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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    As a couple of other posters have indicated, there are a number of things that could cause the symptom you are experiencing. At 112,000 miles, you should have had the transmission serviced with a new filter and a complete flush of the transmission fluid several times at least.

    Also as mentioned, the use of Dexron/Mercon ATF will inevitably cause you a problem, either minor or major.

    The "limp in mode" describes a transmission default mode in case of certain failures. Basically the transmission will start and stay in second gear with the transmission shift lever in the "DRIVE" position.

    There are a number of reasons why the transmission will go into the limp mode. Low or high hydraulic pressures are the primary reason. Low hydraulic pressure could be caused by a clogged transmission filter or a failing transmission pump.

    Based on the description of your symptoms the transmission is slipping and it could be something as simple as an exceptionally dirty transmission filter. The problem with this is that usually by the time a clogged filter shows up as a problem the transmission has already experienced damage from previous poor fluid flow because of it.

    If there's anytime that you needed a real, real honest service repair place, it's now. Many transmission shops will seize upon the opportunity to sell you a complete rebuild when it may not be necessary.

    Best of luck,
  • My van was acting strange, the motor was racing but the van would not respond and the tach was flickering around. I took it in to the dealership. (they had just serviced the van and done a transmission flush for the extended warrenty) Gas consumption went way down, I was using a tank every 374 KM.My usual was 650-700 km.
    We also were feeling a shudder on stopping and deceleration.
    They replaced valve body and pan. ( this is what the invoice says)
    I asked why after just having the transmission flushed but no one could tell me.They also said the transmission had gone into limp mode.
    We bought the van(2002 Caravan) in May 2003 with 34,000 km and it has been a big problem all along.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    If they replaced the valve body I would be strongly suspicious that it was because of a solenoid failure or it had become clogged. Since your's is a 2002, I'd be more likely to believe it was residue from the flushing that clogged it. The valve body is basically a cast metal assembly that contains many small passages and valves. If a transmission becomes extremely dirty and then flushed, this is a thing that could result.

  • purpose of the transmission filter if it doesn't filter out the particles in the fluid? I think that this transmission flushing thing is something that the dealers like to do to increase profits.

    I've seen the inside of a transmission ,it has a lot of small passages and check balls that could cause problems if they get clogged up. Maybe, we should just change the fluid and filter and forget the flush.

    We might be creating more problems by doing "over" maintenance on our transmission. Remember, if you change the filter and fluid, you have to make sure to keep everything clean. If you get some old gasket material or lint from a shop rag in the transmission pan, you can mess up a transmission.

    If it isn't broke, don't fix it!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Here's a variation on maintenance I like for my wife's '95 Caravan, 4 speed - every 30,000 I have the fluid and filter changed (no flush) and once a year I siphon 3.7 qt from the pan and replace with new. The unit is doing well at 102K. I also keep it out of overdrive in city driving which substantially reduces the number of shifts per trip. I also added an auxiliary cooler which I think became a factory installed item in '99. Roy
  • Since Day one, Late 2000, my DGC has had a clunking/chugging problem in Reverse, only. When I took for service the dealer, of course, would say "unable to confirm the problem" on the work order. Then just before the warranty ran out this year I took it to another dealer who had a tech who understood transmissions. He said there was a problem and the dealer "rebuilt???" the tranny.

    But,,, less then a 1000 miles later, I now have some severe shifting issues, and the check engine light comes on. Also, since the car has 37000 miles on it, the dealer who rebuilt the tranny said I need a new one and I have to pay....

    Anybody know what the procedure is to get Chrysler to make good on one of these transmissions that has been problematic since under warranty?
  • The fuel gauge also has been a major pain/point of concern. It says I the tank is empty, when it was just filled. It has been back numerous times and still is not completely fixed. Now it only says I am empty with around a 1/4 of a tank. :-((

    Who knows what the fix may be??? I have had the sender replaced once.
  • Regarding #2010 Steering noise,
    Thanks wijoco. I took it to a different Dodge dealer (West Covina Dodge). They replaced the idler pulley and solved the noise problem.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,909
    Check the work order for the transmission rebuild. Often dealers will warrant their work for a certain period and mileage. Because the tranny they rebuilt is acting up again after just 1000 miles, you may have a good case.
  • My 97 Voyager 3.0L is giving a PO134 error code. The official shop manual describes this as:
    "Right Rear (or just) Upstream O2S Stays at Center" with the explanation "Neither rich or lean condition detected from the oxygen sensor". I assume that this means one of the two oxygen sensors is malfunctioning. Which one is it? The manual references a Downstream Heated Sensor and an Upstream Heated Sensor. The later is pictured as installed on the exhaust manifold. I can find no description or service procedure for a Downstream Sensor. Is there only one?

