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2006 Dodge Caravan issues after issues

Purchased a used 2006 Dodge Caravan in September 2014. Everything appeared to be great. Took it into a local repair shop for an inspection before we purchased it. Looked up the car report and again, everything was just fine. Then after a few months of driving it within the city, issues began to pop up.
The spark plugs went (and had to be replaced), the alternator went, the water pump, rear brakes went (don’t the front brakes usually go first…?? Had the brakes tested and 5% left on rear and about 40% on front <-- this was as of December 2015. Over the last year or so, brakes have been grinding a fair bit and had actually brought it into a different repair shop who said the brakes were just fine but then once the grinding became worse, brought it into another repair shop and they showed me what was left), the power steering had to be rebuilt (leaking) and then the seals on the transmission also went. Transmission seals were replaced but then over a period of two weeks, I noticed more and more leaks coming from the same area where the transmission was. I continued to add more transmission fluid (three bottles – 1L in size - within about 3-4 weeks times). Brought it back in and it appeared one of the new seals were faulty so they replaced both. Kept an eye on the van over the next week and it was leaking non-stop. I also noticed that there were times I would back van up, put it into drive and there was nothing happening. I could accelerate but van would not move. I had to turn the van off three times in order for anything to go. It was also quite rough when switching gears.
Brought it in yesterday and they replaced the seals (AGAIN!), took it out for another long drive, brought it back and noticed it was still leaking. Mechanic said they replaced the bushings as they were completely worn down and asked me if the transmission was ever rebuilt. Having the vehicle for just over a year, it was never rebuilt in that time but again, who knows what the previous owners did. Maybe they had it rebuilt? But when I purchased the van, it only had 62,000 miles on it. What the heck did they do to the transmission to have it rebuilt in that little mileage?
The transmission rebuild was never mentioned to us when purchasing the vehicle back in 2014. The mechanic mentioned that perhaps the transmission was rebuilt but whoever rebuilt it, never bothered to replace the bushings as they were completely worn down. It was literally one thing after another that went on the van. It was as though I brought it home, ran fine for a day or two and then the next thing went. The van has 80,000 miles on it.
The previous family who owned it said they used it strictly as a back up vehicle for road trips with the family because it had the room compared to their other vehicle.

I have basic knowledge when it comes to vehicles but that’s about it. Has anyone ever heard of so many issues in a vehicle? Any idea why there would be so many issues with such low mileage? I’m now realizing that the Caravan (especially the older models) have MANY issues and complaints against them. Wish the repair shop I had brought it to in the first place would of told us to stay away from this model, as it’s been nothing but a headache and cost a lot of money for the repairs.

It’s Ten Years Old!
Some things you list as “repairs” are maintenance items (brakes, spark plugs). Other things come from age or unknown used car history.

A 10 year old Caravan with an unknown maintenance history can have many problems. Many have bad transmissions as well.

This vehicle has a very poor reliability according to all reports.

Replacing axle shaft seals isn’t that difficult, you shouldn’t have to return three times to get it right. I’ll bet he had difficulty sealing the left side flange with RTV, that is if he was aware it should be removed to replace the axle seal. If the output shaft bushings were worn it should have been noticed on the first visit.

We had a 2000; bought used with 60K miles on it and up to 100K miles it was a great car. From there to 178K miles, it needed a laundry list of repairs, mostly done by myself but still put the cost of ownership in the red. The NAPA salespeople were giving me the mechanic’s discount not thinking all these parts are for one car :slight_smile:

I Have Owned A Dodge Caravan Since New That Is Twice The Age Of This One. I Replace Spark Plugs Every 36,000 Miles And I Have Replaced The Front Brakes, Once.

I have had none of these other problems. I am speaking from experience. Let’s not be so quick to condemn all Chrysler minivans based on horror stories you’ve heard or read. I rented one, An 08, last year to go on a 3,000 mile vacation and loved it.


It does seem to have an unusual large number of problems that have suddenly appeared. But maybe it is just that the routine maintenance wasn’t kept up and you just got a bit unlucky. Cross your fingers, hopefully once you get the maintenance up to date you may have years of trouble free driving ahead.

