Dodge Grand Caravan Hot Wheels! I seem to have screwed up

Sooo, I made a mistake. I see that in retrospect. First the problem and then a little background if anyone wants to commiserate.

My 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan has 94800 miles on it. It is making a popping sound whenever I turn the wheels past center. If I am at center and turn to left or right (regardless of speed or at a full stop) there is no pop, but when I come back to center there it is. It seems to be mechanical for sure. I have only owned the car for a day (see below). I pulled over to a gas station to put air in the tires, to see if that was causing the popping issue. When i went to put air in the tires, I realized the wheels were so hot to the touch that they burned my hand. The both front wheels were VERY hot, while the back wheels were only sort of hot.

Diagnosis? Thanks in advance!


I needed a minivan. BAD. I was laid off in May. My wife is working but we have no excess income. On 9/25 I was rear ended and my previous van was totaled. It was a 2004 Chrylser T+C that I liked just fine. The insurance paid the Priv. Party KBB value for the van basically but it was a little less than I still owed, so that all went to the lien holder. I have three young sons and no way to transport them all of a sudden. So I cashed out one of my retirement accounts (which I did NOT want to do)…

I only had 6000 cash to spend. I wanted to buy the newest vehicle I could afford with the lowest miles I could find. I found a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan, that was very similar to the Chrysler we had before at a local dealership. It had 94800 miles on it. It drove nice the day I tested it. I poked and prodded. But I had my two youngest sons with me and they were being crazy and I was more focused on getting a good price. This is a dealership I’d used for repairs before and they always did right by me in that space. So after driving it, looking at engine, testing some things looking over options. I paid a litte under private party “good” blue book (pretty good at a dealership I thought… maybe not…) right at 6 g’s not including fees. We drove the van a bunch last night and I never heard the popping sound. Today the problems listed above appeared.

I marched down to the dealership at 730 tonight and demanded they fix the hot wheel problem at their expense. They said they would consider it and to bring van back tomorrow - but reminded me that I signed an “as is” warranty exemption paper. This is true. I did. I have no real legal recourse. I just am hoping they want to keep me as a customer and do the right thing. I take it in tomorrow morning to their service center for them to try and determine the problem. I am unemployed. I told them I will put a sign on the van that they suck and park it outside. In general they were very nice to my face and made all the right noises, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

PS - by mistake, I mean I shouldve had an indie mechanic look it over. Like I said though I had a history with them that lulled me to complacency. From now on I’ll always check the heat on wheels when buying a used rig too!

Hopefully the dealer will be nice and make the repairs or at least absorb some of the cost. Considering you paid way to much for this vehicle I’d hope they wouldn’t mind. Popping sounds are usually from CV joints and heat can be generated by bad wheel bearings, your problem assuredly lies in one or both of these.

Thanks for the advice, I sure hope they do to… Do you feel that KBB private party is a bad guide for car prices? I don’t necessarily think you are wrong on the price thing, but I’d like to better understand what you mean to help me in the future. KBB on the van for Private Party at Excellent was 6400…

Have them check the front brakes, if the calipers are stock they will heat up pretty bad and can cause a fire. The popping sound on this vans could be anything. A front end inspection is in order, have them check the sway bar links/ends and also the springs and its mounts. Good luck with the car, any used car is going to need some fix up before it is up to par with what you like.

$6400 is the top value the van, the most anyone would ever want to pay. It is a buyers market for cars in an extreme way right now and you spend almost as much as you could. Under $5000 would have been a better “deal”. KBB values are a high starting point for haggling.

OK, I want to run the #'s I was working on past you. So I just pulled fresh KBB on this rig cause the #'s above were from memory. It has a few options like a power door and gate, rear air etc… put all those in and I get:
Retail KBB=9730
Priv. Party KBB Excell=7935
Priv. Party KBB Good = 7460
Priv. Party KBB Fair = 6885

So that is a little higher than I remembered. I paid 6100. You are saying I should’ve been able to get it closer to 5000 at a dealership? Even in a buyers market, I’m not sure how close to 5000 I could’ve gotten considering those KBB #'s. Obviously I think you are right now that i learn it has mechanical problems! LOL. Anyway, I don’t buy a lot of cars and your advice is helping set me up for better success in the future.

Something wrong with the brakes caused the heat on the wheels. Did you happen to leave the emergency brake on while driving around? If not, it sounds like there may be a problem with it. Possibly not adusted correctly. Parts may be damaged now due to the high heat.

The emergency brake operates on the back wheels and won’t contribute to the front wheels heating up. Since the front brakes do the majority of the work in braking on any car, they will usually get hotter than the back ones. If you just came from some stop n’ go driving, especially if you had to make a few fairly hard stops from moderate speed, the wheels will indeed get hot, especially on a warm day. This may be totally normal. Do you hear or feel any grinding from the front end while the car is in motion? Do the brakes pull one way or another? When you park the car after a moderately long drive, do you smell anything burning near the front wheels, or any unusual odors?

The popping could be a ball joint, the steering rack, or any of the other myriad parts under there. If the dealer won’t help you, take it to a good independent mechanic and have the whole front end checked out.