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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • pkrdfairpkrdfair Posts: 3
    currently own a 2002 Chrysler T&C LXi with 3.8 liter. My electrical problems started when one morning my van would'nt start. The local shop diagnosed it with a computer as having a bad ECM. They replaced that. The vehicle had no problems for about a week and then the same identical thing happened. No start problem. I had it towed in (the tow truck driver also couldn't start it) The shop started it immediately upon arrival and then checked the starter, battery, neutral safety switch and ignition wiring and found no problems. It continiued to start for them with no problems. I picked up the vehicle, took it on vacation and also had no problems. This last time I saw the ABS lite come on (which I had also noticed intermittently on the prior times) As soon as i shut the vehicle off it would not restart. As i began to analyze all occurrences it dawned on me that the abs lite was on prior to all three occurrences and also i had noticed that the seat belt lite had been flickering on and off at different times (although this didnt necessarily happen before the no start problem) This time the shop noticed that the fuse was blown for the ABS circuit. As soon as they replaced the ABS fuse the van started. This was noto necessary the prior two times. The shop checked the ABS module (it was O.K.) and checked wiring (said it was O.K. too) they don't know what else to try. They told me that they would just be "throwing parts at it" at this point. Any suggestions or input would be helpful.
  • mwhalenmwhalen Posts: 2
    The exact same thing happened to me the other day. The fuse, spring and ring are most likely part of the plug on your wifes cell phone not part of the car. But, the failed radio is probably a result of the plug coming apart in the outlet. I suspect that there is an in line fuse somewhere, but I have dismantled my entire dash and not turned it up. Have you solved your problem? If so how? :sick:
  • mwhalenmwhalen Posts: 2
    As it turns out, your wifes cell phone plug probably came apart in the upper power outlet and the metalic ring caused a short in the system which blew a fuse in the IPM Relay and Fuse box located next to the battery under the hood. I had the exact same problem today and was able to fish out the plug pieces and fix the plug (put spring in first, followed by old style glass tube fuse, followed by metalic ring ... there should be a threaded piece of plastic and a metalic little tip that goes through the middle of the threaded piece of plastic and acts as the spring loaded tip to the cell phone plug). With mine the metalic tip had fallen into the dash and I had to fish it out from behind the bottom of the CD tray. Once you are sure all the stuff is out of the outlet (especially the metal stuff), purchase a mini 20 amp fuse from your local auto parts store and replace the RDO 20 amp fuse in the IPM Relay and Fuse box on my 2001 Caravan it is about midway up the left hand side of the Relay and Fuse box (left as you look in under the hood). This fix should cost you < $2 and will allow you to enjoy your radio again. :) I hope this helped.
  • lastwraith: $8.99 later, I believe the problem is fixed. The thermostat was apparently broken in half. My wife drove 15 hours yesterday from MI to SC w/no heating problems. Thanks for your help. (You are right on the fans, also.)
  • cathccathc Posts: 3
    Update: Found "Cig/Acc" relay in box under hood and replaced. All working fine now, so "never mind"!
  • psu5394psu5394 Posts: 1
    We have a 2000 Chrysler Town and Country with 91,000 miles. Recently it has started to make a clunking noise when it starts up. After running for a few minutes the noise gets fainter. When shifting into any other gear the noise stops completely. Any idea what would be causing the noise?
  • mveitmveit Posts: 4
    I have a 96 DC with 156,000 miles on it. We have replaced one CV joint at about 121k miles and my steering wheel is starting to wobble, which I think indicates it is time to fix the other one. We like the amenities of our van, but are concerned that it might start costing us a bunch to keep running. Blue book (7/2005) is about $2500. Things that make us wonder if it is time to sell include:
    1) The CV thing will be about $600.
    2) Our A/C makes a funny sound when we shut the engine off, and we have had to have it charged in the spring the last two years.
    3) We just replaced the fuel pump.
    4) The dealer says we should put a water pump and timing belt in.
    5) Transmission has made a ringing sound while idling in neutral for 60k miles.
    Is this transmission going to go out soon?
    6) Minor things like the slider door mechanism breaking and some of the exterior molding starting to come off makes one wonder about the general integrity of the chassis and accessory equipment.

