Last post on Oct 23, 2006 at 2:11 AM
You are in the Chrysler/Plymouth Voyager, Dodge Caravan
What is this discussion about?
Dodge Caravan, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Voyager, Plymouth Voyager, Chrysler Town and Country, Van
#435 of 4276 Finally Got Nailed!!!
Sep 12, 2000 (4:54 am)
Fade in . . . . .
It is summer 1996, the family has grown and it is time to sale the trusty '88 Celica for a family-mobile. Unfortunately, the Previa was over-priced and unsafe and the Odyssey is too small. We drive every other van on the market and were very impressed with the design, lay-out, drive, and conveniences found in the Caravan. Knowing that reliability was a question mark, I dove in and we bought a Grand Caravan LE with the 3.3 liter V-6.
During the warranty period, I got a new battery, a new cooling fan relay, a new windshield wiper switch, and had the door locks repaired. Overall, I was not real upset but was not 100% satisfied with these irritating repair inconveniences. Meanwhile, we are enjoying the conveniences and comfort it provides for a traveling family of four (five including the dog).
It is September 2000, and the van just turned 60,000 miles. I have only spent maintenance dollars on the vehicle. I find myself bragging about my American car and how I might by another one in about 2 years. It is Wednesday night and I am out-of-town on business. My wife leaves for church in her trusty van. She slows at a stop sign and hears "strange noises" like she ran over something but knew she had not seen anything in the road. She puts it in reverse and backs up - she then sees "car parts" in the road in front of her. A neighbor pulls up and says he saw something dragging under the car. She finds the car still runs and is barely able to get it back to the house (about 1.5 miles and after picking up the "car parts"). It can hardly be steered and begins showing high temperature.
I talk to her that night and she has it towed the next morning to the Dodge dealership. That afternoon I get the fateful call. The bolt in the belt tensioner that holds it into the undercarriage had sheared in two!! OK - so a new belt and tensioner, right?? Wrong!! This unfortunate incident somehow took out the power steering pump and water pump. Final damage totaled $974 all because a bolt sheared!! After expressing my dissatisfaction in such a ridiculous failure, I told my dealer that I would supply the two pumps which dropped the price by $250. Somehow, genuine Mopar Parts with weak bolts didn't seem worth the premium.
Remember the wiper switch that was replaced during the warranty period? About 2 weeks before this failure, the wipers started doing the same thing - would not go into high speed wiping (only intermittent and low speed). I mentioned to the dealer to fix that also since it was there. They called that afternoon wanting 183 of my additional hard earned dollars so we could have high speed wiping again. I asked to speak to the service manager and said I would pay it because we intend on driving in the rain. However, I told him it had already failed once and that it was an apparent faulty design and if I was expected to pay for Chrysler's design flaws that I would quickly become a one time customer. After a call from Dodge to their HQ, the $183 was removed from the bill.
All in all, I am disgusted but was glad that they at least replaced the wiper problem for free. 3/8" bolts should not shear at 4 years and 60,000 miles on a car that has been driven and maintained like this one was. Anyway . . . . . my wife was happy to have her van back.
Next van purchase? My reliable '91 4Runner (120,000 miles) which landed me into a 2000 4Runner this past January is reminding me what quality is all about. The Sienna, though small, will get a hard look from me in 12/02 when my 4Runner is paid for. The final decision will be determined by the next 2 years and what else I spend on our Caravan.
By the way, if you have an older Caravan, I would have the belt tensioner inspected for "weak bolts." It might save you $1,000!!!
Sep 12, 2000 (7:32 am)
Sorry to hear about your misfortunes on your GC LE. How many miles do you currently have on the van and which engine? 3.3 or 3.8? We had a 96 GC LE that was brand new when we bought it. Before we got rid if it, we had 141,000 miles on it. Just about 80K miles, we brought the van to dodge to get the serpentine belts replaced since we didn't really trust a different mechanic. But to make a long story short, the dodge mechanic found the tensioner was about to go bad and an engine mount was about to go. We got lucky and caught the problem before we had any real trouble. I wasn't aware of the tensioner and engine mount going out until we had the belts replaced. We bought the van in Aug of 95 and got rid of it on the end of July 00 and got a 00 GCS. Like you, we are a Toyota family with 3 Toyota's in our home and a 00 Grand Caravan Sport. Only if Sienna was as big and value packed like the Caravan. So far we have 9500 miles on a 5 week old van and we haven't had any problems at this point unlike the 96 GC LE we had. This is our 3rd DC minivan and hope that this last year of the NS series minivan will do better than that 96 that was one of the first ones made. The first DC van we had was a 90 Plymouth Voyager SE. We put 275,000 miles on the original engine and tranny. That is the main reason we became repeat buyers. The Voyager we had was the last year for that design. If we got things straight, the last model year of a current design is usually the better built one.
