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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • dcrislerdcrisler Posts: 118
    that tend to wear are the CV joints... but htyey tend to show up wihen turning, but I guess could should up when letting off the throttle. They are what allows the wheels to pull the car and turn via the steering wheel and go up and down with the suspension... they are at the wheel end of the axles... and in effect, wheat attaches the wheels to the axles... probably I would take it to a autotransmission mechanic for a checkup...
  • jrodzjrodz Posts: 1
    My wife and I bought a 97 Caravan in Aug of 1997. The vehicle currently has just over 34,000 miles. All maintenance is done at the dealer using the Dodge maintenance recommendation for short trip usage. So far we've had to replace the brakes (including rotors), the water pump, and the CD player. We've had the mysterious windshield wiper problem, but haven't pursued it. Recently we've run into a problem with the electrical system which causes all kinds of unusual things. The dealer couldn't find the problem, but they did replace the battery. The situation is a bit unusual and sometimes difficult to reproduce, but when it happens any number of symptoms arise including: speedometer/tachometer not working, no power windows, no radio, no gear indicator, no milage indicator... I believe the problem is with the ignition switch, but the dealer claims to have checked this with negative results. What I have found is that when the ignition key is turned on to its fullest, it sometimes gets stuck in that position. When that occurs, the electrical problems begin. Unfortunately, it doesn't "stick" all the time, so I'm wondering if anyone has had similar problems and might be able to quantify the issue a little better than I. We live in New England, so it may have something to do with the climate, however, I had the problem in both fall and winter.
  • Hello There,

    Thank you very much for your points about transmission oil change, I think I may have it done in the car shop. Right now, my Caravan has 15,000 miles on it and the friend here suggested for services every 15,000 miles, should I bring it to dealer or any other shop as their price is quite different. Any comment? Thanks
  • Glad you wrote back again.

    No, not CV joints; that is one area I have had experience with (had an 85 DC that needed replacement of CV joints/boots 3X - thank goodnes for the old 7/70 protection coverage!) The 92 DC has been very good as far as repairs, except for the computer sensor responsible for all the dashboard guages (a mere $550 to fix). That conked out a few years ago. But back to the clunk.

    I did, however, just notice "the noise" when I shifted from park to reverse today. Same noise. Then, as usual, it occurred a few more times during the day's drive, almost always at the moment you let up on the accelerator. The 3-speed trans shifts fine. Hmm. Maybe some kind of gear shift linkage/transmission problem?

    Any and all thoughts most appreciated.
  • it is CRITICAL that the tranny gets the right fluid. Please use only the fluid listed in your owners manual no matter what anyone tells you.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Noise might be bad motor mounts. You might have someone do shifts while you look under the hood at the mounts. You might want to chock the wheels in addition to using brakes for safety.
  • In our '96 GC (which Chrysler traded us out of for a '97), we had similar electrical problems. We never saw anything similar in our '97, except for last fall. While we were on vacation, I stopped for gas. When I restarted the GC, it seemed that all of the electrical circuits on the accessory circuit were not working. I quickly concluded that the battery was going out. I went to Sears, the battery was bad, and the symptoms disappeared after the new battery was installed. I suspect that the problem is rooted in the body computer. Hope this helps. I know it is frustrating.
  • eickmeiereickmeier Posts: 19
    I too have the the knocking sound when I let up on the accelerator in the lower gears. I have the three-speed transmission in a '90 Caravan with the 3.0 L V6 and 105K miles. Mine has been doing this for quite a long time but the transmission seems to be working just fine. I thought it could be CV joints but I had the driver's side drive axle replaced about 5K miles ago due to a bad outboard CV boot and I can't feel any unusual motion in the passenger's side axle and the knock persists. The other tests for CV problems, like noise when turning or vibration at highway speeds are negative.
    Royallen, I also have thought about the motor mounts as a possible cause, particularly the front mount. How does one examine a motor mount to determine if it is faulty? Will a faulty mount be obvious upon inspection? My wife hit a deer with this van several years ago. The radiator got mashed back into the engine and I am sure the lower front cross member and motor mount took a hit as well. I don't think the mount was replaced when the body work was done. Since I have forgotten when the knock first appears I can't say there is any correlation.
    Xingze cai, the transmission fluid change is pretty easy. Just make sure that the MOPAR 7176+3 fluid is used. I gather you must be especially careful about this if you go to a quick-lube place as they will likely dump in Dextron and screw things up.
    I new problem I have had now for about a year is that the headliner is sagging. It really sags in cold weather and appears to tighten in warm weather. I got a load of those headliner repair "buttons" and they have helped. I was wondering if you could use some sort of spray-on material (hair spray?) on the fabric when it is taut to keep it from more sagging when cold. Has anybody had this problem and come up with a clever solution?
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Most are hard rubber with a bushing and bolt. They fail when the rubber deteriorates so it looks cracked and maybe part missing and the engine will move excessively and cause noise when shifting from park to reverse or drive.
  • wrruhrigwrruhrig Posts: 5
    I checked today with C. shop foreman on the front end noise in my 92DC (3.0 V-6, 3-speed auto). Without seeing/checking it out he is convinced (from my description) that it is either a transmission or motor mount, with greatest liklihood it is the transmission mount (royallen # 154 got it right - thanks! - , and it sounds like #153 eickmeier has same/similar mount problem). The fact that it acts up more in warm weather than in cold is probably a result of its hard rubber make-up (expand/contract). It goes in to shop on Thursday. Part runs about $33 bucks.
    Thanks to all who replied. I'll post an update after the "surgeon's" bill is in.