    We do like our van though, great for four kids, with the dual doors. (all paid for) :-)
    Can we drive this one more year w/o paying a bunch of money in repairs?
    Or, is it best to sell now and get something else while it is still worth $2500?
  • liljoe2liljoe2 Posts: 1
    I have a 1997 Town & Country with the 3.8L engine (130K miles). When I get the van in overdrive on the Interstate I keep feeling a sensation like an engine miss or just a slight lapse in power. This only lasts about a half a second and the motor just continues on. I watched the tach as I drive but it doesn't indicate a power loss or surge. I thought it was the transmission slipping but it only happens in overdrive at high speed. Any ideas?
  • petras2petras2 Posts: 104 96 3.8 just passed 100k relatively trouble free miles...i want to keep it for a few more years, i'm trying to head off a possible sudden breakdown on future long trips.. anyone have any idea how long oil/fuel pumps usually last? other than water pump, what other drivetrain areas need to be watched on this model? thanks in advance
  • dalekdalek Posts: 1
    Recently when I try to start my Caravan it will just click, once. The radio and clock go out but the lights do not dim. As I try again and again to start it it will do the same thing. Most times on the 4th or 5th time it will start to kick over, slow cranking as if the battery is dead. One more try and it will usually start. The battery is only a couple of years old. When I tried to jump it the cables touched together and there was plenty of juice, jumping it seems to work but not all the time. I don't think the jump is really a help just a coincedence. I'm thinking it is the starter but am not sure. I'd hate to replace the starter if this is not the problem. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  • marine2marine2 Posts: 1,155
    My air conditioner works great at night and in the morning when it is not so hot.
    However, when the sun is beating, I have to keep it on maximum and it never gets too cold. I gave it in for service and of course they said nothing is wrong.

    You might also make sure your recirculating button is on when running the a/c. It makes a big difference in cooling coming out.
  • will97will97 Posts: 1
    Hi all, I have a 2002 T&C LXi so far we had a few minor problems that were covered by the warranty. The power steering rack was replaced, a some module that actually affected the radio/CD, and steering wheel controls was also replaced and the electronic module that controls the transmission gears was too replaced.

    Now, when we leave the minivan outside in a hot day and/or start driving in a very hot day the A/C fan shuts off (intermittently), the windows don't open, and the radio doesn't turn on. Everything else works, no issue with the engine/trans. However, it becomes very dangerous to drive b/c of the soffocating heat inside the car and not being able to open any window.

    The dealer cannot duplicate the problem and therefore is not giving me any solution or alternative. I am starting to think that the problem could be related to the ignition as they were messing up around there in the previous repairs.

    Any ideas what can be wrong ???

    Thanks guys!

  • hayneldanhayneldan Posts: 657
    Try cleaning the battery terminals
  • strekstrek Posts: 14
    Clean the battery terminals and the inside of the battery cable clamps with some sandpaper or a wire brush.

  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    I was on vacation last week, but I see hayneldan has responded.

    I might add that the tensioner pulley is not something you can release and walk away from leaving it in the released position. It is a spring loaded arm on which the idler pulley is located. I can't remember for sure, but I either used a box end wrench, or a socket on my ratchet wrench, and used a two or three foot piece of pipe or conduit over the wrench handle to gain more mechanical advantage, so it does not take as much force to hold it in the released position in order to slip the belt on.

    Hayneldan is correct, there is definitely a belt routing diagram easily found under the hood on or near the radiator housing, and it shows exactly which pulley is the tensioner one.

