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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • It sounds like you have warped rotors and putting new pads on accentuated the problem. One time I knew I had warped rotors and I needed new pads so I got the new pads and had the rotors turned. On one of the rotors they were not able to fully remove the warpage while keeping rotor thickness within specifications but I figured that since they got most of it I would be okay to put the rotor back on. Bad idea! Even with most of the warpage removed, the new pads accentuated the problem to the point that it was many times worse than before the repair. Needless to say I replaced that rotor and I now replace rotors whenever they feel warped. They just don't put enough material in them to do more than remove minor grooves.
  • I cannot believe that Mavis claims not to bleed brakes after installing new calipers. Brake systems should be bled anytime the system is opened. I have heard all sorts of techniques to help avoid air infiltration when putting in new parts but most are questionable at best. I always bleed the brake system in situations like this and a shop like Mavis can do it a lot faster than I can.
  • indeptindept Posts: 12
    I agree with steeleng, anytime you open the hydraulic system you MUST bleed the the system. If Mavis is telling you that then that can only mean 1 thing, YOU SHOULDN"T BE GOING TO MAVIS, THEY"RE IDIOTS WITH TOOLS!!!!!. And as far as the breaks smoking, either something is getting on them to cause smoke or one of the new calipers is seizing up. If mavis keeps handing you the same crap, go to another mechanic, get them to check it, document everything Mavis messed up or forgot to do & go after them. Hopefully you put the bill on a credit card so you can argue the bill instead of trying to get mavis to refund you.
  • Hmmm, I must admit I feel a bit odd asking someone to turn my rotors - or worse yet paying for new ones - when there was absolutely nothing wrong w/them to begin with. Essentially all I did by putting new pads on was decrease the space between the pad and the rotor - right? I don't see how that could magnify anything...but then again I'm not a mechanic.

    I did notice that the new brake pads had noticeable wavy ridges on them. Almost like something imprinted on them from the casting or mold. But I'm assuming this is standard on most pads and it wears off quickly? And if that's the case I'm assuming (again) that millions of people who get their brakes replaced aren't driving around for the first several months with shaky wheels.

    Any other thoughts from the peanut gallery?

    Thanks in advance,
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    I'm not a wrench turner either, but it's a pretty common practice to either turn or replace the rotors when you replace the pads (depending on how many miles have elapsed between pad changes I suppose).

    Some people with known warped rotors will go ahead and put new brake pads on their car figuring the new pads will wear in to match the warp. I think these people plan to sell their cars in a month or two too :-)

    Do a search on "brake" in the box on the left sidebar if you want to read the other brake discussions while waiting for responses from folks who are mechanics (many are archived but may help anyway).

    That's my .02 peanuts.

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  • pmaceypmacey Posts: 33
    Mavis has the van, the first thing they did was to bleed the brake system (seems they are starting off ok)

    The called and said they are getting no pressure at air, no fluid, unless they pump the brakes for 10 minutes or something like that.

    (BTW, now they claim they do bleed the brakes when replacing calipers and that it doesn't show up as a charge because it is part of the service)

    They claim the fluid looks to be contaminated based on the fact that the ruber seal on the cap of the fluid container is swollen and the fluid is over filled (I didn't do it)

    When they bleed the brakes, fluid comes out right? Which has to go back in?

    Is it possible when they put the fluid in, it somehow got contaminated?

    What they are now doing (and they claim at no cost to me) is to swap in a 'test' master cylinder and see if they still have no pressure.

    Does this also involve using new brake fluid or adding more fluid?

    Surely if they think the existing fluid is bad, they shouldn't but it back in.

    Re: cost, they site $228 for a NEW master cylinder
    (seems high, probably more like $190) and $60 a hour for labor, with maybe 1 to 1 1/2 hours of labor, so we are talking $288 for a 1 hour job (not to mention fluid)

    At this point, pending the master cylinder swap and what they say, I have two issues:

    1)their first claim of not bleeding the brakes, and now they say they do, though it is not a line item charged on the invoice

    2)The possibility they contaminated the fluid if they did indeed bleed the brakes.

    I'm thinking of having them install the old cylinder back and take it someplace else. Thoughts on how or if I can do this without being charged anything for the diagnose/work already performed? (they did tell me swapping in a test MC would be no charge)

    BTW, local garage will do the same work for $270 (folks I trust). I only went back to Mavis thinking the problem would be covered under warranty from previous work.

