1996 Dodge Caravan Review, Dave, From Doylestown, PA, USA
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| ||Model of the car:||Sport|
| ||General comments:||I have encountered a SERIOUS SAFETY ISSUE which Chrysler should remedy with a recall. The following incident occured July 14, 2001 and the vehicle had 63,262 miles on it. This is a CRITICAL PART FAILURE caused by rusting, and owners of vehicles of about the same age as mine (6 years) should be WARNED. I have reported this to the NHTSA, but I have no idea how efficient they are. Notifying Chrysler was a frustrating waste of time. I will never buy another Chrysler vehicle.The left driveshaft interconnecting shaft on my 1996 Caravan sheared at the outer edge of the damper weight. I was driving with my family, was stopped at a red light, and heard and felt a loud thump when I attempted to move the car when the light turned green. The car would not move. I looked under the car and saw that the left driveshaft (axle) was sheared. The car was towed and repaired at a Dodge dealer. I could not get a satisfactory explanation from the service department as to why this had happened.I have kept the damaged part. The "tuned damper weight" which encircles the "interconnecting shaft" at about midpoint on the shaft had rusted and rotted out (etched) the circumference of the shaft, weakening the shaft and creating a stress fracture point which will shear under normal stress loads. The shaft is 27mm in diameter where it is not corroded, but at the cross-section where it sheared at the outer edge of the rubber cover of the damper weight, the shaft is corroded down to 21mm, more than a 22% reduction in shaft diameter! Apparently the metal used in the damper weight is subject to severe rusting, and the rubber cover around the weight traps moisture. NOTE: the tripod and CV joints are NOT damaged; the driveshaft assembly is literally broken in half.If this had happened while we were in motion we could have been injured or killed, particularily if I had been driving on the highway or making a turn with oncoming traffic. This is a SERIOUS safety issue. Because it is caused by corrosion over time weakening the driveshaft, I am very concerned that driveshafts of this design (or lots using this combination of materials) will be breaking more and more frequently (approximately 6 years before failure?), causing accidents, injuries, and deaths.|
| ||What things have gone wrong with the car:||Total lack of confidence in the vehicle, poor design of left driveshaft and transmission (which we replaced at 56k miles).|
| ||Previous car:||Have driven Ford minivans which do not handle as well and are not as comfortable.|