    The whole job is relatively easy to do, once you get the routing right on the pulleys. Probably is easier as a two person job, but with patience I did it myself with no assistance, though I am a mechanical engineer, so this type of minor maintenance is right up my alley!
  • sam55sam55 Posts: 1
    I have a 97 Grand caravan. It doesn't overheat, but I need to put antifreze often. I can't see any visual leaks. A shop told me I need to change radiator, but I don't see a leak. The van has 147k miles. Sam
  • I currently own a 2001 T&C with such a problem. Sometimes
    the key just won't turn. Relieving the pressure on the steering
    wheel doesn't help. Sometimes working with the key for
    5 to 10 minutes to get it to free up. Something is jamming
    it and we haven't taken it to be replaced. Currently we leave
    the key in the ignition but remove the security chip. With the
    key left in the ignition we have no problems. It only happens
    after the keys is removed and re-inserted. I will post what the
    problem and fix is when we get it repaired.
  • 7-26-2005 - Your post does not give the year of vehicle, but on my
    2001 T&C the serpentine belt idler tension pulley is located about
    center of all of the pulleys. It has no grooves in it (smooth as opposed
    to the drive pulleys of the alternator, a/c...etc which have grooves). You have to
    go from underneath the vehicle to access it. Also, I had trouble getting the right
    sized belt for replacement from auto parts supplier. Make sure you take the
    old belt in to match the size to the new one.

    Hope this helps
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Per a helphelpanyone earlier post, the van in question is a 1996 Grand Caravan. I assume it has either the 3.3 or 3.8 V-6 engine. The tensioner is accessible to both release the arm tension or replace the tensioner pulley itself from above, not underneath the engine. You are correct in that the tensioner pulley is smooth as I replaced that pulley last year as it was sqeaking due to the ball bearings in the pulley going bad. I did not have to replace the tensioner arm itself, only the pulley.

    I had no problem getting the proper belt, first time from a NAPA parts place and bought an aftermarket pulley from a Checker auto parts store.
  • pete77pete77 Posts: 12
    I had it checked out by an AC specialist and he found nothing wrong with the AC. He did notice that there was some moisture in the lines and that was causing the pressure to be high. He evacuated the system, removed the moisture and recharged it. I still notice some degree of warming up when at idle, but not as much - maybe it is just a little cooler today that it was yesterday (weather-wise)

    Total cost - approx. $65.00
  • pete77pete77 Posts: 12
    I would like to check my rear drum brakes but could not get the drums off. The manual stated that there is a place where a screw driver could be inserted and "loosen" the brake shoes so I can take the drums off.

    Does anyone know where this is or how to remove the brake shoes? I don't see any holes where a screwdriver can be inserted other than the 3 places which are covered by oval rubber stoppers.

    I know that there are some car shops who would check the brakes for free, but I don't like to do that because I know I won't have them do the brakes (can't afford it).

    Thanks in advance.
  • pete77pete77 Posts: 12
    How is the engine? Does it have the check engine light on? Did it pass the EPA tail pipe test?

    If the check engine light is on, it will be hard to sell it for the blue book price. Also, consider the EPA pipe test, if it does not pass, may require you to spend more money on getting the van to pass so you can register it for an extra year.

    If you are selling it to a dealer, he may only give you something like $600 for it (from experience).

