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Thread: Van maintenance?

  1. #1

    Van maintenance?

    I have a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan. Bought as a demo w/ 5k miles on it.

    Fast forward to 2013: It LOOKS like a hoopity but the oil has been changed at between 3 and 4k, every single time. It's my religion. It has ~99k miles on it now.

    IMO Dodge's have electrical glitches. Now my heater blower works when it feels like it. The engine is dying once in a while. In olden days I'd have changed the fuel filter to begin diagnosis of that problem. It just seems to not get enough fuel occasionally when it's cold and idling.

    I got my 1st car in 1976. I was taught then how to do maintenance. Remember how we used to change plugs and plug wires? We used to have to set the gap on the plugs. Do vehicles not require that any more? Should I have it done for its 100k tune-up?

    What else needs done? Just bought new tires for it and my w/chair. (Then woke up to a New Mexico ice storm. Was I ever stoked to have traction that a.m.!)

    I want 250k miles out of this van. My Uncle Bob, Service Manager Extraordinaire, assured me that w/ proper maintenance it would easily make it. Bought tripleA, just in case. My nephew is here for a few days so it's a good time to have it in the shop...the kid can chauffeur.

    This van has been paid for the past 2 yrs. I made a deathbed promise to Dad to not go out on a car loan limb. Every day I make no car payment yet drive a car is a good day indeed. I'd like to save up the cash for the next (used, I'd never buy new) one, when that dreadful inevitable day arrives.

    I know the brakes need checked, as does the wiring to the heater blower. But what else is required? Cars have changed so much. Please advise me on how to best invest my$$ to get maximum time, distance, safety and comfort from this hoopity. I've been travelling a lot and want to continue loading my dog and my backpack for spontaneous trips when the spirit moves me.

    Much rather pay for prevention now than repair/replace later, on Satan's schedule, you know?

    All advice greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Fithian, IL
    Here is a page that shows maintenance schedule as well a 10 recalls that should have been taken care of.

  3. #3
    How long has the check engine light been on?
    Find a local mechanic. Built a relationship with him. Cookies and cake are good.
    Have him/her look at it and give you recommendations and estimate.
    Have the codes pulled to see what's causing the engine to quit.
    If you haven't tuned it up have that done. Its usually just plugs now days. Change air filter, fuel filter if they haven't been done. Some of the cars have cabin filters that clean the air coming into the heat/air conditioning system too.
    Have brakes checked. They have squeakers on them. If you hear a high pitch squeal when you drive, and it goes away when you step on the brakes then yours are well worn. Any grinding or pulsing is also a bad sign.
    Have the water system flushed, pressure checked and hoses changed if its never been done. Most cars break down on the road because of water failure.
    Might have the trany fluid and filter changed, but some people never do it. A lot of the new automatics are sealed. Check the manual.
    The heater could be a wire or the switch. If it works on high but not the lower speeds its usually the switch going bad. If you can thump the dash or kick the motor and it works it could be the motor. Don't go to the mechanic and say change the switch. Tell him what its doing and let him figure it out.
    I do my oil changes every 5k. The oil is much better than in 1976. Saves money and the planet.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Colorado Boy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Southwestern Colorado
    All modern cars have a plug under the dash called the OBD II (Onboard Diagnostics). That's where you have to start now with your tune up. You can either take it to a mechanic and have them read it or get a reader at the car parts store to do it yourself

  5. #5
    Serpentine fan belt is a must change at 100k. If it goes, then everything dies! electrical, cooling, power steering.....

  6. #6
    I forgot. The engine timing belt. You didn't say what engine you have, but most cars have a timing belt that needs to be changes between 60 and 100K. Some you change the water pump, idler pulleys and some seals at the same time. This thing is pretty important, because if it breaks it trashes the engine most of the time.

  7. #7
    Sensors start to go out of spec by 100K. If you want to make it to 250K you will eventually need to replace MAF and O2 sensor. One of them could be causing your intermittent stall. You should replace them with genuine OEM. Lots of Chinese knockoffs that don't work.
    By all means, get a code reader if you can. It can save you money on needless repairs by unscrupulous dealers. Some codes are transitory and not a huge concern. Stuff like O2 sensor didn't heat up fast enough or your coolant temperature is too low because it's 0 degrees out.
    Last edited by MSspouse; 01-18-2013 at 11:09 PM.

  8. #8
    My brain sucks. Try this. On most Chryslers you can access the codes by turning the key on and off three times, but not starting it. You turn the key far enough to turn all those warning lights on, on the dash, but not far enough to engage the starter. Leave it on the third turn and then count the flashes the check engine light does.
    Have a pen paper to write them down. Then google them.

  9. #9
    Senior Member lazierdog's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Wherever there's a bed.
    Unless your CEL comes on you don't really need to do the key dance. You can also take it to Advance Auto or Autozone and they'll check it for free. My '96 Grand Voyager has over 130K miles on it. I haven't changed the serpentine belt, but I've changed both O2 sensors, MAP sensor, camshaft and crankshaft position sensors, brakes, drain the tranny fluid (NOT flush), fuel filter, fuel pump and coolant flush. Those are the big items. I believe I have a timing chain, not belt, so that shouldn't need service. I too have the electrical gremlins and the engine stalls too, so I don't take it on long trips anymore. None of my services fixed the stalling. I was thinking about changing the ECU but decided not to. It's a common problem that many on the Chrysler forum experienced. I would definitely recommend the tranny and coolant service. If they go bad the cost to repair is astronomical.

  10. #10
    Really good advice coming in here. Without looking it up, I'd bet timing chain or non interference engine. But I am curious why no one has mentioned replacing the brake fluid. It sucks up moisture causing components to rust and is the reason it gets dark.
    I have had periodic paralysis all my life. I lost my ability to walk in 2011 beginning with a spinal block, which was used for a hip fracture caused by periodic paralysis.

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