If this happened to me I’d probably complain to the mechanic who did the inspection as they should have spotted the rear brake problem then, and told you a rear brake job was imminent. But it depends on the exact nature of the transaction you had with the inspecting mechanic. If you said “do the best inspection you can for $50”, they probably wouldn’t have time to inspect the rear brakes, only the front.

On bit of advice, besides the pre-purchase inspection, when purchasing a used car its a good idea to go to your local public library and check out what Consumer Reports says about that make/model/year as a used car. They’ll show the good points, and the problem areas as mentioned to them by CR readers who own that car who fill out their surveys. It’s a good idea to do that now, even though you’ve already purchased the car, as it will give you some idea what you’re looking at going forward.

All older vehicles have problems because the fact is…all parts wear out eventually. Do you throw away a bag of apples because one is rotten? No…same with vehicles in most respect.

“I have basic knowledge when it comes to vehicles but that’s about it.”

With all due respect, I have to suggest that the OP expand his/her basic knowledge to the point where he/she learns the difference between maintenance and repairs.

As was already stated, spark plugs and brakes are both maintenance items (e.g.–They need to be replaced on a certain schedule.) Even water pumps do sometimes need to be replaced after a number of years, even though this is more in line with a repair than a maintenance item.

Then, if you add a history of (possibly) poor maintenance by the previous owner, as well as this model’s historically dicey repair reputation (especially in regard to their transmissions), you wind up with a situation where it is entirely possible to have more repairs than one anticipated, in addition to the maintenance items.

Would have to agree with the others here, that most of these items are normal maintenance items.

As to the transmission. Those road trips that the previous owner used the vehicle for may have included towing a heavier load than this vehicle was designed for. A heavy boat, camper, or a trailer full of material for the new cabin they were building.

Also you can never trust the stories from the previous owners. Always take anything they say with a grain of salt.


Plugs went bad? Or misfire appeared after 100k miles on original plugs? Alternator and WP? There are a dozen dodge vans on CL with shaky trans. Would be interesting to see list of repairs on dodge vans from 125k-175k. Easy to find $1k 2005 dodge van. That needs $3k in repairs.

Daughter bought a Dodge van even though I told her they have tranny problems. She has had the tranny rebuilt twice. The first time at 60k miles. She didn’t want to pay the $2k premium for Toyota or Honda. I had a 95 Dodge Intrepid and the torque converter was replaced 4 times and tranny twice in the first 36k miles. I traded it for a 99 Camry that my son still drives.

In 1998, I think it was, after getting plowed by a man who was on his cell phone in Austin, we bought a 1989 Caravan, When we left McAllen and drove to Amarillo, when we got there, we would call a mechanic and make an appointment for repairs.

When we left Amarillo for the Midwest, around 900 miles, when we got there we’d make an appointment again for repairs.

When we got back to Amarillo on our way home, we’d make another appointment for repairs.

When we got back to McAllen we did it again.

And, yes, once about 100 miles from McAllen the transmission totally died.

My 2002 Sienna, we drive it into Mexico for 11 months, and somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 miles, and any repairs needed we wait until we are back in McAllen again. Many of the few repairs involve things like door handles and outside mirrors

I had a 92 Voyager, I bought at 5 years old with 43,999 miles miles, junked it 9 years later with 170000 miles because of rust, only naintenance and minor repairs, no transmission problems.

Followed that with an 03 Town & Country, sold it at 10 years old to a granddaughter who used it to moved to Florida, no transmission problems.

I did do a pan drop and filter change at 60,000 and 120,000 miles on both vans. The 03 did need the brakes redone often from rusting because it sat a lot in our salt encrusted area.

We purchased a new 1998 Chrysler T&C van. At 1,500 miles, on a short trip away from home and driving on the highway, the tranny somehow destroyed itself. Fortunately the warranty covered the cost for a new one. We now have an '02 T&C and it has had a few relatively minor issues over the years but it is doing okay. One thing that was stressed to me and is pretty well known, is to use only the Chrysler transmission fluid in the tranny.

"One thing that was stressed to me and is pretty well known, is to use only the Chrysler transmission fluid in the tranny."
That is extremely correct!