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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • petras2petras2 Posts: 104
    my 96, 3.8 had asimiliar problem twice in 100k miles, every 50k the pcm, (powertrain control module) went bad causing engine to suddenly quit with no warning...techs could not find an underlying problem for the pcm going bad...good luck with yours...
  • For Norwegians: Kan plukke frem Snap-on'en og scanne bilen din her i Oslo.
  • hello this is a god send
    My wife's Dodge Caravan was giving her major headaches, cutting off and then starting back up days after.
    We took it to the dealer and he said that it was the BCM cost $1000.00
    Well after they replaced the BCM they blew out the PCM which they are saying we are liable for, they blew the device and are saying that its our fault and that they have to replace the part they blew with our money.
    That does not sound like a fair exchange to me need some help on this one because I'm not biting on there negligence.
    Any ideas would ne helpful..
  • dootdogdootdog Posts: 3
    "every 50k the pcm, (powertrain control module) went bad "

    Thanks for the reply. I don't think my '93 3.0L has one of those. I'm not even sure "powertrain" was an auto industry buzzword yet when it was built.

    I did check the entire wire harness that clips to the coil, sensors, injectors, transmission & alternator. The insulation on the injector wires had melted & fused, but I pulled them apart, rewrapped them, and tested them all for electrical continuity. Still no start.

    I'm suspecting, like your problem, it's a sensor or computer control problem. I'm not sure what the auto shutdown relay (ASD) affects on this year & model, or even which relay is the ASD, since they all 5 look very much alike and their wires all bunch together.

    Anyone know if a broken timing belt would trigger the computer to shut power to the engine?

    I hope I can get a shop to test & replace the faulty part without towing the whole van in.
  • kcarter3kcarter3 Posts: 16
    I have had my 2001 in the shop at least 6 times. I now have 85000 miles and its still on
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Please post messages in English only - thanks.
  • donmahdonmah Posts: 1
    Am going to make first change of shocks and struts on 97 Caravan. Van has 148,000km, has been used for moving in the past. Leaf springs are rusty, look kind of flat.

    Is it recommended to change these things or am I wasting time, money?
  • pfutzpfutz Posts: 7
    Thanks for the tip. What I don't understand - is when I call Chrysler and give them my VIN # they say there have been no recalls or customer alerts for my vehicle.
  • badgerfanbadgerfan Posts: 1,565
    I doubt if you need to change the leaf springs, unless the van seems to be sagging lower in the back. Usually there is plenty of steel in these rear leaf springs to accommodate some corrosion. There are a lot of Dodge minivans running around older than yours in my area, upper Midwest where a lot of road salt is used, and I doubt if replacement leaf springs are required for most.

    You could ask the opinion of the shop replacing the rear shocks, but of course some shops will want to replace them whether needed or not, so take their opinion with a grain of salt also.
  • moose57moose57 Posts: 2
    I have a 91 Grand Caravan, the horn does not work. When I press the horn switch, I hear a clicking noise near the fuse box. I do not locate a fuse for the horn . . . is there a relay somewhere? If so, where is it and would that be the problem? Would appreciate any assistance.
  • Hi. I am bball mom.. the original poster. Perhaps my radio was replaced because of the recall. Not sure. I did buy the super/duper extended warranty but was shocked that the radio was covered. I checked Chrysler recalls on internet and did notice the radio shorting//water condensation recall. Since I did not have to pay for the new radio ($400 according to dealer), I did not ask alot of questions about it.
    Good luck.
  • I have owned my van for 6 this time it has done this particular thing only 4 times over 4 years.....always in the summer. While I am driving the engine just quits, it has always started again if I leave it for 10-15 minutes, it will not always start before that time allotment, it does not show that it it over heated, although it is always very hot under the hood at these times. Chrysler does not seem to know what the problem is nor can my personal mechanic find out what is causing this.....can any one help me.....this makes me feel very unsafe driving it, it did this the other day while I was driving 55km, no power steering then, and virtually no brakes. My fear is it will do it while I am driving highway speeds. Thanks for any help. I did have the fuel pump replaced last year, not for this reason, but needless to say it is still doing it, so it must not have to do with the fuel pump.
  • Same symptoms for my 1996 Chryler Town & Country. Stalls mainly in hot summer days. It's in the shop as I type. It stalled and won't restart. The mechanic says he can't get the ECM to talk. Another message board says M.A.P. sensor may be the cause. My mechanic says a bad MAP sensor may cause it to stall but it should restart. My isn't restarting. Last month I thought the problem was caused by the starter and for $375 for a new starter I now find out that wasn't the cause. I suspect it is a component in one of the computers (ECM or BCM) that is overheating. Poor design.
  • I fixed a problem like that by forcing some water into the pickup tube in the reservoir; it seemed to prime the pump. Good luck! :D
  • I have a 1999 Dodge Caravan and yesterday while driving the oil light came on and I lost all steering and the speedometer went down to zero. I coasted to the side of the rode and after letting it sit for a couple of minutes was able to restart the car and drive for a few miles before the oil light came on again and the car did the same thing. The oil has been recentley changes and the radio lights and all electrical stuff stills works while this happens PLease help before I take it to the mechanic????
  • dustykdustyk Posts: 2,926
    Sounds like two problems at once. If this is a high mileage '97, I'd strongly suspect the Camshaft Position Sensors for causing the engine dying problem. The goofy light problem could be the Central Timer Module. Both are somewhat common problems on the '97-'99 models.

