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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • tboner1965tboner1965 Posts: 647
    You told us about seven honda failures, but you failed to mention mileage age of vehicle etc.

    To be fair, we liked our DC mini-van, but were not confident in the vehicle beyond 30K miles.

    Just look at all of those solid black dot on CR's reliability ratings for the DC vans.

    Now compare the years the Odyssey has data for year for year and tell me which one has the better historical reliability.

    The CR recommendation IMHO is based on the across the board performance of the Honda and Toyota model lines.

    But you have yet to suggest credible rationale or even evidence that CR has any sort of bias.

    I wish you well with your DC van. We found ours a very comfortable ride, but it made me nervous concerning what would happen after the warranty expired.


  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    The exact data has been posted several times in direct response to inquiries.
    Sue B., my niece,had the 1988 Accord with transmission failure at about 60,000 miles when Accord was 7 or 8 years old. I have tried to get more exact data but she either does not know or does not want to tell. She got the Accord as she heard Japanese built cars were reliable and did not like her Chevette (a Japanese built car by Izuzu). Thus her trauma with the Accord.
    Natalie K. with 1988? Accord was the babysitter of 2 of our grandchildren. We picked the grandchildren up about 2 times each week. Natalie had spent $4000 on repairs (Engine or Trans...I do not recall as it was about 1 year ago). She was told the other component was failing and needed another $3000 in repairs. Her parents bought it new and gave it to her when they got a new, later model Accord.
    Judy W. is a friend who has a 1991 Accord EX and she said her Accord has had problems of all types especially electrical and she was the one who said "Do NOT buy a Honda".
    Omar S is my son-in-law who bought a used 1984 Honda Accord after the engine and transmission were both overhauled at about 150,000 miles. I do not know why both components failed and neither does he as he did not own it at time of failure.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
    ...this topic is not for discussing the validity of other publications...nor is it for discussing OTHER is strictly for discussing Dodge Caravan problems.

    Thank you!

    Vans host
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    carleton1: I think you missed a change in CR reliability ratings about 12 years ago. An open circle is NOT average. On page 77 of the April CR issue are "the average car" ratings with lots of red circles for '98 and '99 and several black half circles for '92. The '98 GC does have one rating below average with a red half where a red circle is average...Transmission. I would add that is on a survey completed in April '99 when these were under 2 years on the road.
  • subscriber, would someone who is describe CR definition of average?... i assume they take all similar vehicles of similar vintage and get an average from those reports. Also, how do they get their data?...I assume they make some sort of stratified phone survey among their subscribers.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Swampcollie: Here's what CR says
    On the 1999 Annual Questionnaire[a mail in form], readers were asked about "serious" problems that occurred between April 1998 and March 1999. We received responses covering more than 500,000 vehicles. ... The data used to create the charts are standardized to minimize differences due to varied mileage. On average, the 1999 modela included were 6 months old and had 3000 miles.
    Average is compared to all cars in the same model year.
    A red circle is for problem rates 0-1.99%
    red half circle = 2.0-5.0%
    open circle = 5.0-9.3%
    black half circle = 9.3-14.8%
    black circle = 0ver 14.8%
  • netflyernetflyer Posts: 1
    Just got out of my Dodge Grand Caravan, took a bath on it in a trade in, but I didn't have the heart to sell it privately. The van was nothing short of a piece of crap. 3 Transmissions before 10k miles, a broken speed sensor on the transmission at 20k miles. Burst transmission high pressure line at 30k miles. I owned the van for 14 months and it was in the garage for 2.5 months total. The lemon law in my state says you have to let the dealer try to fix the problem and as long as they are willing to keep fixing it you are stuck. This was my 2nd grand caravan, my first the transmission at least lasted for 60k miles. Why is dodge not getting the message? There transmissions are made of tissue paper. My brother in law works at a dodge part counter and he says they stock over 15 transmissions at any given time. I will never buy a dodge again, nor will anyone else in my family or circle of friends. Beware of Dodge Caravan's they are unreliable and will let you down every time.
  • carleton1, what Consumer Reports is saying is that Consumer Reports is rating vehicles from model year 1992 through model year 1999 on their reliability in the April 2000 issue. Vehicles don't have to have been available in *all* of those years in order to be rated. For example, how is it that they rate the 1999 Chrysler 300M when it wasn't available until the 1999 model year? Or the Dodge Avenger, which didn't exist until 1995? Or the Dodge Shadow, which died a merciful death in 1994?

