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Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler Minivan Problems & Solutions



  • scannerscanner Posts: 295
    If 3.3 I would still recommend the scheduled maintenance items listed in message #434 since they are low cost items. Also have the belt tension checked. How many miles do you have on your van?
  • scannerscanner Posts: 295
    Re: #440 Real123,

    I assumed that your van was still under warranty. I only use my hatch a couple of times per week, but I would imagine a rental gets used many times each day. I would just go to Pep Boys and buy a new pair of props. Just be careful not to smash out the rear window while installing them.
  • nukesnukes Posts: 8
    Right now I have 48,500 miles on the van (1997). I have the maintenance records, and it had all scheduled maintenance done, before I bought it...but I cannot find any documentation that the A/C belt had been inspected or adjusted.

    Thanks Again Scanner,
  • nukesnukes Posts: 8
    True, but shouldn't the extra draw on power cause the engine to rev higher to meet that demand? Or when the compressor activates does that take power available away from the engine making the RPMs decrease?

    You can tell I need to get a copy of the idiots guide to car engines.

  • scannerscanner Posts: 295
    Are you still hesitating to clean your throttle body? Please excuse the pun. :)

    Here's an excerpt right out of "How Chrysler minivans work."

    "The PCM (Powertrain Control Module) determines idle speed on all engines. It actuates a stepper motor and valve in the throttle body to change idle air flow. This valve is also used to fine-tune air flow to avoid engine surge when the air conditioning system compressor cycles on
    and off. On V-6 engines, a Dual Idle Speed system minimizes idle fuel consumption. These engines idle at 625 rpm in Drive when lightly
    loaded, that is when the air conditioner or electric rear window defroster are off. This reduces idle fuel consumption by 10%,
    increasing (Environmental Protection Agency) combined city and highway driving economy by about 2%. Dual Idle Speed software in the PCM
    monitors engine operation and increases idle speed automatically to 680 rpm if necessary to provide sufficient power to meet air conditioning
    and electrical system needs. The electrical load compensation feature assures that all electrical requirements are met without draining the
    battery or resorting to a more powerful, heavier alternator. The idle speed is increased to 680 rpm if air conditioning is on (compressor button pressed) or if electrical system voltage falls below 13 volts. It returns idle speed to the lower value when battery voltage returns to


    Sounds like another possible cause of your hiccups could be a weak battery. Have your battery load tested.
  • scannerscanner Posts: 295
    Make sure all battery connections are clean and tight.
  • hwrhwr Posts: 3
    Is there anyboby know how many Transmission fliud quarts for Caravan sports 3.3L? I changed my transmission fluid on my 98 Caravan Sports and refilled with 4.5 quarts 7176 fluid, drive about 20 miles and check the fluid level, it still shows I need to add more. I have checked the underneath and found there is no leaking at all. Should I add another half quart or so?
  • cesarpcesarp Posts: 47
    Yes, add transmission fluid to the correct level. The total transmission fluid capacity can be found on your owner's manual. Of note, when changing tranny fluid and filter, expect to add between 4 to 6 quarts depending on drainage time allowed. Hope this helps.
  • vanmom2vanmom2 Posts: 1
    I have been up for hours reading through the horror stories about the Caravans. We purchased a 1989 Dodge Grand Caravan in 1991 and had all of the problems I've read about...electrical, fuel smells, the mysterious wipers, 3 transmissions. We felt the service by the dealership was terrible. But we found a great independent mechanic. With all that, we still like the Caravan for interior space, visibility, leg room, and general reliability. (Do we have low expectations?) I've often said we would never buy another American car, but this seems the best value for our money. Are we being stupid? Now we need to make a decision by tomorrow on purchasing a 1999 Caravan Wagon. I haven't read anything about this specifically. Does anyone know? It is a V6, 3.3L, 11,000 miles, no power windows or doors.Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • indydriverindydriver Posts: 620
    The simple answer is don't buy anything this expensive up against such a short deadline. There's a lot of things you can do to check out this vehicle. Ask for maintenance records from the owner. If its been serviced by a C-P-D dealer, they will have records for this vehicle's VIN in their service computer. Take the vehicle to an independent mechanic for a once over. Insist on a three day test drive to check it out. You do NOT have to buy this particular vehicle. There are plenty of others out there. Time is the most important factor in a negotiation and as long as the money is in your hands, time is on your side, not the seller's. Slow the process down. If the seller has another deal, let it go.
  • mrbizness1mrbizness1 Posts: 93
    Hoofer and Cesarp,
    Quaker State markets trans fluid for late model Chrysler's, it's labeled ATF+3 for most Chrysler vehicles. The label states to be used where MS 7176 is specified, also for Hyundai and Mitsubishi
  • walterchanwalterchan Posts: 61
    I'm just posting it to let everyone know that I have nearly or almost 300,000 miles in my Grand Caravan LE. Engine is still original and still running strong. Anybody has that much miles in it! Maybe I'm the only person out there in the USA.
  • I bought a brand new 1999 Dodge Caravan Sport about 15 months ago. My problem is the battery dies if I don't use my van within 2 days. The dealer has replaced the battery twice but the problem still exist. They diagnosed the alternator or charging system but no problem was identified. I'm afraid my warranty will expire and I still have this problem. Has anyone out there has the same problem? What should I do?
  • hooferhoofer Posts: 43
    1. Check to see if there are any TSBs or recalls for this problem at and (check 1998's and 2000's too).

