BELOW AVERAGE (1997-99);
NOT RECOMMENDED (1984-96)
See also: Detailed specs and ratings
Don’t consider any model year without being armed with the longest powertrain warranty you can afford. Other minivans you may wish to consider: the GM front- and rear-drive minivans, Ford Mercury Villager, Nissan Quest, Honda Odyssey, or Toyota Sienna. Major generic defects affecting the 1984-96 models make these minivans very risky buys.
In spite of the poor reliability of the early versions, Chrysler minivans remained popular because Chrysler’s comprehensive seven-year warranty paid for their shortcomings. But that warranty’s gone and the defects remain.
Another tip: as with many Chrysler vehicles, dim headlights are common; take a night test-drive before signing the contract.
Maintenance/repair costs: Higher than average, but any garage can repair these minivans.
Parts: Expensive (especially for paint, AC, transmission, and ABS components, which are covered under a number of secret warranty programs and several recall campaigns).
There’s presently an abundance of used Chrysler minivans on the market; however, very few have any of their original warranty coverage left. Count on spending at least another $1,000 for a supplementary bumper-to-bumper warranty to protect yourself from Chrysler’s costly generic defects. ABS and transmission repairs alone could cost you $5,000. One radio listener recently asked me if my advice to get the extended warranty on the Caravan or Ford’s Windstar should be seen as a “red flag” regarding the reliability of these vehicles. Yes, that’s exactly what it is.
Strengths and weaknesses:
Chrysler’s minivans dominate the new- and used-minivan market because they offer pleasing styling and lots of convenience features. They can carry up to seven passengers in comfort and also ride and handle better than most truck-based minivans. The shorter-wheelbase minivans also offer better rear visibility and good ride quality, and are more nimble and easier to park than truck-based minivans and larger front-drive versions. Cargo hauling capability is more than adequate, with a 2,700-3,500 lb. (1,200-1,600 kg) maximum towing range, depending on engine size, passenger size, and luggage.
On the downside, these minivans pose maximum safety risks due to their chronic body and mechanical component failures. Owners report bizarre “happenings” with their minivans, suggesting that these vehicles require the services of an exorcist rather than a mechanic (seatbelts that may strangle children, airbags that deploy when the ignition is turned on, wipers that self-activate and won’t turn off, and sudden stalling on the highway when within radar range of airports or military installations).
Model year changes:
First major overhaul since the Caravan was launched in 1984. Restyled exterior and interior; problematic all-wheel drive (AWD) comes on the scene; optional ABS and driver-side airbag.
Standard driver-side airbag and optional integrated child safety seats.
Upgraded front shoulder belts; bucket seat tilts forward to ease access.
Standard passenger-side airbag; side door guard beams; redesigned dashboard; AWD limited to Grand versions; spruced-up exterior.
Carried over unchanged, except for trim and option packages.
Redesigned. More aerodynamic styling; driver-side sliding door; roll-out centre and rear seats; a longer wheelbase; standard dual airbags and ABS (ABS later became optional on base models); a more powerful 150-hp 2.4L 4-cylinder engine.
Grand models get optional AWD along with four-wheel disc brakes; LE models get optional traction control.
The 3.0L V6 engine gets a better-performing 4-speed automatic transmission and the 3.8L V6 gets 14 additional horses.
A carry-over year with no substantive changes, except for slightly restyled front ends. AutoStick transmission is standard on the Grand Caravan ES. A second row integrated child safety seat can be ordered with the Quad bucket seats.
These minivans are way underpowered with the base 4-cylinder engine. They have a history of head gasket failures, but outshine the larger Mitsubishi 2.6L, which is guaranteed to self-destruct around the 100,000 km mark. The timing belt, piston rings, and valves are particular weak points on the 2.6L powerplant, and the two-piece camshaft oil seals are also prone to sudden leaks. The Mitsubishi 3.0L V6 is much more reliable than its smaller 2.6L version, but it lacks power on long climbs, has multiple fuel-injection and oil leak problems, and produces a loud piston “slapping” noise during cold starts. The Chrysler-built 2.5L engine is fairly dependable but sluggish; the 3.3L V6 is more reliable and better able to meet routine driving needs. The best engine choice of all, however, is the Chrysler 3.8L V6. It has the brawn to handle a full passenger load and pass and merge easily.
