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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • Charlontario, Keep in mind that most everything you read on these boards are from either a) people asking for help on problems with their vehicles (hey...even including ME!) and/or b) people criticizing other makes/models because they believe "theirs" is the best. I've noticed this in particular in the Honday Odyssey chat groups.

    We've only owned two Dodge van products. A '94 Voyager for about 9 months and then in '98 we upgraded to a used '96 Grand Voyager. We've owned the G.V. for about four years now and we're very close to 100,000 miles (don't know how to do that fancy-shmancy KM conversion...but it's a lot of miles). Generally speaking we've been very happy with it. Over the course of those four years we've spent about $1500 in general "unaccounted for" repairs, i.e. NOT brakes, rotors, etc. But if you consider that we paid $15,000 for a 2 year old van (at the time in '98) with only 28,000 miles on it, then the $1500 in repairs amounts to a 10% repair premium. So then I have to ask myself if I could have purchased a "higher quality" 2 year old van - a Toyota or Honda presumably - with 28k miles for just $16,500 (the original cost of $15k + $1500). In the area of Southeast Michigan I can guarantee you that the answer is NO. Most "slightly used" import vans are going for low to mid $20's here, and you can STILL get a nice used D.C. minivan (full size) for $15-$16k.

    I do believe the imports may have a slight (VERY slight) leg up on D.C. - but I base that on anecdotal stories - not hard facts. And you also have to consider the repair costs of each brand. Our friends down the street - proud owners of a '99 Odyssey - spent >$1000 fixing their radio/center console after their 4 year old dumped sand in the cd player. Would a comparable D.C. repair have cost as much? And their Odyssey, in my humble opinion, lacks comfortable seats, rides like an '88 GMC truck (I should know, I used to own one) and is the same color as 80% of the other Odyssey's I see on the road. But it does have those cool automatic sliding doors, is very reliable (when they remember to turn off the interior lights which drains their battery overnight...something our van never does) and has a little more get-up-and-go than our van does. But then again they paid a 30-40% premium for that van.

    Good luck,
  • 2000 GC owner who really enjoys their family van the past 3yrs and 49k miles. But, beginning to wonder if I should have purchased the ext warranty when new. Have had a few annoying experiences, most occurring the last two years.

    Warranty covered problems:
    1)upon delivery-inside rear door panel rubbed exterior approx 3-4" when opened
    2)approx 5k miles-trans leak, replaced seals
    3)approx 15k-sensor in trans went out, would not shift out of 2nd gear
    4)36k! (just made it under warranty)-misfire in one the cylinders due to faulty seat in one of the ports, engine had to be pulled and affected part (head?) sent to machine shop for regrinding. Glad I didn't pay that bill!

    Most Recent annoyances: (not under warranty)
    1) 49K, Check engine light on, cruise works most of the time, trans leak again. Oxygen sensor #1 found to be the culprit for engine light and possible affect to cruise. Refered to independent shop who charges $200(a little steep I think) to replace sensor and traces cruise wiring to say it appears to be ok and tighten bolts on trans. Seems to be all fixed. Engine light did come on briefly for a day or two following repair. Have sched follow up to put back on computer to see if any codes show up.

    Guess I should count myself lucky, have only spent $200 besides routine maint. But the transmission thing worries me given the history of DC trannys.

    Any suggestions where to shop for an ext warranty?
  • tccmn1tccmn1 Posts: 278
    Others before have talked about these issues:

    I have a 95 Caravan 3.3 which has 170K mileage on it. It's starting to kill at intersections (SOMETIMES) just fine. Been told its the THROTTLE BODY needs to be cleaned. Imagine this means injectors too..? Seems worse with the recent cold weather.

    Also the wobble; relates to shafts. Had both of mine replaced for a tune of $600 at my friendly Dodge dealer. What the heck, they've been going for 170K miles! Rides smoother now...but still has a slight pulse at 70+MPH. Maybe it's just old age...feels like a wheel balance problem, but took it to Tires + several times and they say things are fine. Tires have 6K miles on them. Any OTHER ideas on why I feel the pulse at high speed?
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    I wouldn't mess with the injectors other than putting some fuel additive into the gas tank. The throttle body is the part that's connected to the air intake. Get a Haynes manual--a picture is worth a thousand words...........

    As far as the wobble at 70+ mph I don't feel safe driving mine over 65!
  • tmb5tmb5 Posts: 1
    Does anyone have any thoughts as to what would be causing an extremely wet floor by the passenger door (RH 1st bench seat) and in the rear area of a '94 Grand Voyager. It only happens when it rains, so it is coming from somewhere, I just don't know where! Any thoughts on, or experiences with this problem would be greatly appreciated!
  • tccmn1tccmn1 Posts: 278
    Did just as suggested and she purrs like a kitten again...well an old kitten anyway.
    171K miles now and still looking good.
    I had my tranny replaced at 99K under my EXTENDED WARRANTY. Geez, that tranny is getting a few miles on it now (72K). Time to sell her.
    Even in the below zero crap in MN., she's a firing off each morning.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Good job. I have a new spray can of throttle body cleaner in my van that I need to use too :-)

