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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    hersbird says: I still stand by that a car without the interlock is not and unsafe product, but that it is an unsafe practice to leave a car idle with out somebody in the drivers seat. Maybe they should put an interlock in that senses the driver's weight in the seat and shuts off the motor when they try to leave
    May not be as dumb as it sounds. They already did that with gas lawnmowers so to speak. When you let go of the handles it either quits or goes into a neutral so the blade quits spinning to say the hands of the stupid jerks who want to put there hands in harms way. If it wasn't for shift interlocks you wouldn't be far off.
  • monaco2monaco2 Posts: 7
    DaimlerChrysler finally installed the Brake Shift Interlock because they were getting sued and, more importantly, their minivans were perceived in the marketplace as not being safe for kids. Kids, both inside and outside the vans were getting injured, and they saw it as a losing cause to make the argument that it is the parents responsibility, etc., especially when all the other manufacturers had Interlocks installed. They were getting nailed in lawsuits because it was easily shown that these incidents were Foreseeable Events.

    By the way, the ignition key only has to be in the On-position to shift out of Park, the engine does not have to be running. Some of the older kids (3-4 years), are turning the key from Off to the On-Position, and some of them, wanting to imitate their parents, will get the key, insert it, and turn it on. But roll aways can't happen if the brake pedal has to be applied.
    (If they can handle a computer mouse, they can turn a key)

    Also, it was the 1970-1980 Ford, Lincoln, Mercury vehicles that were in a huge safety recall because the Park gear was not properly engaged, even though it appeared to be in Park. We have worked on Audis for many years, they never had that problem.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I was stationing in Alameda and out for a cruise with some buddies when I stopped to use a payphone to call my wife who still lived back in Washington. My buddies were in the store buying something when I see this maybe 67 Galaxie backing up toward me. The drivers door is hanging open and the dome light is on but nobody is inside! It's running coming down a slight hill and curving right at me. I in mid conversation told my wife to "hold on a second" The car proceeds to drive right over the pole the phone is on and push it back a good 5 feet. The whole thing is laying on the ground, under the ford, wires all tight as a drum. I pick up the phone and ask my wife, "still there?" She is and we continue our conversation. My buddies see most of this and just bust up. Then this 17 YO kid comes running up, It was his dad's "baby" and he was nervous. The pole didn't do much more then a crease in the bumper but that door hanging open caught something and bent it backward. He must have been just as worried about paying for the phone, cause he proceeded to take off. I finished my call and had a good laugh. Later my wife and I moved to within 2 blocks of that phone in Novato, so I always got a funny memory of that phone call! I had completely forgot about it until this topic came up, so thanks to you all here as well.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    My lawn mower does have that interlock and it ticks me off sometimes too. At least you can set the parking brake and get off and it will continue to idle as long as the blades are not engaged. Its more when I'm plowing with it and need to lean forward in the seat, as soon as my weight comes off, it starts to die, so then I have to take my hand off the wheel and hold the seat down while I adjust the blade. Oh well, if I run over rover while doing this I'm suing Craftsman anyway!
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    Our 97 Dodge GC LE (bought it new) has been a decent van. It has 103K miles, and No transmission problem. Changed fluid at 50, 75, and 100K at Dodge dealer. We pull a 2800 ibs pop up camper three times a year. On uphill drives, I slow down to 55-60 mph. Its room,layout, ride and comfort on the highway is very satisfactory. Without pulling camper it still gets 22-23 mpg. Just changed the plugs for the first time.

    As much horror stories I hear about Chrysler vans, I still like them. You don't get your money back as much as you will do with Honda Oddessy in 2-3 years if you decide to sell, but if you keep the van for 10 years, it does not matter what you drive. At that point, it comes to which one is better taken care of.
  • randyw4randyw4 Posts: 2
    While this may not be appropriate to this discussion group, you all seem to have better answers than the others. Maybe someone can help? I'm trying to install an aftermarket alarm system in my '94 Dodge GC. Is there a "main connector" in the wiring harness where I might be able to access all the important connections, like +12 volts, door locks, lights, etc? How might I obtain the appropriate color codes for the wires that I need to access? Thank you for any and all help, and have a GREAT Summer!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Randy: This does not sound like an easy project so I presume you have considered professional help. Also alternatives such as a Club or an ignition bypass. The wiring diagrams are illustrated in a Haynes manual 84-95 Dodge Caravan, however, they are not easy to figure out. On the other hand, you'll get a lot of other easier to use information such as changing brake pads, tune up data, etc. Good luck
  • genlegenle Posts: 1
    Lazy people who don't bother setting the parking brake, even on hills, are asking for a busted shift lockout. This means that there is nothing physically in the way of having the shifter slip from park to reverse, regardless of brake pedal or ignition key position.