Since 1996, Chrysler’s V6 engines have performed quite well, far better than similar 3.0L and 3.8L engines equipping Ford’s Taurus, Sable, and Windstar minivan. Nevertheless, some owners have reported hard starts and stalling, excessive engine noise on start-up, and serpentine belt failures (causing loss of power steering), which are addressed in the following internal service bulletins (see Lemon-Aid Guide).
The manual transmission is fairly durable, but it’s balky to use. The 3-speed automatic transmission is a throwback to another age. Its gearing puts unnecessary strain on the transmission and engine and it’s constantly hunting for the right gear. Yet all of Chrysler’s 41TE and 42LE automatic transmissions built over the past decade are a nightmare from a reliability and performance standpoint (see “Safety summary/Recalls”): imagine having to count to three in traffic before Drive or Reverse will engage, or “limping” home on the highway in second gear at 50 km/h.
The disastrous A604 4-speed automatic was particularly troublesome on 1988-91 models. Then it was renamed the 41TE and 42LE-and continued to pile up complaints. Chrysler pledged that a free oil cooler by-pass valve would be installed on 1989-90 minivans to prevent transmission damage in cold temperatures (Customer Satisfaction Notification #281T), but automatic transmission failures continued unabated. Automatic transmissions on the 1989-95 versions continue to leak, gear down to a limp-in mode, shift noisily, and hunt for the proper gear-the likely cause of some of the poor gas mileage claims. Software and hardware cures for these factory-related defects are listed in DSB #18-24-95. The two following bulletins suggest that minivan automatic transmission “limping,” shuddering, and delayed shifting continues well into the 1998 model year(Lemon-Aid Guide).
Other mechanical weaknesses include the premature wearout of front suspension components (especially struts and shocks), wheel bearings, front brake discs, brake master cylinder, water pump, air conditioning unit, engine cooling system, and manual transmission clutch. Fuel-injectors on all engines have been troublesome, and engine supports may be missing or not connected. Overall fit and finish has gotten worse, not better, over the years (see Secret Warranties).
Body hardware and interior trim are fragile and tend to break, warp, or fall off (door handles are an example). After about a year’s use, the Caravan and its various spin-offs become veritable rattle-boxes, with poorly anchored bench seats being a major player.
Finish problems can be summed up in three words: paint, paint, paint. The paint tends to discolour or delaminate after the second year. Chrysler knows about this problem and often tries to get the owner to pay half the cost of a repainting job (about $1,500 on a $3,000 job), but will eventually agree to pay the total cost if the owner stands fast, threatens small claims court action, or belongs to a consumer protection group like Vancouver- or Alberta-based CLOG (Chrysler Lemon Owners Group). Moreover, minivan owners fed up with Chrysler’s refusal to repaint their vehicles have filed a class action suit in Washington state, seeking damages for owners of 1986-97 cars, sport-utilities, minivans, and trucks (see Lemon-Aid for text from the lawsuit’s Statement of Claim). Last year, Chrysler Canada was sued by a Vancouver-based law firm acting on behalf of British Columbia Chrysler owners of paint-delaminated vehicles, in a class action similar to the Washington-state lawsuit.
Mechanical weaknesses on later models include the premature wearout of the engine tensioner pulley, motor mounts, starter motor, front brake discs and pads (the brake pad material crumbles in your hands), brake master cylinder, suspension components, exhaust-system components, ball joints, wheel bearings, water pumps, fuel pumps and pump wiring harnesses, radiators, heater cores, and AC units.
Fuel-injectors on all engines have been troublesome, the windshield washers freeze up in cold temperatures, sliding doors malfunction, engine supports may be missing or not connected, and the power-steering pump frequently leaks.
Two further problems are batteries that last only 9-12 months, and factory-installed tires that fail prematurely at 30,000-35,000 km and are hard to find-especially in the LT rating.
Cold-weather problems abound. One Hamilton, Ontario, owner says that her 1992 Voyager’s rear heater coolant tubes were so badly corroded that they had to be replaced after two years at a cost of $160. Radiators and AC lines also quickly succumb to corrosion.
