93 Dodge Caravan needs help.... Please

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Hears The Water, Nov 6, 2004.

  1. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi y'all! We have been having a lot of problems with my van and we are not in the postition to either buy a new car or take it to a professional mechanic. Dh John was a mechanic for years, but that was a long time ago and cars have changed quite a bit since then. I was hoping that maybe some of you have had experience with the problem we are having. The story is kinda long, but I don't know if there is something that may help figure this out so I will include everything.
    On Oct. 6, I let the gas get very low before I could get to a gas station. After I put some gas in the van, it would start then die. I finally limped home and after letting it sit overnight, it started and ran ok. Since I had let it get so low, we figured that some crud from the bottom of the tank had gotten sucked up in the line and by letting it sit for a while it would eventually float back out.
    On Oct. 7. I parked on a hill (1/4 tank of gas in it) and it would not run again. As it was pouring rain and late at night, a friend took the kids and me home. The next day John had the day off and we went to the church where the van was. It would start, and run for about two seconds and then die. John replaced the fuel filter. It was full of crud. We where so sure that this was the problem. It sitll wouldn't run. We where worried that perhaps it was a fuel pump. We ended up having it towed home the next day so that John could work on it easier.
    On Oct 11, John took me to the local Dodge dealer to pick up a seat belt extender and while we where there he asked the parts guys what they thought it might be. One of them said that he had had similar problems and that we just needed to clean out the throttle body housing. We realy didn't think it would work, but we went to Auto Zone to buy some cleaner. While we where there we asked the manager what he thought and he said he thought it was a fuel pump. Which of couse was $150 to buy the part and John would have to drop the gas tank down. :eek: . We decided to try the cleaner but we where very doubtfull that it would work. John used the cleaner (which by the way he now loves!!! and uses it on just about everything!) on the throttle body houseing and the sensors. They where filthy. It worked! The car started and ran fine. The only lingering thing was the exhaust was full of white smoke. We thought it was perhaps a MAP sensor, but decided we could wait to fix that.
    On Oct. 30, John came home for lunch (he was driving my van because his brakes where metal to metal) and when he went out to start it, it just would not start. It will turn over, but not start. We didn't have the $$ or time to work on it so it sat for a week. We got out our Hayens Rapair Manual and we went through all of the "trouble-shooting" stuff and it said to use a voltage meter on the coil. We did. On the iprimary side, the number was within the accepted range, but on the secondary side it was way below. We thought that we needed a new coil. When we went to buy new brake shoes for John's van (a friend of John's gave us the money to fix it) John was talking to the guy's at Autozone and they said that a voltage meter test didn't mean anything. They said that it was probably a ???? (can't remember the name) module. And that we could bring it in and they could test it.
    Yesterday we took off the ???? module, (it is under the distributer cap) and went to Autozone and they said that they couldn't test it. Grrrr. So we went to O'Riley's and they said that they didn't even know what kind of a module it was as it didn't look like what their records siad it should look like. So we went to a local junk yard and bought a ??? module. It came with the distributer cap too. John put it on and the car started up but died. So John had me hold down the accelerator and he used that cleaner on something under there, and priming the intake with gasolene, it finally started. It ran realy good for quite a while and then John turned it off and tried to start it again, and it wouldn't start again. It would turn over but no spark in the distributer cap. So he then went and bought a used coil and installed it and tried again, but still no spark and it would not start.
    At this point John is so mad and discouraged. He is saying that he wants someone to just steal the van or that we will just wait until March and buy a new van with our tax money, but I just cannot go that long without transportation. He is a bear to be around when he has to run us somewhere. I just hate to see him so discouraged. It is not a pretty sight. So, if I have not totally confused y'all with all of this information..... do any of you have any suggestions??? I would realy apreceate anything at all! Thanks in advance.
    God bless you and yours
    Debbie
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Our Chev van was doing this and it turned out to be the MAP sensor was very dirty and had to be removed and cleaned. Could be a simple vacuum leak too so check for cracks. As cleaning has helped so often I'd get to the MAP and actually take it off to clean it. When was the PVC valve changed last?
     

