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Trouble With Dodge Grand Caravan



  • A few years back I owned a Chevy Blazer that would stall while I was driving. I took it to the dealer and they said the car was fine. No problems. I asked about the fuel pump. They tested the pressure and said it was fine. Acouple of weeks later we finaly found the problem. THE FUEL PUMP.... The pump would pressurize but no fuel would flow. Replaced the pump and all was well. I then had 3 girls and traded the Blazer for a 97 GC. After reading the post above I had to chukle at the "phantom wipers". My GC does the same. My GC has 91,000 miles and a few dozen trips to S.C. and back. We have had no problems. Salivating at the new 01' GCs. Looking at Jan for a bright shiny new GC.

    Lisbon, CT
  • We had the same problem with our '97 Dodge GC LE. every time we turned left, the wipers would come on for one cycle, then it was two, three, and four. Occasinally, it came on when we were driving straight on the highway.

    The dealer replaced the turn signal stalk under warranty, and the problem went away.
  • if you haven't replaced your tarns as of yet you should change fluid complete by removing cooling hose to radiator and pumping out old fluid while fuelling in new (molar 7176 or new synthetic + 4)note color of old fluid when it comes out clean replace hose add about 16 z. of transx. This should fix cold reverse and high shifting problems
  • Mr. Mac Daddy, I have tried following your advice, but I've been unable to extract sufficient quantities of molar fluid from my mechanics. They appear to suffer a horrible death after I pump out about a liter of fluid from their molars.

    jokes aside. I own a Dodge Caravan 1994, about 82000 miles on the odo. Transmission is a 3-speed A403. It's been replaced at least twice, once at 70000 miles and once at 80000 miles. It's also needed a head gasket at 75000 miles, and a distributor a bit later. The Cardan joints keep failing (3 times), but the mechanic that did the tranny work last time says it was because there was too much pressure in the tranny.

    Other maintenance I had done on the vehicle are brakes, ignition (nothing was broken) and belts.

    Given the expenses on trannies and head gaskets, both common problems I believe ? Is there any chance Dodge might consider paying for part of the repairs ? Or can I just forget it ? Should I try writing them a letter asking for some money ?
  • igreenigreen Posts: 4
    I have experienced many of the problems discussed here with my 96 Grand Caravan also. The one I fixed really easily was the windshield wipers. Look at the relay under the hood. Don't ask me how but my relay was just slightly out of the socket. I pushed it all the way down and now the wipers operate normally. Prior to this my wipers came on at will, rain or shine. It got so bad I could turn them on but when they decided to turn off was entirely up to them. Check the underwood relay.

    @!!!!&^% broke again at 110K. The overdrive separated from the hub and I have a choice of fixing it (replacing cranny with a rebuild or do an overhaul or send entire vehicle to the landfill).