Chrysler owners fight back
Chrysler’s repeated attempts to blame drivers for its vehicles’ ABS, automatic transmission, and paint delamination problems continue to arouse consumer anger, despite the fact the company has settled many of its complaints through CLOG. The CBC program Marketplace has made repeated references to these deficiencies; the Internet is replete with postings relating to failures all over the world (see Gripe Site pages on this website); and Chrysler is currently the defendant in half a dozen class actions in the States, including the aforementioned suit in Washington state.
Since 1998, about 900 Chrysler owners have set up Chrysler Lemon Owners Groups (CLOGs) in British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Alberta. These groups submitted members’ names to the automaker and have succeeded in getting sizeable refunds for brake, transmission, and paint repairs. If you have had any of these problems and want “goodwill” repairs or a refund for repairs already carried out, go through Chrysler’s regular customer relations hot line, as outlined below. If this doesn’t work within a reasonable period of time, phone, fax, or email Mr. Lou Spadotto, National Service Manager, Chrysler Parts, Service, and Engineering, tel: 519-973-2300; fax: 519-561-7005. He works closely with a Review Committee that will review all claims, including those that were previously rejected.
Spadotto and his colleague Larry Latta, V.P., Sales and Marketing, have committed themselves to treating each claim under review in an expeditious, thorough, and courteous manner. In the time since last year’s Lemon-Aid Guide was published, I can say that these gentlemen haven’t reneged on their commitment. We do have our differences, however. A major difference is how we look at repair claims arising from work done by independent agencies.
I’m going to spend some time here on the subject because I’m also getting feedback from Ford owners that they are being routinely denied transmission and engine head gasket refunds because they went to an independent garage. Apparently even if repairs are done to correct well-documented factory defects, such claims still stand a greater chance of being denied if they are done by independents than if those claims involve a dealer. Both Chrysler and Ford maintain that independent agencies make it harder to prove the repairs were really necessary (I’d argue the contrary) and that to pay such claims undercuts the dealers’ customer loyalty.
My response: We are dealing with well-known product defects, and the independent garage is available to show the repair was necessary to correct a factory-related defect and attest that nothing was done by the owner to either create or exacerbate the problem. I also believe that the independent-garage factor should be considered as only one element in assessing the claim. Again, the owner may have had no choice but to go to an independent garage, for such reasons as follow:
It was an emergency: no dealer was nearby or the dealer was closed.
The car was off warranty, and the owner had no idea warranty “goodwill” was available.
Dealer repairs would have cost a lot more.
The dealer had been uncooperative in the past.
Spadotto and Latta have agreed that these additional elements are important considerations and add that they won’t routinely deny claims in a knee-jerk fashion without looking at these factors. But I have another point to add about independent repairs, and this time I’ll get just a little bit legalistic.
When you put forward a claim, in addition to making a claim against a warranty or asking for a “goodwill” refund from Chrysler, use provincial consumer protection laws and jurisprudence to your advantage. Point out the following:
A product must be reasonably durable (use my Estimated Part Durability chart in Part Two, Lemon-Aid).
A defect brought to the dealer’s attention or manifesting itself during the warranty period that’s not corrected is still warrantable after the warranty expires (see Lowe v. Fairview Chrysler-Dodge Limited and Chrysler Canada Limited, and Shields v. General Motors of Canada in Lemon-Aid Part Two).
A defect that was once subject to a special “goodwill” program establishes a benchmark for owners of similar vehicles not covered by that special program. For example, you have already read that Chrysler has a seven-year “goodwill” warranty for AC evaporators on its 1993-97 Jeep Grand Cherokees and LH cars (Concorde, Intrepid, LHS, New Yorker, and Vision), and your Caravan, Cherokee, or truck has the same problem. It stands to reason that you can argue under provincial consumer protection statutes that Chrysler’s own program maintains that an evaporator should last a minimum of seven years. You also wouldn’t be remiss in adding that your vehicle cost a lot more or was exceptionally well maintained (see Bentley v. Dave Wheaton Pontiac Buick GMC Ltd and General Motors of Canada in Lemon-Aid Part Two).
Finally, you shouldn’t be penalized for going to an independent if the dealer didn’t disclose the “goodwill” warranty. To rule otherwise would be against public interest and would encourage dealers and automakers to keep these programs secret for as long as possible.
All set to make a claim? Spadotto advises owners to take the following steps before calling or emailing his office:
Discuss the matter with a Chrysler dealer Service Manager; then with the General Manager, if necessary.
