We have a "05 Dodge Grand Caravan the the spare tire winch will not let the tire down. Dealer wants $175 to repair. Can we do this ourselves?
I take it you are out of warranty? Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new. There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee. I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.
I recently completed the job on a 2000 Dodge Durango. The replacement spare tire winch was about $125.00. I had to remove three bolts (one of them behind some other sheet metal). If your spare tire is still in place, it will be blocking access to winch mounting bolts. You’ll have to cut the cable and drop the tire. The new winch comes with a cable. (I had to replace the winch because someone cut the cable and stole my spare.)
Have you tried lubricating the mechanism with Liquid Wrench or other penetrating oil?
This is a typical problem of these thing especially if you live in a salty area.
Some owner’s manuals describe a process for manually releasing the tire under these situations. One of my trucks has a process described in the manual using the jack and the lug wrench to free the tire. Once the tire is off, then you have good access to lubricate the mechanism and probably avoid the cost of replacing it.
Unfortunately, this is a periodic maintenance item that is rarely done until the tire is needed.