  • indeptindept Posts: 12
    I've never heard of Mavis, I'm from the Phila Pa area, but they DO have to add fluid after a brake bleeding so
    Questions / comments:
    1. If the fluid is contaminated, why didn't they note the swollen master cylinder cap gasket when they did the initial work?
    2. If the contamination ruined the master cylinder, then the NEW calipers & the rear wheel cylinders / calipers (depending on whether you have rear disc or drum brakes) are damaged too since they have the same type rubber in them.
    3. The low pedal & smoking problem didn't happen until after these Einsteins worked on your van, so if no-one else added fluid, it MUST have been them.
    4. You said the brakes were smoking, how long after they gave it back did it do that?
    one of the characteristics of brake fluid is a very high boiling point so as the brakes get hot (very hot, if you ever touched the rotor just after driving for a while) the fluid doesn't boil to a vapor causing the same problem as air in the lines. If it swelled the lid seal on the master cylinder, it probably swelled the seal on the calipers or wheel cylinders causing them to seep fluid onto the brakes causing the smoke.
    5. Did the brakes fade down right after they initially did the first work or did it take a day or so?
    6. what was the original reason for taking it to them, faded pedal, brake squealing, or just general maintainance?

    It wouldn't take long for contaminated fluid to cause a problem, so if it wasn't them you would have had problems long before you initially went to them.
    Even if they seem to correct the problem, take it to your other mechanic & let him check the entire system. And yes, if they try to get you for a master cylinder, make them put your old one on & let the REAL mechanic do the work. Tell him everything they did & said and make sure he checks both front & rear brakes (all four wheels too not just 1 front & 1 back) for leaking or any other seepage.

    Print this out & show it to him, I'm sure he'll agree with my assessment. Good luck.
  • pmaceypmacey Posts: 33
    Mavis is a large Discount Tire store in the NY area, kind of like a Goodyear, PepBoys, UnderCare, Firestone, etc, type of shop.

    To answer your questions indept:

    1)If the fluid is contaminated, why didn't they note the swollen master cylinder cap gasket when they did the initial work?

    ***at first they claimed they didn't bleed the brakes, so they probably didn't look at the cap gasket, or did bleed the breaks and now realize they may have contaminated the brake fluid somehow

    2. If the contamination ruined the master cylinder, then the NEW calipers & the rear wheel cylinders / calipers (depending on whether you have rear disc or drum brakes) are damaged too since they have the same type rubber in them.

    ***We have rear drums and this is a point I will have to bring up with them. This morning they initally claimed the front calipers they installed are still good, but now I could have problems down the road

    3. The low pedal & smoking problem didn't happen until after these Einsteins worked on your van, so if no-one else added fluid, it MUST have been them

    ***I'd have to agree

    4. You said the brakes were smoking, how long after they gave it back did it do that?

    ***This is my wife's van but she thought it started to happen within 1 week after Mavis worked on it. I noticed it slightly the next day plus a burning smell, but Mavis said I should expect that...why?

    5. Did the brakes fade down right after they initially did the first work or did it take a day or so?

    ***My wife says within 1 week

    6. what was the original reason for taking it to them, faded pedal, brake squealing, or just general maintainance?

    ***Brake squealing. According to Mavis the calipers were shot and schorched the rotors

    I'm still waiting for Mavis to callback.

    Sounds like I should tell them to put the original Master Cylinder back on and do nothing else unless they want to do the work under warranty...if not, wonder how much they will try to charge me for this morning's diagnose and Master Cylinder swap?

    Will provide a update.

    Thanks for your help and advice.
  • pmaceypmacey Posts: 33
    First, indeed do mean MAVIS and not MIDAS.

    Bottom line, after talking to the Service Mgr and Store Owner, they agree about our point that the problem didn't start till after their first service. (and were quite amicable about the whole issue and dealing with me)

    The fix was replacing the Master Cylinder that had internal leaks. They still point to contaminated fluid as the most likely cause and possibly a pre-existing condition in the Master Cylinder that wasn't fully explored the first time when we had obvious brake pad/caliper/rotor issues.

    I stressed my opinion that they somehow contaminated the fluid when they bled the brakes on the first service (they did apolgize for the confusion re: them first saying they didn't bleed the brakes) and I was shown their 'opperation' and supplies involved on replacing brake fluid.