Give the dealership a reasonable length of time or number of opportunities to satisfy you. The dealer may contact Chrysler on your behalf.
If the problem still has not been resolved, contact Chrysler at: Chrysler Canada Customer Service, Chrysler Center (why not the Canadian spelling, “Centre”?), P.O. Box 1621, Windsor, Ontario, N9A 4H6. You may also call toll-free: 1-800-465-2001. American owners may use the address and phone number found in their Owner’s Manual. When you phone Chrysler, have the following information handy:
Your name, address, and phone number.
The name of your dealer.
Your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), found on the dash or registration.
The vehicle’s current mileage.
If after jumping through all these hoops your claim is still rejected, file a small claims action that totals the costs for all the defects you believe are factory related and then wait for Chrysler’s settlement offer. If there’s no satisfactory offer made, go right to court.
That’s what Lemon-Aid reader John Cannell did in February 2000. He’s a Toronto-based owner of a ’90 Dodge Grand Caravan, bought used, who wasn’t satisfied with Chrysler’s low offer and insisted upon a trial to decide his claim relative to his transmission repair costs and paint estimates (Toronto Claim No. T16767/99, Judge Pamela Thomson). A summary of his experience can be found in Lemon-Aid.
Dealer service bulletins:
3.3L and 3.8L lower engine oil leaks.
Coolant seepage from rear heater hose connections.
Rough idle, hesitation, or sags after fuel tank is filled (see Secret Warranties).
Intermittent driveability problem near radar (again, explained more fully in Secret Warranties).
Intermittent powertrain shudder.
Transmission limp-in caused by a faulty speed sensor.
Reduced limp-in default sensitivity.
Excessive transmission downshifting/upshifting in cruise control.
Dealers will install an upgraded overdrive clutch hub.
Difficulty going into second gear or Reverse after a cold start.
ABS activates below 16 km/h.
Front wipers activate while driving or will not turn off.
Vehicle drifts or leads at high speeds.
Underbody squeaks, buzzes, and rattles.
Exhaust drone at 2500-2800 rpm.
B-pillar area rattling.
Blower motor whine and AC-related moan/whine.
Power steering produces a clunk or popping noise at highway speeds.
Steering noise during parking lot manoeuvres.
Front door squeak/creak noise.
Ratcheting sound when coming to a stop.
Rear wheel rattle or click noise.
Rattling rear bench seat.
Rear brake noise (see Secret Warranties).
Integrated child safety seat seatbelt retractor may restrict seatbelt travel; dealer will replace assembly at no charge under Customer Satisfaction Note #650.
Child seat shoulder harness won’t pull out.
Discoloured cowl grille or outside rear view mirrors.
Poor cowl cover fit.
Dust intrusion into rear of vehicle.
False info on fuel tank capacity and inaccurate fuel gauge.
Hard to unlatch rear bench seats.
HVAC control knobs or buttons may stick.
Interior window film buildup.
Intermittent operation of sliding door locks.
Liftgate-to-rear-fascia gap too small.
Paint chips at the upper front corner of the sliding doors.
Poor AM radio reception and RAS radio cassette malfunctions.
Faulty power vent windows.
Loose Quad seats.
Roof panel is wavy or has depressions.
Inoperative sliding door and liftgate power lock motor; the sliding door may be difficult to open from the outside.
Suction-cup marks on door glass.
Unexplained theft alarm activation or dead battery.
Water leaks onto carpet from HVAC housing.
White stress marks on interior trim panel.
Flying hubcaps (see Secret Warranties).
1-2 shift shudder fix.
Delayed transaxle engagement.
3.8L engine idle vibration.
Engine sags, hesitates, stumbles, stalls, or is hard to start.
Faulty speed control.
Engine misses or bucks.
Slipping serpentine belt.
Momentary loss of power steering.
Steering system honking or squealing during parking lot manoeuvres.
Rattling sliding door and B-pillar, Quad seat latch, and roof rack.
Front end popping.
Underbody creak or knock.
Thumping noise coming from the rear.
Rear brake cyclic rubbing noise, moaning, or howling.
Power door lock motor noise.
Ticking noise from left B-pillar.
Low speed tire wobble.
Smooth-road shake, vibration, or wobble.