    Of course, there could be a bad connection somewhere, too. A punky ASD Relay, Speed or Distance Sensor, or bad spark plugs, plug wires and ignition components can cause problems as well.

  • I have posted several times on this board since purchasing my 2001 Voyager and the fact is that I wish I found this board before I purchased the vehicle. I have never before in my life seen a vehicle with so many problems. I have owned the vehicle for a total of 4 months now and when I first purchased it, the vehicle had just about 50,000 miles on it. I have found that most vehicles with only 50,000 miles on it will still last a good 50,000 miles before any major repairs are needed. Well, in the last four months here are all the repairs I have done and their cost.
    1. Brakes and rotors - Cost $400 (I expect to repair brakes about once a year or so, this repair I thought was no big deal. However, the brakes are already wearing and will need replaced again within a few months. After reading comments on this board, I see that this is common with Chrysler minivans, the brakes will only last 6 months to one year.)
    2. Battery Cost $75
    3. Brake Light Switch Cost $20 ( would have cost $200, but I installed it myself. According to most mechanics I spoke with, (including the dealership) this is an item you should never have to replace and certainly not on a vehicle that only has 50,000 miles on it.)
    4. Air Conditioner compressor pump Cost $800 (the part alone can only be purchased through the dealer and costs $500. According to a popular car magazine all Dodge / Chrysler minivans have this problem. Apparently the compressors just do not last and need replacing about every 2 years)
    5. Various bearings, belts, and filters replaced Cost $200
    6. Check engine light needed repair because it kept coming on for no reason Cost $65 to reset it.
    And to top it off, now the Master Brake Cylinder needs replacing. Those are just the major problems we have experienced. There are also several other little problems we have encountered, for instance the plastic paneling over the sliding doors keeps falling off. Before we purchased the vehicle we had it checked by a mechanic and we did the carfaqs check on it. Of course we found no faults or red flags so we went ahead and purchased the vehicle. We thought we would be purchasing a nice reliable vehicle that would last for years. We also researched it online and couldn't find any major recalls or any major problems. However, shortly after we purchased the vehicle and we encountered the brake light switch problem is when we found this board. Like I said I wish I found this board beforehand. In the past 4 months it has averaged out that we are spending $400 a month in repairs. I believe that this vehicle has many, many faults that outweigh it's advantages. And according to anyone I have talked to and according to all the posts on this board, I believe that these vehicles are poorly made. Also, talking with various mechanics while my vehicle has been in the shop being repaired, most have said it is common knowledge in auto shops that Dodge and Chrysler minivans have many faults. Most mechanics say their transmissions are also faulty and go out too soon. Thankfully we have a warranty on the engine and transmission, so if they go out they should be covered. But, I tell you from my experience with this vehicle, I would never buy another Dodge or Chrysler vehicle and especially not a Voyager. I would not reccomend that anyone purchase a Voyager or any other Dodge/Chrysler minivan. I would strongly suggest you take a hard look at all other minivans and options on the market.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    While it is certainly unfortunate that you've had so many problems with your (second hand?) Voyager, your rant is both unwarranted and filled with personal opinion that bear little resemblance to the facts regarding the reliability of DC minivans.