    2. Disconnect the battery cables. Let it sit for the same 2 days. If it still is discharged to the point that it won't operate the car, then I'd guess an internal battery problem (e.g. bad cell).

    If it is OK then I'd suspect some kind of parisitic drain from something in the car (bad diode in the alternators rectifier, alarm system, etc.).

    3. Be sure that anytime you have disconnected the battery or it has died to the point where you lose radio station memory/clock setting, that you start the car with all accessories off and let it idle for several minutes. This allows the powertrain control module (PCM) to relearn conditions. See for details.

    best of luck
  • indydriverindydriver Posts: 620
    Congrats. You have to be the mileage champ. I've still got my '90 Grand Voyager LE (you know, the blue with the beautiful "woodie" tape on the sides) with 135K on the clock. Engine is still strong, but lot's of other items replaced. Strange, scary noises now coming from the front end. We may be near the end if it ends up in an expensive repair.
  • I have a 1990 Dodge Caravan C/V(the cargo van version) - it has 185,000 miles on the orginal motor(a 3.0 liter V-6 - vehicle was bought used at 65,000 miles)- I change the oil & filter every 3000 miles - I've never had any trouble with the engine(yet!)- unfortunately the transmission went out at 90,000 miles - it was rebuilt at a cost of $900.00 & so far it was held up well - it actually runs better since it was rebuilt - the only other problems I've had with this vehicle has been 2 starters going bad - a fuel pump went out - a transaxle fell out(it was worn out!)& the radio quit working(that was the easiest item to fix - I just put a 1997 Dodge AM/FM radio in the cavity where the old radio was & it fit perfectly! I'm going to see how long this vehicle lasts beyond 200,000 miles - after that - I'll DEFINITELY buy another Caravan(hopefully a 1996 model!)
  • There are no secrets of driving my van all the way to 300,000 miles to keep it going. It mostly depends on the age of the vehicle and the miles. I have drived about 30,000 miles per year. I've changed my oil in a daily routine for about 6,000 miles. Let's say you have purchased a new vehicle and someone drives about 200,000 miles per year after the vehicle purchase without any repairs. My opinion is the more miles you have in the earlier age, the less repairs you going to have than 5 years later for the same miles in the odometer. How do I know this?

    Well, I have also owned a 1990 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser wagon which has 48,000 miles in it. So far it's starting to have many problems lately for engine, cooling, fuel, and brakes. If I drived about 48,000 miles in one year after the new vehicle purchase, I wouldn't have any problems at all.

    So I have know that even though you have 30,000 miles in your vehicle, it has about the same repair rate as 200,000 miles in it. My advise is to keep driving your vehicle if you want to have many miles in the odometer as early as possible.
  • So far you have about 135,000 miles in it and starting to have many problems in about 10 years. In the past I haved about 135,000 miles in it in the year 1995. I have very few problems and the engine is still running like new. EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON THE AGE OF THE VEHICLE.
  • I have a 1993 Caravan with a 6L engine (don't know size) that has almost 120,000 miles. I love the van, but it has been diagnosed with a leaky valve in #6 cylinder and my (independent) mechanic says it failed our state emissions test. With everything I'm reading about the transmission problems should I consider myself lucky and retire the vehicle? I'll be moving to a more rural, hilly and snowy region within a couple years and had hoped to wait to get an SUV then, but need to so something before the end of September when my inspection sticker expires. Does anyone know how the FWD caravan is in snowy "mountain" conditions?
  • jfd3rdjfd3rd Posts: 6

    5) COOLING FANS IN-OPP/ A/C Failing

    When I get a full top 10 List I'll send it to letterman.

    OF course this is only the failed vehicle list the odds and end problems are endless.


    DROP $30K on the Toyota or Honda Counter and get what you pay for!!


  • jfd3rdjfd3rd Posts: 6
    My 1992 Toyota camry has 186,000 on the clock and requires far less TLC and *MASH* Time then the Caravan!! I have never required oil additions on the Camry between changes (2.2 liter), the Caravan requires 1/4 quart add every 1,000 miles since new (3.8 Liter Engine).