    At least I thought it was because they were lazy. Turns out some GM cars (to my knowledge, Buick) designed the foot brake so easy to set and release with a push (maybe for those arthritic knees?) that seriously half the time it's push to set-release. In other words, surprise, you think you set the brake -- it felt & sounded like you did -- but it follows your foot right back up, and it's not set.

    I conjecture that some people will conclude something like: "if they intended to have the brake set all the time, the thing wouldn't do that," and a habit is born. They don't realize that a five dollar tab of metal is all that is between them and suddenly rolling into traffic.

    Talk about having a "DUH" moment.
  • randyw4randyw4 Posts: 2
    Thanks, royallen for the advice. The problem I'm facing is that I want to protect the CONTENTS of the van, and discourage people from even THINKING they might want to break-in. Although I'm reasonably good with automotive electrics, the prospect of accidently setting-off the airbags is enough to make me think twice. Professional help, either for me or the van, doesn't sound like a half-bad idea!
  • real123real123 Posts: 20
    My 98 GV has 53k and makes a kind of growling noise with a slight lurch when I am stopped at a light with my foot on the brake. It does not make this noise while driving or while in park. I'm guessing it has something to do with the amount of fuel getting to the engine, perhaps due to a clogged fuel filter(which has never been changed). I filled up with premium gas and added a cleaner in the gas tank and the problem went away temporarily. On the next tank of regular gas it came back. Is my van simply finicky for expensive gas? Any ideas?
  • toronado455toronado455 Posts: 83
    I've noticed in all the 2002 Chrysler minivans I've driven that when you come to a stop the transmission hiccups like as if you were driving a stick and forgot to step on the clutch until the very last second before you stopped. There is this feeling like the torque converter clutch or whatever is not letting go and then releasing at the last minute with a bump.
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380
    the infamous bump/stop sensation is common to all fwd chrysler electronic automatics. it is simply the tranny downshifting to first gear. i've encountered the same "feeling" on fwd gm cars i've is normal.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    This is our 4th Chrysler van and I've never felt it, maybe I drive differently. Our newest is a 2000 model with AWD so maybe something is different, but it would seem like the torque converter is maintaining it's lockup too long instead of slipping as it's supposed to when you come to a stop.
  • toronado455toronado455 Posts: 83