    For what it is worth, those who have those 4-speed transmissions might want to cut the recommended 30K service interval in half. Spoke with a former Chrysler service manager. He said that more frequent (15K) servicing had reduced the number of breakdowns they were seeing. He worked for them from the late 80's to mid 90's.
  • glassairglassair Posts: 3
    I have a 97 Town & Country LX (32k) which also suffers from a mysterious windshield wiper problem. Out of the blue, or in the clear blue, the wipers make one pass, and shut off. I also haven't pursued yet. The radio also inadvertently cuts out for various lengths of time. Dealer said it was the CD, replaced, but problem still exists. Panel on radio lights up, appears to work fine, other than no sound.
  • glassairglassair Posts: 3
    I have a 97 Town & Country LX (32k) which also suffers from a mysterious windshield wiper problem. Out of the blue, or in the clear blue, the wipers make one pass, and shut off. I also haven't pursued yet. The radio also inadvertently cuts out for various lengths of time. Dealer said it was the CD, replaced, but problem still exists. Panel on radio lights up, appears to work fine, other than no sound.
  • glassairglassair Posts: 3
    Seems I also have eye problems. Seeing double posts. Must be time for zzzzzz's
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Van topic 59 #184 reported a TSB on wiper problem attributed to the "multifunction switch" malfunction.
  • mellawmellaw Posts: 1
    we bought a 99 dodge grand caravan - it has been in the shop three times for tranmission leakage and slipping to two different dealerships. the first one couldn't find a problem and hopefully the second one fixed it. this was the first car we ever bought new and i am very disappointed with the performance of the van. we also have a 88 dc and it does circles around this new one with almost 200,000 miles on it. if the transmission leaks again we are going for the lemon law. other than the transmission, i like the size and the gadgets in it. i keep thinking i should sell it and go buy a 2000 or buy foreign van (but they are much smaller). we previosly owned all foreign cars before these vans and never had problems with any of them.
  • bobw9bobw9 Posts: 1
    We have a 97 Plymouth Voyager, that also had the wiper problem. took it to selling dealer and they couldn't diagnose the problem on 2 attempts. Took it to another dealer, and they immediately replaced the multi-function switch. Problem still occurred went back to the dealer telling them that the switch was already replaced. Tech did a diagnostic of the front wipers and got a circuit reading, which told them to replace the wiper motor. Problem never occurred again. This was done in mid 98 so its been almost 2 years now, without the problem.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    I'm glad to see your helpful tip on this frequently sited problem. Thank you.
  • mfd395mfd395 Posts: 5
    I am the one that wrote the posting of 117. I just found out today that we have a suspension problem that costs 350$!!!!! If I dont get it repaired I will cause futher damage. W eare shocked. We have other problems but are holding backon that because we may sellit and get a 200 Tarus wagon!!!! Anyone got any advice?
  • wrruhrigwrruhrig Posts: 5
    Noise gone - transmission mount was the problem. Cost including labor/and diagnostic time (Firestone)was $102. Now shifts from park like new van; no noise going into reverse; no more clunk at any time.
    Funny, by signing on to post this note I read a few others re: the mysterious and occassional windshield wiper swipe problem, and it happens on our 97 DC SE, too! Was beginning to think we were imagining it. Thanks to all for the opinions and useful info, including this: when (and if)we get the PT Crusier w/4 speed auto., I will be sure to change the trans fluid every 15K and use Mopar fluid.
  • Hi Greg and Bill,