    My wife and I own two GCs, and we know many other folks who own any number of flavors of DC minivans. As a rule these vans have been nothing short of stellar as far as reliability. Regarding your various complaints:

    1) Brakes and rotors, the worst mileage we've gotten from a set was a little over 30,000 miles (lots of driving in and around NYC), and our 2003 had over 45,000 miles (with an easy 5,000 left on the pads) when I did the brakes on both of them earlier this summer. Regarding the cost numbers you posted, I'm at a loss as to explain them because I was able to do the front brakes on both of our vans for less than $150 combined (new rotors and pads for both). As for your comments about brakes lasting only 6 months to a year, yeah, I suppose that could be true if you were driving at the rate of 5,000 miles per month.

    2) The battery. Geez, you've never had to replace the battery on a car before? I'm thinking that four years on an OEM battery is pretty damn good, regardless of what manufacturer built the car.

    3) Brake light switch. It's a fact of life, switches fail. Both of ours are original, however, if either fail I certainly wouldn't use it as an indictment against the vehicle or the company. It failed, you fixed it, move on.

    4) A/C compressor. Both of our vans have the original A/C compressor, one is over seven years old and has nearly 100,000 miles on it, the other is over two years old and has nearly 50,000 miles on it. So much for only lasting two years.

    5) Four years on the life of belts and bearings? I'm not hearing anything earth shattering here either.

    6) With the advent of the ubiquitous OBD-II (On Board Diagnostics), all cars from every manufacturer occasionally get the "Check Engine Light". Reasons for this are quite numerous with the most common being a loose gas cap (which by the way is self-correcting once the cap has been retightened and driven for a tank of gas or so).

    7) Master brake cylinder. The fact is that brake fluid absorbs water, water that can eat away at brake components. That's why many manufacturers recommend that you fully flush your entire braking system every other year. My bet is that your van didn't have that service done.

    8) Your "poorly made" comment is pretty funny. On the whole, my bet is that the DC vans are the best made in the world, Honda and Toyota not withstanding. In our neighborhood the owners of the DC vans have a MUCH higher level of satisfaction than the Odyssey owners.

    9) Your comments about mechanics making bad comments about these vans is also seeming to be a little bit of an exaggeration. I'm a former mechanic and as such, I usually chat it up with those who I hire to perform work on my cars, and so far at lease, I've never heard anyone mention anything bad about the DC vans except for the transmissions. Which brings me to your next point...

    10) ...the transmissions. These transmissions require proper care and feeding. Going the cheap route and using anybody except the dealer for transmission service is roughly akin to playing Russian Transmission Roulette. Entirely too many non-dealership service based personnel wrongly believe in the concept of "universal filters" and "universal fluids" or "compatible fluids". Wrong! Use the dealership for transmission service or be prepared to replace your transmission.

    11) Recommending the DC minivans to others. Our 1998 will cross the 100,000 mile threshold in the next month or two. Other than routine maintenance I've spent considerably less than $100 for unscheduled repairs, ditto our 2003. The sum and total of said repairs are as follows:

    a) Replace the battery on the 1998 at about 45,000 miles. Got a Sears DieHard Gold.
    b) Replace the battery on the 2003 at about 45,000 miles. Got a Sears DieHard Gold.
    c) Replace the drivers' side door light switch at about 88,000 miles.

    That's it. Guess what? I have no problem in recommending DC vans to any and all who ask.

    Best Regards,
  • vchengvcheng Posts: 1,284
    MY van is a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport, now with 81000 miles. It has been more reliable than my other much more expensive cars from "premium" brands. It is still my vehicle of choice for long journeys.

    The only repairs covered under warranty were the battery vacuum tray and the EGR valve. Otherwise, I have routinely maintained it, perhaps fairly meticulously, and it has rewarded my family with cheap, reliable and comfortable transportation, exactly what is was designed to do.
  • I third Shipo's comments. We have a 01 DGC EX with over 64K that we bought used back in September 2003. The only none maintenance problems we had was to replace both front power window motor regulators right after purchase, (Covered under warranty) and replace the gas cap in 2004.

