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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    From what I've read, all existing rust must be removed and painted, then repair caps are epoxyed and held in place by rivets. The rivets are not part of the structural repair, just to keep everything in place while the epoxy cures. This site will not allow me to link to the how-to repair write-up.
  • ecker1ecker1 Posts: 1
    Mine did it too. I have a 98 Caravan.
    Dealer said the heater/ac needs to be recalibrated "on the computer" for $65.
    What a rip off!
    Lights stopped flashing in 5 minutes,but they will probably re-flash after new start up.
    Dodge shouda made an EEPROM for the settings instaead of a cmos "power down and forget" system. Groan I can't believe they engineered a rip off scheme into the car! :lemon:
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ... by the owner too. With the engine at idle and AC engaged, move the temp lever to full cold, fan on full with the engine running. Hold the two buttons with the flashing lights for 10 seconds. This should initiate the diagnostic mode, which will cycle through its test. At the end, if everything pases, the lights should go out. If the AC is low on refigerant, it will fail the cool down test, and the lights will continue to blink.
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    My windshield wipers began their deviant behavior at 40,000 (I bought this 97 Caravan 4 cyl new). I could NOT make them turn on for their either two or five-six swipes, but they continued to do that periodically for 60,000 miles. Then the wipers refused to come on in any position. The wiper motor and squirter continued to work, however. I took it to the dealer and said: NOW, it is no longer an intermittant problem. The wipers will NOT work. $741.00 later, they replaced the Body Control Module (BCM) and said "fixed". Forty-seven miles later, the wipers started up their intermittant coming on. More frequently than before. Then they would NOT turn off until I moved the switch from OFF to Intermittant--then they turned off. Moving the wiper stalk switch back and forth, I got them to turn on in intermittant and off with "OFF". I have another appointment with the dealership to let them "look at it" and contact the STAR line in Michigan ("Strange, Terrible, And Riduculous ?) for "help". Can anyone out there offer any advice? Have you had this problem and REALLY fixed it? Thanks - (I don't have enough hair left to "tear any of it out".) 97Vanowner
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    My wipers died at 102,000, and finally the dealer installed a new BCM (Body Control Module) to fix it. The fix lasted 47 miles. I am taking it back Monday for a second round. What happened with your second round? Thanks. 97Vanowner
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    I had to have a new head gasket to deal with oil consumption problem at 72,000. My van is a 4 cyl. You might check that out - if this is the problem you may have some blue smoke OR just spillage down the engine block (but Not on the top of the head. If you have a six cylinder motor, the above probably does not apply.
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    Sorry about your experience, but I have a 97 Caravan with 102,000 miles and the original battery. I disconnect the terminals and thoroughly clean it every year, but the little "eye" showing battery condition is still green after 8 years! Maintenance folks!
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    Exactly what happened to me - except that after replacing the BCM (Body Control Module) to the tune of $741.00, it is still acting up. Most of the time I can turn the wipers on, but they still come on at odd moments, especially when turning left - both with and without the left turn signal. No solution yet. I'll keep you posted. If you found a solution that works, please post it or send me an e-mail. Thanks.
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    With regard to your battery problems. Did you have the charging system of the vehicle checked? Your problem sounds like it could be a defective voltage regulator--which could be a function taken over by the Body Control Module and it is incorrectly programmed internally. I can't even imagine how to check voltage regulation of these "modern" cars, but the results sound like that might be a voltage regulation problem.
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    First, did you find a solution? If so, PLEASE send me an email with the details. I just spent $741.00 to get this fixed and the repair worked for 47 miles!. I am going back to the dealer for round 2 tomorrow. The completely replaced my switch and that did not fix the problem. They ended up putting a new BCM (body control module) in, and although the wipers now work, they also are screwed up. e.g. they come on when the switch is off. they will not turn off until you turn the switch on and then off again. Sometimes several times.
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    Actually Chrysler/Dodge is pretending that they never heard of such a problem and my dealer says they have never had a similar complaint. I believe they are truly trying, but they are getting little technical help from the Daimler/Chrysler folks in Michigan and the first try at fixing the wiper problem cost $741.00 and lasted for 47 miles. If you know of anyone who has SUCCESSFULLY fixed the windshield wiper problem, please e-mail me the information and I will have my dealer tech call for help since corporately they seem to be suffering from amnesia about this fix.
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    Good Evening Dave:

    If you still remember what the dealer did to fix your windshield wiper problem, I would appreciate knowing as my dealer's techs are stymied. Thanks.
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    Could not help but wonder if you have discovered that ABS does not work when you are going backwards! I have ended up sideways on my driveway three times in my van. Stops great going forward, but locks brakes on one or the other of the rear wheels and pulls the backend off the driveway. Also, I could NOT get traction control unless I upgraded to the Sport Model (which cost almost $7,000 more than the LE I ordered.).
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    I really find it hard to believe they cannot diagnose this, as the phantom wiper issue was fairly widespread in the generation of Daimler-Chrysler minivans introduced in 1996. The problem if I recall is in the column, either an intermittent short in the wiring or in the multifunction switch itself. I do not recall the exact solution, when ours was replaced on our 1996 caravan under warranty about eight years ago, but it definitely was not a body control module, and the dealer knew exactly what to do to fix it.

