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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • Jason5Jason5 Posts: 440
    Apparently you've never ventured into the Intrepid board. As a whole we have one member who changed identities at least twice and have had several "posters" who would drop in once or twice--make fairly catastrophic claims about the product--and then disappear. I don't recall the sedan host ever asking anyone to leave. In fact the tendency was to censor conversations where the offender was called to task. Ah well...
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    Like I said, it's pretty easy to spot a clone, as you've just indicated.

    This is a problems board so it's natural for people to complain here. Hopefully the rest of us can offer up some solutions now and then too.

    Steve, Host
  • jboehmjboehm Posts: 44
    I would be calling Chrysler to discuss the issues that you are having with the vehicle. I have owned Chrysler vehicles for the better part of 14 years and have had very few problems. The only vehicle I had major problems with Chrysler took back. My '01 GC has almost 50k miles on it with no problems (except for being rear-ended by someone going 60 mph). My wife and I are looking at getting an '05 sometime next year. Even then it may be a battle since she keeps telling me she LOVES her current GC.
  • dustyk - Thank you for you comments. We bought the 2004 Caravan STX on Thursday and its now sitting in our garage. I love it. Its silver with quad seats, popular equipment package, alloy wheels, cd player. We got it for 18,898 plus tax, tags and dealer fees for $20,500. We traded in our 1998 Caravan Sport with 77,000 miles for $3100. We bought the van because the price was what we could afford and with a little luck it should serve us well for the next 7 years. It drives like its on a cloud. Thanks for you input. I'll be posting a review of the van on Edmunds after we've had it 6 months. Love this town hall site!
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Jason, I suspect that 80-95% of Chrysler automatic transmission failures are directly attributable to lack of maintenance, incorrect fluid -- or both. I have seen too many of them go 150,000 or more miles without having anything done to them but routine maintenance.

    As to Consumer Reports, there is no one more critical of their "reliability" reporting system then I. I have witnessed hundreds of people who have experienced significant and costly repairs yet believe they've had "no trouble" with a vehicle. Much of it is based on the religious-like allegiance to a particular brand.

    Best regards,
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    There is a family here in my little town outside of Rochester, New York, that has a something like ten or eleven Chrysler mini-vans in their immediate and extended family with an approximate total of 1,500,000 miles on them. They've haven't lost a transmission yet. Other problems (power window regulator motors - made by GM, by the way; air conditioning & heater components), but no transmissions. Even those problems have not surfaced on the newer versions.

    I think your chances are "much better than average" of having excellent service from your new van. Enjoy.

    Best regards,
  • antonioantonio Posts: 12
    Hey y'all!

    I just yesterday purchased a '97 GC with 67k. I just today noticed when I have the air setting on Defrost and I am sitting stationary with the car running, a somewhat load hissing sound comes from the dash - almost like a tire is deflating. I also noticed when driving this noise is there but it goes away like a compressor is turning on and off or something. Is this normal on this minivan? I have never owned a Dodge or any domestic vehicle - ever. This is the 1st!

    Thanks in advanced!

    Antonio (^_^)
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Sounds like your HVAC switchgear has a vacuum leak in it. Will probably need to be replaced.
  • antonioantonio Posts: 12
    What the heck is a HVAC Switchgear and can you give me an idea of what a repiar like that costs? It is a difficult repair? Any additional info will help!



    btw I jsut went out and checked the tranny fluid on the van, when doing so I noticed about a 1/2inch diameter black hose on the right side of the engine compartment that was just sitting there not connected. I could also see another un-attached hose that looks like it was it's mate and they came apart for some reason. One side also had some tape on it with a zip tie. Could this un-attached hose be the problem?

    Thanks again,

    Antonio (^_^)
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Could be, hook it up and see if the noise goes away.

    The switchgear is just your A/C controls. Usually, an integrated unit hooked to either vacuum, or electric in the newer ones.
  • mammersmammers Posts: 3
    Every time I use the heater or air conditioner in my 2000 Grand Caravan, a bad odor comes out of the vents. (Please note that I've owned the car since new without any problems, except this one, which began about six months ago.) I brought the car back to the dealer to fix the problem, but I think all they did was to spray some type of disinfectant into the front exterior intake vents. This seemed to correct the problem, but approximately six weeks later the problem returned. My guess is that the air conditioner condensate drain tube is clogged, but I don't know where to find it. Any suggestions?
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    Does your 2000 GC have a filter on the inside under the passenger side dash board? If so, you might want to change that and the filter under the hood.
  • fastdriverfastdriver Posts: 2,273

    The odor used to appear on my FORMER "award-winning Motor Trend Car of the Year"- a 99 Chrysler 300M. To help alleviate it, try this every so often:

    Buy a can of Lysol.
    Put the heater on HIGH.
    Put the heater in the RECIRCULATE position.
    Turn the FAN on HIGH.
    Spray the LYSOL into the vent area on the OUTSIDE of the van near the windshield wipers. Spray a lot.

