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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    That warranty went away in 95 I think and hasn't been back since the recient 7/100 warranty. We had 4 of the 4 speed OD transmissions and never had a single problem there. One of the vans had 145,000 miles on it when we traded it in. We tow with the vans, do jackrabbit starts, take them off road hunting, and just generally abuse them. Even set the parking brake to see how good a FWD burnout a caravan will do? Well I have, most of my personal problems were from damage (torn cv boots, broken radiator.). The 145,000 mile van did end up with a bad head gasket and the 3.0 liter smoking, but they still gave us $2000 trade in on a 10 year old van with those problems that cost under $20,000 new. Our newest van just went off warranty so now I guess we are in for it! We actually bought it used with about 18,000 miles on it, and it was a rental van before that so our trouble must be double! I have faith in our van, thought about the extended warranty but realize that the companies make money selling those things, so the average van must have less repair costs then the wholesale cost of the warranty, so I'm hopeing for average. Seeing as the wholesale cost is much less then a complete transmission replacement, then there is no way replacing the transmission could be considered average.
  • mazzonimazzoni Posts: 4
    I drive a 1998 grand caravan and have 52250 trouble free miles, BUT, all this talk of trouble has me worried! I plan to drive across the country(Louisiana to Calif and return) and am now considering an extended warranty (plan to keep van another 2 years). Edmunds (Warrantybynet)quotes $1228. for 3yrs/40,000 after inspection. Does this sound about right? My main concern is not price but usability. Thanks.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    I don't think you will find a reasonably priced extended warranty at this point. GC repairs are relatively cheap compared with other brands--new trans about $2400 compared to almost $6,000 for Ody trans--so just bring your checkbook. We also keep a cell phone in ours--just a $10/mo. plan with no included minutes--for emergency.
  • oreste1oreste1 Posts: 1
    I have to agree with dmathews3 about DC. In the past I have owned a 1991 Gr Caravan
    and have had a 1994 all wheel drive at work. I presently own a 1999 Grand Caravan ES
    and it will be the last.
    The others had their problems but it seemed the folks at Dodge were more open and willing
    to help. The 1991 went 185000 miles but got too expense to put any repairs into. The 1999
    seems to be even more prone to problems. Here is the list of problems.
    Master cylinder reservoir replaced twice, steering column replaced twice, transmission
    sensors replaced once, serpentine belt tension idler pulley replaced twice, rear wheel bearing
    replaced once, Anti-sway bar bushings once, first set of braked lasted 64000 miles had them
    replaced last April(01) second set lasted 31000 miles this April(02) I had a new set of brakes
    install, they lasted 1000 miles, had another set put on under waranttee they lasted 1200 miles
    and they had warped rotors.I pick the van up today with another set of brakes, new rotors, drums,
    and pads. How long will these last is anybody's guess. I asked the service rep if maybe there was
    a problem with the ABS system that was taxing the front brakes too much. He said the tech said
    "No it was working fine" . When I asked him why I got 64000 mile on the original and have so
    many problem now he stated , to my dismay, that DC uses a lower quality brake set-up on repairs
    because"Dodge people do not want to pay for extra quality parts". I seems to me that
    factory replacement parts should be the same quality as original equipment. If I want original
    equipment I have to special order and pay more for the better quality. Since April I've
    put over $2000 in repairs to this vehicle. My problem is not only the repairs and cost but also
    with the attitude they have. In addition to this vehicle I also have a 1997 and a 1998 Pontiac
    Grand Prix. These two vehicles have been rock solid with just normal maintenace. You be
    the judge. Also as a special note, the 1999 ES comes with 17" wheels/tires.
    (215-60-17) there is only one tire that is made for that rim, that is a Michelin MX4. There is no
    other Michelin, Goodyear, Cooper, Toyo, Yokohama or any other tire in the whole world that
    will fit on. The Michelin MX4 is a fine tire except in snow then driving become real interesting
    especially if the front rotors are warped.
  • gmusic7gmusic7 Posts: 42
    help please...

    there is a problem with my parent's 1997 sliding door. the door will not lock by using either the power lock switch or by manually locking.

    is there a way to open/remove the door panel to get to the locking mechanism?

    my goal is to at least be able to lock the door manually.
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    I'm sorry to hear you have had so many problems with your 1999 Grand Caravan ES. The ES is a very nice model; it's too bad you have had to put so much money and time into repairs. To me, it sounds like you got a lemon. But that's just me. My friend has a 1999 Grand Caravan ES 3.8 they use to tow a camping trailer. Their van has been very reliable and hasn't had any problems. Good luck in the future.
  • buyersoonbuyersoon Posts: 7
    Is it true that the 4cyl Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth minivans DO NOT experience the problems that the v6's do????
    I have gathered also that these minivans have AC problems?
    I am in the market for a used minivan. Am I right that post 1997 minvans are better?
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I posted a response to this over at the transmission forum.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    Michelin does make their studdless snow tire the Artic Alpin in that size as well. I am thinking of switching to 17" or 18" wheels on our 2000 sport and would go with a 225/55/17, that is only 2/10ths of an inch shorter and a little wider then the stock size. Tire Rack lists 29 different tires in that size ($91-$310 each), sure to have something to fit your driving style. Hardly anybody (about 3 different companies) makes a tire the same as on my Dakota either (255/55/17), but a least the Dakota can handle a large varaity of other sizes (going to go with a 275/50/17).
  • 4aodge4aodge Posts: 288
    I wouldn't buy any Chrysler minivan older than a 1999 model. From what I've read, Chrysler made some significant changes to the transmission in 1999 and started using a new type of fluid. We had a 1998 Grand Caravan that went to 70k miles without any problems, but I'd still be safe and limit myself to a 1999 or 2000 model year Chrysler van. Whatever you do, do not buy a 1996 or 1997 year van because many of those had serious problems , especially with transmission and A/C.

