors, Rear hatch opening obstacle sensors, and more powerful engines. I don't think so. I think it's the same engineering that went into the Aspens of yesteryear, which Lee Iacocca spoke of in his book.

    I would suggest not waiting for another model year for Chrysler to get it right. The types of problems most people have listed here are LOW TECH.
    Batteries ( Been Around a While )
    Cooling Fans ( Not exactly new )
    Water Pumps ( Already said it )
    CD Players ( My $250 Alpine works great in my
    Camry )

    Take your $20K - $35K and try a manufacturer who does the engineering before they embarrass themselves! - My $.02

    PS - Would LOVE TO HEAR FROM A CHRYSLER ENGINEER or Executive on this topic!!!
  • welcome to the club...
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    chrysler may not have the most reliable vans on the market, but they do have some of the best looking, driving, and feature-filled automobliles out there for a sub 40 grand price tag. I love my 98 Grand Caravan SE that we've put 50k miles on in less than 2 years. We havent had any leaks or problems, and the origional battery lasted to 45k before it went dead. Even if my tranny went out tomorrow, I would still buy another chrysler van. Neither the Honda, Toyota, or Mazda have the great feel that the Caravan gives u when driving at 70 mph with six kids in the car down the freeway. I know I look good and feel good in my Caravan, and that's why I love it!
  • Does anyone have Anti-lock brakes on their 1990-1993 Town & Coulntry/Caravan? ON my T&C, the brakes vibrate violently if you press the pedal down while in park or when driving. I took it to a dealer and they swore it's supposed to do that. I just wanted to hear if anyone else has this brake system but it does not do this. Thanks!
  • Define violently....ABS for that vintage vehicle will not pulse as quickly as they do today (the actuators keep getting better/ stronger/ faster....).

    However, ABS will not pulsate unless the vehicle is in park. If the dealer told you that this is normal, give him his sign!!!!
  • I said that backwards....

    ABS will not pulsate IF the vehicle is in park. Only if you are moving and 1 or more wheel is locking up.
  • The problem is that they vibrate even when you have it in park. All you have to do is press the pedal down and BZZZZZZZZ. I talked to the dealer again and I told him that if this was normal, wouldn't it e noted somewhere in the owners' manual since it's such a severe departure from what's normal? He said he feels it SHOULD be in there, but it's not. Get this: He called me again and said that he has a technical service bulletin that says it's supposed to vibrate even when not moving. Does ANYONE have a 1900-1993 chrysler minivan with ABS? ...and do the brakes vibtrate while in park? Thanks.
  • Go to another dealer. Brakes should not pulse unless you are in an ABS-stop.
  • Well, the dealer gave me the printout of the technical service bulletin. it says:
    After every 2 to 5 brake applications you MAY hear the ABS pump motor running. This will occur whether the brake applications were normal braking or anti-lock braking. The sound of the pump motor may be accompanied by a slight vibration in the brake pedal under light brake application. These characteristics indicate the ABS is recharging itself. THIS IS NORMAL OPERATION OF THE ABS.

    Isn't that weird??? Does anyone else have the vibration while you are in park like I do?
  • tony17112acst
    I have a 1989 Probe GT with ABS. Being an early application for ABS, I get that pump sound and sometimes feel it in the pedal whenever I start the car. I don't hear or feel anything like that in my '97 Town & Country. I wouldn't doubt if you get this on your '93.
    However, you described it as "violent". Again, I would need a definition of "violent". The pedal vibrating against your foot is not violent. If the whole van is shaking and you don't feel safe, that's violent!

    A brake rotor or drum is a hunk of iron exposed to the air without any corrosion protection...... that spells R-U-S-T. When it is damp, and you leave your car parked (even for a few hours or overnight), rust starts to form on the braking surfaces. When you drive the car again, it will take your brake pads a few applications to rub away this small layer of corrosion, which is why your problem goes away.
    This is normal.....don't worry about it.