    This will help. Someone with a DC shop manual should be able to tell you where the drain tube is. Hope this helps.

  • jft26jft26 Posts: 35
    I currently have 104K miles on my minivan. I would like to replace the Platinum Spark Plugs. Is there a trick to getting at the spark plugs on the side of the engine hugging the firewall? Thanks.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ...the back three plugs from below, with the van parked on ramps. Of course, I left it overnight and worked on it when everything was cool. Believe it or not, there is enough room to get at all three with an ordinary socket with an extension, and a universal joint fairly easily. Just make sure you wear long sleeves.
  • masterpaul1masterpaul1 Posts: 421
    Thanks for the info. I have the 3.8L engine. Do you know if the space is the same in the 2001 GC. I've wondered about the back plugs since I can't see them from under the hood too. I would like to change the spark plugs and wires myself.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ...with the 3,8 liter engine. The 96-00 model years with both 3.3 and 3.8 engines are the same for changing the rear three spark plugs. Unfortunately, I do not know abou the newer models. I have heard, though, that it is easier than the older 96-00 models. Maybe somebody else here will know that.
  • jft26jft26 Posts: 35
    Thanks for the tip.
  • smart_alecsmart_alec Posts: 19
    To find the source of mold odor first check the cabin air filter. The accordion style fiber glass cloth filter in our 2001 van with 50,000 miles on it was covered with dust and pollen. In our arid climate in the west, mold is not a problem. But in a humid climate, a dirty filter would support a colony of mold. It’s supposed to be changed annually.
    The filter is about 14” tall, 10” wide, and ½” thick. It’s located in a vertical position above the left toe of a front seat passenger, aligned parallel with the passenger’s leg.
    This is how I changed mine:
    First, have a new filter on hand. Partially straighten a paper clip and bend a 1/8th” hook on the end to get a hold on the bottom end of the filter to ease it out. A flashlight would be useful.
    Second, open the passenger door wide, slide the seat back, and remove any after market rubber mat or carpet to aid in easing the filter down and out.
    Third, locate the black plastic cap on the bottom of the filter housing. It’s about 10” long and 1 ½” wide with a large plastic sliding lock. Slide the lock forward to release the cap and wiggle it off. Hook the filter with the paper clip and pull it down and out.
  • mammersmammers Posts: 3
    Did any of the model year 2000 Grand Caravans come with a cabin filter, if so, where is it located? The owners manual makes no mention of it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  • gamigami Posts: 4
    My family have bought Dodge cars/minivans most with Mitsubishi engines in the past 20 years (always brand new, Newport, Colt, Avenger, Caravan and Voyager). On the 1997 Voyager the transmission failed at 79,000 miles (repair cost $1,375.00). Replace timing belt, Replace tensioner, Replace two cam seals, Replace one crank seal, Thermostat, Replace water pump, Drain radiator and flush at 87,000 ($500). At 101,000 Factory recall to replace clock spring. Other routines are brake pads/linings/drum repair and or replacement. We always change oil/filter at 3-4000 miles, A/T fluid/filter every 30,000 miles. Have not replaced spark plugs ever since. Voyager now have 102,200 miles and are planning to purchase 2005 Caravan XLT and probably will keep the old one for some time as back up. I can not say I am very happy with the routine repairs but are there any other Dodge owners having great success with less maintenance? Any comments is greatly appreciated.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    Now has about 64000 miles. Other than routine (oil/filter every 5 k, and spark plugs, tires and brakes once) I have had to replace the high note horn ($20), tensioner (about $60), left rear wheel bearing (about $170).

    So far it has been reasonable. I will try to post a summary of all costs if I find the time, I have all the receipts since day one.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    I think the bearing in my serpentine belt tensioner pulley is starting to go out, as it is making a bit of noise. I managed to quiet it down with a squirt of WD-40 but I don't suspect this will be a permanent fix. The spring tensioner function works OK, just the pulley bearing itself seems to be noisy.