Loose or detached seatback assist handle.
High effort needed to unlatch rear bench seats.
Poor fit at rear of sliding door.
CV boot grease seepage.
Coolant seepage at rear heater line.
Inoperative radiator fans.
Self-activating front wipers.
Wipers won’t park or wipe in intermittent mode.
Inoperative CD player.
AC evaporator odours.
Water leaks onto floor from HVAC housing.
The defects affecting newer minivans are similar to those failures we’ve seen for over a decade. All the more reason to be skeptical of Chrysler’s claims that its quality control has improved since the 1996 model was redesigned (see service bulletin in Lemon-Aid).
Chrysler continues to downplay the seriousness of its minivan safety defects, whether in the case of ABS failures, inadvertent airbag deployments, or faulty rear latches. Nevertheless, the company continues to sustain heavy losses from lawsuits concerning airbag dangers (a successful $69 million U.S. class action) and faulty minivan rear latches.
Owners report that cruise control units often malfunction, accelerating or decelerating the vehicle without any warning, and that sudden stalling and transmission failures also create life-threatening situations. The owner of a 1993 Caravan SE equipped with a 3.3L engine calls the transmission malfunction a safety hazard: I have experienced a transmission control module failure where the vehicle immediately dropped into second gear. This could have been tragic if it had occurred in heavy traffic.
NHTSA is looking into complaints the fuel system may leak in an accident. All models: 1991-93-Seatbelts may become unhooked from the floor anchor. 1994-Airbags deploy when the vehicle is started. 1994-95-Airbags and wiper motor share the same fuse; if the wiper motor fails, the airbags are deactivated. 1995-Engine fires.
Thieves love the door lock design.
Broken spare tire suspension cable allows tire to fall away while driving.
Right-side rear door suddenly flies open when vehicle passes over a small bump.
Seatbelt buckles jam or suddenly release.
Child shoulder-harness clip easily pulls out.
Roof drip rails allow water to leak inside.
Open glove-box back section allows for papers to be sucked into the AC blower.
Inoperative horn. 1995-96-Brake failures, lockup, excessive noise, and premature wear.
Airbag fails to deploy or accidentally deploys.
Injury from airbag.
Sudden acceleration, stalling.
Seatbacks fall backwards.
Fuel tank is easily damaged.
Park won’t hold vehicle.
Transmission fails, suddenly drops into low gear, won’t go into Reverse, delays engagement, or jumps out of gear.
Rear windows fall out or shatter.
Power window and door lock failures.
Sliding door jams, trapping occupants.
Weak headlights. 1996-Driver’s side airbag deploys when the ignition is turned on.
Child safety seat harness over-retracts, trapping children or catching their hair.
Fuel tank leaks from tank top and fuel rail.
Incorrect fuel gauge.
Fuel sloshes around (no baffle), deforms tank, and makes noise.
Fuel leaks from vapour-recovery canister.
Broken steering belt tensioner causes the sudden loss of power steering and power brakes.
Sliding door falls off.
Faulty power door locks.
Cracked axle/drive shaft.
Cruise control drops speed and then surges to former setting.
With AC engaged, vehicle stalls, then surges forward.
Power-steering failure, excessive noise.
Vehicle parked with gear in Park and with emergency brake applied rolled into a lake. 1997-Dashboard interior light switch started burning when ignition switch was turned on.
Inadvertent airbag deployment.
Airbags failed to deploy.
Facial injuries after airbag deployed when driving over a pothole.
Numerous complaints of 4-cylinder head gasket failures.
When driving through water, air breather intake ingests water and engine seizes.
Sluggish acceleration after cold starts.
Check Engine light comes on for no reason.
Slipping engine serpentine belt causes immediate steering loss.
Transmission hesitates and stumbles at turnpike speeds.
Constant stalling often due to failure of the power control module (PCM) and oxygen sensor.
Chronic transmission failures.
Transmission allows vehicle to roll away when in Park.
One can move automatic transmission shift lever without applying brakes.
Several incidents where ignition was turned and vehicle went into Reverse at full throttle, although transmission was set in Park.
PRNDL indicator suddenly goes blank, comes back on only after vehicle restart.
ABS failure caused an accident.
Brakes activated by themselves while driving.
Prematurely warped rotors and worn out pads cause excessive vibrations when stopping.