    We settled on a cost satisfactory to all parties, somwheres between warranty (free) and their cost for the Master Cylinder, no charge for the installation labor, bleeding/flushing the whole brake system, and fluid used.

    Front and rear brakes were checked out, all show no further problems.

    They have extended my warranty to the whole brake system should anything fail due to left over contaminated brake fluid or residue of same.

    At this point, I consider the matter closed

    Thanks for all your help guys!
  • arnejarnej Posts: 9
    our '94 gr. caravan with 3.8 engine has had intermittant hesitating/jerking at highway speeds for the last 6,000 miles. We've had spark plugs & wires replaced and had the mechanic hook up the van to the computer and can't seem to find the problem. It also seems to have problem starting at times, mostly when it's damp.Help please!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Aaron: It sounds like you are describing plug misfire. With new plugs and wires and no computer code, I'd guess a coil or distributor problem.
  • arnejarnej Posts: 9
    thanks for your advice about the hesitating/jerking!
    I'll let you know it that solved it once we get some $$ to get it looked at.
  • gizmoegizmoe Posts: 2
    I have a squeking/creaking noise coming from the rear passenger side of my van. It is there when I go over dips in the road or speed bumps. Also, the noise appears when it is cold outside in the morning. It's gone when it's hot in the afternoon.

    I do my own oil changes. Do I have to lube any suspension parts in the rear of the van when doing oil changes?
    Could it be the struts/shock absorber?

  • ntbtbtntbtbt Posts: 1
    My horn, cruise control, "air bag" idiot light, all come and go. They work for 1/2 a day, then don't work. When you unlock the driver's door, often the automatic door locks will start clicking back and forth, locking and unlocking. Also almost daily the alarm goes off when unlocking the driver's door with the key. Would someone please tell me what's going on?? Thanks!! This is a '96 Voyager with 79,000 miles.
  • pnh21pnh21 Posts: 10
    Try checking the condition of the battery, clean the battery posts and cables and be sure that they are making good contact. Do not rely on just looking at them. CAUTION, if you disconnect the battery and you have a radio that has a security code, be sure that you know what that code is. Also, your tranny may not run smoothly for a day or two as it will go into learning mode whenever the battery is disco'ed. I read on other forums that the electrical components will sometimes go crazy when the battery is ready to die.
  • fant16fant16 Posts: 6
    How difficult is replacing the PCV valve on a 98 GC with the 3.0 engine? Is the PCV valve under the fuel injection assembly? If so, can the PCV valve be replaced with out removing the fuel injection assembly?

    Thanks, in advance for all reponses.
  • pmaceypmacey Posts: 33
    I knew I should have turned the van in after the lease was up end of August! (see my other posts re: brake problems)

    We now have spotty heat or lack of hot air blowing out of the vents. All vents work, all positions work on the fan switch, we get plenty of air but it will start out warm to hot then fade to cool or cold. FWIW, the engine temp heats up normally.

    We have the SWB model with the 4-cyl engine, no rear outlets. Van now has about 48K miles on it.

    What are some common causes I can check into?

    Is this a common problem?

    Thanks in advance (again)...
  • I have a 1996 Grand Caravan ES (just bought used). After a rain, I have water on the carpets at the base of the drivers door, and the rear hatch, probably elsewhere too. Has anyone found and fixed this problem before? Thanks.
  • arnejarnej Posts: 9
    what kind of problems could you expect if your fuel pump on your Dodge GC is going bad? Could you experience intermittant hesitation while cruising at highway speeds?

    Thanks for any info you can provide!!!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Gene, The PCV valve should be on the valve cover not far from the oil filler cap. It will be about the diameter of a penny and 1 1/2" long with a rubber tube going to the air intake.

