2001 Dodge Caravan can't go over 50 mph

Hi, I have 2001 Dodge caravan suddenly can’t go faster than 50mph despite gas peddle pushing the engine rev to 4000 rpm. Meanwhile the check engine light is on. What’s going on?

Ummmmm…perhaps the the codes that are triggering the check engine light (CEL) would give you a clue?

Or perhaps your clutch is shot (manual?) or your tranny is shot, toasted, and slipping…or has no fluid. Have you checked it lately?

I suggest that when you have these kind of problems you discontinue driving the car around until you get them diagnosed. Or your car will quickly become scrapmetal.

Yes, as my amigo Mountainbike stated, driving the vehicle in this condition is certainly not helping it to achieve a long life. If my car was revving at 4k and only able to go 50 mph, it would be on a flatbed trailer very quickly.

My best guess, as a result of the high revs/relatively low top speed, is that your transmission is slipping very badly. However, since I can’t see or examine your Caravan from here, I suggest that you first check the level of your transmission fluid. If it is low, perhaps topping it off can enable you to drive it to a mechanic in order to find out where the leak is, and if any damage has occurred from running with a low fluid level. If the fluid level is normal, or if it is brown and evil-smelling, have it towed a.s.a.p. to a trusted mechanic for diagnosis and repair.

Standard or manual transmission? How many miles? Any history of transmission or clutch problems? If there is a CEL (Check Engine Light) That CEL (check engine light) is just a kid in class waving her hand trying to get you attention because she has the answer. You need to have the codes read. Some places will read them for FREE. Try Autozone or Advanced Auto Parts. Get the exact code (like P0123) not just their translation into English and post it back here.

Regarding warning lights:

  1. if the coolant temp light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  2. if the oil warning light comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

  3. if a FLASHING MIL/CEL comes on, shut off the engine ASAP

    ASAP means driving to the berm of the highway right now and not waiting for the next exit.

But if the MIL/CEL is not flashing, then it’s not an urgent indicator.

Good advice above - I would add that allpar.com has a discussion board for Chrysler Corp minivans and that may be a good place to find more model-specific advice.

there is safe mode. that only let you drive so fast so you get to shop. it could be the trans. or a engine problem just get to a shop

On older Caravans, there was a safety mode, which if a sensor failed, locked the transmission in second. Speed sensor was one such on my 1989. Yeah, at 50, it would really be revving. Ask Autozone to read any codes. I think this is what boxwrench refers to.

It’s called “limp home mode” and it occurs when the transmission control module detects a fault that could damage the transaxle. In this mode, you have reverse and second gear only, which are hydraulic only. The rest of the gears are electronically controlled, and are locked out.

Start with a scan at AutoZone etc., but you are likely to get a generic “there’s a transmission problem” code. If so, you’ll need to take the van to a shop with a more advanced scanner that can read TCM codes. Go to a dealer or independent transmission shop (NOT one of the chain transmission shops).

Thank you all for the advice. My caravan is automatic. I should have said when you try to run at 50 mph you have to rev it to 4000 rpm. I can drive it below 2000 to 3000 rpm for below 40 mph speed. The computer scan shows code p0605 and p0700. The question is do I need to have tranny replaced or just the control module?

Thank you all again.

P0605: Internal Control Module Read Only Memory (ROM) Error
P0700: Transmission Control System Malfunction

The first step is to check the connections at the TCM (transmission control module) and the transmission. The cable is secured by 8mm bolts, IIRC. Remove the bolts and check for corrosion, etc.

Auto transmission. It’s getting to 100k moles. Never had transmission problems but I am the second owner. I do know the first owner and she confirms that. Autozone gave codes as P0605 and P0700. They both indicate TCM problem. Can I just change the TCM instead the whole transmission? No lights are flashing. When driving between 20 and 30 mph the engine rev at 2 to 3k rpm and the car runs smooth. AAMCO pushes for rebuiding which costs $2200.