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I hope this to be the only article on my web site devoted to vehicle maintenance. Throw a 1987 Sikorsky H-60 (helicopter) in front of me and I can strip it to the bone, but embarasingly, cars 'aint my thing'.

Step One. If you're wife tells you go fix the car, tell her to pound salt.

Step Two. If you decided to skip step one and you have a squeaking, grinding, whining, screaching, screaming from your serpentine belt area of your 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan (or equivalent) and attempt to fix it yourself, may the following advice help even one person out there.

 Troubleshoot. I am no expert so this is a novice's diagnosis through; lots of googling, lots of videos, subscription to online (alldatadiy.com) vehicle breakdown and unfortunate trial and error removing most components below. Costs are from Autozone and time is relative to skill. (mine, capable but not so great)

DIAGRAM: 3.3L/3.8L 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan Serpentine Components

20110930_2006caravanserpentine

  1. Serpentine Belt - Possible culprit if high pitch squealing or squeaking. Especially if fluctuates not necessarily with the rev of the engine upon startup. Check for wierd wear marks on edges or cracking in the grooves on the inside. Should be very taught and cannot remove by hand. (less than 1/8" wiggle). Do not spray with WD40 like the shop told my wife t. It may fix it for a short while (hours/days) but ultimately shortens the life of the belt. If that's the culprint, replace it. Cost $25. Time 15 Minutes.

  2. Power Steering Pump - First of my part swapping chaos. Was definitely bad. Likely culprit if moving steering wheel back and forth during turning produces higher whine or screaming. The worst part of all (BY FAR) to replace due to it's location, demand to remove obstacles and special tools. Cost $44. Time 8 Hours.

  3. Tensioner Pulley & Arm - A likely culprint (in my case) with a steady whine, screaming which is bad bearings. Incedently, it's probably the pulley that's bad, not the arm (unless belt tension is weak).  The pulley is the EXACT same as the idler pulley and can be purchased separately. Cost $17. Time 30 Minutes.

  4. Idler Pulley - A possible culprint which would be a steady whine, screaming which is bad bearings. A cheap try at a fix if the exact screaming is hard to determin. Cost $17. Time 15 Minutes.

  5. Alternator - One of the 2 parts I did not replace. Though it would consist of whining, screaming due to bad bearings. You can still have good charging power and full output with bad bearings. Also the 2nd most expensive piece of the whole accessory drive system, so not a good component to replace just as a stab in the dark. Time estimation based on what I researched. Cost $170. Time 3 Hours.

  6. AC Compressor - The other of the 2 parts I did not replace. Sadly can't help much on this one. Do not think it's a typical noise producer... HOWEVER we had to have it replaced at a shop at 80,000 miles due to non-working AC system. (Shop Cost, $1,100) Cost $350. Time Unsure, Not Simple.

  7. Crankshaft - Not really any moving parts on this. Likely major engine trouble if this is making noise. If this is the issue, drive the van to a metropolitan area, leave keys in it and windows down. Problem should be fixed within a day.
  8. Water Pump - A possible culprint which would be a steady whine or screaming which is bad bearings. Would have engine overheading problems if it was fried even further but this blog entry is devoted to noise issues. A relatively cheap try of mine since it 'really' sounded like the noise was coming from there. Cost $35. Time 2 Hours.
Good Luck to someone!

 

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