  3. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    First of all before jumping in the flood waters with you it would be nice to know what engine this van has. Also an idea of mileage and condition. Being the phsycic that I am I'm betting very high mileage and not maintained very well.
    Before doing anything else you must be able to determine if you are lacking spark or fuel. If you do not have the ability to determine this it might be wiser to have someone else look at it. Buying and changing unnecessary parts is a waste of time and money and usually causes more to be wrong with the vehicle than you started with. The hardest problems to fix are the man made ones.
     
  4. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Beeman, thank you for pointing out what I left out of my post. It is a 3.0 V6 and yes, it is pretty high milage. I cannot tell you exactly as my key is broken and hubby has the other one. Also the spedometer (and odometer) broke in June and we have not fixed that yet. We bought her in March of 04 and only paid $900 for her, so that should tell you her condition. As far as the spark and fuel question goes, we know it is NOT getting any spark as John takes one of the wires from the distributer cap and puts it against a metal part while one of us cranks it and there is no spark. I don't know all of the correct names since I am not a mechanic, and I am just telling you what I saw him do. As far as tossing new parts at the van and hoping that it will correct the problem, that is exactaly what we are trying NOT to do. We have made a logical progression based on the troubleshooting questions in our Haynes repair manuel for our make and model of van. This is what is so very frustrating, we just can't figure this out. We have checked what we belive to be all of the logical issues and it is still not working. I am wondering why it would start with the "new" module on it and then not start again. And of cource, the coil could be bad. Would a bad MAP sensor make it not start? I forgot to mention that we ran the fault codes and it keeps coming back with #35 which is "radiator fan relay circut" and the description of that is " An open or shorted condtion in the radiator fan relay circuit." John went to Autozone and had them print out how to check that but I am wondering if that would cause it to not start. One good thing came of looking at the relay circuits, is that we saw the a/c condensor relay circuit was un plugged and now my a/c works if we ever get the thing to run!!! Thank both of your gentlemen for answering my questions, I realy appreceate it!
    God bless you and yours
    Debbie
     
  5. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Turn the key to 'run' position, have one person open the fuel tank and place their ear at the opening, have a second person go under the van and handle the wires as to cause a short. When the system is operating an operating sound can be heard at the fuel tanks filling opening, does the sound not waiver? Good, but if the sound waivers there is a short in the fuel pumping system. Never let you fuel level go below 1/4 in that the fuel helps cool the inside fuel pump cool itsself.
     
  6. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Moopups is correct on checking the operation of the fuel pump. As far as an ignition module goes I don't believe this van has one. I'm working totally from memory as I'm too lazy to walk back out into the shop to look it up. This van has a pickup in the distributor that sends a signal to the engine control module(the black box or computer) which in turn sends the amplified signal to the coil. This van also has an ASD relay (auto shut down) which powers up the coil and also shuts everything down. First remove the wire from the dist cap that comes from the coil and check for spark at that wire. If you have spark there but not coming out of the cap you have a bad cap or a bad rotor. If you get no spark at all remove the cap and observe the rotor while turning the engine over. Be sure the distributor is turning. This engine has a timing belt and if the belt strips or breaks it will obviously prevent the engine from running. You can also look in the oil fill cap and watch the camshaft and see if it turns while cranking the engine. If the dist turns and the cams turn and you have no spark start checking the ign. system.
    Do you have a 12V test light? Try and start the van and check the positive side of the coil, it should have 12V. If it doesn't you might have a bad ASD relay (I said might) which is the last relay on the drivers fender going toward the windshield. If you do have voltage at the positive side of the coil, now touch the test light to the negative side of the coil. While cranking the engine this should make the light blink on and off. Now if the light doesn't blink you are down to the pickup in the dist. which can be checked with an ohmmeter and a votmeter or the engine conrol module which can be checked but will take knowledge from my books and not my memory.
     
  7. DrippingSprings

    DrippingSprings In Remembrance

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    Sounds like the screen on the pump is clogged. There is a small "sock" filter mounted directly to the pump inside the tank. It should be replaced on that particular van every fifty thousand miles. If it is clogged it can cause the computer to try and overcompensate for the lack of fuel and thus the white smoke. The screen from master fuel pumps is readily available at all AutoZones Advance or Oreillys for about five dollars. I would bet that the odds are about 99 percent that this is your problem. My mother has the same year etc and that is exactly how hers acted. If I am not mistaken the parts number is either FS1 or Fs13 in a Master Brand.
     