    Valve taps and piston slaps on start-ups.
    That's one of the reasons for the 5-W30 to get the oil flowing faster to quiet that loose engineering!
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    After 20 years in Denver, and a couple of scary slides, I now have a second set of tires for winter use that have snow tires and a half set of studs. A front wheel drive van will handle well if driven prudently. If I need to get through a pile of snow, I have cable type chains. These have not been used in the 2 years I've had a Caravan.
  • tbone14tbone14 Posts: 10
    Looking at the Grand Caravan and the Chevy Venture, have want I believe is a decent deal on the GC. Can anyone lend some advise on the reliability of the "00" product. Can anyone give me a benchmark on any deals recently received, Mfg currently offering a $3000 rebate on the GC.

    I also notice that the GC is below others in engine HP, the 3.3 has 158, the others have an average of 185. Is this van under powered? Any help would be appreciated...
  • I really like the 3.8 in the DC vans better.. the 3.3 is a very durable engine and will last a long time, but I think it is under-torqued for a van. a lot depends on the terrain you will be driving.. at 3000 rebate you should be able to get very close to 3000 under invoice...The initial quality on my 99 GCS has been great.. one year and 14k miles and never been back to dealer... not one problem..none.. can't speak to the Venture... friends who have one seem happy, though..
  • mrubartmrubart Posts: 1
    Hi everyone!!
    I have been reading for awhile and am a bit wary now of the Caravan. I am in the market for a minivan and have found a 1995 Caravan SE with 79,977 miles on it for $6,995. The milage seems low for a minivan, does anyone have any comments or tips they could give me to see if this is a good deal? (Don't worry I will have a mechanic look at it first)

  • shawnh1shawnh1 Posts: 1
    I have a '95 Caravan 3.0L and 3 speed transmission. Currently, the van has about 41,000 miles. I bought the van used about 2 1/2 years ago for just about $11,000. The van had 14,000 miles when I bought it. I don't know what equipment the SE has on it for that year. My van has the normal pb, ps, cruise, tilt, cd, and ac. If I sold today, maybe I could get $6,000 or $6500 I am not really sure. $7000 seems a little hight for a 6 year old van that has about 80,000 miles on it. I would try to get the price down a bit and have a mechanic check it out. This is just a gut feeling, I haven't checked the KBB or Edmunds prices. Just a guess.

    Hope it helps
  • indydriverindydriver Posts: 620
    What's new on the oil analysis front? I've had my 300M tranny serviced (sorry-just the traditional dealer filter and fluid-haven't found a trustworthy independent flusher yet) and my 2000 GCS will be getting its 2nd engine oil and filter service at 3,000 miles soon (in my garage).

    Since my local Autozone has been running a month long special for 5 qts of Exxon with generic filter for $5.99 (!!), I've stocked up. Why test when I can just change it for less than the cost of the test?

    Also-what are your opinions on oil weights? Do you think it makes a difference to run 10w-30 rather than 5w-30? Interesting differences in recommendations between the 3.3 van and the 3.5 300M. Van says use 10w from 0F to 100F+. 300M says do NOT use 5w above 32F. Obviously, much different engines, rev ranges etc., but still seems odd that the recommendations are so different.
  • Yeah, recently we got our 2000 GCS Inferno Red Pearl less than 2 weeks ago. Just to be safe, we got an Ext Warr for 100,000 miles since the powertrain warranty is only up to 3/36. We currently have 1520 miles on it. And our cross country trip next week all over the south and to D.C. will definitely add up. I'll post up while we are on the trip. We got rid of the 1996 GC LE after 141,000 miles and a 2nd rebuilt tranny. Hopefully our luck with this 3rd DC van will be just as good and reliable as the old 90 Voyager SE w/the mitsu 3L and 275,000 miles we had. Both the 90 3.0L and the 96 3.3L, we always used 10w30. A mechanic friend of ours said to stick with the 10w30 because of the climate we have here in SoCal. 5w30 is suited for winter climates. We only use Castrol GTX...and we usually buy it when there are rebates! =)
  • tbone14tbone14 Posts: 10
    We picked out a "00" GC with the 3.3 and are thinking about the extended Warr. The deal I was given is 5-yr, 75K for under $1000. Is this a good deal or should I just go with the power train only for 2 bills less? The good plan covers the power train along with AC & electrical. I have never owned a Dodge and don't know if I should roll the dice. It's nice amount of money, but it might be worth it.. Any thoughts or experience with the Ext Warr ???
  • I have a 1995 Dodge Grand Caravan SE that I've really enjoyed until the really hot weather hit. The last few times I drove it for quite a distance and the air conditioner was on it stalled out on the highway. I sat with it off for 20-30 minutes and proceeded towards my destination only to have it stall out 50 miles later, and I did not have the a/c on. 30 minutes later and on the road again, it stalled again. It took me 7 1/2 hours to go 250 miles! I took it to my mechanic and he said unless the "check engine" light is on it would be very costly for them to find the problem. It seems to only happen when the temperature outside gets above 95, and the temp gauge in the van is well within the normal range. Has anyone had similar problems???
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