Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Dodge Caravan

Our Caravan is a 2003 model with 135,000 kms on the clock. About two weeks ago, the 'Service Engine' light came on. The dealership looked at it right away and determined it was a transmission sensor module. External inspection showed it didn't seem to be in very good shape, but they reset the code to see if the problem would recur. It did the next day, so I asked them to order the part. The module finally came in on Monday.

I left the van there this morning and got a shuttle ride home. In addition to the module replacement, I asked them to give the tranny its 50K service and check out the front end. There was a shake/vibration and it had recently started pulling slightly to the right. The van was ready about 2:00 and the shuttle came to pick me up.

The module cost $821. I guess I'm helping to bail Chrysler out. The transmission was serviced and they said one of the OEM tires had a broken belt. Since these tires had 135K kms on them and were showing about 4/32nds tread remaining, I wasn't surprised. Next stop was my favourite Goodyear shop.

I discovered that the OEM tires, Integrity, are available and only have an expected life of 80K kms. Looks like I stretched that way out. For a little more, I upgraded to the Assurance Comfortread. they are supposed to be quieter and have a better ride. I also asked them to check the alignment since I always believed new tires should all be pointing in the same direction. While installing, they found the left outer tie-rod end needed replacing. I had the right one changed last fall.

After they were done, I took it for a little drive. No engine lights, the transmission shifted fine, it tracked straight and the tires were quiet and compliant on the rough Sudbury streets. It was an expensive day, but I will enjoy driving the beast again.

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