    Although, unfortunate that you have had so many problems with your used 01 Plymouth Voyager, you did buy it used. Do you know how the previous owner/s took care of it? How about their driving habits? All this should be taken into account when you purchase a used vechicle. (Not to mention why they traded it in.)

    Regarding what you said about having to replace the battery. (I'm assuming this was the original battery being replaced). It was about time for it to be replaced. Most batteries need replacement every 4 yrs. (Depending on where you live weather wise). We replaced our battery in our 01 DGC just mid 2004 when in for a routine oil change.

    I'm not sure on our van when the brake pads were replaced before we bought it. But, we have not had to replace our pads yet and still have around 50 % pad life left. (We have put on over 27K on our van since ownership).

    Our trans. was serviced at 34K and 56K and no problems.

    Our air conditioning works well when over 90 degrees outside, keeping me and my family cool. You might want to check with your Daimlerchrysler dealer about this, but I was told by our dealer that we have a 75K extended warranty on the air conditioning compressor. (Although for us it doesn't matter since we have a bumper to bumper warranty to 75K or May 2007).

    I am very pleased with our van. It has been very reliable and fun to drive. I make sure that all scheduled maintenance is done, rather by me doing it or our dealer. Good luck with your van. :shades:
  • Certainly you are entitled to your opionon as am I. All I am doing is letting the consumers know the facts before buying. Here's the link to the Consumer Automotive guide regarding Voyagers. It lists the benefits as well as the known problems. owall/
    If you check out the problems section you will notice they mention the brakes and air conditoner compressor as both being known problems. If your Caravan is running great then I am happy you have a good running vehicle. Two other people I know both have Caravans as well and both have encountered similar problems with air conditionoing compressors, transmission, and brakes. Caravans do seem more reliable then Voyagers though. Like I said it's no big deal to replace batteries, brakes, tires, etc due to normal maintenace. However, at 50,000 all mechanics I have spoken to have said the same thing about the brake light switch, the a/c compressor, and the master cylinder...those should all last much longer then they have. And as far as the brakes wearing quickly, check out previous posts on this same forum and you will notice a lot of the same complaints. As far as mechanics go, yes they all have their own opinons about which vehicles are better as well, but when I have 3 different mechanics from 3 different places all say the same thing, then I listen to what they have to say. Even the mechanic at the dealership said the brake light switch should never have gone out and he admitted the air conditioner compressors do not last as long as they do on other vehicles. Most of our work and parts we have had done through the dealership except for the brake light switch which I installed myself and the brakes which were done by a local shop. Our brakes are still under warranty so we will have them replaced free of charge, but we have only driven about 3,000 miles on them so far. The brake pads came directly from the dealership, so they are not an inferior product. The delearship wanted to charge $200 to install the brake light switch, which took all of 15 minutes to do. Like I said though, I am glad you have had nothing but reliable transportation from your vehicle. But in my opinon and I have owned many, many vehicles over the years, and I have never seen a vehicle with only 50,000 miles on it have so many problems. Compared to someone I know who owns an Oddesy, our problems are overwhelming. He has over 100,000 miles on the Oddesy and he has never had the check engine light come on, he never had to replace a bad a/c compressor, brake light switch, or any of the other stuff. He even still has the original stock battery in the vehicle. The only maintence he has had to do is tires, brakes, and oil changes. Whereas all the folks I know who have Caravans and Voyagers have had a lot more time in the shop, including major repairs such as transmission and engine problems. The problems I had listed are just the major repairs we have done in 4 months. We have also done many minor repairs to the interior and exterior that were due to faulty equiptment. For instance the molding over the doors kept falling off and needed latches to be replaced on them, the plastic guard on the windshield wipers also keep coming off and needed to be replaced, a platic insert near the hood needed to be repaired etc. All those things added up together just let me know that the vehicle is poory my opinon. Our vehicle was inspected prior to us buying it and has never been in an accident and according to carfaqs only had one previous owner. So when we purchased it we thought it would be buying a nice reliable vehicle. So far it has been nothing more then a waste of time and money.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "All I am doing is letting the consumers know the facts before buying."