    I'm real close to driving to the landfill.
  • I stumbled on this board while researching a newer vehicle. Thought I'd share what I've learned, even though I own a '92 Chrysler Town & Country with 113,000 miles. The ABS and Parking Brake light was behaving in the exact same way you described. Lights would come on, brake pedal would get rock hard, no brakes. After sitting for a few hours, I could drive it about 100 miles before it would "sieze" again in the exact same way. Chrysler has a recall out for the ABS hydraulic control unit. Try finding a reputable dealer to replace it. I'm on my fourth week of a car rental while my car sits in yet a fourth shop. The first dealer said he could not "pull up the code" to merit replacement of the recalled part. Instead, he charged me over $400 to replace the "accumulator assembly", of which I've since been told by two other dealers, that this is the reservoir that holds brake fluid and NEVER needs to be replaced. Independent mechanics cannot get the parts from Chrysler being told that since it's a recall, it's a restricted part, and only an authorized dealer who pulls up the code will receive the part from Chrysler. As much as I've loved my van, I am so disgusted with Chrysler's customer service. The dealers direct you to call Chrysler's national customer service 800#, saying there is nothing further they can do because of Chrysler policies. When you call the 800 number, all you get are entry level agents, who REFUSE to put you through to a supervisor, maintaining that "supervisors are here for administrative purposes only and do not take phone calls." They then tell you that they have authorization to straighten out your issue. Bottom line, was told repeatedly, "There's nothing Chrysler can do, you'll have to work that out through the dealer." On a recall, of all things!!! This is a severe safety issue. BTW, they also have a recall out for the windshield wipers. (If Dodge has the same one, it might help solve the problems some of you describe.)
  • I own a '96 dodge caravan with 77,000miles. I have had problems with it from the beginning. I had the brakes done three times in the first year including having the rotors changed costing between $300 and $600 each time. The windshield wipers start automatically. I had the transmission replaced after 2years. In the third year the transmission starting acting up again but then I had an accident in it. Thank God for favors.
  • Last Set. 15, I posted #44 in this section telling of the problems I had with My 96 Grand Caravan dying or not starting. Right now it looks like I have solved the problem, after some 18 months. I kept shaking wires, etc, trying to find something loose. I found that the connectors going into the Power Distribution Center were rather loose. When the car went dead I could shake those connectors and turn it back on. It never showed up when the dealer had it. He went ahead and replaced that item and the car is running perfectly. That is after one week. I fell confident that it was a wiring problem within the box itself that shut things down. Get your manuel and find the box. Check it out and see it that can be problem some are having when the car dies or will not start. I am as happy as a lark. I may trade it now, may not. At least it is at my discretion now. The power distribution box is located next to the battery and over the driver's side fender. It has a hot wire coming off the battery into it. It has a bunch of fuses in it and a wire coming out to the wiring system. If some connection within the box is shorting out or not making proper connection, then those items will be dead. Hope this is helpful to someone. Let hear from you if it does.
  • embeeembee Posts: 1
    96 Caravan STD. Brakes went out after 26000 miles. Was told by Midas mechanic that the discs were made of plastic so when they generated any kind of heat, they warped and then stuck in the calipers. The constant pressure against the rotor caused the next set to wear out after 8000 miles. Been doing the same drill ever since. Midas will replace them free.
    On the transmission, it stopped shifting down intermittently at about 46000 miles and within 3000 miles I had to replace it. Dealer said there was no way to prevent this from occurring.
    Last Dodge for me.
  • keygokeygo Posts: 38
    I have a 1992 caravan wad with 170,000 miles on it. It is on it's third transmission. The anti lock brakes have never worked worth a darn. I took them back within the first week of owning the car and was assured they were fine. I too had the recall work done and was told that if I wanted them to work with would cost over $500. When I called the company "help line", I too was told I couldn't speak to a supervisor. I told him that within the next year I would be replacing this van with the year and this would impact my decision. The attitude was "Who cares". As an aside, I know several folks well connected in the company and they fumed when they heard my story. I too have my brake lights come on for no reason and also go off for no reason.

    Now that I am done winning, I am ready to buy a new vehicle. I can get the VIP plan and have been trying to get the price for a new AWD Caravan (another story....). In all likelihood, I am going to pay sticker to buy a Honda Odd or less like a Toyota Senna. My question, have any of the problems we are all having been solved. I was assured the problem with the bad transmissions were solved before I bought my 1993. Right....

    Any information would be wonderful.
  • chots3chots3 Posts: 1
    My 1996 Dodge Caravan has 69,000 miles with a 3.0 V6. Over the last 6 weeks it randomly must have stalled out on the highway at least 11 times over this period. Thought is was bad water in the gas, but dry gas did nothing. Took it to a dealer who checked it when the check engine light was on and they weren't sure. They said it's not registering too well on the diagnostics but it could be the thermostat not warming the engines' 2 & 3 cylinders up fast enough since 2 & 3 were misfiring some. I had them do the thermostat only and the next day it still stalled out while driving off on vacation. Brought it to another shop (general garage) who also could not find anything reading on his diagnostic when the check engine light was on and we were test driving it while it was stalling (with the diagnostics plugged in while driving). He did say though it seems to be a fuel problem, not mis- firing or them. He put in new plugs, wires, distributor cap, rotor and coil per my request (since I never had it tuned up) then replaced the fuel fliter and fuel pump. The FUEL PUMP was the problem! While testing it he found out it was only registering 2 lbs. while starting and 10 lbs. when running and the new fuel pump works normal with 30 lbs. at starting and 50lbs. while running.
    Haven't had the problem since. I Spent alot of time, agrivation and money but finally got it fixed. Hope this helps any other 96 Caravan "stalling out" owners. DP
  • lwhufflwhuff Posts: 2
    Fixing to get rid of my Dodge. It has 102,000 miles. Recently replaced cooling fan and fuel pump. I know Caravans have had alot of transmission problems. Mine has acted up on several occassions; however, upon taking it to mechanic - the problems mysteriously disappear. I keep the fluid changed on a regular basis and luckily it's still running.