    Good luck!

  • tomtomtomtomtomtom Posts: 491
    very interesting explanation/ theory on why people would buy a DC van one after another...
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    As a repeat buyer of Dodge Caravans, I can tell you it wasn't because of poor trade-in value. I bought a new '91 base Caravan for $13,000--4 cyl. with a hose-em-out interior. I sold it privately eight years later for $5900. That's pretty good resale value I think. I leased a new '99 GCS because of A) ride and handling, B) comfort and features, C) styling, D) great dealer service on my '91 van, E) great lease deal (under $300/month for a $28,000 MSRP van with almost nothing down), and F) the only other van I had an interest in, the new-for-'99 Odyessy, had a very long waiting list and a take-it-or-leave-it full sticker price. BTW, at that same time a friend of mine was on a waiting list for the Odyssey, got fed up and went and bought a loaded T&C Limited. He's very happy with it.
  • shanleishanlei Posts: 2
    3.0 engine and 3 speed tranny. I really appreciate if anyone could enlighten me of how to remove the rear brake drum. After the removal of rear wheel, it won't come off (parking brake released). Is it stucked there? or did I miss something? and what should I do if it is stucked?

    Thanks in advance,
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    Did you take the little plug out on the inside of the wheel and manually back off the brakes? If not that is your problem. Also sometimes the drum can stick to the axle with rust etc. May need to be jarred loose.
  • tomtomtomtomtomtom Posts: 491
    It is not unusual to see mechanics (in Midas)hammering the rear drums before they can take them out
  • shanleishanlei Posts: 2

    >>Did you take the little plug out on the inside of the wheel and manually back off the brakes?<<

    Which little plug ? on the wheel or on the brake housing? and how to manually back off the brakes? could you please describe more details?

    Thanks a lot,
  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    Showing your age, huh? In the old days we didn't have self-adjusters and when you got your oil changed they would check your brakes and adjust as nec. Anyway on the back side of the wheel (the part attached to the axle there should be a plug about 1/2" by about 1 1/2". Take the plug (rubber if I remember) out and there is a wheel in there with teeth and they have a real brake tool used to adjust them but some people can make due with a screwdriver and back off the wheel which contracts the pads away from the drum. Which way do you turn the wheel, that I don't remember. Here is a site that explains how to do it on trailers as they still use this type system. It should help you out.
  • cavillercaviller Posts: 331
    If you own a 2002 Dodge/Chrysler minivan, can you please confirm how many standard and optional tether anchor locations exist for the second and third row seating? Also, are there any printed warnings about the number of children/carseats allowed in the third row?

    Some parents are being told by dealer and manufacurer that only one [or two] child/carseat may be installed in the 3rd row of the 2002 models. In addition, Chrysler apparently switched the number of factory installed tether anchors from three to one from MY2001 to MY2002.

    Any information on this would be appreciated. A scan of the relevant pages in the owner's manual would be great. Please no flames or attacks, I need the information to assist parents with proper carseat installation information. If you do have information, I'd appreciate a copy to the email address in my profile in addition to a response here. Thanks!
  • gwindy1gwindy1 Posts: 1
    A regional manager in the northeast has offered to do a voluntary buyback on my 2001 Grand Caravan ES AWD. They are offering difference in sticker plus .30 per mile (20K miles). There is a rebate being offered but not answer on that question.
    I have sent letters to the Head of NA Sales and the President in Germany. The offer was made before the President received the letter. Any suggestions on how to handle this. The car has been at the dealership for over a month and is unsafe to drive (although the dealership will tell you otherwise)
  • rolfe2rolfe2 Posts: 81
    What I learned (Northwest, not Northeast) is that when DC makes an offer to buy a vehicle back, they offer exactly what your state's lemon law provides, no more, no less. In other words, they won't negotiate the terms because they won't do any more than the lemon law would force them to do if they lost their case to you.

    You should compare their offer to what you can read on

    Furthermore, any current incentives (rebates, etc.) don't enter into the picture at all.

    I believe that the dealership has a limit on how many buy backs they are allowed without jeapordizing their 5-star status or whatever, but that the funding comes from the 'factory' not the dealership. That's why the incentives don't figure in.

    Consider yourself lucky that you have their offer to consider; now you just have to evaluate your alternatives.


