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Discussion Starter #1
Hey All:

New here - just bought a 2003 Grand Caravan ES with 37,000 miles on it for an excellent price. It has pretty much everything.

Stepped up from a 1998 Caravan Base.

Am getting used to the differences between the two cars and stepping from a 4 Cly to a 3.8l V-6 is quite a change and the engine sounds quite different.

While driving, I notice there is a high pitch noise that seems to be tied to accelleration. Now, in my 98, instead of that, I just hear the engine revving super high to try and pick up speed. Here, I hear this noise and it appears to be coming from the passenger side (at least that's the way my ears are hearing in from the drivers side).

What I am trying to figure out - is if it's something I should have looked at? Is this an issue others have had - or is this "normal" and just what the engine sounds like accelerating?

You can hear it when you accelerate, it seems to pitch down when you release (take your foot off) the accelerator.

Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Wouldn't the alternator make a noise at idle as well? This doesn't. It's only noticable on acceleration.

Re: spouse - if you are asking if someone is in the passenger seat to see where it's coming from, I'll ask her to drive to see if I pinpoint it the same.
 

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Joking regarding spouse whining from passenger seat...

But your idea would be useful. Even better would be to open the hood and listen - all the belt driven accessories are on the passenger side. Perhaps capture some audio. Could be anything - and may only be noticeable when revved and/or under load... A mechanic's stethoscope may help pinpoint - but if you can hear it through the firewall, you may be able to locate it without one.

Another suspect - tranny gear whine.

-Jim
 

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Joking regarding spouse whining from passenger seat...

But your idea would be useful. Even better would be to open the hood and listen - all the belt driven accessories are on the passenger side. Perhaps capture some audio. Could be anything - and may only be noticeable when revved and/or under load... A mechanic's stethoscope may help pinpoint - but if you can hear it through the firewall, you may be able to locate it without one.

Another suspect - tranny gear whine.

-Jim
JMO: Maybe the infamous power steering reservoir screen is plugged.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
JMO: Maybe the infamous power steering reservoir screen is plugged.
Ok, so I've read that in numerous places but don't understand how that correlates with acceleration and a whining noise. I would think squeeling/whining would take place when turning etc and wouldn't be effected while crusing staight down the highway.

To me, it does sound like a tensioner or something a belt moves around that is wearing out... but I am far from being a mechanic :)
 

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Ok, so I've read that in numerous places but don't understand how that correlates with acceleration and a whining noise. I would think squeeling/whining would take place when turning etc and wouldn't be effected while crusing staight down the highway.

To me, it does sound like a tensioner or something a belt moves around that is wearing out... but I am far from being a mechanic :)
The power steering pump is driven by the drive belt, so that is indeed somerthing that the belt moves around. If the power steering reservoir is plugged, the power steering pump will make a noise. It has been variously described here as a whine, growl, etc, and it does not happen just when turning, but when driving. Though my experience is that it is more pronounced at low speeds than at high speeds. However, it does vary with engine speed.

Candidates are A/C, Alternator, Water pump, Power Steering pump, tensioner. All are on the passenger side.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Great - thanks for the info and knoledge. Will report back with what we find. Hoping for nothing too serious or expensive.

Would the power steering clog manifest itself in other ways that are noticable?

Michael, looks like we're neighbors - Frederick, MD here :)
 

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Ok, so I've read that in numerous places but don't understand how that correlates with acceleration and a whining noise. I would think squeeling/whining would take place when turning etc and wouldn't be effected while crusing staight down the highway.

To me, it does sound like a tensioner or something a belt moves around that is wearing out... but I am far from being a mechanic :)
A theory. The PS pump is spinning all the time while driven by the surpentine belt. At idle or deceleration, your possible clogged filter can handle the flow produced. When you accelerate the pump output increases to the point the filter can't pass enough fluid, cavitating the pump, creating the whine.

Easy to take for granted the accessory drive is producing the noise. I probably would too. If you want to prove it I have read one way is to remove the surpentine belt and drive it down the street a couple blocks. If the noise is gone you know it's in the accessory drive somewhere. I'd limit the drive to a minute or two.
 

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Well, it's certainly worth mentioning to the folks that work on my cars. I try to know my limits and don't get in too far over my head. I do like to know what I'm talking about when the car does go into the shop and how much things will cost - which is why I really value all your input here. Good stuff indeed. Would never have thought the power steering system could cause an issue like this.
 

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There are a number of things on the passenger side that could "whine" upon acceleration - mainly anything being driven or spun by the serpentine belt. If it really is coming from that side, it limits the scope to "only" power steering pump/system, tensioner, idler, or alternator decoupler pulley.

You've said the noise does not occur at idle. If the car is in "park" and the engine is revved higher than idle, does the whine surface then?

None of the components listed above are technically that difficult to replace, although they are more than likely to be more than $150 (for any individual item) if a mechanic installs them. The main issue for the mechanic will be isolating where the noise is actually coming from.