    Uh-huh, well right, wrong or misguided, your so called "facts" are anecdotal and backed up by your biased anger. As such, they should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

    Specific to your post, you said, "If you check out the problems section you will notice they mention the brakes and air conditoner compressor as both being known problems."

    Regarding the A/C: There was a reference to the A/C compressor failing if folks didn't use the rear controls. Weird, but it is what it is. I’ve never known an owner of a DC minivan that needed to replace the compressor. Did they always use the rear controls? I have no idea.

    Regarding the brakes: Sorry, but I read the entire page you provided a link to and there wasn't one single reference to any known problems with the brakes. I've seen a number of posts here recently regarding the brakes, however, as far as I can tell they are from folks who were incorrectly equating brakes that generate lots of dust with low quality brake pads, which if you are at all automotively aware you know is simply not the case. The fact is that every German built car sold here in the United States (and many others as well) has a difficult time driving 200 miles without suffering from noticeable brake dust build up. Saying that dust producing brake pads are of low quality is pretty silly, it is like saying that the very dusty brake pads that came on my 530i were cheap. Yeah, they were so cheap that when a motorcyclist pulled out directly in front of me on the Autobahn doing about 50 mph while I was doing more like 130, said motorcyclist lived to tell the tale, barely (like by one foot). The simple truth of the matter is that the higher the performance of the brake pad, the greater the amount of brake dust generated.

    All in all, I think that you are understandably angry about your purchase of a used (and probably poorly maintained and maybe even abused) vehicle and instead dealing with the issues that are inevitably going to pop up on such a vehicle, you are trying to pass the blame. The real fact of the matter is that DC minivans are considered to be some of the most reliable minivans on the market and most folks are able to easily drive them to well over 100,000 miles with just basic maintenance.