    Color is navy and the paint on the roof peeled off. Just to let you know, it had aprox 85K miles and Chrysler paid 75% of the cost to repaint it. So for those of you who wonder if it pays to complain when your vehicle has high mileage - it does. The worst that could happen is they could say no to whatever it is you are wanting.

    On the airbag recall.Had the recall fixed. Airbag light came on again. Took to dealer and they replaced a fuse and claimed it had nothing to do with the recall. A couple of months later, the airbag light came on again. Took back to dealer - mechanic said fuse was blown again. Called Chrysler and they said to bring back in to have checked. In the meantime, my mechanic replaced my fuel pump and the airbag light went off at that time. I know that sounds crazy, but that's what happened. Anyone have similar problem?
  • lumpy4lumpy4 Posts: 2
    I would like to confirm the problems with my 1996 Caravan. I have a LE with the 3.3 liter engine. I purchased the van with 52,000. It was a few weeks later I replaced the brakes. Then at 75,000 miles I replaced the brakes and 1 rotor. Now at 89,000 miles they are due again. Also at 89,000 miles the evaporator (air conditioning) ruptured. I had it replaced on Friday for $642. The AC guy says that he replaces a lot of these on this model. On Sunday morning I went to drive the van and the transmission went out. My mechanic says he replaced 6 last year. He primarily deals with German cars so this is not his main stay. The bill is going to be between $1,400 for a used and $2,000 for a 36,000 mile tranny. Guess My advice is to steer clear of a Dodge van of this year. Maybe stay away from any year Chrysler van! My question is what should I trade for? I am looking a a 99 Ford Windstar, a new Toyota Sienna, and a 99 Honda Van. Any Imput?
  • lumpy4lumpy4 Posts: 2
    I forgot to mention in my prior message that I spent $550 to have my 1996 Caravan transmission re-sealed at 70,000 mile in addition to all the other problems. Steer clear! Any Chrysler execs available to comment, is this going to be recallled?
  • We had a 93 T and C until last week, when my wife and I could finally take no more of the ABS problems with this rig. It was a great car up until 100K (with the exception of serpentine belt unwinds in wet weather and a rebuilt trans at 85K), but it must have known that 100,000 mi was the end of the extended warranty.

    From 100,500 until 118,500 when we finally said goodbye, it was frozen brakes, ABS lights and parking brake lights du jour. Some days not, most days at least part of the time, it was a dance with death. We never knew if we'd be able to stop in time. A couple of times I brought it to the dealer, who couldn't duplicate my problem. OF COURSE!!

    My neighborhood mechanic advised me that he thought the dealer would repair the ABS systems under factory warranty regardless of the miles of the vehicle. He said he couldn't do it for me, and besides, it wasn't worth spending $2500 to $3000 to do so.

    So about two months ago, my local dealer - which had serviced the car regularly while it was warrantied - (somewhat reluctantly) made the calls necessary to get clearance for recall 685 (05685182) to replace the pump and motor - ABS brakes (R4509292), the Piston Package, ABS Brakes (R4740086), the Fluid (4318080AB), and the Gasket - Throttle body to I (4300071). With the exception of a $68 diagnostic fee, the factory paid for everything...and the car ran beautifully...for about a month and a half. No lights came on involuntarily, and it stopped when I needed it to do so.

    At the time of the repair, I declined the dealer's advice to replace the ABS accumulator at a cost of several hundred dollars. Maybe that's why, within 6 weeks and about 1500 miles, the ABS and parking brake lights started playing peek-a-boo with us again. The brakes still worked, but this is what happened first before we started to get the rock hard brakes out of nowhere. I couldn't stand to revisit this place again, or to put my family in jeopardy behind the wheel of this thing anymore.