    Thank you very much for your points on transmission fluid. Is this CRITICAL only on Caravan or any other cars as well?I have another car, 97 Camry, and right now ready for 30,000 miles service, dealer's price is $349 + tax and the local shop I found offered $229 + tax, but they said they will use after market parts. Should I forget about it and bring my car to dealer directly? Many thanks!
  • sorry, I am not able to answer your queston on the Camry. But, I would certainly read the manual and do what they say. A much under read document.
  • eickmeiereickmeier Posts: 19
    Wrruhrig, thanks for the transmission mount update. After the earlier discussion on the "klunk" problem, I carefully examined the front motor mount on my Caravan and it looked fine. The passenger-side motor mount also looks good. I haven't looked at the transmission mount yet because it is somewhat tucked out of the way and not easily visible from either the top or the bottom of the engine compartment. I will check this weekend.
    I imagine this is a straightforward repair as long as you jack the transmission when the mount is removed.
    While obviously annoying, is there any real damage that can be done associated with transmission movement?
    Thanks again for the update information.
  • eickmeiereickmeier Posts: 19
    Xingze Cai, what services are they going to do for this amount of money? A simple transmission filter and fluid change shouldn't cost nearly this much. Five quarts of recommended transmission fluid should cost a maximum of $15. A filter with gaskets should run no more than $20. You could do the job yourself for $35 max and probably do it better! This is NOT a difficult thing to do yourself.
    As swampcollie suggests, get the transmission fluid recommended by the manufacturer. I don't know what Toyota recommends.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    I would recommend that if you plan to do this service yourself, you need a repair manual for your make and model car. I have a '92 Camry and it has a separate differential that also should be drained and filled when the transmission is serviced. For '92, Dexron is the recommended fluid. Your owners manual should tell the recommended fluid and I expect the owners manual will show if it requires separate service for the differential. The service manual is important to do the job properly including reassembly so that there are no leaks.
    The cost for these items for my '92 Camry is less than $100 and no filter is needed. This 2.2L and automatic transmission has a reusable "strainer" instead. My transmission also has a drain plug so every other service, I just change the fluid at home without cleaning the strainer.
  • mfd395mfd395 Posts: 5
    I would definitly take your camry to the dealer.
  • mfd395mfd395 Posts: 5
    I had the same problem with the wipers and they replaced the turnsignal/wiper stalk./ It works fine now.
  • The only objection I have to my 99 GC is the high beam lights. I saw in here where someone planned on replacing theirs with PIAA super whites. My owners maual calls for #9007. In a search i only see 9004 through 9006 in the PIAA super whites. Anyone done this?
  • Bill Eickmeier: That price is for 30,000 miles factory service, not only for transmission service.

    MATT DIFRANCESCO: Why did you definitely choose Dealer, not other local shop?

    Roy Jared: I found from the manual that the diffencial is required for transmission service. Can I ask you what does "Differencial" mean? Another tank?

    To all of you: How do you guys do those 15,000 miles service or 30,000 miles service to your Caravan and other cars, do it yourself and follow the recommandations from the owner's manual or bring it to the Dealer? I found those job lists from the Dealer or local shop for these service are mostly checking here and there, and those "real jobs" are changing oil and filter, transmission service, cooling service and tire rotation.
  • I take mine to the dealer for 2 reasons...tranny service and tune up. I do not want any mistake made on the tranny fluid and I just feel the dealer is better equipped to periodically bring everything back into spec.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    xingze: The differential transmits the power from the output of the transmission to the axles which turn the wheels. On rear wheel drive cars they are always separate from the transmission. On some front wheel drive they share the fluid reservoir, others are separate.
    Having primarily owned cars over 5 years old, I have done most of the work the cars have needed and used a local shop for the rest. Sometimes this has had adverse results because I overlooked something like the need to replace a filter in a carburetor inlet which led to a problem with poor idle. When I reviewed the instructions with a kit to rebuild the carburetor, I discovered the need to change the filter. On the other hand, my maintenance and repair cost are less. Also the more I've learned the less likely I am to follow incorrect advice including incorrect advice I was given the last time I visited a dealer service department. I would add that I have a local independent mechanic who is both trustworthy and knowledgeable. One of my strong reasons for dissatisfaction with dealer service is you do not get to talk to the mechanic.
    Most people prefer to put their time and energy on other things than car work and some like to work on cars. I would add I have not done transmission work when removing the pan is necessary. At the same time I've done a somewhat harder (but less messy) job of changing a timing belt. Finally, if you have a car under warranty you must keep detailed records that service meets the manufacturers recommendations to keep the warranty in force.
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