I have a 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan SE edition.
I noticed shortly after purchasing the car that the backup lights don't work, so I assumed the bulbs burned out. After after a short trip to my local Pepboys, I found out that the bulbs were okay; it was the transmission reverse switch inside the transmission. Those Dodge Caravans are notorious for this problem, and unfortunately that problem is a sign of transmission problems that are yet to come.
Also my check engine light refused to go off. It stays on all the time, even after having everything checked.
I would not recommend this vehicle to anybody, even my worst enemy. I'm going to check out Toyota because they have better longevity and better reputation. Besides, my cousin used to work for Cottman Transmission, and he said Toyota's are the best, especially when it comes to transmissions. They very seldom fix transmission problems in Toyotas. The worst transmission you can buy is the transmission on a Ford Taurus; please avoid them at all cost. If somebody tries to give you a Taurus, don't accept it, run the other way!!!
I'm getting ready to start a small investment in a 96 Caravan.
I have no car and two young girls, single dad overwhelmed with layoff.
I'm scared my problems are gonna get worse with this, as the engine runs great at 132,000, the van looks clean inside and out, however I'm already having issues and it's not even mine yet.
The trans is not switching gears right, as it will slip when going down the highway at even 45. If I turn the van off then back on, it will go into gear after not doing so before. I can deal with that, however has anyone had the high pitch squeal? It seems to go away after the trans warms up, but still slips and has gearing issues.
I really need to get back to work as I have my whole life. I need this thing to work; it's the last chance my girls and I have of keeping a home. I'm in VA and actually have plenty of plumbing work, just can't get there. Hard to do service plumbing work without a way to get from job to job with a slipping trans. Anyone have a inside scoop on a good trans shop and where to buy one if I must? Do you think its worth my effort? We're in the country and I can't leave the girls alone after school long; if I break down often they're alone, not good. I know this sounds pitiful whinny, I'm just hoping to hear something positive about a trans shop and cost stuff. I gotta keep trying.
I know this is years after the problem, so I can only hope that you ditched that Caravan and bought something ugly and even uncomfortable, but RELIABLE, and that you made it through OK.
However, as I am facing down the same problem, and have spent endless HOURS researching this online, here is my guess: Slipping at 40mph is likely the input and/or output speed sensors on the transmission. Simple: unscrew and screw new ones in, approx $20 each from Rock Auto or maybe NAPA has them too? Or it might be the solenoid pack; ~ $200 if you DIY.
FIRST and foremost cause of slipping though, is the WRONG TRANNY FLUID! * NEVER Mercon or Dexron!! Must use ATF+3, or ATF+4. That, and a new filter. And flush it, don't just dump the pan. So, for a cheap flush: After draining and the new filter install, you can disconnect and run the bottom trans line coming out of the radiator (cooling system) into a clear gallon jug, and run the car while pouring new, correct fluid in the dipstick hole with funnel. MUST match the rate (out vs. in) and probably at least one extra quart past that gallon, or until the flushed fluid coming out is light cherry red too. All info learned at Allpar.com.
Oh, for $30, there is supposed to be a solenoid rebuild kit available from the dealer. The little tiny filters inside it getting clogged is the big problem. Tranny fluid has gotta be SO clean! Even a bitty bit, the width of a human hair, will wreck one of them... (hearsay)