    Paul, With good air flow and normal engine temp, you have either a problem of loss of hot water flow in the heater core or air not coming through the core. I don't know this system 1st hand, but I think the air flow is cable controlled so I doubt it would change from warm to cold if the cable was malfunctioning. So I suspect a heater core that has poor hot water flow and quickly cools down.
  • Hey Michael - it's not the struts. Possibly the strut plates? I can't remember now what the dealership replaced for me (under warranty). Had the exact same problem in our 2000 Gr. Caravan Sport - FYI. Sorry I can't remember the exact name of what they replaced, I just remember I had suspected the struts as well and it wasn't it. Good luck!
  • I have a '00 T&C with a 3.8 liter. A month after I bought it brand new I had multiple minor complaints (window molding coming off, carpet on doors bubbling, radio died.) Then it got to be winter and I had a bad creaking noise from driver side has yet to fix it...goes away in summer. The Tranny cooler lines had to be replaced and NOW it burns a quart of oil b/w oil changes. I have always used Mobil 1 on every car I owned and never burned a quart of oil b/w changes (except that 67 chevy I owned.) The dealer tells me after doing a oil consumption test that it is normal to burn a quart of oil. I told him that is garbage but he told me the regional rep wont let him do anything else (like breaking down the engine---not something I want to see done anyways.) Anyone have a problem with the oil....that is my biggest concern...I have 3000 miles till the warranty is done and that is the next time they will check the oil consumption. HELP!!
  • We bought a 2001 dodge caravan sport. Chrysler vans are the most inspiring in design to me in terms of minivans and I love the layout, they're comfortable, roomy, have good cargo space and everything seems to be built pretty good and practical but they have numerous troubles. air bag and seatbelt lights turning on and off for no reason, different powered things going bad for no reason but I still see 89 model chryslers still being driven. They drive well and are overall good vans.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,905
    I own a '99 GCS with the 3.8L and it has never burned oil. I've never had to add oil in between changes (done every 3000-4000 miles). The van has almost 40,000 miles on it now.

    I've had creaking noises from both sliders in the winter (I live in Minnesota), although the passenger side was the worst. When I mentioned it two years ago, the service adjuster said that was a common problem and replaced the sliding mechanisms on both doors under warranty. That was two winters ago. There was a bit of a squeak from the passenger door last winter during the really cold weather, but not a big deal.

    Note: my dealer is one of those Dodge 5-star dealers. I don't know if that makes a difference, but they have always given me great service over my 11 years of Caravan ownership. I take my present van there for service even though I didn't buy it there.
  • mfahey1mfahey1 Posts: 419
    Over the years I have read a lot of articles about oil consumption and the consensus is that what the dealer told you was correct. Because of the tolerances involved in the manufacturing process, it is "normal" at times for an engine to burn a quart every 1000-1500 miles without there actually being anything wrong with it. This goes for all makes and models, regardless of country of origin. I certainly wouldn't be happy if I had a new car that burned this much oil but apparently, it happens.
    BTW, we have as a beater a 1988 GC that we bought new and now has 194,000 miles on it. It was a POS in its early years with about everything possible going wrong with it but the last few years it has actually done fairly well.
  • maw1982maw1982 Posts: 62
    I have finally figured out the lifespan of a DC van. It is around 60k. I just traded in my '99 GC ES AWD 55k because the following things needed attention and the total repair bill was going to be around $3k:

    brakes all around (all discs)
    shocks/strusts (creaked moaned and had more play then they should have)
    altrenator (new battery died twice for no reason)
    water pump
    various sensors (had dismal fuel economy and a tune-up did not do the trick)
    other various problems (blown speaker, carpet needed replacing, etc.)

    I got a brand new '02 ES MSRP 36.5k off the lot and with discounts, trade-in, and the top of the line extended b2b 7/70k warranty I was out the door for $24 plus TT.

    I would have loved to keep my '99 but the cost of keping the car on the road between the impending repairs and the fuel usage was more than the payment on this new one.

    I hope my '02 experience is much more pleasent than the two months that I owned my '99.
  • I know this is a petty problem but is the first on my 98 GC with 62k.The overhead light does not go on when you open the driver's door nor will the headlight warning chime even if the switch is properly positioned. Light will work when using the remote to unlock the doors or using inside switch.What do you think, impossibly expensive and not worth bothering with, or something that has an easy fix.I love the car and plan to buy another in another year or so.
  • Try the inside light thumbwheel switch, rotate to full off then on to the level you like.
  • twtoytwtoy Posts: 1
    Recently I had my A/C (condenser)disconnected electrically speaking rather than paying to have it fixed. Too many miles on this 96 Plymouth G-Voy van. The problem is that the belt still drives all auxiliary components including the condenser for the air. The condenser is now making a terrible racket. I am told eventually the condenser will seize-up and I'll burn my belt out. Then have to fix the air. Is there anyway to by-pass the non-functioning compressor? Or somehow dis-engage the pulley and shaft from driving the internal components of the compressor to avoid seizing up? What about adding oil/lubricants to the condenser? Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.
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