This article was written by Brian Jones, ASE Certified Master Tech and Lemberg Law Automotive Contributor
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Problems with the Transmission
The powertrain is responsible for transmitting energy from the engine to the wheels. It’s what makes a car move. When this system fails, it can cause many troubles.
This NHTSA complaint discusses the problem. “The contact owns a 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan. While driving 20 mph, the vehicle began to hesitate and the contact heard an abnormal noise. Also, when depressing the accelerator pedal, the vehicle failed to accelerate. There were no warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was taken to [dealer] where it was diagnosed with needing a new transmission and both cylinder heads needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired, but the failures continued. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer multiple times and the transmission was replaced two additional times, but the failures recurred. The dealer stated that they were unable to duplicate the failure during the last visits. The manufacturer was notified of the failures. The failure mileage was 10,716.”
A new vehicle with 10,000 miles should not have gone through three transmissions – ever! This is entirely unacceptable and should never occur, but Dodge doesn’t seem to be concerned about the batch of defective transmissions. Instead, they have washed their hands of any more problems and left this owner with a defective new minivan. Sadly, there aren’t any communications within the company that discuss transmission problems either. “High energy” is great, when it works the way it should.
Problems with the Seats
Considering the 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan is meant to hold seven people, it needs to have comfortable seating, especially for the longer trips. However, that’s not how customers feel about the interior.
Read this Edmunds review. “This car is absolutely awful. This car is the worst thing for humanity since Ebola. Completely uncomfortable. I hate it so much with a passion. This is the second time I have rented this car and both times have been completely terrible. The second row seats made my young children have back pain. No cushioning at all and completely unacceptable. The whole car is completely lacking in decor and features. I have never seen an uglier interior in my life. I personally believe a golf cart is a nicer ride than this car. It cannot take off without screeching at you. The second row doors choose when they like to close not when you want them to close. It’s insane to me that this car is still on the market considering how poorly it’s made.”
Aside from comfort, the seats in the Grand Caravan are quite dangerous. NHTSA Campaign Number 19V759000 states that over 30,000 vehicles have rear seat striker outboard welds that could fail during a front impact. This occurs in both the second and third row of seats, leading to a higher chance of injury or death. It seems Dodge isn’t concerned about the safety of children, as that tends to be the type of people riding in the back seat. For a company promoting “high energy,” you would think they would embrace children. After all, without them, there’s no hope of selling any minivans.
Problems with the Brakes
In an effort to prevent accidents, owners hope for reliable brakes that will stop the minivan before a collision occurs. However, the Dodge minivan fails on this front as well.
Another NHTSA comment states, “While traveling around 30 mph, brakes were applied in a ‘panic stop’ fashion – fast hard depression. The road was straight, clean and dry. Visibility was excellent and the view was clear for about a half mile. When the brakes were applied it felt as though the ABS system interfered with braking, causing no actual force to be applied to the brakes. No deceleration was felt by the driver, or any of the other two passengers. Although the brake pedal was fully depressed, the van continued at a speed of about 35 mph for an additional 70-80 feet without slowing, and was stopped only by the vehicle it eventually struck. Distinctive injuries on the driver’s leg created by the debris of the dash panel also reflect that the leg and foot were aligned with the brake pedal and not ‘elsewhere.’ Although this model has a safety recall regarding ‘surface coating’ affecting the braking ability, this VIN was not implicated. Also, this incident did not appear to involve ‘reduced’ braking ability. There was no braking. Other causes are possible, but the best way to describe the behavior of the braking system behaved would be to describe it as though the ABS had disengaged all braking abilities so that the pedal had some feedback to the driver, but no discernable effect on slowing the vehicle. It was as though the ABS somehow turned the brakes off.”
The recall being discussed is NHTSA Campaign Number 18V523000, which affects nearly 155,000 vehicles. It appears that Dodge created braking systems with the wrong coating on the rear brake caliper pistons, which can reduce the performance and increase the chance of an accident. Let’s just hope that the “high energy” created by this minivan doesn’t become so great that it becomes impossible to stop.
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