Rear drums often need replacing.
Often the rotors are rusted and pitted.
Steering may suddenly lock up.
Loss of steering control after running through a puddle.
Gas tank fuel leaks; replace fuel pump level unit.
Fuel moves violently in gas tank when accelerating, creating a thump-thump sound.
No standard head restraints on the second- and third-row seats.
Integrated child safety seat locked up and belts got tighter.
Seatback collapsed in collision.
Right front door latch failures and sliding door often opens while vehicle is underway.
Driver- and passenger-side locks failed on sliding doors.
Headlights are too dim.
Distorted windshields and exterior rear view mirror.
Inadequate windshield defrosting caused by poor design.
Early burnout of the AC compressor clutch.
Inoperative blower motors caused by a defective resistor.
Chronic wiper failure or self-activation.
Frequent battery failures.
Vehicle must be lifted by a straight flat bed or the windows would pop out and the gas tank could blow out. 1998-Right rear taillight caught fire.
Gas tank leaks caused by faulty fuel pumps or leaks from top of fuel tank responsible for a number of fires reported by owners.
Airbag deployment caused extensive facial and chest injuries.
Airbags failed to deploy.
Slipping engine serpentine belt causes immediate steering loss.
Sudden acceleration and chronic stalling.
Defective engine head gaskets, rocker arm gaskets, and engine mounts.
Chronic stalling caused by camshaft or oxygen sensor failures.
Surging and hesitation at highway speeds, especially with AC engaged.
Multiple transmission failures.
Vehicle rolled away while parked.
Many reports of vehicle suddenly jumping from Park into Reverse and speeding away.
Transmission fluid leaks due to defective front pump housing oil seal.
Sudden steering or brake loss. In one incident, the steering wheel separated from the steering column.
Power-steering loss often occurs when turning.
Frequent replacement of the steering column and rack and pinion.
Front suspension strut failure.
Many reports of defective liftgate gas shocks.
Many incidents reported of electrical short circuits and total electrical system failure.
Water leaks from the passenger-side dash.
Difficult to see through windshield in direct sunlight.
Defroster vent reflects in the windshield, obscuring driver’s vision.
Poor steering wheel design blocks the view of instruments and indicators.
Rear view mirror often falls off.
Door cannot be unlocked with remote entry system.
Horn hard to find on steering hub.
Battery failures. 1999-Airbag failed to deploy; airbag light comes on when braking.
Poor braking performance.
Van rolled away while in Park.
When put into Reverse, vehicle may accelerate or brakes may lock up.
Headlights aimed too low; not bright enough.
Sliding power door opens when vehicle passes over a bump. Recalls: All models: 1984-95-All minivans are subject to a voluntary service campaign that will fix a rear liftgate latch that may fail in a collision. 1985-Dealers will install a protective cover over the brake proportioning valve.
The fuel supply tube leaks in vehicles equipped with a 2.2L engine. 1986-88-On passenger models, first rear seats may detach in an accident. 1988-Possible fuel tank leakage. 1988-90-Notification #281T, applicable to vehicles with a trailer-towing package, provides for a free oil cooler by-pass valve to prevent transmission failure in cold weather. 1989-90-Engine valve cover gasket may leak oil, creating a fire hazard.
Notification #466 provides for a free engine valve spring.
Safety recall #314T provides for the free installation of a reinforcing plate on the front seatbelt strap. 1990-An incorrectly mounted proportioning valve may increase the chance of skidding. 1990-94-Liftgate bolts may fail causing liftgate to suddenly fall. 1991-Faulty turn-signal flasher.
ABS hydraulic fluid leakage. 1991-92-Steering wheel cracks may cause wheel to loosen. 1991-93-Recall to fix two kinds of seatbelt problems: faulty buckle cover may prevent seatbelt from being fully latched, and seatbelt anchor hook could become detached from the anchor.
Chrysler ABS recall calls for the installation of a new pump and seal kit, if needed. The kit comes with a lifetime warranty, while all other ABS components will henceforth be covered for 10 years/160,000 km. 1992-Replace liftgate supports, which may break from fatigue.
Safety recall #326T requires the replacement of all brake pedals that have been found to lack sufficient strength.
Faulty steering column shaft coupling bolts.