    Steve, Host
  • HELLO,
  • All of these minivans suffer the same wear pattern due to the extremely high percentage of vehicle weight over the driving wheels. You can replace the drive shafts and help the problem but that doesn't fix the wear slop that develops in splined female recepticle that the shaft fits into. I have discussed this with a couple of dealers and they insist it is not a safety issue. At 170K miles, you've done well just to keep the thing rolling. I have a '90 with 150K still in service and an '00 with 40,000 that just developed its first problem of any oil leak.
  • pluto5pluto5 Posts: 618
    The TB probably still has some deposits despite spraying so it's a good practice to spray it once a month or two to keep down the buildup of further deposits.
  • Have you checked the rubber around your door? Sounds like maybe you've got a loose spot where some water has been able to penetrate. Might want to just take a few minutes and go along every inch of that rubber (gasket?/weather-stripping?) and make sure it's permanently attached and functional.

    In our '96 Plymouth G.V. we had a leak in the front passenger floor area. Turns out the exterior plastic molding around the windshield had come loose on that side. The D.C. mechanic said he'd seen that a lot w/the vans, told me to just slop some caulk in there. Silicone caulk has held up well for the last 18 months or more leaks.

    - Rob
  • tccmn1tccmn1 Posts: 278
    Last week I cleaned the throttle body and thought I was out of the woods of problems with the old red van...but;
    after my wife took the old DC 3.3 up to Girl Scout camp (About 40 miles from home) over this past cold weekend the old puppy died not far from home on the way back...thankfully! She said it ran just fine and started great this a.m. when it was about 12 below...but for some reason it died after she exited the freeway onto a local street about 2 miles from home. I had to meet her with our Camry and load junk from the van to the car...two trips mind you. I tried starting it and it just turned with no spark. Had it towed to our local friendly Chrys. dealer...of course it's Sunday, so it is just sitting there for the day. I went back tonight to check on it and just try to start it and it took right off...but sounds terrible! Like something grinding in the engine. I shut it down fast and will wait to hear the bad news from the shop tomorrow. I didn't notice any smoke...but I have noticed some drops of oil on my garage floor. I have changed my oil every 3k miles forever.
    I'm afraid I'm in for some tough $$$'s news tomorrow. 171K miles are calling it to van heaven I'm afraid. Anyone want to take a guess as to what it is? I thought at first it may be a module-electrical gone bad, etc. But after hearing it finally run tonight over at the dealer lot, I'm bracing for news of a main bearing gone or timing belt maybe? On top of that, I can't open the hood because the inside latch release broke. I probably could have jimmied it open, but didn't want to fret around with it in the dark and cold tonight. All this happening now within two weeks of getting a new van! The old DC Sport still looks like a cherry, but it's starting to show it's mechanical DC age. Ca-ching news will be coming in the a.m. I'm sure. Again, my wife said it ran fine until it died.
  • gtahobegtahobe Posts: 42
    I also managed to break the hood release inside my 93PGV (152Kmiles). First, the hinge broke, so I've been pulling the handle straight out (towards the back of the van) to get the hood to release. A few weeks ago, I managed to break the plastic handle off of the hood release mechanism. I then had to remove some of the trim around the hood release mechanism where I was fortunate to find a good chuck of plastic still attached to the hood release cable. I've been gripping this to pull the cable to release the hood.

    Don't worry, I'm not going to wait for that to break too. I've already gone to the junk yard and for $10 was able to pull the whole mechanism from a junker. I'd love to wait until it's warmer out to replace it, but I've better do it before my next oil change.
  • tccmn1tccmn1 Posts: 278
    Well, I got the much anticipated bad news on the old mini; wasn't what I thought it was though. Fuel pump bit the dust. Seems they work when cold but die when the engine is warm...which is why it started rough last night but died yesterday after a 40 mile trip. $300 more bucks to keep it running. That's a whopping $400+ in the past week for an old van that has 171K on it!
    Man, that's a big job too; they need to lift the gas tank out I guess to do it.
  • Thanks for the update on your problem. Its tough to take those $400 dealer repair hits but, if you think about it, that's about one month's payment on the new one. If you can get by with that only once a year, that ain't bad with a vehicle with 171k on the clock. I'm trying to keep my '90 with 150k rolling and its costing me about $1,000 per year in repair and maintenance. I have 3 DC vehicles in my stable and its expensive. I just spent $600 for a new torque converter in my '99 300M with 100k mi and my wife's '00 DGCS with 41k needs the windshield replaced and an oil leak investigated. My dealer loves me!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Paul: I'd be attracted to clamping a cheap vice-grip pliers on the hood release cable end and who knows how long you could delay replacement.
  • kkovakkkovak Posts: 16
    My '99 Gr Caravan has developed rattles in both sliding doors. Has anyone else experienced his and found the fix?