    carleton1, you would look a lot less dull if you'd take the trouble to understand what CR does before you knock them. And, as tboner has asked many times now, why don't you tell us just why it is that kindly old Rhoda Karpatkin and her happy little CU family are out to get Chrysler?
  • I have owned two dc's, an 89 grand and a 96. both have had there faults. My 89 blew the head gaskets out twice(Dealer messed up the job) and my 96 blew up a transmission. I have read here about the transmission problems for years like mine. My transmission had the planetary gear explode. The problem i found out here is really not so much a design issue as a supplier issue ( this case was a bad cast which has been corrected). For all of some of the whining by the same people about reliability take a look at how many 100,000's of dc's are produced each year compared to each other manufactures. Throws a whole new spin on things don't it. And don't use one publication as your gospel of the vehicle. Get it from various sources including the manufature(NOT the dealership). They are willing to discuss it with you(I've done it). As far as alot of the problems I see here and experienced myself, I have found it is not the vehicle's fault so much as an incompetent dealer mechanic causing the follow on problems. I would actually consider buying another dc but this time shop for my dealer first. This will probably solve alot of reliability problems for many people.
  • Feel free to share with us reliability statistics from other sources, troublemaker.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    Has nothing better to do in life than to go troll in every DC forum to spew venom and hatred.
  • carlton1 i have seen that through out this forum. It is really sad too. as for references, Capecodder, re-read my letter. One, the manufacture themselves, Two alldata, Three the nhtsa (to name a few.(yes these also contain TSB's but this is a better indicator of reliability than one source.))I could go on but then i am doing somebody elses homework.I actually enjoy reading about other peoples problems and how they are solved because this is how a forum like this should work. I can deal with bashers, too bad they can't leave well enough alone. Just to clarify I NEVER said I had ready data available for your review, that data is just a click away. If you don't want to do that, then i am sorry for you. I look forward to future constructive comments on this site.
  • tboner1965tboner1965 Posts: 647
    post the links...


  • Anyone who reads these threads realizes that carleton1 is an Ody basher and I just come here to make sure he is behaving himself. DC has done such a good job bashing itself as a result of the quality of its vehicles throughout the 90s that no one else could possibly do them any further damage.

    Please show me, troublemaker, where any of these sources give percentages of problems reported by owners in statistically-significant random surveys. Do you really think manufacturers make failure percentages available to the general public? I don't think so.
  • you are looking for stats? do your homework. I am not a basher of any vehicle. I don't need to be. You all do fine on your own. I am just trying to get back to the useful information provided on this page before this whining about a publication. As far as the manufacture releasing numbers, your right, they don't. They WILL tell you about the problems they have seen with their vehicle and about present fixes if avail. at the time(They will do this, as I stated I have called). Percentages will never give you a whole picture. With math, you can usually make the numbers fit what you want. As far as what I SAID earlier, DON'T get hung up on a publication as your single source end all be all document. You have to locate other sources and compile data from various sources similar to some of the ones previously stated or your info will be incomplete at best. The link for alldata is or These are very extensive sites so it takes a little digging to get to what you want but they have alot of data. Also put in a search for various info like TSB's or automotive reliability, they might find something. Now, get back on track, I need to change the valve cover gaskets and sparkplugs on my 96 with the 3.0. the left bank is pretty straight forward but the right bank by the book needs considerable dissasemby to access like alternator and possibly intake. Does anyone have an easier way to accomplish this. thanx.
  • the bashers do not give their full names or email addresses in their profiles like the rest of us? Probably afraid of the DC swat team.
  • that post is bashing... no doubt about it. on my way to the ody files.
  • bozobearbozobear Posts: 4
    have sympathy for bashers of Caravans who paid more for a van with clunk, pieces flying off, low quality sound system, problem sliding doors, rear hatch dents easily, poor ride, steering that wanders, vibration in wheels, no pieces available to repair after an accident.
  • I don't "bash," I state facts.