    In our case, we have decided to put a spending limit on our 96DC van (98K miles). If we should spend more than $500 to $1,000 to get the van in good running order, then it may be better to get a new one. So far, the repair cost is less than $400 and we will keep it and defer purchase until next year.
  • mongo26mongo26 Posts: 1
    My caravan has a couple of problems so here is the first one. Im losing 1 gal. of coolant every 200 hundred miles, theres no apparent leaks, its not in the oil, its not the heater core and its not in the transmission. I took it to a dealer and they cant find it either they said i have to wait till it gets worse. So where is it going i need help. Second problem my oil light came on, but theres oil coming out of the oil pressure switch at the end of the connector right next to the wire. I read thats its also a sending unit should there be a small oil line hooked in there? Any help would be great, thanks for your time and concern a devoted dodge owner.
  • awhetzelawhetzel Posts: 2
    I have been having a problem for several months now with my 98 Voyager:
    it will shudder for a second or two and then the gas pedal will stop
    responding. If I am going at a high enough speed (55-60 mph) when I
    floor the pedal, it will all of a sudden, respond, with the rpms
    shooting up from a start-point of 2000 to potentially as high as 5500.
    My speed, however, will only increase about 4 or 5 mph. As I do this,
    the transmission sounds as if it's shifting at the last possible
    moment. When it finally shifts, there is a steady decrease in speed
    until the van finally responds to the gas pedal being depressed and
    then there's the rapid increase of rpms as I described before.
    If I am going at slower speeds, it is much more difficult to keep it at
    a constant speed. As I was trying to keep it at 35 yesterday, there
    was none of the rapid rpm increases; although I had my foot on the gas,
    most of the time the van would just very slowly coast and occasionally
    speed up a bit, but my speed was normally somewhere between 10 and 20
    mph. Also, it started to make a popping sound and I could feel
    something popping underneath the van on the driver's side. I noticed
    there is something hanging down there: I know I have a broken CV boot,
    and maybe that's it? But there was a time about a month ago that the
    same popping occurred and I didn't notice anything hanging down then.
    Also yesterday as I tried to make it through a series of stoplights, I
    could hardly get the van to respond at all--it would barely go when I
    accelerated and the transmission was shifting in a funny way.
    When the van is acting up like this, most of the times all I have to do
    is pull by the side of the road and let it idle for a minute or two and
    then it's fine--I've even driven it 45 miles without it acting up
    afterward. I have on two occasions smelled some burning smell after
    prolonged driving while it is acting up, but I have not smelled it if
    the van's been driving fine. The problem has occured several times as
    I tried to drive up a large hill.
    This problem does not occur every time we drive the van, nor does the
    engine die--the accelerator just does not respond. We have replaced the
    spark plugs and distributor cap, the fuel filters have been replaced as
    has the fuel pump and although we are unsure as to whether or not the
    mechanic cleaned out the fuel tank after he replaced the fuel pump,
    nearly everything else about the fuel system has been cleaned out.
    Two other pieces to the puzzle: my cruise control may or may not work
    during the same period of driving, and although the battery and
    alternator are fine, the van tested before as having an electrical
    output of 1.5 volts.
    The theory about my van is that it has some electrical problem which is
    causing the transmission to act up, and the problem is not with the
    transmission itself. The transmission has been replaced on this van,
    although the engine has not. Also, I failed to include that when the van acts up, the gas pedal has
    to be nearly pressed to the floor to get it to respond, if it will.

    We have let four different mechanics look at it, and none have been
    able to fix it. We are desperately in need of some help! If you have
    any ideas as to what is wrong, please let us know!
  • 2001 Caravan drips water onto passenger floor. Cleaned drain line and replaced drain line valve. Still drips.
    Anybody have a copy of TSB 23-010-04A-titled AC water on passenger floor)?
  • hayneldanhayneldan Posts: 657
    My criteria for trading or repairing has always been to take the repair cost and think of it as car payments. I.E. if the cost of the repair is less than 3 to 6 months worth of car payments, and you are happy with the vehicle otherwise, fix it!
  • lastwraithlastwraith Posts: 350
    Great, at least it was a cheap and easy fix once you figured it out. Thanks for the solution/feedback, it's appreciated.
  • lastwraithlastwraith Posts: 350
    Hopefully you are all set then, keep us posted though. Seems like a lot of low $ fixes recently....a good trend;)

    As for the rear drums, sorry but I have not had the opportunity of getting near my van to check that out. I can say however, that when I changed out the discs in front, the Haynes manual I had was flat out wrong for my model year. I eventually figured out my own way of removing everything, but having the wrong info didn't speed the process at all.
  • strekstrek Posts: 14
    I had the same problem with a Haynes manual for my '95 Caravan. I had to change an oxygen sensor and could not find it using the Haynes manual. Those manuals leave a lot to be desired.

  • lastwraithlastwraith Posts: 350
    They do, which is why I buy the service manuals from Helms Inc or a similar manufacturer if possible. I don't work on the van too much simply because it doesn't often need work and the cramped nature of the design (engine-wise) makes it doubly difficult anyway. The Haynes is at least slightly better than nothing I figure. But yeah, I hear you.
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