The Dodge Caravan is also known as the Dodge Grand Caravan. The vehicle is a part of a series of minivans created by Chrysler for the 1984 to 2020 model years. The vans are marketed as the Dodge version of the Chrysler minivans, and offers consumers a fifth generation of production. The Dodge Caravan was introduced alongside the Plymouth Voyager and the Caravan was also sold by Chrysler as the Chrysler Town & Country until its 2017. It was then at that time the replacement of the Chrysler Pacifica was produced.
The Dodge brand has seen its share of issues with the Caravan and unfortunately those issues have stemmed into the transmission. We’ll take a look at the transmission issues the Caravan has endured, and how those issues have impacted Dodge.
What is Dodge Automatic Transmission?
Dodge vehicles that are built with the traditional automatic transmission use sensors that help to determine when gear shifting should take place. As a result, the car will change them accordingly and use an internal transmission fluid pressure to do so. For various reasons, the automatic transmission must can be disconnected from the engine to shift gears temporarily. This is controlled by the lock-up located in the torque converter. Dodge vehicles with an automatic transmission, offer a transmission that comes equipped to handle various speeds. This is achieved by producing various gear ratios. Additionally, the torque converter will work to transfer power from the engine to the transmission by “fluid coupling”. Furthermore, it is important to note that the transmission fluid level must be checked regularly ensuring success with this process as well as a smooth-running transmission.
The Common Problems with the Dodge Automatic Transmission
For the Dodge, the most common failure for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission is a malfunctioning torque converter. This can cause issues with shifting. Additionally, the torque converter within the automatic transmission serves the same purpose manual transmission’s clutch feature. For you a Dodge owner who is experiencing a torque converter that is malfunctioning, you will continue to have failure over the days and weeks to come before it completely fails. Because of this failure, you will see your transmission fluid in your vehicle becoming contaminated with all kinds of foreign particles as well as debris. And any foreign particles and debris can cause tremendous as well as and can cause significant damage to your transmission. This can also equate to hefty repair bills when it is all said and done. In some instances, the damage may be so bad that your car may require the most extensive repair- a complete rebuild.
The Dodge Grand Caravan Common Problems
One of the most common issues that many Dodge Caravan owners report with their vehicles- is delayed transmission engagement. Owners also report that it can be difficult to shift the car into another gear. Other issues such as shaking and shuddering when driving have also been documented. These problems may stem from an unfastened snap ring on low drum spins- which causes lots of weight and wear on the drum. To solve this issue, mechanics may have to rebuild transmission by installing an updated drum and snap ring that securely fastens into position, which prevents wear and damage on the drum.
Do Dodge Caravans Have Transmission Problems? – A Look at Various Models
The most common transmission problem seen many of the 2003 Caravans comes from the transmission solenoid. Symptoms of this problem cause the driver to have difficulty shifting. The difficulty is not a constant issue, but rather one that happens at random or is episodic. To repair this, you could spend up to $500, including parts and labor.
Back in the Dodge Caravans were produced with a new type of electronic transmission that Dodge referred to as the Ultra-Drive. The manufacturer provided some overall improvements but it then unfortunately-had other problems; one of those issues was shifting. In 1992, makers refurbished the Ultra-Drive transmission vehicles – and those who reviewed the vehicle still warned that there were still some problems that existed. Before the 1989 model year, the Caravan still had lots of other problems. Additionally, those issues were the cause of lots of accidents. This made Dodge issue a recall order. The Ultra-Drive proved such a problematic concept that during its initial stages, Dodge front man Lee Iacocca had to face Consumer Reports' charge that the Caravan was designated a “lemon.”
How reliable are Dodge Grand Caravans?
With its transmission woes, the vehicle seems to have a stable rating. According to repairpal.com, the Caravan has a reliability rating of, “…4.0 out of 5.0, which ranks it 2nd out of 8 for minivans. The average annual repair cost is $673 which means it has average ownership costs. The severity of repairs is average and the frequency of those issues is low, so major repairs are uncommon for the Grand Caravan.” Additionally, repairpal.com states: “The average total annual cost for repairs and maintenance on a Dodge Grand Caravan is $673, compared to an average of $647 for minivans and $652 for all vehicle models.”
How much does it cost to replace a transmission in a Dodge Caravan?
Generally speaking, the cost for a Dodge Grand Caravan automatic transmission diagnosis ranges between $88 and $111. You can expect to pay between $88 and $111 for labor as well. These estimates don’t include the additional fees and taxes that your shop will add on.
Low Transmission Fluid Can Spell Problems
When the transmission fluid is low inside of your Dodge Caravan, you may find that your vehicle may shake or you may experience some weird, abnormal shifting or a complete loss of ability to shift at all. When you have low transmission fluid, you may have a possible fluid leak. Therefore, you should take the car to a mechanic to see about getting the low transmission issue properly identified and repaired to prevent further damage to your Dodge transmission. Before heading over to your mechanic, you can use some “stop leak” additives to curtail any transmission fluid leaks.
How often change transmission fluid Dodge Caravan?
Some owners recommend that you change your fluid every 60,000 miles. You may want to take your Caravan to a mechanic and find out what he or she recommends. Some other individuals “…suggest doing a fluid change at a bare minimum of every 2 years/24K miles if you don’t tow with yours or every year/ 15K miles if you do tow with them. Keeping the fluid fresh and clean is the best way to save the transmission and is much cheaper than having to replace a burned-up transmission.”
How many miles will a Dodge Caravan last?
While driving habits will help to dictate the longevity of your Dodge Caravan, some Dodge Caravan owners are able to keep their cars beyond the 400,000-mile threshold. The owner would have kept the vehicle very well maintained as well. As a Dodge Caravan owner, it’s your job to provide the upkeep of your vehicle and make sure that you keep oil changes current as well as other aspects of the vehicle well-maintained.
You can click here to view a maintenance schedule for a 2019 Dodge Caravan.
Basic Tips for Keeping your Transmission Healthy
As a Dodge Caravan owner, it’s your job to keep your car healthy which includes the transmission. Check out some tips to keep your car and transmission healthy.
Schedule routine maintenance
Scheduling routine maintenance for your car and transmission, is vital to the long-term performance of your Dodge Caravan. While experts recommend that you change your transmission fluid every 15,000 miles or once a year, you may want to check with your family mechanic to see what he or she recommends.
Don’t forget the transmission flushes
It is very important to change your fluids. When you have low fluids, you may be welcoming future difficulties. Have your transmission fluid checked and have any low transmission fluid replaced and replenished as quickly as possible and avoid driving your vehicle when fluid is below the recommended level. Your mechanic may recommend a simple seal replacement that can fix any leakage issues and save you money on fixes and repairs in the future.
Come to a complete stop before shifting from reverse to drive
When backing out of a parking spot, or driving in reverse, make sure that you come to a complete stop before shifting your car into drive. That dreadful “engine drop” can be hard to hear. When you come to a complete stop between gears, this helps to prevent that unwarranted strain.
Don’t drive with your foot on the brake pedal
When driving with your foot on the brake pedal, you’re making your transmission work harder than it has to. You may also want to utilize your emergency brake when parking inclines, to reduce stress on the parking linkage.
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