    From 1992 through 1999 only two model-years of all Chrysler-built vehicles made the Consumer Reports list of reliable used cars. Chrysler "bashed" themselves, don't you think, by making vehicles of subpar quality for most of a decade? Why don't you guys just face up to reality and quit your unfounded rantings? By the way, I'm still waiting for you to ask carleton1 where he saw statistics supporting his allegation about the Odyssey being the "most trouble-prone minivan."
  • egawronegawron Posts: 9
    If you want data as to Dodge Caravan problems, that includes 1989 through 1998, see the following:

    There is a lot of good documented historical
    data. As more 1998, 1999 and 2000 get above 50,000 miles in mileage, they will also be included in the above data showing long term reliability problems. Chrysler has done little to nothing to help improve their proven history of long term unreliability. Every year since 1990 Chrysler has claimed increase commitment to reliability, but to date have done little if anything to achieve it. The more research done, the more obvious it becomes.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    I've reviewed the NTHSA site for a couple of vehicles I've owned and as a way to determine reliability, I found it as useful as counting posts on Edmunds town hall- Not very useful. For instance the '92 Camry I own must have had 50 reports about the hood struts not holding the hood up and hits or near misses on body parts from the head down. Mine quit also and with no low priced after-market replacement, I cut a $.50 piece of quarter round which holds it up quite well. If every one of these made loses its air charge, does that make the Camry unreliable, hardly. I also have had an AC leak which I think occurs in the middle of the coldest winter night so I can't find it. I saw no reference to any AC problems on on NTHSA on any vehicle. I guess these and a lot of other problems do not get logged there because it does not affect safety. So if you want to learn about improving safety, the NTHSA is helpful. If you seek reliability comparison information, in my opinion, this source ranks pretty low.
  • carleton1carleton1 Posts: 560
    No matter how diligent the naysayers are in their zeal to save people from the unreliable Chrysler vans, people keep buying them in ever- increasing numbers. Do Americans actually believe
    the experience of their many satisfied neighbors more than the few, outspoken self-appointed "save the world from Chrysler" fanatics?
  • carleton1, as Americans wise up to Chrysler's reliability problems.
  • I am sorry that a use to be useful site for problems and fixes has gone down the tubes. I guess I will just go to another site that as what is really suppose to be going on (ie i have this problem has anybody else had it...... yes i have and here is a fix.....) which is what this site seemed to be for. Unfortunatly it pretty much a waste of time due to all of the usless info (except those websites, those are also very good sites (when people will look at more than the first page that is)karen, maybe this site needs to be renamed. Not trying to be mean but other sites have very good chat rooms with alot of good info like this one once had but not anymore. Everyone else, have fun, I know your enjoying this. Me, i just want to tolk to a mechanic about my dc about routine maint. Sorry for wasting time. Signed Old Man.(aka troublemaker)
  • because history is not on your side. It's all a matter of percentages.
  • as I've demonstrated conclusively so many times. If carleton1 could control himself when he sees so many postings by DC owners describing their problems and refrain from his "Honda this" and "Honda that" nonsense there'd be no need for Ody owners to come here and read all these sad stories.

    I went through hundreds of postings on two threads where carleton1 was complaining about DC bashing by Ody owners and in both it was clearly demonstrable that the instigator in every case of so-called "bickering" was carleton1. Perhaps he's still unhappy his wife wouldn't let him have an Ody, and this manifests itself in his outbursts of temper. But I am pleased for his sake he has "dual zone climate control" to console himself. It's such a wonderful feature that Chrysler chooses not to offer it on any other vehicle.
  • I have had it... I also just want to trade info with other DC owners. Not, have to continually endure the professional bashers. I can only conclude that they are hired guns from other manufacturers. I can see no other motive for their rantings. They are destroying the purpose of this site. It has become a place just for stupid arguing (my vans better than your van). I will admit that I get baited into it in order to defend my choices. There is a lot of good info on the Edmunds site, but the Vans portion of Town Hall is not one of them.
  • the culprit is carleton1.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
    Sigh....just cannot get along, can we? This is becoming incredibly redundant and pointless. New users of the Town Hall are being discouraged to participate for fear of being admonished for their comments.

    The problem is not who "started it" or who is the supreme basher of all time. The fact is you will never let's put it to rest!

    It's to the point where those who refuse to refrain from filling their responses with personal jabs and insults towards other members will be invited to go elsewhere.