    Thanks in advance for any help.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    My ODB code lists the following for P0134:

    "P0134 O2 Sensor Circuit No Activity Detected (Bank 1 Sensor 1)"

    Your service manual may be correct however, especially if it is a Chrysler factory shop manual.

    The "downstream" O2 sensor will be found by following the exhaust pipes from the exhaust manifolds, down towards the muffler/catalytic converter. You will see a wire going to it just like any other O2 sensor.

    The P0134 simply means that the sensor output voltage isn't varying at all. Because of the age of your vehicle, this code might mean a poor electrical connection somewhere in the O2 sensor circuit back to the computer.

    Good luck,
  • Thanks, Dusty. So would you interpret the message in my Chrysler factory shop manual (right rear upstream) to suggest that the problem (malfunction or poor connection) is with the upstream or downstream sensor. I would assume it is the upstream one but the phrase "right rear" would seem to indicate it is the downstream one. I think the manual could have been a little more helpful.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Different manufacturers use different terminology, if the shop manual said "upstream" then that's the one closest to the engine. Check for wiring that may have contacted the exhaust and burned, and remove and clean the connection to the O2 sensor before replacing it.
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926

    Actually WIJOCO
    is probably correct. I think that both definitions are pointing to the same thing. "Right rear" could be the Chrysler shop manual's way of saying "bank 1." Bank 1 would be, I think, at the rear of your engine compartment on a Chrysler mini-van. In either case it sounds like it would be the O2 sensor nearest the cylinder head.

    I also agree with wijoco on the likely cause. I have seen very, very few O2 sensors go completely dead or steady-state. The one's that Chrysler has used in the past usually fail by going "lazy," meaning they don't react in a linear fashion to the rise in temperature. It usually is an open connection between the sensor and the computer, or a shorted wire (like wijoco said, to the exhaust manifold).

    Chrysler use to pack their computer connectors with grease and I don't ever recall seeing a poor connection there, but if there is more than one connector between the sensor and computer, those would be a much more likely cause. The first one I'd check would be the connector at the sensor itself. That one is more prone to being degraded by corrosion from the environment.

    Best regards,
  • Thanks for the comments. The tech kept asking how is your transmission??? Got us nervous. With the front end problems, the tranny and a guy asking me if I was sure I had enough oil in the motor( said he heard it knocking)We traded it in on Sat. We had taken it in Fri. about the clunk from the front end and they allowed my Husband to watch what they were doing. They found both axles were loose and tightened them up then the whole front end squeaked !!! He noticed what looked like hammer marks on the front frame. He mentioned this and was told that is how it was made ?? With fresh hammer marks?It's a 2002 with 50,000km. We had been having trouble in May with the steering and had it aligned 4 times. Just had sway bars, stableizer bars and a bunch of front end parts replaced in Oct. What does this tell you?
  • Hello, all.

    My question is this: How do you remove the plastic cover over the spare tire release nut? I tried to pry it up, and unscrew it, but neither way seemed to work. The owners manual just said to remove the cover, but didn't detail how to do this, and I don't want to damage it.

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,041
    If you owned a Chrysler minivan before 1995, a midwestern newspaper reporter wants to talk with you. Please send your daytime contact information to or by Friday, December 5, 2003.
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director


    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • I purchased a 1998 Grand Voyager last January. At 67k miles, the transmission failed in dramatic fashion - the differential scattered and physically prevented the flywheel from turning. There were holes in the case, so I couldn't recover the core charge on the Mopar rebuilt transmission.

    By 80k, the A/C lost its refrigerant. There was a hissing sound from the vents when we would turn it on as the charge was leaking, and after a little while, it stopped making the noise and failed to cool at all. There is zero pressure in the system right now; I'll get it fixed in the spring if I'm unfortunate enough to still own it.

