1998 Dodge Caravan Hesitating, but only sometimes

Tiny
DANISTY
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 DODGE CARAVAN
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 90,000 MILES
Okay, I'm an Army wife and my husband is deployed right now. I'm having some problems with our Caravan. It sat in the garage for several months because it wasn't running and I decided to have it fixed. The dealership I took it to replaced the drive belt, the sway bar links, an electronic component that was causing the dash lights to all go out and did an oil change.

Since then (which was about a month ago), I've been having some problems with the engine hesitating. I noticed when I read the FAQ here that a lot of things can cause this. I was hoping if I gave some specific information, you might help me narrow it down to things I should address with the mechanic.

This isn't happening consistently. I can drive it for miles with no problem at all. When it does happen, it always happens between either 20 & 30 mph or 40 & 50 mph. The description of a clutch problem doesn't seem to apply though. It does not feel like it's working hard, but not going. It just lunges and it only does it when I'm applying gas. It does not do this when I decelerate.

Additionally, there is a smell of gasoline in my garage now. I don't see any leaks and I'm not losing gas, but the smell has me worried. At first I thought this might be solved by using some gas treatment (it was suggested to me that because it sat for so long, it might have condensation in the tank or something). I filled the tank and put the treatment in and had no problems driving it until I was back under a half tank.

I'd donate to you guys, but after spending so much on this van already and knowing I have to spend even more, I'm pretty much broke.
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Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 AT 2:21 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Has the check engine light come on? Have you checked fuel pump pressure?
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Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 AT 11:44 PM
Tiny
DANISTY
  • MEMBER
The check engine light does not come on. I don't have the equipment to test the fuel pump, but perhaps the auto craft center on post does. I'll look into that.

Is it a reasonable suspicion that due to the smell of gasoline, it's probably the fuel pump or the fuel filter? Those are both on this list:

http://www.2carpros.com/first_things/engine_hesitates.htm

I'm going to pay someone to do this work because I don't know the first thing about cars really. I just want to sound like I know what I'm talking about so I don't get taken at the shop. Plus it's just kind of good to have an idea about things.

I remembered one more thing. If it does this when I'm going 20 mph, I can drop it into a lower gear and it goes back to driving normally.

Thanks for your help.
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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 AT 1:25 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Honestly, you could check the fuel pressure yourself. The only thing you need is a fuel pressure gauge. Most parts stores will lend them to you.

Here is a how to video for checking it. Watch it and see if you feel comfortable doing it.

http://www.2carpros.com/how_to/how_to_check_fuel_pressure.htm

Also, keep in mind that since it doesn't do it all the time, chances are it won't do it for a mechanic. As a result, you may be paying for nothing.

Let me know if you have other questions.

Joe
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Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 AT 1:25 PM

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