    My advice, find a new dealer.
  • qstrangeqstrange Posts: 1
    I have a leak in my oil pan and ran out of oil. Didn't have the money to get oil right away and drove it around. the oil pressure went up and down then finally down. Just last night the gas would not work nor the brakes, but the car did not stall. After shutting it off, it would not start. I am wondering if I put oil in it now, will it run? or is it finished?
  • SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
    Please do NOT encourage other members to email you with the information. If it is in email then the next person with a similar problem doesn't benefit from the answer. Sharing in the discussion is what makes this a rich resource for you and others.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    What did the engine sound like when you turned it off?
    Did you hear any knocking/pounding?
    Was there any smoke issuing from under the hood?
    Did you smell any burnt smells?
    How much oil was left in the pan?
    Did the temperature gauge go all of the way to the right?
    What year and displacement of engine does your van have?

    Having asked all of those questions, if you add oil, and it restarts and is reasonably quiet/knock free, you might have dodged a bullet. So, if it does run reasonably well, the only other thing I would do is to have the compression tested to see if you destroyed the cylinder walls or stuck a valve.

    Best Regards,
  • 5bucks5bucks Posts: 10
    After 2 years of trying to find a fix, I finally was able to do something to get my gauges to start working again. Just took aparta few dash panels and removed the instrument cluster enough to access the modular plug that connects to the back of the cluster. Disconnected and reconnected this connector and boom the gauges are working again. Did this last Thursday. It's now Monday and instruments are still working after driving the van about 300 miles with lots of starts and stops. It has been more than 2 years since it has driven this far with the guages in continious operation. Very simple to get at the instrument cluster. just removed a few of the dash panels and the drivers side window air vent molding. Probably about 10 screws holding the assorted dash moulding pieces in place. All screws same size. Took about 10 minutes
  • 5bucks5bucks Posts: 10
    Can anyone provide info on the strut tower repair? I have a 98 voyager and the strut towers are rusting out. I've read a post or two about a "repair kit" but no specifics. a google search turned up nothing. Thanks.
  • 97xpresso97xpresso Posts: 249
    There is a lot of info out there but this site frowns on posting links to other sites.
    Here is just a small sample:

    There is a Technical Service Bulletin issued by Chrysler on Oct. 14,2002 (TSB 23-044-02) on the problem and it covers all minivans build from 1996 until 2000. If you were lucky enough to see it before your warranty ran out it would have been covered. What Chrysler told me was keep the reciept for the repair, if there is ever a recall in the future it would be paid for. Of course there will be no recall unless enough people complain to the National Highway Safety Transportation Agency.

    NHSTHA can be found at I filed a complaint, you can find it under complaint number 10090457. It's easy and I'd ask everyone with this problem to issue a complaint and tell others who own 1996-2000 Chrysler/Plymouth/Dodge mini vans to look for the problem and issue a complaint as well.

    The parts number are 05080008-AA and 0580009-AA. The price is 27,65 CAD each. I have been lucky to find them. My dealer had one left side in stock and he found the right side for me at another dealer. They are back order everywhere.

    If you want to do the job the way they want you to do it, you will have to buy also a set of aluminium rivets (I don't know how much) and a kind of glue they sell for 70,00$.

    I did not use the glue nor the rivets. I used bolts instead. 5/16" by 3/4" long with washers. 6 bolts each side plus 4 self tapping #14 x 1" screws for the side wall.

    Need to remove the wipers arms, the cover under the wipers arms, and the pan containing the wiper motor (sorry, I don't know the names of these parts.) I think you dont need to remove the hood as I did.

    If you want to do a good job, you should get the strut assembly out of the way. Maybe removing them.

    Me, I just lowered them as much as possible by removing the 3 nuts and raising the car.

    My job is just a quik fix for an already almost dead car. My 96 voyager has 316000 Km and many other things are falling apart. The motor and the transmission are going. If he run another year, I will be happy.

    Took me about 4 or 5 hours to do the job. No more that 2 or 3 if I had to do it again.