    Last night (at 81k miles) the brake warning light flickered twice. Haven't looked into that one yet; don't really want to.

    This is the newest vehicle I've ever owned (by 8 years and 60k miles). My other car is an '87 BMW 528e that I purchased with 149k and is going to turn over 195k tomorrow. The ownership cost between the two doesn't even begin to compare - it has cost me almost as much just to repair the Plymouth as it has to purchase AND maintain the BMW. I've had the Plymouth less than a year and the BMW almost three. It's even more painful when I consider that the BMW beats the Plymouth by 50% on fuel economy.

    I'm getting ready to unload the Plymouth. Where is the incentive to "Buy American"?!? I'm most likely to look at "Japanese" SUVs - I still won't get good mileage, but the reliability should be on par with my BMW.
  • wijocowijoco Posts: 462
    Could be something as simple as low brake fluid level.
  • Lets see if I have this right. You bought a USED 98 Voyager in 2002 with more than 50,000 miles on it. and without any warning, or noises, or checking the trans for burnt fluid, it blew up at 67,000 miles. Did you bother to have it checked out by a mechanic BEFORE you bought it? Was it from a private party or used car lot or a reputable dealer? It seems to me this information is relevant, before you post of Atrocious reliability! Some drivers just do not take care of their cars/vans!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    On one hand, one should be reluctant to blame the victim, of which there were many in the '89-'02 interval hence several Caravan & GC years on the CR "avoid" list for example which I believe is not owner behavior related. On the other hand, those that follow the Edmunds discussions would know this van needed transmission service at least twice, when purchased and 15000 miles later (not to mention needing at least two service cycles at 15 & 30K). At the same time, reliable contributors have recounted such failures in spite of documented service from day one. Roy
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    Hopefully DC will straighten out the Chrysler products. Why anyone would buy a second DC minivan is beyond me.
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    Does anyone know how to get to the front blower fan to replace it? Our van blower makes a noise in cold weather (never in warm weather) . I think the bearing is going bad.

    Our 97 GC LE with 129K has been a great van. No transmssion or electrical problems. Although it has not been as reliable as our old 89 Mazda MPV, but it has been OK. Never left us stranded. There is no rust or any type of leaks. Great van on long trips. It gets 23-24 miles on the highway.

    I would like to fix the fan before selling it. The kids are grown and my wife does not need all that room anymore. She is done driving mini vans after 14 years.

  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Joe, My Haynes '84-'95 manual says 1. disconnect the neg battery cable then 2. work under the passengers dash to disconnect the electrical connector and 3. remove 5 attachment screws and lower the motor and fan. If yours doesn't look that easy, you might want a manual for your van. Roy
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    I think you should sell it in the summer!
  • jodar96jodar96 Posts: 400
    I know you were joking.......but if the van that so many people (rightfully in their experience) complaint about, has an occasionally-noisy $35 blower, I much rather replace it than try to hide the issue.

    Royallen,, thank you for your reply, I will check and report back.

  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    I was joking. An inexpensive fix if it is relatively easy to do yourself is a no brainer. Go ahead and fix it.

    My wife is on year 19 of minivan driving and I doubt if she will ever drive anything else. Our kids are almost out of the coup as well, but that room sure comes in handy occasionally, and she likes to be sitting up high in a minivan rather than a car, so a minivan will be in our future for many years to come.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    When I want to sit high I get on an airplane. Minivans take the fun out of driving. Just my opinion.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Well, minivans aren't meant to be the ultimate driving machine. People and cargo haulers are a bit at odds with "fun to drive" vehicles.

    On the other hand, you wouldn't want to take your wife, kids and suitcases on vacation in a corvette. That would really take the fun out of driving.
  • Today while I was driving, I hit a patch of snow and ice while trying to stop. I noticed that the brakes started making this pulsing hammering sound that I could feel in the brake pedal. The van did come to a stop with minimal slipping. I drove some more and tried braking again on wet ground. The braking was smooth and normal. But again on snow and ice the same pulsing hammering sound. Is this normal and what is causing the noise and vibration? Thanks in advance.
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