Chrysler Town and Country 2001, 3.3 liter, v6, 77k miles. Question is should I be worried about the water pump or other main components if I take a 1000 mile trip?
have the same problem?
Monday, April 11th, 2011 AT 4:07 PM
Not unless there's a reason to be worried. In the early '90s the 3.3L water pumps commonly became noisy and made a loud buzzing noise. Sometimes a small leak developed that would drip about once per minute; hardly enough to leave you sitting on the side of the road in a pile of tears! That leak was usually never noticed until a mechanic pointed it out during other routine service such as an oil change. Sometimes there was just some white staining as evidence of the leak, not the green wetness you'd expect.
To put things into perspective, I take an '88 Grand Caravan on cross-country trips a few times per year. I take along a tool box because I'm scrounging for parts in the "pick your own parts" salvage yards, I have a spare serpentine belt because I'm too lazy to replace the one that's been on there for 15 years, and I carry a can of gas because I'm too stupid to stop for gas when I should.
With a 2001 model, I'd be more worried about all of the insane, unreliable computers and the problems they can cause. That's why I regularly make 500 - 700 mile trips with my '88 and I leave my three newer vehicles at home.
One thing that might be worth noting has to do with fuel pumps. It is real common for GM pumps to die while driving. That can leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Chrysler fuel pumps almost never die while driving. When they fail, typically at more than 150,000 miles, they fail to start up. That means you're broke down someplace where you wanted to stop which usually means near help. When the pump doesn't start up, you can usually get it going by banging on the bottom of the tank while a helper cranks the engine. The pump runs for one second when you turn the ignition switch to "run", then it turns on again during cranking or running. You should be able to hear it hum for that first one second. If you become familiar with that sound, you might recognize when it doesn't start up, then you can do the banging trick. Once that happens the first time, it might be weeks or months before it occurs again.
Another common problem has to do with the starter motor. It is a really tough little unit but the solenoid switch contacts wear away rather quickly. That will cause a single rather loud clunk from the starter but it will not spin the engine. This always starts out as an intermittent problem and can go on for weeks or months. Each time you release the ignition switch and try it again, the contact disc turns a little. Eventually it will make contact and the starter will work. When this happened on my mother's '95 Grand Caravan, I ignored it for so many weeks that the final straw came on the day she lost count at 700 attempts and a blister on her thumb, ... But it did finally start! The fix involves $20.00 worth of parts, but most people just replace the entire starter. The additional problem you might have is beginning with the redesigned '96 model, the complicated Engine Computer performs the function of the formerly simple and reliable neutral safety switch. You can only cycle the ignition switch three times, then the computer won't let the starter turn on after that. You'll have to wait for perhaps a minute or more before trying again. Remember, the first time that happens, it might not happen again for days or weeks. You will have plenty of warning before it lets you sit somewhere.