    Anybody replace this as a do it yourself project? If so, any tips? Does the hex head that is available on the end of the pulley centerline which is used to release belt tension with a wrench also unscrew to make remove the pulley, or does the whole pulley and arm have to be replaced as a unit?
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    ...pulley and arm is one unit, secured by a single bolt that is accessible from below the engine, and should be done with a cold engine only.

    The procedure is basically remove the belt, crawl underneath, undo the bolt, put on the new tensioner, and then replace the belt.

    Don't forget to also check out the idler pulley that also has a bearing.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Thanks for the tip. Sounds like not too tough a job. I replaced the belt myself about 6 months ago, so as long as I can access the single bolt for the pulley and arm, it shouldn't be too tough.

    What other pulley are you talking about? I assume you mean a different non-tensioning idler pulley that redirects the belt to the other belt driven components?

    I am 99% sure that just the tensioner pulley is noisy, as once I got a little WD-40 into that pulley, everything else was quiet.
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    the other pulley I was referring too. This is located towards the front, over the AC compressor, and is about the same size as the tensioner pulley, only that it does not have the arm and spring tensioner bit attached to it. This comes off the from of the pulley with a bolt (ie the right side of the vehicle).

    If WD40 quietened the noise, it may not be the tensioner pulley. Sometimes, the grooves and the ridges, with wear, will make that noise too.

    If the tensioner pulley or the idler pulley goes bad, it makes a characteristic sound that usually does not respond to things like WD40. Sometimes, the pulley loses just a bit of alignment, and that lead to a thrown belt when for example driving through a rain puddle.

    In any case, this is not a difficult job.

    Some hints: Ramps make things easier. Wear long sleeves. Work on a cold engine. The tensioner pulley bolt cannot be seen, but can be felt with fingers. Make sure you get the socket (15 mm I think) on right, otherwise it will be hell to remove if you strip the corners. Check the new tensioner for any roughness on the seating surface, as even a small amount of casting excess will make the belt likely to be thrown off.

    Good Luck.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    Thanks again. I am well aware of the perils of working on a hot engine.

    I have done some further research and it appears that one can buy the tensioner pulley only without the arm and spring, at least on an aftermarket basis. I will probably take a look at the parts before buying to decide which route to go

    I used the plastic tube nozzle on the WD40 to attempt to just get it into the bearing area, so I don't think the pulley grooves got lubed. Don't want to lube a belt if I can help it, not prudent to lube something that isn't supposed to slip.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    My report is for a '95 Caravan 3.3L 4 sp auto: bought 1/99 @ 47000, now @ 104000; 3/00 lifetime front bk pads $32 replaced again 2/03, water pump & belt 7/01 $180, 9/01 windshield $194, AC service 4/03 $72, again 4/04 $90. Remainder are preventive maintenance, tires, battery, etc. Over all as good as any car I've owned except the paint is a weakness with several spots pealing off. Roy
  • michael700michael700 Posts: 2
    I've got a 2001 T&C Limited and it has an A/C condensation leaking into the front passenger compartment. This occurs whenever we drive for more than 1 hour with the A/C on. It doesn't leak when it rains, unless the A/C is on for more than 1 hour. :-)

    I've taken it to the dealer several times:

    1st time the drain hose was cleaned out, this did nothing.
    2nd time the drain hose was replaced with a longer hose according to the TSB on this vehicle. This fix was done late in the summer. The leak didn't occur again that summer, but don't remember that it was ever called to serious duty again that season.
    3rd time (following summer) the dealer spent 2-3 days trying to get the vehicle to leak--they let the vehicle idle with the A/C on high. This did not cause the leak to occur. My theory is that the leak only occurs when the vehicle is in motion and the water is draining back against the body of the vehicle and not just dropping straight to the ground. The dealer wasn't interested in my theories and thought I was wasting his tech's time trying to find a leak. He even suggested that the water was the result of one of my kids spilling a glass of water!

    Any ideas?
  • gamigami Posts: 4
    Check A/C for proper Freon charge and proper air circulation.(1) If the A/C is insuficiently charged there is tendency for the system to accumulate more condensate. The amount of condensate probably is more than the drain line can handle. Check A/C evaporator case insulation. If the A/C evaporator is not well insulated, condensation will form on the outside of the evaporator case which will eventiually drip to the floor.(2) Poor air circulation is caused, among other things, by partially plugged evaporator coil. Air will bypass through the drain pan and could dislodge the condensate out and over the case on to the floor. This will happen when the car is in motion.
    This problem happened on my voyager 1997 where the evaporator is located on the top of the front passengers left leg.(3) Check for cracks on the evaporator coil case plit joint. Hope this will help.
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