    Best Regards,
  • Masterpaul, I am glad to hear you have the full bumper to bumper warranty. Naturally when you buy a used vehicle the thought always goes through your mind that you may have purchased a lemon, but when I heard other folks with the same complaints then it makes me think that isn't the case. For instance recently I met somebody who owns a 2002 Voyager. They bought the vehicle new in 2002 and it has only about 45,000 miles on it, but when we got to talking it turns out they had quite a few of the same problems we had. Their a/c compressor needed to be replaced. Thier check engine light also came on for no reason and needed to be reset and they too had problems with their Master Brake Cylinder. Most of their problems began occurring when the vehicle hit 40,000. They also had a few more problems that I haven't encountered yet, but needless to say they fell the same way I do about the Voyagers. They don't plan on purchasing another one anytime soon.
    But, I am glad to hear that you haven't had any of those problems, and I hope you never do. Luckily you have a full warranty so you should be alright. By the way, according to the delearship out here the a/c compressor isn't covered in most warranties and they only give you a one year 15,000 mile warranty on a new one. One of the reasons we bought our vehicle from the delearship in the first place was because it does have a warranty as well. But wouldn't you it, all the stuff that has gone wrong so far has not been covered by the warranty.
  • You said that you took the van to a mechanic to have it inspected before you purchased it. Didn't this mechanic know what the other mechanics knew about this type of van and give you a heads-up warning about what problems you might be facing?
  • Obviously if the mechanic who inspected it let us know what the other mechanics said, then we would not have purchased it. But actually the mechanic who inspected it did mention the fact that Dodge / Chrysler transmissions were notorios for going out early. He said a lot of mechanics still do not understand that their transmissions need to use the Dodge transmission fluid only and he said we just needed to have the transmission serviced regually by the Delearship and since it has the warranty on the transmission he said we shouldn't worry about that anyway. But right after we purchased it we had the delearship do all the routine servies including the transmission checkup, brake inspection, and fluid replacement.
  • Shipo, while I appreciate and respect your opinion, I just disagree with what you said. As to the post, of course my opinon is biased, as is yours. Obviously we both have different experiences with our vehicles, so our opinons are different as well. If you had all the problems we had with ours, then maybe you would feel differently, same as if we had the good experience you had with your vehicles, then we would feel differenlty. The facts about the bad a/c compressors are posted not just on that link, but on several other pages that review the vehicle as well. It is a known problem with the vehicles, which is why I pointed that out. Maybe that link will help others who have the same problem. As far as the brakes go, you must have my post mixed up with someone else, I didn't mention anything about the brake dust or the brakes being cheap. All I said is that we had bought the brake pads directly from the delear, so they are supposed to be the high quality ones. Now after only 3,000 miles they are already worn and need to be replaced. As far as maitenace we have had almost all our work done exclusivley at the dealer as to not void the warranty. While I am glad that you say most Dodge minivans are reliable and last well over 100,000 miles, I am just letting you know that I do not personally know a single person who owns a Dodge or Chrysler Minivan with over 100,000 on it that hasn't had to have the engine or transmission completely replaced. I know 3 people who own Dodge or Chrysler minivans and all 3 of them have had their transmissions rebuilt and one had their engine rebuilt.Thankfully we haven't had any problems with the transmission or the engine, but it is something that I know will happen and probably sooner then later. Honestly I am happy that you have had no major probelms with your vehicles, but then again you do not have the same vehicle as we do either. True the engine in the Voyager and Caravan are pretty much the same, but the rest of the vehicles are built differently and can have different problems. From what I have seen though in my expereince they do tend to have similar problems with the ac compressor, transmission and brakes. I myself am mechanically inclined, maybe not as much as you, but when I was younger I did all the work on my own vehicles and I actually worked in a couple automotive shops. Now admittably I don't know too much about brakes, but when it comes to engines and such I am quite experienced. So, my opinon is not just based on complete anger, it is also based on my experience and research. Since we purchased this vehicle I have done so much research on it, it has become quite ridiculus. This board is about Dodge / Chrysler Minivan problems, which is why I posted here. This is the forum where you are supposed to post your problems you are having and that's what I did. Like I said, I appreciate your opinon and I hope you do not encounter any of the problems we have.
    Best Regards
  • If your brakes need to be replaced in 3000 miles, there is a problem with the brake system or maybe the driver riding the brakes. If the rear brake are not adjusting as they wear the front brakes will be doing all of the work when you stop. You might have a brake caliper/slide not releasing, but you definately have a problem with your brake system that needs to be addressed before putting on new parts again.
  • Thanks for the tip Just4fun. We actually took the van into the shop today to have the brakes replaced and the master cylinder. They said there is a problem with the brakes because they appear to be melting. The said the pads are heating up which is causing them to wear too quickly. The also said they do not know what is causing this to happen so they are going to keep it and examine it some more. Well, I called the delearship as well to see if they knew what would cause the brakes to heat up and they had no clue either. They said unless you drive it up and down a mountain everyday then they shouldn't do that. Fortunately the shop is going to fix the problem for free because the brakes are still under warranty. But I'd appreciate it if you have any advice on what could be causing the brake pads to heat up and melt away. I am not that experienced with brakes and I have never heard of that happening before and we certainly do not drive our van up and down a mountain everyday, as we live in the city.
  • dennisctcdennisctc Posts: 1,168
    Compared to someone I know who owns an Oddesy, our problems are overwhelming. He has over 100,000 miles on the Oddesy and he has never had the check engine light come on, he never had to replace a bad a/c compressor, brake light switch, or any of the other stuff. He even still has the original stock battery in the vehicle. The only maintence he has had to do is tires, brakes, and oil changes.

    I had a 1983 Cavalier and put 190k very trouble free miles on it, worst thing was starter. I had to replace brakes, belts, battery etc...Sold it in 1991 with original clutch in it still! I've had 2 Dodge Caravans - 1996 and 1999, as company car. I abused them, and never had problems with either - putting 70k miles on each.

    I for one am tired of hearing about "superior" Honda and Toyota Minivans. One just need to check out this forum to hear similar problems with the imports - engine and tranny replacements. Just recently in Honda problem area, Honda had to install an entire engine in an Odyssey with only 600 miles! There's problems with AC condensers, power door, name it! The 2005 Oddys are a mess with problems and recalls. To top it off, price out a comparable Oddy and Caravan...the Dodge wins handily!!

    If you considering buying used, for the price of one used Oddy, you could probably buy 2 Dodges.

    Ok, so my point is.........taking a can get a lemon in any make! Buying used is risky regardless of make....a carfax report doesn't tell the whole story of the car.
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