    At this point, we started to shop around for a new vehicle. Believe it or not, we bought a low mileage 98 DC ES with the extended warranty, but there is no way I will keep it beyond 100 K, or hang onto it if the ABS haunts us. I shopped all of the other vans - new and slightly used - and liked the Sienna and the Windstar, but the Caravan still won us over with all of its features. Seems like quality is much better since '93, too, but time will tell.

    In closing, don't accept the dealer's unwillingness to help. Maybe it helped that I showed him my printouts from the NHTSA and the Center for Safety in the Public Interest (Nader's group) sites concerning the ABS problems in Chysler products.
  • i have been considering some 98s and have not seen any negatives on any caravans after 97. Did they fix alot of these engineering problems, or has time not caught up with the newer models? i had a 93 eagle vision tsi before. had it until 86,000 miles in 7/98 until someone totaled it. only problem was an engine sensor, which took them 3 weeks to diagnose. my brother just got rid of his 93 intrepid. he had the tranny replaced twice within 30,000 miles. this chat room is giving me second thoughts on mopars. also considering windstars. any problems/thoughts?
  • just looked at the windstar problem line. bad, but not as bad as mopar.
  • gkcarrgkcarr Posts: 2
    Recently my 97 Grand Caravan passed 36K miles (purchased new in 98) and as things go, the belt tensioner bolt sheered off its mounting plate on the engine block disengaging the belt and leaving the vehicle without power steering (and who knows what else). After having the vehicle towed to the dealer, I am waiting on their findings and the resulting monetary damage. I located numerous other complaints in regards to this at the NHTSA site. Is this just a belt tensioner mounting bolt defect or are there other issues that I need to have looked into?
  • To all Mopar owners:

    The site has alot of information regarding the beloved Mopar product line. It may save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills. My brother also owns a Dodge Caravan and we consult with this site pretty often...more often than normal! A little knowledge goes along way!!!!!!!

  • I had the belt tensioner problem with our 97 GC LE with 3.3L engine. The one in ours did not have the broken mounting bolt. The belt tensioner in ours was froze in place and was not moving up and down to maintain the belt tension. It never caused any problem. After dealer told me about what was wrong, I took it to an independent garage, and had it replaced for $135. The dealer was replacing my leaky transmission selenoid valve pack at the time! That deal cost $350. Our van has 71K miles on it now, and has leaky power steering pump, and bad/leaky left front strut. I like the body style, its well thought out interior.

    Chrysler needs to improve its Quality before Honda starts building Oddessy's in Alabama. Right now, Honda has capacity problems in Canada plant, and that is why it can't build as much as it needs. I walked around the oddessy, and sat in it, and opened and closed the doors. the sliding doors don't even come close to Chrysler's. Chrysler has much better feel to it, but I know Honda's engine/transmission is much better than Chrysler's.

    I still like our van, and its reliability has always been my concern. I bought it for its look, and its practical and well laid out interior.
  • First, you're right the tension bolt sheared and a $135 later it worked. NOW - Where do I start?
    Nothing like being stranded on the side of a country highway, almost out of cell range, with a car full of kids and Christmas gifts at 8 o'clock am Christmas night. Now what happened? While passing a car the oil light came on (it had plenty of oil), the motor froze within a hundred yards. NO WARNING! We have 80,800 miles and in most cases the van has run well. The engineer designed the oil pump bearings in 2 pieces. What happened in our case, one of the pieces spun around and piggy-backed on the other half causing the motor to seize. Dodge's response was "tough luck it is out of warranty". We found a used motor, after having the van back a week- the fuel pump had to be replaced. Want to guess how fast it will take me to trade this money sucker in?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,471
    Well, you know, around $60K-80K miles is when you should expect things to fail on a vehicle. IN your case, it's too bad it was the oil pump, but it could have just as well been the alternator or power steering pump or whatever.

    Component failure of this type will occur at these's just a fact of life, but some owners are luckier than others as to which component takes the flying leap...I'm sorry to hear about the catastrophic failure on your engine...I doubt you could have prevented it, if it was a sudden failure of the oil would have had to shut the key off almost instantaneously at highway speeds if the red light came on, to save the engine, and that might not have been a safe thing to do anyway.

