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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, 2009 3.8L model with Stow 'n Go seating. I purchased a set of used flammable storage cabinets on an online auction and went to pick them up today; 71 mile one-way trip from my home base. Trip out was routine at 60-70 mph, no issues at all. Picked up 7 cabinets, maybe 70 pounds each; a decent load but not as much as if I'd had bodies in every passenger seat plus luggage.

On the trip home I noted the vehicle hesitating noticeably and shuddering at mild upgrades (overpasses and the like) at highway speeds. I figured that perhaps there were some downshifting issues so I put the transmission into manual mode in fifth gear. It drove much smoother; kept it in manual until close to home. When I tried putting it back in full auto the hesitation and shuddering came back, so I kept it in manual until I got home and unloaded.

But now at home, just going back and forth in the driveway at walking speed, I'm noting the same kind of shuddering and hesitation. The previous owner told me that the transmission was replaced (by an independent shop) a year ago and I haven't had any problems since purchasing the minivan in April of last year. There's no transmission dipstick, only a plug that says "For Dealer Use Only." Check engine light is not lit; I do have a good scanner but I haven't tried hooking it up yet.

This minivan is my daily driver; I need it for work. Any ideas as to what I should be looking at?
 

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Hesitation and shuddering like losing a little power on when engine load increases on a hill? How many miles are on this? Reminds of me bad plugs n wires. Also reminds me of on GF's Windstar when the ignition coil was cracked and started arcing all over the place. Check engine light on?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Check engine light is not on. It didn't seem to be power loss, more like the transmission wasn't sure whether or not it should shift 6-5 and couldn't make up its mind. Placing it in manual in 5th stopped the immediate problem. But now that I'm at home I still have hesitation and rough shifting, even in the driveway.
 

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I agree with zexphiii, could be a bad (or going bad) coil or need a set of spark plugs. How many miles are on the van, and when was the last time the plugs were changed?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Spark plugs are a possibility worth checking; the van does have 184,000 miles on it and the spark plugs have not been serviced since I bought it last year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It did set a fault code this morning, repeated misfires on cylinder #2. I replaced (most of) the spark plugs this evening...that's a story; I dropped the new #3 spark plug, twice, and Ithink I messed up the threads when I tried to tighten it. I took it out and put in the plug which had been intended for #1, but it went in...difficult. The engine runs, but it's still misfiring on #2...and occasionally on #3 now. I'll try new spark plug wires next.
I think those spark plugs were last changed out by Congorilla; I could not budge them with a 3/8" ratchet. I ended up using a 5/8" deep socket with a 1/2" drive torque wrench; the average letting-go torque for each plug was about 100 ft-lbs. Back to the parts store...
 

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You should get a spark plug hole tap for #3. Wouldn't hurt to give it a run on #2, just in case. It could be that old King Kong just jammed them in there and got #2 crooked, which would make it not fully seat. The pinch washer might hold it for a while like that, especially as tight as he got them. Surprised the heads of the plugs didn't snap off.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
New plugs (Champion double platinum) and wires (Ultima) all around. Cylinder #2 is still missing. Now I'm suspecting something in the fuel injection. Or would I be better advised to run a compression test? (Note: While #2 is missing excessively, it's not missing every single time.)
 

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That could be the coil pack on its way out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That could be the coil pack on its way out.
I had a coil pack go out on my 1999 (2.4L I4) Voyager. Telltale was that both #1 and #4 cylinder missed at exactly the same times (they share a coil). This time #2 is missing but #5 (other side of the coil) is just fine. So I think the answer lies elsewhere.
 

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They don't always blow both sides of the coil. Those I4 coil packs are prone to failing both sides at once. It's less common to have that happen on the V6 coil packs.

A quick way to test is to swap #2 and #5 plug wires and see if the misfire moves to #5. It fires both sides at the same time, so you can swap the ends of any of the 3 coils safely. Just don't swap between coils or bad stuff happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
They don't always blow both sides of the coil. Those I4 coil packs are prone to failing both sides at once. It's less common to have that happen on the V6 coil packs.

A quick way to test is to swap #2 and #5 plug wires and see if the misfire moves to #5. It fires both sides at the same time, so you can swap the ends of any of the 3 coils safely. Just don't swap between coils or bad stuff happens.
I couldn't make the test you suggested; the spark plug wires weren't physically long enough to reach the "wrong" side of the coil. (Keep wanting to call it a distributor; showing my age!) But I'll take it under advisement as a possibility worth checking. Is it worth it to try to track down a Mopar unit from the dealer, or just what's on the shelf at the auto parts store?
 

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I go with the lifetime warranty stuff at the parts store, usually AutoZone. If it ever breaks, it's free. :p

But it's a bit expensive for a "buy one to find out" type of deal. I thought there should be enough slack in the wires to reach, but I'm used to aftermarket wires, which often are a bit longer. Any chance you could move the wires around to get longer wires on #2 and #5. Maybe #1 is a touch longer than #2, and 2 would fit on 1 but just be a little stretched? You know, some way where you wouldn't want to leave it like that but it would work fine for testing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I go with the lifetime warranty stuff at the parts store, usually AutoZone. If it ever breaks, it's free. :p

But it's a bit expensive for a "buy one to find out" type of deal. I thought there should be enough slack in the wires to reach, but I'm used to aftermarket wires, which often are a bit longer. Any chance you could move the wires around to get longer wires on #2 and #5. Maybe #1 is a touch longer than #2, and 2 would fit on 1 but just be a little stretched? You know, some way where you wouldn't want to leave it like that but it would work fine for testing.
Afraid not; maybe if I still had the OEM wires I threw out last night...:(. The ones I just put on have basically no slack at all. The reason I'm hesitant...remember the 1999 Voyager I mentioned above? I had an ignition problem (back before I got my good scanner), thought it might be in the ignition coil, and replaced it. Well, that wasn't it, but I kept the new coil. Six months later...well, the first coil lasted 20+ years, the second one lasted less than six months. Yes, it was still under warranty, but....
I guess you pays you money and you takes you chances.
 

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Good to hear it was that and not something more serious. Things get expensive when it's not the ignition system.

And how you know I had chicken for dinner? You spying on my dumplings? 😋
 
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