Improperly bent fuel tank flanges could cause a fire. 1993-94-Rear liftgate struts and bolts will be replaced to prevent liftgate from falling down. 1993-95-A wiring harness short may cause the driver-side airbag to deploy when the minivan is started. 1993-99-Replace faulty wiper pivot drive arm. 1995-98-Airbags may deploy for no reason. 1996-Faulty bench seat attaching bolts.
Filler tube rollover valve.
Installation of a fuel-filler ground strap.
Improved retractors for child safety seats (service action) and upgraded seat module bolts (recall).
Defective engine cylinder head plug could cause a fire.
Defective fuel pump attaching nut could cause fuel leakage. 1997-Goodyear Conquest tires will be replaced.
Dealers will clean the child safety seat latch and add a belt extender for anchoring the belts.
Brake master cylinder seals may be defective, allowing fluid to be drawn into the power-assist reservoir.
Wheels may have been damaged during mounting. 1998-Install upgraded child safety seat belts.
Secret Warranties/Service Tips
If pressed, Chrysler will replace the AC evaporator for free up to seven years (see Part Two).
All models: 1987-92-
The heater and air conditioning system may suddenly change to the defrost mode during a low vacuum condition, which can occur during trailer towing, hill climbing, and acceleration. Install a revised vacuum check valve to correct this problem.
3.0L engines that burn oil or produce a smoky exhaust at idle can be fixed by installing snap rings on the exhaust valve guides and replacing all of the valve guide stems or the cylinder head.
Intermittent rough running at idle signals a need for a new EGR.
A sticking AC heater blend door can be corrected by spraying an anti-rust penetrant into the assembly.
Oil leaks from the cylinder head cover with 2.5L engines are caused by poor sealing. The original cylinder head cover must be replaced with one that uses silicone sealant (RTV) instead of a gasket (DSB #09-17-89).
Defective valve stem seals are the likely cause of high oil consumption with 2.5L engines (DSB #HL-49-89C).
A604 automatic transmission clutch slippage is a common problem addressed in DSB #21-09-9.
A surge/buck at 60-90 km/h with an automatic transmission can be corrected by installing driveability kit #4419447. 1989-95-An excellent summary of Chrysler’s transmission glitches and corrections covering these seven model years can be found in DSB #18-24-95. 1989-96-Acceleration shudder that may be accompanied by a whine is likely the result of leakage in the transmission front pump, caused by a worn pump bushing.
Erratic idle speeds occurring after deceleration from a steady cruising speed can be corrected by replacing the idle air control motor with a revised motor. 1990-94-Harsh automatic shifts may be tamed by installing the following revised parts: kickdown, accumulator, reverse servo cushion springs, and accumulator piston.
Cold-start piston knocking noise can be eliminated by replacing the piston and connecting rod assembly.
Erratic fuel gauge operation can be fixed by installing a revised sender assembly or fuel pump/sender assembly.
Loss of fuel pressure causing fuel-pump noise, erratic transmission shifting, engine power loss, or engine die-out may be due to a defective fuel pump.
An erratic idle with 2.5L engines can be cured by using an improved SMEC/SBEC engine controller.
Faulty power door locks may have a short circuit, need a new fuse, or require a new door latch with power door lock assembly. 1991-92-If the engine knocks when at full operating temperature and during light to medium acceleration, it may mean that the single board engine controller (SBEC-Powertrain Control Module) needs replacing.
Engines with a rough idle and stalling following a cold start also may require a new SBEC.
The airbag warning light may continuously illuminate when the vehicle’s ignition is in the ON position. This malfunction may be due to corrosion caused by water in the airbag’s six-way connector. 1991-93-Engines that stall following a cold start may need an upgraded Park/Neutral/start switch. 1991-94-The serpentine belt may come off the pulley after driving through snow; install upgraded shield, screw, and retainers.
Noisy fuel pumps need to be replaced with upgraded pump, wiring harness, fuel tank isolators, and fuel tank straps.
Noise when shifting into Reverse or when turning is addressed in DSB #09-14-94. 1991-95-Poor AC performance while the AC blower continues to operate is likely due to a frozen evaporator (ask for a “goodwill” refund).
DSB #24-05-94 looks at all the causes of, and remedies for, poor heater performance.