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  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Nonsense. It may be common for Chrysler Group products (at least it was with the ones we've owned) to have major component failures at 60-80K,
    but the cars we've had since then (two Toyotas and a Subaru) went far beyond that mileage with no hint of trouble in the case of the Toyotas - one up to 195,000 miles with nothing other than exhaust systems (2), and wear items (belts, brakes, tires).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,471
    Yes, perhaps, but I bet if I drove those cars I would find any number of substandard components...I'm certain your shocks are completely worn out at those mileages (really, never replaced?), you have some oil leaks, probably many, many front end bushings are old and rubbery, your engine no doubt burns some oil. I could probably justify replacing a few thousand dollars worth of things on your old cars.

    I assure you that any component on a Toyota lasting 195K miles (never replaced the alternator in 200K miles?!!!) is well outside the statistical extreme.

    Component failure on any new modern car starts around 60K and goes downhill from there. Ask any good repair shop and they'll tell you this. Your experiences, if entirely accurate, are quite exceptional. Just go to a wrecking yard and read the speedometers...I doubt you'll find 1 car in 500 with 195K on it.

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  • enetheneth Posts: 285
    Shocks (struts) are maintenance items and were replaced a couple of times in those miles. No, the engine did not burn any oil at all, on day 1 or after 11 years. No, the alternator was never replaced. No, the engine never leaked a drop of oil (same for the other Corolla, currently at about 78K, and the Subaru, at 45K). I figure those cars were some sort of statistical make-up for the junk (Dodge and Chevy) we had before them.

    Getting well over 100,000 miles without non-maintenance repairs is more the norm with Toyotas, Hondas and Subarus than it is the exception. Getting that kind of mileage out of a Caravan without a replacement tranmission is not normal - it'd be a miracle.
  • When my camry reaches 100K I am not worried, but when our '97 GC reaches 100K, I WILL be nervous! My old 95 Dodge Stratus 2.4L had bad head gasket at 63K, and cost $550 to replace. When I sold it, it had 93K miles and no trouble at all after that gasket.

    No one should expect component troubles/failures at 60K. Increased routine maintenance maybe, but alternator, power steering, brake pooster, valve/lifter noise, transmission trouble, strut replacement....I would say NO.

    60K/100K: That is the time when true quality of cars come through. We are not talking about 70's cars here.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 58,471
    I see your point, but you have to admit that if most manufacturers are cutting their warranties off at or before 60K, and most do cut them off then or before, they must know something. What they know is the built-in "ranges" of service life for their components.

    In other words, a manufacturer tries to build the components to have a service life more or less in compliance with each is rather stupid to build a motor that goes 125K but a differential that is good for 500K (like on say a Greyhound bus, where both engine and trans can go 500K with top, top maintenance).

    Now, these "service ranges" aren't perfectly predictable, but what I was proposing is that on a typical Chrysler product, the LOW END of the service range on components could well be 60K...that alternator may go to 100K, sure, but it could also fail at 60K....why, because of the choice of bearings, electronics, etc.

    I think many of the components used on a Toyota are of excellent quality, but we can't really peg the service life of a Toyota at 195K any more than we can say that all men will live to 100 years of age because Mr. Ralph Nelson of Melonville Ohio actually did. Our service life is around 80, most will make it, some won't and a few will exceed it with good maintenance (and genetics!).

    This is also, by the way, why a BMW costs more than a Mustang, at least theoretically, because of choice of materials and projected service life. Whether that all pans out in real life, sometimes I wonder, but I can tell you that a Porsche alternator looks a lot better made than a Chrysler one.

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  • I began getting some squeeling noises upon engine start-up on my 96 GC. It's got about 111K on it and had a low water level in the radiator and I'm getting ready to send it out to pasture. Have had no problems to speak of other than the obligatory tranny replacement. Any ideas on what the prob is?
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Squeal on startup is often caused by a loose alternator (or serpentine) belt. Check the belt, and tensioner if equipped.
  • The noise at start up(cold engine idling) and on and off later, could be a sign of froze belt tensioner. The noise is worse when you turn on the A/C in warm weather. Our 97 caraven with 3.3L engine had the tensioner problem at 63K miles. It cost $150 (parts and labor) at independent repair shop.
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