'90 caravan 3.0 timing belt


Old 06-02-04, 08:55 AM
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'90 caravan 3.0 timing belt

Just picked up a '90 caravan with 39,000 miles, yes 39k. It was my grandmothers, I plan to drive it as a work car. Everything works on this thing--even the AC! Regular maintenence has been done by me or my father. This unit had 24k in 1992 when my grandfather passed, since then only 15k (less than 1k in the past three years). Nothing worries me about this vehicle other than the timing belt. It is original. Should I change it, and is it hard to do? Is this an interference motor? I went through it with new filters, fluids, belts and hoses, even plugs.
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Old 06-02-04, 03:02 PM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Pittsburgh,Pa
Posts: 2,417
They are a little bit of a pita but you could do 1 if you are patient and have the tools including jackstands and a floor jack.14 years is a long time on that belt if it were me I would change it and the water pump with a new one from the Dodge dealer.I'm not sure if it's interference or not but the gates belts website would tell you.I would change the tranny fluid for sure also,the tranny gave more problems than the engine on those.
Old 06-02-04, 03:44 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Boynton Beach Florida
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That thing IS one of the harder timing belts to change. I think flat rate is over 5 hours so plan on AT LEAST a full day, and like Davo said, it would be a good idea to change the water pump while your in there.
Old 06-02-04, 03:47 PM
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Location: Manitoba
Posts: 9,722

I have a bit of experience in this.

Our old "88 Dynasty with the 3 liter/3 spd auto and 280,000 km (168,000 miles) blew the timing belt and after checking found it wasn't an interference engine.
Had it replaced along with the water pump and it runs like new.

Coincidentally, I recently picked up a '95 Caravan with the 3 litre/3 speed and 160,000 km (96,000 mi).
Engine runs like new but had the belt and water pump replaced before a 28 hr round trip to Minneapolis.
Belt was worn but still had some life left.

As far as tranny problems, the folks I talk to seem to report more problems with the overdrive transmission than the 3 speed.
Neither the Dynasty or the Caravan appeared to have had any major tranny work according to the mechanic and the pan and fluid were as clean as could be.
To do a belt and water pump yourself is certainly dooable, but even with my diy mentality agree with davo it's a pita type of job.

Buy a manual and if you decide to do it I'm sure someone here would likely offer help if you get into trouble.
Old 06-02-04, 04:19 PM
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 1,459
Standard labor time for this job is 4.4 hours if you have power steering, 4.2 if you dont. I have never personally done one of these on a Caravan, but I did do one recently on a Hyundai Sonata. (They all used the Mitsubishi engine around the early to mid 90's) They are certainly a bear to do.
I have to second the water pump swap as it is timing belt driven and if it gives out you are going in again. Also the comment about the 3speed transmissions is absolutely correct. They gave almost no trouble. The beginning for the 4 speeds were a nightmare, but they have improved greatly since then.
I have the entire procedure for the timing belt as well as almost anything else you need in Alldata. So if you need I will gladly print it out and send it to you in snail mail.
Hope this is helpul to ya,
Old 06-03-04, 05:01 AM
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Thanks, I changed the tranny fluid and filter last night, it looked brand new--in fact this thing is a pleasure to work under--eveything is like new--clean and no leaks! It is the 4spd tranny and I know of the potential problems, but for the price I got it for if I get a year out of it I am ahead (two years would be great). Heck, I am going to save $800/yr just in fuel costs (this things gets 23 mpg and my truck gets 14mpg and I drive 100 miles per day). Tranny goes the car goes. I found some info on the web last night about the timing belt, it is doable, but it not being interference, I think I will just drive it for while. Changed oil/filter day before and fuel filter last night, will change rad fluid tonight--belts and hoses look real good, checked service records, they have been changed once along with the plugs--so after the coolant change I'm gonna drive her! Tires nearly new and I personaly remember putting new brakes with new rotors and calipers on it around the time the tires were changed. Hard to find a good work beater--just hope the tranny holds!

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