  • My heater keeps switching to heat on it's own. The vent or air will be running and all of a sudden hot air will come out. Sometimes if I wiggle the temperature selector, it will go back to blowing cold air, but sometimes not. I have talked to two dealers and they have not seen this problem. Any thoughts? The problem is getting progressively worse. I have a 98 Grand Caravan.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    This question may have come up before, but I am too lazy to go through all 1200+ postings. Our 96 Caravan with the 3.3 liter V-6 has developed an intermittent chirping somewhere in the serpentine belt drive line. Is this usually related to the belt tensioner problem, or in the alternator or some other component? It comes and goes, has been happening off and on for over a year. Anyone have this, what was the cause, and can it be handled by a do-it-yourselfer?
  • miffed1miffed1 Posts: 3
    Has anyone had any luck getting Chrysler to cover repairs once the vehicle is out of warranty. I have a 96 Grand Caravan that had the trany replaced in Aug 99, now I just had the drive shaft seize into the differential, and they found filings in the trany, so another $3000 plus $500 tax ($3500) to repair. I've had all my servicing done at the dealer including transmission tune-ups, plus replacing A/C evaporator, struts, water pump, starter, power steering lines, sliding door control assembly, ABS light sensors, engine service sensors. Alot of problems for a 96 with only 115,000km (70K miles). I have complained to Chrysler's customer service 800 number, and am awaiting a response. They supposedly need to speak with the District Service Manager. The dealer isn't saying diddly. What leverage do I have to raise a bigger stink? I can threaten to never buy a Chrysler vehicle again, but do they care?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I don't think they'll care about threats not to repurchase (they probably figure you won't buy another DC for a while anyway at this point).

    I had an out-of-warranty head gasket fixed on my Voyager, but it was the 3rd one they had done, so they didn't fight me too hard on it. I went in with the attitude of "this shouldn't have happened, what can you do for me" instead of yelling and raising a ruckus. That's what lawyers are for :-)

    Maybe a follow-up letter to the dealer telling him what a good customer you've been and asking for some consideration would help. (will the peanut gallery please hold the Pollyanna comments down ).

    good luck!

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  • dmathews3dmathews3 Posts: 1,739
    True. I had a 97 Tracker I towed behind my MH and it had about 26k on it in about 5 yrs. Had problem with trans (stick shift) and it was out of warranty 3/36. Dealer quoted almost $1600 (4 X 4) so transfer case/trans all together. Anyway called GM and gave them sob story about always having all maintainance done at dealer and about 10k was pulled behind MH so engine wasn't running and had always bought Chevy and it ended up after they investigated that they covered all parts and 50% labor. Cost me about $375, but I talked the talk and was very nice on phone. Not a bad deal since it was 2 years out of warranty.
  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I wouldn't rebuild that tranny just because of the filings in it. I'd hacve it flushed and filled and then see if it works. No reason just to shotgun the whole thing because maybe there is a problem. You're not running the Michigan 400 in a Winston Cup car this weekend, your just driving to work. If it drives fine and your worried about it, take it down and trade it in. If you had a problem and found metal filings in your motor's oil pan, would you just automatically repalce the entire motor assembly? Why are people so afraid of the "magic" going on in their automatic transmissions? Tranny shops (and dealers) make a killing rebuilding transmission that only need a minor part or repair.
  • jfz219jfz219 Posts: 63
    I would guess that the tensioner pulley and/or the power steering pump is the source of your chirping. I have to replace the pulley on my 98 with the 3.8 engine. On my 2001, the noise was caused by the power steering pump. There was a TSB that involved the replacement of a hose and a conversion to ATF for the power steering. This was a dramatic improvement in the noise level.

    The least expensive step would be use Lubegard PS additive. This will improve the lubrication of the pump, and reduce the strain on the tensioner pulley. Second step would be draining and refilling with the ATF prescribed in the 2001 TSB. Third, repair/replace the tensioner pulley.

    I highly recommend the ATF switch because of my own experience with pump and rack failures on DC products.
  • petra02petra02 Posts: 33
    We were just getting the 1996 Grand Caravan we'd purchased into our driveway, and guess what happened?

    Buda Boom! The Power Steering goes out! So we have to drive it, sans power steering, to the next town, where we bought it, which has to be about 30 km. away [about 12 Miles, I guess, for the Americans] and we didn't get it back for 5 days.

    Anyone ever have that happen?
  • miltkimmiltkim Posts: 1
    I successfully got Chrysler to cover work on my 2001 Caravan after the warranty expired. However, you have to support that the problem existed prior to the warranty period expiring. We had to meet with the GM of the dealership to get something done. I will tell you, it is a painful process to deal with Chrysler. They quickly avoid any liability when it comes to post warranty claims. Talk to the President of the dealership and work something out with him/her. If you can show that Chryler somehow has not fixed an original problem during the warranty period, you could takr them to arbitration. Best wishes
  • emaleemale Posts: 1,380

    your 2001 van is already out of warranty? wow, that's alot of miles in one year...
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