  8. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You know Beeman, it is funny. I just came back here to check and see if anyone else had any ideas. John and I where hashing out all of the stuff that has happend to the van and he is finally calm enough to think straight. He said pretty much the same thing you just did, but you took it a bit further in that you gave us a way to check it out! Thank you very much for that. The name of the module that I couldn't remember was the control module, it sits down under the distributer cap. This one is yellow and round like a "pitch pipe" (you know, one of those silver things our music teachers usted to use in class....) But John said that it had little holes all around the edge of it and he is wondering if it is a laser??? We will have to go buy a 12volt light, but I think we can manage to get that. We allready have a voltage meter so at least we are that much ahead in the game. It may be Wednesday before he can find the time and daylight to work on the van again. So if y'all don't hear from me before then, it is not because I am not grateful for all of the replies. I will let y'all know what happens as soon as we can get to it. I am hoping he would look at it sooner, but we will just have to wait and see. Everyone, thanks so much and thank you Mitch and DrippingSprings for the ideas about the fuel and exhause issues. Once we get her running again, we will probably address those too. Keep us in your prayers or good thoughts....
    God bless you and yours
    Debbie
     
  9. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Ok, here's how your system works. Upon beginning cranking of the engine the PCM (computer) energizes the ASD relay, the fuel pump relay and triggers the ignition to fire a few pulses. It then waits to see input from the ignition trigger. If it doesn't see input from the distributor it shuts everything down. I believe this is where your problem is.
    My manual shows the ASD relay for that year and that engine as being the 2nd to last relay on the fender. The ASD relay can be identified by the color of the wires. It has a red/white,Dk green/orange,Dk Blue,Dk Blue /Yellow. The ASD relay is probably a Bosch style relay. You could interchange it with another similar relay from the same vehicle to test it by replacement.
    From what you have described I would say your problem is either in the distributor trigger or the PCM itself. I do not have simple diagnostics for the distributor trigger which is a photo cell system. Unfortunately the dist pickup as not cheap on that vehicle. If possibly you could find a known good one and swap it as a test it might help in your diagnostics. The PCM is also not cheap and is vehicle specific and most likely controls the trans also.
     
  10. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My husband has an '86 Dodge Caravan (standard transmission) Would his Distributer pickup be interchangable with mine? I had my friend pick me up an ASD relay and when it did not work on the relay closest to the windsheild, I am pretty sure that John tried it on ALL of the relays, but I will ask him. He broke down and decided to make an appointment for Monday with a local mechanic, but if we can figure it out in the mean time, I am all for that. So we decided to make the appt. and then keep on trying in the mean time. So, thank you so much for your continued assistance. Since this going to be taking our bill and grocery money, I cannot tell you how much I appreceate your help. I will check back here and let you know on the relay.
    God bless you and yours
    Debbie
     
  11. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Go to a parts store and have them look up a remanufactured distributor for an 86 Caravan with a 3.0L engine. Then have them look one up for a 93. If the part number is the same it will interchange. If you can swap the distributors and install the known good one on the non running van you will be able to possibly narrow the problem down.
    Read what Herb wrote. Be sure to check the distributor connector, be sure it is plugged in and be sure it isn't corroded.
     