    If you want to keep your car more than one year, I suggest that you make a better job than this one, removing the strut assembly, using the glue and rivets and putting a lot of rust protection.

    There is no instruction available and it is not really needed. The dealer told me that this problem is affecting 1996 to 2000 Caravan and Voyager.
  • dcaterdcater Posts: 1
    Let the dealer tackle this as it should be done completely free of charge. It is most likely the clockspring which was recalled last year. Your dealer should know all about it. I had this same problem on my 98.
  • chuckgchuckg Posts: 69
    I'll bet you're happy to get this fixed. Nothing to it. :D

    Thanks for reporting back.
  • Did you ever find the cause of this? My 2003 Grand Caravan had just started doing this when it rains.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    It is probably your serpentine belt that drives all the accessories. Replace the belt and likely it will go away. Fairly easy do it yourself project if you are mechanically inclined. Belt costs about $25 aftermarket at NAPA.

    It could also be related to the tensioner or tensioner pulley bearings, but I would change the belt first. I replaced the belt once so far on our 1996 Caravan, and also later on replaced the tensioner pulley as the bearings in that pulley started to squeal a couple years ago. I used an aftermarket pulley and replaced it myself.

    The squeal related to damp conditions probably means your serpentine belt is getting cracked and dried out and is slipping somewhat when wet.
  • 97vanowner97vanowner Posts: 11
    Hi Sylvia: Sorry about the e-mail request, but I was somewhat desperate--and had a scheduled appointment with the dealer since the "ghost activity" with the wipers continued AFTER I had paid $741.39 to get the wipers fixed. To bring you up to date, After replacing the BCM (body control module) the first time around--which did restart the wipers, yesterday they installed a new multi-function switch to fix the "ghosting" problem - another $151.00. Should it cost $892.00 to simply get the windshield wipers fixed? I don't think so. I would like to hear from anyone else as to similar experiences. I talked to a service person at the lawn mower repair place as I picked up my mower today and she says her Caravan is doing the same "ghosting" thing that my van did for 60,000 before it finally completely died. She has 68,000 on her van. I suggested thinking about planning to trade. Anyone else have any ideas? Thanks.
  • fepfep Posts: 3
    My 96 Dodge Caravan has nearly 90K miles. On both my long trips this winter the vehicle lost power after crusing at 65 -70 MPH for about 2 hours. The "check engine soon" light would flash and than stay on as I coasted to the side of the road and stalled. One time it cleared immediately and I was able to travel side roads for an hour before it reoccured. The other time it reoccured nearly a dozen times going anywhere from 100 yards to 2 miles at each event. Both trips resulted in no work being done because after letting it sit for an evening it would run fine the next morning. Also the "Check engine soon light" was cleared after finding the code to read "Random Misfire." Is it possible for a over heated fuel pump to prevent the gas flow and the "check engine soon" light to come on? This is what the mechanic told me but that would mean that if a Caravan were to run out of gas the "Check engine soon" light would also go on. That doesn't sound right? It's been running great for nearly 3 months now but I haven't taken any long trips. Any ideas?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Okay, it seems that our 1998 GC Sport 3.8 is having its third unscheduled component failure (the first was the battery and the second was the driver's door switch for the interior lights). The overhead temperature display is, ummm, erratic to say the least. This afternoon for instance, I got in the van with my two kids and the display showed -40, which the kids thought was rather hilarious as we were in the low seventies at the time. It stayed at -40 for maybe a mile then went to -5, no wait, 37, 105, -27, 55, 59, 51, 58, -40, all in the next mile. Me thinks it's broke.

    I've never heard of this problem before. Is it common? Is the sending unit the likely culprit? If it is, where is said sending unit mounted? Is there a simple "Hold the A/C button while pushing the rear wiper and the rear defogger button together 47 times with one hand while scratching your nose with your other hand" type of reset command?

    Thanks in advance.

    Best Regards,

    I'm not actually sure that I even want to fix this, ummm, errr, entertainment feature. My kids seem to actually enjoy shouting out the current OAT as it goes through its improbable series of displays. Either that or they bet each other what the REAL OAT is. ;-)
  • fishing1000fishing1000 Posts: 38
    how much oil did your van burn every 1500 miles? How much did the new head gasket cost? Did you replace it by yourself? Thanks!
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Sounds like that, or its wiring is the culprit. The probe sensor is mounted behind the grill, off the center support. You will need to take the front bumper cover off to be able to trace the wiring harness. The harness has a connector that can be poorly placed and fatigue out the wires within. A replacement sensor is not too expensive if the wiring is not the problem.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Thanks, I'll check it out and report back. ;-)

    Best Regards,
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