    Vans host
  • nursejnursej Posts: 2
    We have been looking for a mini-van and decided on GC or T&C. I had been looking for a used one, but after reading everything on this site, it does not seem wise to buy one. We have always bought Japanese and have been very satisfied. I am going to take a look at the Odessey before I buy anything. Are there still transmission problems with the GC? Model year 98-00?
  • swampcollieswampcollie Posts: 87
    buy what you like. I like the DC vans and have had very good luck with them. One piece of advice..If you do buy a DC van, dont come back in here. You will find yourself much abused for your decision. If you get and Ody and have problems, you seem to be able to go to their site and ask for adivce without harassment.
  • nursejnursej Posts: 2
    We have been shopping and test driving every minivan known to man with the exception of the chevy venture and ford windstar. I have not tested the Ody, but I will not pay MSRP and was unimpressed with the exterior. The toyota sienna is nice, but overpriced and small. I like the Quest/Villager. Still hunting. Any comments on these vans. I love the GC, but do not want the headache of mechanical troubles. I need a reliable car for transportation. If I am called in to work someone's life depends on me getting there.
  • 2000gcs2000gcs Posts: 2
    Don't give up on the DC vans because of what a few are saying. There are many many more very satisfied owners- many that would never consider owning anything less. I have owned several Chrysler products since 1985 both front and rear wheel drive, and have not had any major problems. I currently own a 1994 GV SE and a 2000 GC Sport and love both of them. The biggest problem on the '94 was when the bulb for the night time illumination of the CD radio burned out. All that I ever do as far as maintenance is regular fluid changes and tire rotations. Good luck with your search.
  • gmusic7gmusic7 Posts: 42
    1997 caravan: 5 months/3000 miles after the tranny was replaced (post #67), the water pump failed. it was replaced just last weekend. the van has just reached 48,000 miles. of all the cars my parents and i have driven, this has been the most expensive car to maintain. it's worse now because there's always a problem with the van on top of regular maintenance. we've talked about getting rid of it because we don't want to wait for the next problem to appear.
  • autotekautotek Posts: 1
    For what its worth, I have read the various claims (and disclaims) about the Dodge Caravan. I am a master auto technician and have been in the repair field for 18 years. I resently purchased a 2000 model year caravan, and in my opinion, the problem with chrysler products, is not with the product itself, but with the service they provide. I find that the service at most chrysler dealerships is substandard to say the least. As far as the vehcile goes, I love mine and find them to be no more trouble than any other vehicles on the road.
  • egawronegawron Posts: 9
    What one or two people have to say based on their
    Caravan experience or what they have heard from
    others is really of little value. A real survey as to the reliability and value of a vehicle is to
    utilize as many data sources as possible. I would suggest looking at:

    If you can conclude after reading all of the above that Chrysler has a history of building vehicles with long-term reliability and dedication to customer satisfaction, or that by some miracle they finally have improved long term reliability for 1998, 1999 and 2000, or there are only a few that have problems, or all other car manufacturers have the same long history of long term reliability problems - then you should feel secure in buying a caravan.
  • xingze_caixingze_cai Posts: 47
    Hi Bill Eickmeier,

    I'm planning to do the transmission service to my 98 Caravan sports this weekend. A couple of quesions here before doing that job.

    1. After loosing those bolts from the pan, is the pan cover easily removed and the fluid flows out to the container put under the pan? If not, is there any tips for doing this?

    2. Where should I buy the filter and the gasket? Should I buy them from the dealer also or I can use the aftermarket one?

    By the way, I tried to check the air filter of my Caravan last Saturday, after loosing those two bolts in the front, I can not open the cover, and I can't find other bolts there, do you have any comments? Thanks a lot!

  • tboner1965tboner1965 Posts: 647
    Buy the filter from the dealer.

    Another tip, before you drop the pan, to make the job less messy, get one of those small hand pumps, put the CLEAN pickup hose down the dipstick tube. Pump out about 3-4 quarts into your container.

    Now, when you drop the pan, there is less fluid to spill.

    Hope this helps.

  • xingze_caixingze_cai Posts: 47
    Is there any shop selling this kind of pumps? If yes, what's the correct name for it?
  • xingze_caixingze_cai Posts: 47
    Is there any one know how to open the air filter cover of 98 Dodge Caravan?
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Remove two 10mm bolts on filter housing cover. Reach down over air filter cover. Remove clips, then filter. Install in reverse order, ensuring to seat the cover properly near its bottom end.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Raise vehicle securely. Loosen bolts around edge of pan. Remove all bolts except those along the front edge. Position wide mouth container under pan. Tap pan edge with hammer, using a wooden stick as buffer to avoid damage, to break loose. Let drain till dripping only. Remove front bolts and drop pan. Clean pan including magnet. Remove all remains of old sealant (IMPORTANT to prevent future leaks) from both pan and transmission case, and thoroughly clean all surfaces. Remove filter, including the O-ring seal. Install new filter, ensuring that the O-ring is seated properly. Install pan with either a gasket (included in the newer kits) or RTV sealant, cross-tightening all bolts to 10-15 ft-lbs only. Refill with 4 quarts Type 7176 fluid. Remove jackstands.