    What I'm describing happens only in the last few feet before the car comes to a stop. Would the tranny actually be shifting into 1st at that time? It seems more like a design flaw in the torque converter that it's not releasing when it should. The two SWB vans I've driven had only a slight version of this sensation. But the one LWB I drove had a really pronounced jerk that you could feel. It was really annoying.
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380
    all 41te (minivan trannies) and 42le (intrepid, concorde) trannies do this. for some reason it is more noticeable on some cars vs others. for instance it was quite noticeable on my '96 intrepid but not nearly as noticeable on my '00 intrepid. my dad's '96 town and country does the bump/shift thing but it's fairly muted. i just rented an '02 stratus (41te tranny) and it was quite noticeable. it has something to do with the downshift to first gear along with the some sort of overrunning clutch in the tranny. if there are any tranny techs out there they can explain it better, please feel free to jump in. but it is a normal sensation with chrysler fwd "electronic" automatics. in vehicles that display excessive bump/shift, having the dealership reprogram the tranny can help.
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380
    btw, it has nothing to do with the torque converter. if the tc clutch weren't unlocking properly the vehicle's engine would stall at such low speeds.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    Supposedly the new "bulletproof" Allision transmission does it bad too in the HD Chevy trucks. I still think since not all do it, it is not something that is supposed to happen. If it's under warranty then it can't hurt to complain. If it fails later out of warranty then you can try and pin it on them.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    I have a '95 Caravan which comes to a smooth stop and I can not tell when the transmission shifts from 2nd to 1st. It is also obvious the torque converter is not locked because when cruising at 30 mph at an rpm of about 2000, when I let up on the gas, the rpm declines smoothly to 1000 while I'm barely below 30 mph.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    My '99 GCS is nearly due for its 3-year servicing. I will bring it in before the anniversary date to make sure any problems are still covered under warranty. One problem the van has is that the steering column/wheel will rattle when I go over a bump of almost any size. I can actually wiggle the steering wheel a bit. What might cause this kind of problem? Could it be something as simple as a loose mounting nut? Other than the rattle, there's no other symptom. The van has been almost trouble-free otherwise, with only one part failure (an engine sensor) and one fix (replace side door tracks to eliminate a rattle in cold weather). Also, there was the fuel rail recall, for which I just got the notice. But my dealer took care of it early, during an oil change a few months ago.
  • tomtomtomtomtomtom Posts: 491
    I have the plastic tapping/ cracking kind of noise from my 2001 T&C steering wheel column. I mentioned it to the dealer while doing that AC reprogramming recall. And of course, the noise was not there when the service people doing the test drive.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    There is a TSB out for this and involves placement of insulating tape to prevent the clockspring assembly from rattling.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    Thanks! I'll make sure my service advisor is aware of the TSB.
  • jmklwckjmklwck Posts: 2
    Well the fact is I have just dealt with my last Chrysler/Dodge/Daimler product. It is amazing how much I can read online and feel a togetherness (betrayal) like so many other Chrysler T&C Van owners. I bought a 96 T&C and have experienced the same problems as most other owners: Transmission failure, brake wear, O2 sensor, water pump, even the crazy issue with intermittent wiper. This is not a fluke; instead it is a KNOWN problem that Chrysler only recognizes when you have your lawyers call them. Edmunds sums it up...Chrysler will never be able to bolt in reliability and quality. I know that those folks that build these vehicles feel compelled to support their company. Most likely the problem isn't you all but downright poor engineering. You can't argue with my feelings so please don't try. The bottom line is that reliability isn't high on DC's list. It was the best driving van, however, it's hard to drive in the shop. If Chrysler wants my business and others, then they need to fess up and send me acknowledgment of this inherent problem and 1/2 the costs of the repairs..
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    If Chrysler wants my business and others, then they need to fess up and send me acknowledgment of this inherent problem and 1/2 the costs of the repairs..
    Good luck, just don't hold your breath. They burned me twice. Will never get the third chance.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    You right, you can't do that. Unfortunately facts are better to argue, and not personal experiences. Any researching firms that check into actual repair records and bounce that off the number (millions) of these vans on the road and it ends up being no worse then average. The problem is in that Chrysler was the only van with some power, driving a large van, through the front tires with an OD automatic transmission. When you compare apples to apples you see the same problems with all the makes, including specifically the new Honda. Which makes the transmission failure rate average. A lot of the other problems are wear items, how can you say the brakes wear to quickly? If it's a problem buy a lifetime set from an aftermarket shop and be done with it (our pads have 38,000 miles on them and have tons of wear left, same goes for the tires.) I think you will find most in this forum is people looking to vent, not help others. You are then in good company here. Not many people come here (besides me) who don't have any problems (in 4 different DC vans), I guess thus the name "minivan problems"! For every one of your personal horror stories there are 10 love stories out there, unfortunately there is no "love your minivan" topic, and nobody but me to come out of the closet and post anyway!
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380
    my dad's '96 t&c has been a very good vehicle. no tranny o2 sensor problem. he did have the fuel pump replaced and a couple recalls were performed on the van. the front suspension is now clunking but apparently that is due to worn sway bar bushings (cheap fix). van now has 80k miles and still drives like new. and the brakes haven't been touched! but he does drive like an old man so that stat might not be too telling...

    all in all his experience has been good.
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    If all DC minivans are prone to early transmission failures, why are they still selling so much? And there are many repeat buyers, just go to your local Chrysler dealership and look at all of the used vans sitting on the lot that have been traded in on new ones.

    I can honestly say I were dmathews3 I would not buy another DC van after having problems with 2 previous ones if and only if it was a FACT Chrysler had not done anything to improve their product's quality and reliability. But that just isn't the case and dmathews knows it himself. Talk about putting down another product to make yourself feel better about what you have!

    We've had two Chrysler vans and no problems. I know some owners who have had problems and are driving something else now, like the Odyssey. But I know many more people who love their DC vans and would never trade it for anything else. Carelton has also owned two DC vans that have never had any transmission problems.

  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    Wow, you all are out there! Just wait, now the trolls will pick up on all the traffic here and be out in force... just give them a few more hours!
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    I don't care if they made the best vehicle on this planet, they got me twice, no way will they get the third chance.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Many buyers probably come back because their trans was replaced under the 7/70 warranty. We are low mileage drivers and probably won't exceed 70K in 10 years. Others are eternal optimists.

    I shopped for a new van earlier this year but decided to postpone purchase until DC puts safe (Gen 4) buckles on its seatbelts. Waiting for 03 model now. Then will compare DC and Honda again. Would be nice if DC offered an SE with quad seats like they used to so I could avoid some of the power options that add electrical gremlins.
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