How to Troubleshoot a Dodge Van


If you are having trouble with your Dodge van, you're not alone. Dodge has produced some of the most unreliable vehicles on the auto market. Known issues include the poorly designed A604 and 41TE transmission, which routinely fails after 60,000 miles. Steering problems, power accessory problems and a general poor build quality all plague Dodge vans.

  • Turn the ignition to the "II" position. Check the slop in the steering wheel. To do this, turn the wheel side to side and check the amount of "play" in the steering wheel before the wheels start to turn. Dodge's faulty tie-rod ends are to blame for this. There should be no play in the steering wheel before the wheels turn. If there is, this issue needs to be addressed immediately because if that tie-rod end breaks, you will lose all control over the steering of your Dodge van.

  • Start the vehicle. Shift the transmission into gear. If your transmission makes a grinding or clunking noise, it could be that the transmission level is low. However, a more common problem for Dodges is that the A604 or 41TE transmission used in your van is starting to fail, especially if the transmission has more than 60,000 miles on it. Check the transmission oil level by pulling the dipstick out of the transmission filler neck. If it is between the upper and lower marks on the end of the stick, and the transmission still makes funny noises when shifting into drive, then your transmission is beginning to fail.

  • Check the operation of your engine. If your engine will not start, there could be numerous reasons why. However, if your Dodge van spontaneously dies one day, and the vehicle has more than 60,000 miles on it, it may be due to a faulty timing chain. Some Dodge vans were designed with faulty timing chains that routinely fail after 60,000 miles. This will require a new timing chain to be installed on the vehicle.

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