  • With all the concern about transmission failures on the 4-speed electronic transmission, I am heeding the advice to change fluid and filter according to the severe service schedule. I do this stuff myself, it is cheap to do, and I enjoy the work. The other recommendation I've seen is to add an auxiliary transmission oil cooler to supplement the in-radiator cooler. So, I started out to buy one at the local parts store but I decided to take a look before I left to make my purchase. Lo and behold, my '99 base Grand Caravan with 3.3L HAS an oil cooler at the top of the radiator on the drivers side with dimensions of about 4 inches by 13 inches by 3/4 inch deep. It is a little smaller than the add-on coolers I've seen but then those are recommended for use with heavy towing. How many people out there have factory installed oil-to-air coolers? Maybe this is a recent modification DC has done to help improve transmission life. Take a look at your van and let me know what you find.
  • I have a 1997 dodge se caravan. On many trips ( no mountains - Bakersfield to Sacramento), my best gas mileage is barely 21. Although it is within their range ( advertised), I have always exceeded the expected ranges on all of my other new car purchases. I have the 3.3L engine. I know of 2 grand caravans ( 3.3L and 3.6L )that get over 27 mpg. My van runs rich as there is a lot of black soot at the tail pipe. The dealer says the vans all run rich. The oxygen sensor has been check and seems ok. The 2 vans mentioned do not run rich. Other wise the van's engine starts and runs well. On some trips I have babied it and still not much better. I heard that the caravans are known not to get good mpg. The japanese vans seem to do better. Is this the norm. My van has 24k miles, so it is broken in. Comments , any one .
  • ehlouie,

    I just traded my 97 GC ES with the 3.8L engine (I'm not familiar with the 3.6L). While I occasionally saw highway gas mileage in the mid-20's, I more typically got highway mileage in the 21 mpg range. I typically drove 70-80 mph, and was not shy about moving it along to pass in traffic. I'm sure that if I had kept to the speed limit and been more gentle in accelerating, I would have seen better gas mileage. People I know who claim to get significantly better mileage than I get drive at a slower pace. In comparing your GC to the Japanese vans, you should remember that your GC is bigger, and catches more air. The front and rear profile of a GC is smaller than a full size van, but not by a large margin. While you may get poorer mileage than the average GC, my experience says that you are within the "norm."
  • tony17112acst, your ABS brakes are normal, weird as it may be. I had a 1991 GC with ABS from 1991 to 1995. On a regular basis (especially first thing out of the garage in the morning), they would set up a "thumping" sound that continued for two or three seconds (as best I recall)and I would feel the vibration in the pedal. I always thought it was strange, but was told it was normal. I also experienced something similar during a test drive of another new van, so I do believe it was normal. And it was unique, because my subsequent vehicles with ABS did not do it (a 93 Concorde, 96 GC, 97 GC & 99 300M). The ABS unit did fail after the van was out of warranty, but Chrysler paid for the repair. And it thumped after the repair also. Don't worry about it.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Check topic 639 Post your Mileage here.
  • jcho4jcho4 Posts: 1
    I am considering buying a 1990 Dodge Caravan. Overall, it is in good mechanical shape...with one exception: The engine rocker arms are doing a lot of clicking. I've understood this to be "normal" as cars get up into this mileage range (150k). It is not burning oil but I am wondering what problem(s) may be lurking because of the noise and what could be done to elminate or reduce the noise. Engine oil is full and clean.
  • Those ABS brakes you had were likely the Bendix 10 system which had a high failure rate.
  • Hello there,

    I used to change the engine oil myself and want to change the transmission oil on my own also. I looked at the transmission fluid pan underneath of my 98 Dodge Caravan (Sport model), it seemed that I have to unscrew all the screws there and take out the whole pan cover, not like the pan for the engine oil tank. Is that correct? If that is the case, will that make dirt everywhere when the pan cover is losed? I appreciate if you can give some advise and instructions! Also, what transmission fluid should I use, Morpar from the dealer or other brand? Thanks a lot!
  • Changing the transmission fluid can be a messy job. You have to loosen all the pan bolts and then remove those to the rear of the pan. Place a container underneath the back of the pan and carefully break the seal. The fluid then comes gushing out hopefully streaming into the pan. That is the theory. Half of the transmission fluid normally ends up in my driveway. One word of caution, if the pan has never been removed before you will have a hard time breaking the seal which is RTV sealant. I had to carefully pry with a pry bar using a convenient thick aluminum casting on the transmission to loosen the pan. You have to replace the transmission filter and most aftermaket filters include a nice gasket to use that makes removal of the pan much easier next time.
    Use ATF+ fluid only. I have used Quaker State as it is cheaper than the Mopar and meets the same specifications. When you refill, start with 4 qts for the 4-speed transmission and then add additional fluid in small quantities so that you do not overfill. My change took about 4.5 qts. Best of luck.
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