Nate
 

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Ok, heard back from the folks I work with and they CONFIRM it's the power steering pump/filter clog issue.

Now, they are telling me that you replace the reservoir and pump together as a kit and they need to flush and fill the whole power steering system. Estimate is $700 (washington dc suburbs). Does that sound right cost wise? Does the pump and reservoir need to both be replaced? They said all totaled about 3-3.5 hours labor.

Just looking for some guidance.
 

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Ok, update after I called them back - the person looking up the parts didn't realize you have to get the reservoir direct from the dealer (in fairness, they said they were still researching and would call me back - that they were only finding it with the pump). The head of the shop said it shouldn't be that much for the replacement and that the labor would be an hour or less. No pump replacement. They would recommend flushing and filling the system. Also said there was a TSB on this issue and as I knew, a redesigned reservoir had been instituted. Waiting on the call back for the new estimate.

Also amusing was the fact they told me that it looks like the pump and a number of other things had been replaced and that it appeared prior to me getting the van - someone was "chasing a ghost" trying to fix it.
 

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Good. Now just make sure that they re-fill the power steering system and reservoir with (and this might sound strange, but it's straight-on) ATF +4 transmission fluid (reddish purple), NOT with clear "normal" power steering fluid. That's important, and if they miss it in their research, they'll be solving a minor problem and creating a larger one.

Nate
 

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Good. Now just make sure that they re-fill the power steering system and reservoir with (and this might sound strange, but it's straight-on) ATF +4 transmission fluid (reddish purple), NOT with clear "normal" power steering fluid. That's important, and if they miss it in their research, they'll be solving a minor problem and creating a larger one.

Nate
Is that something that is commonly missed?? These guys seemed pretty knoledgable about the Caravan/Voyager. The shop gm actually has a dodge with 300,000 miles on it.

BTW, the adjusted estimate was $211 including flush, fill. Seemed reasonable to me.
 

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Ok, update after I called them back - the person looking up the parts didn't realize you have to get the reservoir direct from the dealer (in fairness, they said they were still researching and would call me back - that they were only finding it with the pump). The head of the shop said it shouldn't be that much for the replacement and that the labor would be an hour or less. No pump replacement. They would recommend flushing and filling the system. Also said there was a TSB on this issue and as I knew, a redesigned reservoir had been instituted. Waiting on the call back for the new estimate.

Also amusing was the fact they told me that it looks like the pump and a number of other things had been replaced and that it appeared prior to me getting the van - someone was "chasing a ghost" trying to fix it.
I would strongly suggest just changing the reservoir, without a "flush" or any other service. If that doesn't do the trick, you can drain and refill the system. Do a search on this forum--a handful of folks have done this themselves. Regardless, if you don't do it yourself, make it clear to your shop that they must stick to ATF+4 only. Buy some yourself and supply it for them. If they don't agree, take it somewhere else.

I would not pay for "flushing" the system, for three reasons: (1) Chrysler specifically states (referenced in a post here somewhere) that there is no requirement to flush any fluids in the vehicle, (2) You don't know what chemicals they will use, and Chrysler recommends putting nothing but ATF+4 in the PS system. Any "flushing agent" that is not ATF+4 would contaminate the system, and (3) In my experience, with very few exceptions, "Flush" is another word for "Charging you over $100 for an unnecessary service."

Finally, there was a power-steering related recall (not a TSB) on the 2003 vans, but it was not for the reservoir. It was for one of the Power Steering hoses. It had a nasty habit of breaking, causing fluid to spray all over the engine compartment, emptying the PS system and introducing the risk of a fire. I know--I had it performed back when I had my 2003.
 

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...you replace the reservoir and pump together as a kit and they need to flush and fill the whole power steering system...
That just tells me they didn't look at the vehicle. On most vehicles, the reservoir is attached to the pump. On these, it is a big white thing in the middle of the engine compartment, that is decidedly separate from the power steering pump.
 

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Is that something that is commonly missed??... ...BTW, the adjusted estimate was $211 including flush, fill. Seemed reasonable to me.
Yes. Most shops that are not Dodge or Chrysler dealers won't give it a second thought and will just use Power Steering fluid. My current van's power steering system is full of regular Power Steering fluid, because the previous owner had the steering rack replaced three times by an independent shop that (a) did not know the vehicle requires ATF+4 in the PS system, and (b) didn't realize they could have saved their customer some money and trouble by just replacing a reservoir.

You could save yourself about $180 by just replacing the reservoir yourself. If you are handy enough to change the oil, you can do that, with the help of some of the posts on this forum.
 

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Is that something that is commonly missed?? These guys seemed pretty knoledgable about the Caravan/Voyager. The shop gm actually has a dodge with 300,000 miles on it.

BTW, the adjusted estimate was $211 including flush, fill. Seemed reasonable to me.
Sounds good to me. Flush with new fluid and new reservoir. Also, make sure the fluid is filled all the way to the top, not just to the full line.
 
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