Sep 13, 2000 (7:16 am)
In response to rbell2, I feel that the value of a vehicle is what you spend in it in it's entire lifetime. If you get a 'value-packed' car that winds up costing you more when things fail prematurely, it no longer is such a good value.
#438 of 4276 Any ideas?
Sep 13, 2000 (3:46 pm)
I have tried to take good care of my 99 GCS from day one. The other day it ocurred to me that there is no way to flush/change the power steering fluid on a periodic basis.
I noticed that the hydraulic lines from the pump to the rack run quite close to the exhaust and catalytic converter. Although there is some heat shielding, thermal deterioration of the fluid is inevitable. Also, unlike other vehicles, the fluid reservoir is only an overflow catching/ replenishment tank so changing the small amount of fluid in there won't help.
Any ideas / thoughts on how to periodically replace the fluid would be very welcome. (Maybe even add a small cooler in the plumbing?)
#439 of 4276 tower steering fluid
Sep 14, 2000 (4:59 am)
vcheng: It would be possible with serial changes of the reservoir volume to replace most of the old fluid with new. Suppose the reservoir held 1/5 or 20% of the total volume. If this were replaced then there would be 20% new and 80% old. Drive for a week or two to mix the fluids and then remove 20% (4%new & 16% old) replace and have 36% new and 64% old, third cycle= 50-50, forth cycle 60-40 and fifth cycle 72%new and 28% old. That should do pretty well and pretty easy to.
Sep 24, 2000 (10:20 pm)
I tried to replace the coolant on my 98 Caravan sport yesterday, however, I did not find the drain fittings or plug underneath. Anybody did the coolant service before and know how to do it?
Sep 25, 2000 (12:25 am)
If it's like the DaimlerChrysler vehicles we've owned, there is no radiator drain - you have to remove the lower radiator hose to drain the coolant.
#442 of 4276 radiator service
Sep 25, 2000 (12:49 am)
xingze cai: My '95 Caravan has a drain and 4" rubber tube on the bottom driver's side, however, I could'nt get it to drain and used the lower radiator hose as eneth suggested. Be sure to have a large drain pan or bucket since there is some pressure and it will squirt out to the side. Latex gloves also help. I also check with the antifreeze retailer about recycling and buy from someone who accepts the recycled coolant even if it costs an extra dollar or two. Do not leave old coolant where pets can drink it as it is a lethal poison.
#443 of 4276 Coolant Change
Sep 26, 2000 (2:08 pm)
The drain plug on my 99 GC Sport is located on the driver's side of the radiator close to the lower radiator hose. It is whitish in colour, and can be seen with a little patience under good lighting. There is a little piece of black plastic tubing to drain water away from the splash shield. This can be followed back to the radiator to find the plug.
After a drive, stop van and open all heater controls to maximum heat. Wait for the vehicle to cool off *completely*. Remove radiator cap. Crawl under left front and loosen drain cap. You may need to open it a good several turns before it starts to drain.
Optional: Remove vent plug on thermostat housing to aid draining the block. There are block draining plugs as well.
Hint: Don't follow the options.
Hint: Antifreeze is toxic to the environment and should not be disposed off in storm drains. It is poisonous as well. Dispose off the collected fluid in accordance with local laws. In some communities, it can be flushed down the toilet. Please chack in your area.
Wait for thorough drainage. Retighten drain plug. Refill with 1 gallon of a *phosphate and silicate free coolant* only. Fill remainder with *distilled* water. Recap radiator.
Option: Use vent plug to purge air from the block as detailed in the Hayne's manual.
Hint: Don't bother.
Start engine and drive around. Check for leaks, and top off (this is usually required since I skip on the purge business.) Double check for leaks and level after about a week of driving.
#444 of 4276 Is flush needed for coolant change?
Sep 27, 2000 (2:58 am)
Roy Jared and V Cheng,
Thanks for the posts! By the way, before refill with new coolant, should I fill the same amount of water to flush it? Someone suggests to fill the water(about 2 gallons or so), run the engine for serval minutes, drain them all, then fill with new coolant.