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1988 Dodge Caravan Problems.

irvanirvan Member Posts: 2
edited March 2014 in Chrysler
I've tried searching, and can't seem to find relevant answers to my problems, so i'll ask them here. Hopefully someone can give me insight. Few weeks ago, a friend of mine gave me (Well, sold for $5, but you get the idea.) a 1988 Dodge Caravan. 275K Miles on it. Had to put in a new battery, but otherwise, runs like a champ. (Smokes a little, but I suspect that's an oil leak probably.)

The problems:

#1.) Less Critical - The Instrument Panel, and the Radio (It's still got it's original Radio, which works!) both only have "half" the lighting they should. I.E. I can see the fuel gauge, The RPM and the Battery Charge, but not the Speedometer, Temp (Is that Oil Temp? I'm stupid when it comes to cars.) and Oil Level (I'm guessing. It's a pic of an oil can with L and H. I figure that's low and high?) I've pulled every fuse I can (there's some huge ones in there I didn't pull.) and checked them, replaced any that looked "old" or "Worn out" ... still no dice. Not sure if there's something i'm not realizing, like maybe a loose wire perhaps, or is that just a factor of the age of the vehicle?

#2.) More Critical and Annoying - There's a Sliding Door on the Passenger Side. It was working fine until two days ago. The Lock/Unlock mechanism on the inside now wont go to Lock or Unlock, and the door simply wont open. I've pulled the panel off the interior, found there's two "bars" that both seem to be disengaging something, but no dice. I've tried pushing, pulling, even a swift shoulder hit, i've tried just about everything I can with my limited knowledge of cars to get that door open. I know it used to open. Someone suggested that maybe the outside lock is messed up and there might be a child lock that got engaged preventing me from opening it on the inside.

Someone else pointed out there's a "Lock/Unlock" button on the Driver side door that might act like a Child Safety Lock for the Sliding Door, and it might have become engaged, and now won't disengage. I certainly see a button that says Lock/Unlock, but i've got no idea what it's for.

I've got two kids, and right now, we have to open the passenger side door and have them crawl around to get to their seat.

It would be a huge blessing to my existence to get that door working again. Any ideas?


  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,775
    No idea on the sliding door. My brother has a Ford Aerostar that had a similar problem with the door (worked fine one day then not at all the next). It turned out that his door handle mechanism needed to be adjusted just to the point that it would fully engage the latch to allow the door to open. But, too far and it would gum up the whole works and require him to pull it all apart to start over. I am not sure this is your problem, but you might look at adjusting it. If it a child lock preventing you from opening from the inside, you should be able to disengage that with the panel off.

    Instrument lights.... it is probably just the bulbs themselves! They do wear out over time. If they are original, with that age & mileage, you are lucky any work at all! They are usually just a twist-style bulb; once you access them, they are simple to remove and replace.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • irvanirvan Member Posts: 2
    I'll have to see about getting the instrumnent panel off and replacing those bulbs for safety's sake.
    Another oddity is the passenger side window doesn't roll up or down, but the door panel is missing and I can do it manually by physically moving the litte white toothed piece.
    I assume that there is probably something stripped in the part you are supposed to use to roll it up.
    I'll be darned if I can figure out how to get in there though...
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