  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    .. in the sliding doors after some time are usually indicative of the need to adjust the sliders. My 99 GCS developed the same problem, and the adjustment took care of it. I am now at 45k miles, and the van is still as silent as the day I bought it.
  • Most dealers are expert at adjusting the sliding side of the most common things they do on DC minivans. Another thing to look at: on my '00 DGCS, there were (notice past tense) several rubber grommets slip fit on the closing face of the door. These began popping out very quickly after taking delivery. I haven't bothered to replace them yet but the door definitely makes a much harsher sound when the kids slam it shut.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,910
    My '99 GCS developed rattles in both sliders during its second winter, which was a cold one. The dealer replaced both tracks under warranty, saying that there had been a design improvement on the tracks. However, I notice that the doors still rattle a bit in very cold weather (like it is now, near zero).
  • I have an opportunity to purchase a 1994 GC ES, that seems to be in excellent condition, through an estate liquidation. The engine compartment is clean with the exception of a little oil on the valve cover around the PCV. It had belt/hoses and tires replaced last summer. Also, the Transaxle was replaced at 17K,(when it was 3 yrs old!). It has been garaged most of its life and has only 44800 miles. The posts/reviews I have read concerning the transaxle are a little scary. Any one have any advice on this as a used car? Yes/No? Watch out for ________? This vehicle lives in the Desert Southwest and has never seen cold weather or snow.

    Thanks for your input.
  • arnejarnej Posts: 9
    I posted our hesitating/surging and stalling/hard-starting problems on our '94 GC. Thanks for your helpful tips!

    We found a great Mechanic-Jim's Auto near Elkart Lake, WI.

    To fix the hesitating/surging he cleaned the throttle body and for the starting/stalling he replaced the fuel pump.
    Now it's a high-performance machine. It runs's better than when we bought it!
    thanks, all of you, for your help!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Don, 1st be sure to have the condition verified by an inspection by a reputable mechanic. Look for a service record. The tranny should be serviced about every 15K, at least with fluid change, and some would say fluid and filter. You need an auxiliary transmission cooler added, a not very hard job to do yourself if you can do a little more than change oil- certainly any shop can do this. It is a cooler, 2 hoses and 4 clamps. Last, turn overdrive off in city driving. I have a '95 Caravan with over 91000 including 1000 mi/yr boat trailer towing and doing well. The most common expensive problems I read are AC, which I've not had and serpentine belt problems related to the water pump failure (I have had this) or failure of belt pullies. Rattles and wind noise/air leaks seem to be a common nuisance problem. Some older van owners have had paint problems and I have one area of paint loss about 1"x5" and I think duct tape could pull off more. Good luck. Roy
  • We just found a 2000 DGC (base model, but all the power options - locks, windows, seat, cruise, tilt wheel) - it has 27,000 miles - just came off lease. It seems like a really great deal - we talked the salesman down to $13,500 out the door -including everything. We were thinking this is great because we are also getting it as a "certified" used vehicle, which means we get the remainder of the 8 yr/80,000 mile warranty.

    Please - give me your opinions. Will we be making a big mistake getting this van? We only plan to keep it for 3-4 yrs (we will put on apprx 15,000 miles a year).

    So . . . what do ya think? I'm going to carfax right now to check into this car further.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Sounds good right off the bat. You've had Dodge's before right? You're checking the TMV and the other sources right?

    And ask your salesperson to do the Carfax for you - they usually have a subscription service at the dealers.

    Steve, Host
  • Opps - too late. I just ran carfax - all clean history. And yes, I've had a Dodge Colt & a Dodge Intrepid - both were AWESOME cars!

    I just got worried when I started reading all the negative posts about this minivan. I guess it seems to be more specifically the 1990 models that had a lot of problems??? - is that correct?

    Anyone else have opinions of a 2000 DGC with 27,000 miles on it with a 8 yr/80,000 mile warranty? $13,500 out the door - good price? Reliable car? Anything else I should know?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Actually what I should have said is make sure you run the Carfax through our ad link so we get some revenue too :-)

    I can't keep track of all the options, especially with the DC vans (I had an '89 and about gave up trying to figure out the different models and packages while buying a new van in '99 ). Anyway, what engine does it have and does it have enough oomph for you?

    Remember too that people tend to post more about their gripes -- it's not all that often that someone takes the time to report they've driven 38,000 miles and only had the usual maintenance.

    You may also want to look around the Minivan Shopping discussion. Good luck!

    Steve, Host
  • I had such a wonderful experience with my 2000 Intrepid & never posted once about it! BUT - I had a 1996 Windstar that was HORRID! and I posted up a storm back then! Misery loves company, but when things are going well we all quiet down I guess.

    The DGC has a 3.0 V6. Had plenty of ooomph for me - it'll be used as an around town/kid hauler/soccer mom vehicle.

    Thanks for all your help Steve.
  • I have a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport (loaded) purchased June, 2000. Now have 42,000 miles on it. I have done nothing but routine maintenance to this point and it has performed as expected. I do have an oil leak I need to have checked out but doesn't seem major. It sounds like you are getting a good deal and it should have plenty of life left in it with only 27,000 on the clock, plus you get the warranty protection so go for it!
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