If the vehicle tends to drift left, cross-switch the tire and wheel assemblies, readjust the alignment, or reposition the front crossmember. 1992-The brake pedal may not return to its fully released position, causing the brake lights to remain illuminated; install a pedal return kit (#4723625).
Front door forward hem separation (the door seems to sag) can be corrected by welding the inner door panel to the outer door panel along the front door forward hem.
Long crank times, a rough idle, and hesitation may be corrected by replacing the intake manifold assembly.
A vehicle that’s hard to start may have a corroded ECT/sensor connector.
An oil leak in the oil filter area may be corrected by installing a special oil filter bracket gasket (#MD198554).
If the heater and ventilation system change to the defrost mode during acceleration, trailer towing, or hill climbing, the installation of a revised vacuum check valve should cure the problem.
Intermittent failure of the power door locks, chimes, wipers, gauges, and other electrical devices can be corrected by replacing defective relays with revised relays (#4713737). 1992-93-Some 41TE transaxles may produce a buzzing noise when shifted into Reverse. This problem can be corrected by replacing the valve body assembly or valve body separator plate.
A deceleration shudder can be eliminated by replacing the powertrain control module with an upgraded version.
Rough idling after a cold start with 2.5L engines can be corrected by installing an upgraded powertrain control module (PCM). 1992-94-AC duct odours are addressed in DSB #24-21-93.
Poor heater performance may be the result of a misadjusted clip on the blend air door cable. 1993-A fuel pump check valve failure can cause start-up die-out, reduced power, or erratic shifting. 1993-94-Improved automatic shifting can be had by installing an upgraded transmission control module.
AC evaporator whistling requires the installation of upgraded AC expansion valves and gaskets.
An AC moan may be silenced by installing an AC clutch plate with a damper ring. 1993-95-Delayed automatic transmission engagement may be due to low fluid, a stuck or frozen PRNDL switch, or a transaxle front pump with excessive ground clearance.
Harsh low-speed automatic transmission shifting, accompanied by a fluctuating digital speedometer reading. This may be corrected by covering the wiring harness with aluminum wire, which prevents the spark plug wires from sending false signals to the outport speed sensor wiring that connects to the TCM.
Constant upshifting/downshifting on vehicles equipped with cruise control has a variety of causes, as set out in DSB #08-15-95. 1993-99-Paint delamination, peeling, or fading (see Lemon-Aid Part Two).
A rotten-egg odour coming from the exhaust may be the result of a malfunctioning catalytic converter, probably covered under the emissions warranty. 1994-Harsh, erratic, or delayed transmission shifts can be corrected by replacing the throttle position sensor (TPS) with a revised part.
A creaking left B-pillar can be silenced by repositioning the metal portion of the left B-pillar baffle. 1994-95-Intake valve deposits are frequently the cause of poor driveability complaints.
Intermittent no-cranks can be corrected by modifying the battery-to-starter-cable terminal insulator at the starter connection.
A front suspension rapping noise heard when going over bumps can be corrected by providing additional clearance between the front coil springs and strut towers. 1996-Poor engine performance near military installations or airports is caused by radar interference. Correct by installing a “hardened” crankshaft position sensor and/or reprogramming (flashing) the PCM with new software calibrations.
Rear brake noise that occurs at any time can be silenced by replacing the rear brake shoes and rear wheel cylinders. Another possibility is the addition of rear brake shoe springs.
Rough idle, hesitation, or sags after the fuel tank is filled can only be corrected by the installation of a new fuel tank, according to DSB #18-28-95. The repair is covered under warranty and should take about an hour.
Steering noise during parking lot manoeuvres may be fixed by installing a new power-steering gear and left-side attaching bolt.
Chrysler minivan wheel covers tend to take flight (and I thought that was only a Chevy Caprice problem). Chrysler will install upgraded covers under warranty. 1996-99-A serpentine belt that slips off the idler pulley requires an upgraded bracket. 1997-98-Engines that run poorly or stall may need the PCM reprogrammed under the emissions warranty. 1998-99-Front brakes tend to wear out quickly on front-drive minivans. Owners say that Chrysler has paid half the cost of brake repairs for up to 2 years/40,000 km.
Silence a chronic squeaking noise coming from underneath the vehicle by installing a new strut pivot bearing (see bulletin in Lemon-Aid).