  12. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, I thought that I should update y'all on my van. We finally gave up and had it towed to a mechanic. We figured that even if we had to pay him off it would be better than letting the van just sit here. So, the guy has now replaced the dist. pick up and that was not the problem. He also checked all the relays, and the wires, the coil and the distributer. He then checked the computer and that was not the problem either. *Whew!* That was a $250 part! So now they are going to start back on it on Tue and the game plan is to pull the stearing column. They thing it may be a wiring harness, a wire or an ignition issue. I guess that we will see. During all of this nonsense, John's 88 caravan (standard trans.) started to sound like the tranny was going to fall out onto the cement and would barely go into gear. So for two days we had NO car. It is funny realy, the first thing I asked him was "Do you think it may be the fluid is low or the filter needs changing??" John just gave me the hairy eyeball. But guess what? It was the oil in the tranny. There was NONE!! So John filled it up and has not had a problem since. Praise God! But what this did was to bring it to his bosses attention that we where having a lot of car problems. Today the Boss took up a collection of merit badges for us. (5 badges equals $100.) and then they matched that dollar ammount from an emergency fund that is set up to help the Home Depot employees. The ammount is more than generous and should be plenty to pay for any repairs. Again, praise God! I am so grateful. Believe it or not, having my van break down has realy been a blessing. I got to meet some great new people in this room, I leared just how much I am valued by my friends when I had five people offer to come pick us up for every event, John and I worked togeather on something for the first time in a long time, and we where able to have our faith restored in mankind by the generosity of his co-workers.
    Definatley not what I would have picked as a way to learn new thing, but it did the job just the same. Thank you all so very very much for all that you did to help me. I will give y'all a final update as soon as I hear one.
    God bless you and yours
    Debbie
     
  13. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    A certain era is ending for good, but still possible to do especially in localities where govt isnt goofy about vehicle inspections. It many times is cheaper to put a newly rebuilt engine and rebuilt tranny into an older vehicle without all the computer crap (usually wiring that goes bad with age, not the computer) than it is to even begin to diagnose and buy parts for newer vehicle with problems. Newer vehicles with high miles are throw away. They just arent worth $$$$ to tow and diagnose and repair unless you know how to do it yourself. Cheaper to buy another one that is running although trading one high mile vehicle for another isnt going to get you too far. Thus back to the rebuilding of an older and simpler vehicle. That gets you some reliability at least as long as parts are available. Its getting to point though as I mentioned above that parts for older vehicles either arent necessarily available or are becoming pricey and special order only. But if you stick to something that was very popular in its time or shared its major components across a whole line of vehicles, then you will have some luck yet. Personally if I wanted a van, I'd go looking for full size van (I liked the old shorty vans, better gas mileage) with either Dodge 225 6cyl and manual tranny or a Ford 300 6cyl with manual tranny. Carb/non-computer versions of course. These last for ever. Just replace clutch, brakes, shocks, loose steering components, etc and do regular maintenence and rebuild engine when necessary. They will keep going until govt finally forces all older vehicles off the road no matter what condition they are in. The govt unfortunately is moving in direction of either making everybody drive a new approved vehicle and live in an approved middle class barn sized house or else force them to walk and live under a bridge and beg for charity. Those in power cant stand to see a poorer person be independent owning a solid small shack and older car that can be reasonably repaired. Course people bring it on themselves by falling for all the salesmen out there, wanting newer and shineyer.
     
  14. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Your follow up post about bringing it to a "mechanic" and him changing the dist PU and now checking all of these components leads me to believe he isn't equipped to work on a later model vehicle. One of the reasons I could only give you sketchy diagnostics is that a lot of it is done with a handheld or laptop that interfaces with the car. If I had your vehicle and the proper equipment diagnosis would be MUCH simpler and quicker.
     
  15. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hermit John, thank you for the advice. I will take it into consideration as dh John was a mechanic back in the '70's and is much more familular with the older cars. Look, if I had it my way I would be tooling around in a '73 Fastback Mustang. But it would be hard to haul around the kids and the dogs. Just gotta wait a bit longer until they are all gone!!! LOL

    Beeman, I think that our mechanic has a computer, this dude is a little intimidated by a smart woman (unlike y'all!) and doesn't talk much to me. John has been the one talking to him. I am pretty much out of it now. I do feel like it is a bit of a guessing game going on here, but at this point we only have $60 invested. He seems to be workig us in between other jobs. *sigh* If I where anywhre near you I would have allready called you up! We had a devil of a time just finding anyone who would even look at it or was willing to work on a problem such as ours. So I guess the old addage is true, Beggars can't be choosers!
    God bless you and yours
    Debbie
     
  16. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    Don't call me, I'm done trying to make a living working on people's daily driver vehicles.
     
  17. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Beeman, since I live in SW MO and your are in East TN, I think you are safe from me stalking you begging "Please fix my van!" LOL :p But I thank you nonetheless for all of your help.
    God bless you and yours
    Debbie