Can't seem to get a 98 Grand Caravan Running

Discussion in 'The Coffee Shop ~ Chit Chat' started by Crawdaddy, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    About 6 months ago, my uncle was driving his 98 Dodge Grand Caravan with the 3.0L motor in it, when the water pump seized. The water pump in the 3.0L is driven off the timing belt, so it killed the timing belt and tensioner while it was at it. My uncle and I replaced the water pump, timing belt, and timing belt tensioner. We timed the motor according to the Dodge factory shop manual. When we went to start it up, it started, made a horrific clatter/racket, then promptly died. Ugh. So, we tested the cylinders for compression, and found that one cylinder had low compression. We pulled the front head with the offending cylinder, and had it rebuilt by a shop. Today we reinstalled the head, intake, timing belt, and everything neccesary to get it back together, and attempted to start it. Once again, it might start for a moment, then die and not restart. It also seems like it's still making a clattering sound, though not nearly as obvious as before. We can't seem to figure out why it won't start and stay running, and what the noise is. The timing keeps coming to mind, but I followed the timing instructions and tensioner adjustment procedure to the letter. I also checked for spark and fuel, and it seems to have plenty of both. Could the clatter be pinging/detonation, or possibly valves hitting the pistons? I've read that the 3.0 is an interference motor, and I've also read that it's not, I have no clue who to believe. When I turned the motor by hand, it turned very easily with no binding.

    Any ideas as to what's going on? My uncle's going broke commuting to work in his pickup.
  2. sharpshooterusmc

    sharpshooterusmc Rockstar 100 Posts

    i know exactly what your problem is, its a DODGE. lol. sorry man i couldnt resist
    D - daily
    O - overhauls
    D - do
    G - get
    E - expensive
  3. Mean_Green_95

    Mean_Green_95 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts


    I love it!!!

    Sry I can't help you my man.
  4. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Thats an interference engine.
    If the valves were hitting something should've broken already, and you'd see it with the compression test.
    The clattering could be a lubrication issue or something out of time.
    How did you adjust the valves when you reassembled it?
  5. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor


    According to the Dodge factory shop manual, it's not an interference motor, and that's what's confusing me. The description of the motor under Pistons says: "The piston head with valve recesses, in combination with the cylinder head, forms a compact spherical head with clearance for total valve lift with pistons at top dead center." And this is where the confusion comes in. I trust what you say, and my uncle also saw it mentioned that is in an interference motor on something else.
    When I just timed the motor yesterday while installing the head, I rotated the motor a full 2 rotations and I did not find any tightness or binding. I also verified that the timing marks were perfectly on before and after rotating the engine. My uncle also verified the timing marks and then rotated it 2 full rotations and again verified the timing marks were on perfectly. He also didn't find any binding that could indicate that the heads are hitting.

    The motor has sat for about 6 months without running, so the clattering could be a lack of lubrication maybe, though I don't hear the clattering while it's cranking. I'm thinking out of time is possible, but I'm not sure where I could be out of time. For the head rebuild, the distributor had to be yanked, but I think I stabbed the dizzy back in the right spot. Theoretically when I set the timing belt timing, I had to align all the timing marks. Logic dictates that the timing marks are at TDC of the cylinder 1 compression stroke. So, I stabbed the dizzy while the motor had all the timing marks aligned.

    The valves were not readjusted when we put the head on. Luckily it's the front head, so we can yank the valve cover to adjust them if neccesary. Since the rear head has never been taken off, I would think trhat the valves on that head are still fine.

    I'm still thoroughly clueless on what needs to be done to get this thing running and on the road. I think my next step is to do a compression test on the front 3 cylinders and to take a timing light to the motor, make sure that cylinder 1 is firing at the right point. The rear head is timed the exact same way as the front head, so if compression isn't right on the front head, the rear head is probably off too. That, and the rear heads, and specifically cylinder 1 is nearly impossible to get to, even with removing the intake manifold. Hopefully my uncle and I get this figured out... I hate transverse mounted engines...

    EDIT: While we had the head off, we did a full tunep-up including new plugs, wires, rotor, cap, oil, and antifreeze.
  6. tbplus10

    tbplus10 Epic Member Staff Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    I havnt had to dig into the valvetrain of that particular engine yet so my statement on the interference issue is second hand knowledge and could be faulty, its based on a friends engine that broke the timing belt and destroyed all the valves, when looking for info we found contradicting info and finally assumed it was an interference engine.
    You can pre lube the engine with an old Dist. shaft and a drill, this might be the way to go since it sat so long, maybe add a teflon addative or marvel mystery oil, possibly somethings dry and not getting enough oil pressure yet.
    Distributers can be a pain to get back in correctly, one tooth off can cause big problems with newer vehicles that run electronic ignition. Might be time to double check the dist.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  7. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Well, this Saturday we got the van to start an run.... It's an old electrical issue back to haunt us again. The van has an issue with the instrument cluster that is apparently tied into the security system. We have found that if the digital odometer and digital gear indicator do not light up when the key is turned into the on position, the van does not start. Typically, a swift bang to the top of the dash fixes the issue and the van starts. We removed the instrument cluster, inspected it, and could not find any issues with it. We also checked the connector to the dash and it looked fine. The dash has never been dissasembled before Saturday, so it shouldn't have been any physical connection issues. I'm thinking there's a bad component or trace on the instrument cluster circuit board. So, a replacement instrument cluster is in order I'm thinking.
  8. Mean_Green_95

    Mean_Green_95 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    Congratulations and good job on finding the problem. Now if you can only find the source of said problem.

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