    Check level as follows. Drive at least 10 miles to heat up transmission. Stop, and move gear selector through all gears. Place in PARK, and let engine idle with AC etc. off. Remove transmission dipstick, wipe clean, reinsert and then check. Add fluid only if necessary.

    HINT: Some pans have a plastic clip holding the wiring harness to the pan in a hole along the front edge. I cut and removed the old clip to faciltate removal of the pan. I secured the harness to the adjacent front member usinf new plastic clips.
  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    No one knows what kind of reliability the 2001 minivans will offer - DaimlerChrysler's track record with new designs has improved from its formerly abysmal stature - but only time will tell.

    Buying any new vehicle in the first year is a gamble - particularly from an automaker that has had trouble with launching new models that are trouble-free.
  • xingze_caixingze_cai Posts: 47
    Thanks for your message! By the way, what kind of tool I should use in order to make sure that "cross-tightening all bolts to 10-15 ft-lbs only". Thanks!
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    That's the name of the tool to ensure proper tightening. Can be bought, or rented.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    The ball joints on the front suspension lower control arms need to be greased every 10,000 miles. This service is often neglected by even service dealers. Ignoring this will lead to a loose feeling progressing to a clunking noise from the front suspension over time. Either ask the dealer to service these, or you can do it yourself as follows.

    Raise vehicle securely and remove front tire. On the bottom surface of the ball joint is a small nut. Remove this, and thread in a grease nipple (obtainable from several sources including PepBoys). Tighten GENTLY. Use grease gun to inject any good quality grease sufficient to bulge the rubber boot slightly, but not enough to leak out (usually 3-6 pumps of the handle). Install tire. Repeat on other side.

    Failure to do this on a regular basis will require replacement of ball joints that may cost $400-500. The removal and installation can be done by two persons, takes about 4-5 hours, and will save $300-400 labour (that is a whole new story!). The control arms have to be taken to a machine shop so that the new ball joints can be pressed in. The ball joints themselves are around $25-30 each, plus half an hour labour charge per control arm, for around $100-125. The van will need a front alignment job after this type of repair, costing another $50 or so.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in this case.
  • eickmeiereickmeier Posts: 19
    Perhaps you have already done the transmission fluid and filter replacement, I hope it went well. Vcheng's post was a very good general description. I second that all the RTV sealant must be removed. Also, getting the pan to break loose can be a chore. I had to resort to a clawhammer on pop mine free; I had to pry the pan off using one of the pan bolt flanges and a convenient thick aluminum protrusion on the transmission. I almost gave up on the job but decided to try one last time to get the pan off and it finally worked.
    When I did my first fluid and filter replacement, I got a Purolator kit. The filter looked identical to the factory filter externally. I liked the gasket they included. It stayed in place nicely when refitting the pan. I did use a torque wrench on the pan bolts, but I guess you could do without one.
    Everybody gets fooled the first time replacing the air filter. The two bolts hold the resonator in place. Once that is removed, the actual air filter box in below and to the right of the resonator. It has the metal clips. By all means, do not pry your resonator apart looking for the filter! I imagine that would be an expensive replacement. My Haynes manual totally misled me on this.
    At the local PEP Boys I noticed a transmission pan drain plug kit. You drill a hole in the low spot of the pan, thread a bolt into that hole with a smaller drain plub in the center of the bolt. It looks rather nifty and would allow a fluid drain without dropping the pan. The only problem I envision is that it would be in a vulnerable position if you ever ran over a curb or some rocks. It looks like you could rip the whole thing off the bottom of the transmission.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Another method to get a pan seal to release is to tap on a knife blade properly placed to separate the seal from the mating surface.
  • xingze_caixingze_cai Posts: 47
    Hi eickmeier and Vcheng,

    Do I need to do flush when draining the transmission fluid? By the way, what kind of oil filter do you always use when changing the engine oil?
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    I had only 10,000 miles on the van when I changed the transmission fluid and filter, so I did not flush it, figuring that approximately half of the fluid changed every 10K with a new filter each time would not require any flushing.

    For the engine, I used a Fram ToughGuard filter with Mobil1 5W30 oil for changes at 2500, 5000 and 7500 miles. I have now moved to a Mobil1 filter with Mobil1 Tri-Synthetic 5w30 oil at the 10K change, and plan to use this combination every 5K miles.
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