Chrysler Voyager 1996-2000 2.5TD - What you should know

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The Chrysler Voyager 2.5TD overall a nice car but there are a few things to be aware of !!

Now before we begin two things

1. There is a little vote tab at the bottom it's not too difficult or taxing: - if you find this guide useful or not for that matter please vote.

2. 
PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT ME ASKING HOW TO DO THIS OR THAT. I AM NOT A FREE ADVISORY SERVICE AND I DON'T REPAIR CARS FOR OTHER PEOPLE. THIS IS A BUYERS GUIDE AND NOTHING ELSE. IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM JOIN THE CHRYSLER FORUM 

Addendum :- When I started this guide in 2008 I had a standard short wheel base Voyager. In 2010 I sold that and bought a Grand Voyager. The difference between the two is size with the Grand obviously being MUCH larger. Other than that every other aspect of the cars is the same.


Now lets focus on the fact that this guide is purely on the 2.5 Turbo Diesel which is what I own. I have no experience on the other models but can tell you that based on my research many of the problems, most notably the immobiliser and manual transmission are common across all models.

The good stuff

1. The engine - but only because it is not made by Chrysler. It is an Italian made engine produced by VM Motori and is found in other cars as well such as the Vauxhall Frontera, Ford Scorpio and Range Rover. It was originally designed as a marine engine and from 1998 uses gear driven camshafts so you NEVER have to worry about cam belts which I find somewhat comforting. Note up to 1997 the engines used a cam chain which was known to stretch so best stay clear of these. 1998 and on are fine.

2. The ride is nice and comfortable but the standard Voyager is not as spacious as other people carriers I have owned. The Grand Voyager however is KING with LOADS of space.

3. Actually surprisingly economical 34mpg around town 41 on the open road REMEMBER I am taking about the diesel. (you will need your own fuel tanker if you buy the 3.3 petrol). Having a manual gearbox is of course a huge advantage in this department as it allows you to coast. I am a big fan of coasting as it can improve your consumption by up to 30%.

What you need to watch out for when buying :-

1. The manual transmission is by far the biggest expense and most common failure on these cars. The problem presents itself by hard shifting or just simply not shifting between 1st & 2nd and 2nd&3rd. The actual problem is the synchro ring and hub failures and can cost up to £1500 to rectify.

I have recently read a few adds where individuals state their gears are a bit stiff and claim they have had the car checked by a mechanic who has "supposedly" said it needs clutch adjustment. If you read or are told a similar story then I am afraid that person is being economical with the truth. The clutch mechanism on the cars is a sealed non adjustable hydraulic system. If you go look at one of these and the box is giving the trouble I have outlined above I would suggest that unless your buy price is VERY low that you give the car a miss as almost certainly the gearbox is on its way out.

So why are the boxes so bad. Well the answer lies in poor maintenance plain and simple. The gearbox oil MUST be changed every 20,000 miles (35,000Kms). Check the service history if this has not been done then you must put some serious thought as to whether you want to buy the car or not.

These cars use a 10W-40 engine oil in the transmission. The reason they don't use normal gearbox oil is because they use what is called "yellow metals" in the synchro-hubs/rings. Yellow metals are any that have a copper constituent e.g. Brass or Bronze. The Sulphur in typical GL 5 spec gear oil will attack and dissolve these (remember from your school days copper sulphate???).  The problem with using engine oil is that it does not have the extreme pressure additives ( that is the Sulphur components) found in gear oil and as such they lose what is known as "shear" resistance at a much faster rate. The result is that after around 20,000 miles the viscosity of the oil has dropped significantly and is no longer effectively lubricating the moving components.

Plain and simple the oil in the gearbox requires changing every 20,000 miles.


SO my first piece of advice is to check the service history and ensure the transmission oil has been changed every 20,000 miles if not leave it.

If the owner of the car you are looking at claims the gearbox has been repaired/replaced establish what oil has gone in there. Numerous big name oil companies here claim that a 5W-30 oil is the correct replacement. For the 2.5 TD this is unsuitable it must be a 10W-40 conforming to CCMC G5 specifications. This information comes directly from Chryslers own service manual and in fact can be found in your owners manual as well if you already own one of these cars.

If SX75-90 gear oil has been used find out if it was GL4 or GL5 spec. If you find it was GL5 again I would leave well alone as GL5 has a high sulphur content required for hypoid gear protection. Irrespective of what was put in there change it anyway and do so twice to ensure you get rid of whatever was put in it. Do it once and then again 2000miles later and then every 18-20K miles after that. Piece of mind is priceless and the job is very easy to do.

The 2.5TD uses the Chrysler A-598 gearbox whilst the 2.0L uses the A-558 unit, both suffer the same demise.

SO: - if you are considering one take it for a drive. Check whether it changes smoothly from 1st to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd and back down from 3rd to 2nd and 2nd to 1st. The boxes are notchy so don't worry about that but they should still change without excessive force.

Also check that before you move off the car goes into 1st easily and into reverse WITHOUT crunching the gears. If it gives trouble suspect that either the clutch master/slave cylinders as well as the clutch plate/pressure plate are on their way out. Another and far less serious issue that can cause gear change issues is engine mounts. These wear on the diesel engines due to the excessive vibrations of a diesel. They are cheap and easy enough to replace.

2. The immobiliser on all models can give up the ghost, this is sometimes due to pin 21 on the heater matrix going dry joint or sometimes a lose connection on the clock cluster. Either way it will cost you a fortune to resolve if you are not technical. The system can be disabled but most Chrysler agents will refuse to do this siting that they are "not allowed to" In reality I feel this is really down to the fact that they know this issue is a cash cow.

3. The clockspring behind the steering wheel breaks resulting in an air bag warning light and the horn not working. This is a lifetime guarantee that Chrysler will repair 100% for free BUT Chrysler agents typically won't tell you this and will happily charge you £109 + labour for the repair.

Ok now someone emailed me to say their Chrysler agent has never heard of this recall/warranty. Bollocks, the recall is known as the D17 it is a WORLD WIDE lifetime warranty. It doesn't matter how many times it fails or how old the car is if you have a 1998 - 2000 Voyager they HAVE to replace it FOC. You can find the Warranty here. ebay won't let me put in the full link so just add the Chrysler web before adding the below portion

/universal/webselfservice/pdf/D17.pdf



Don't let them fob you off with some story about it being only USA, the clue here is in the link, note it says "UNIVERSAL"

4. If the contained hydraulic clutch mechanism fails and will cost +£300 in parts alone BUT can be bled if you know how. Sellers are now selling these cheaper on eBay so you are no longer tied to buying from Chrysler.

5. The front shock struts are part of the steering geometry. If and when you change them they will knock out the alignment BIG TIME. So ensure you have a proper 4 wheel laser realignment done after you change the struts. This MUST include camber.

6. The 2.5 TD engine sprouts oil leaks from the rear crankshaft seals. A big job that requires the gearbox to come off. However well within the capabilities of the home mechanic. I would however suggest you purchase an engine/gearbox crane and it will make your life a lot easier. I have done this job twice now on the Voyagers I have owned and am now getting pretty damn swift at it.

7. Number one diesel injector can fail and if so can cost up to £400 to replace IF you buy from Chrysler. Car won't rev above 2000 rpm when this fails. Vauxhall Frontera's, Ford Scorpios, Alfa 164's and others use the EXACT same injectors so please don't pay Chryslers STUPID prices. I got a brand new one from eBay from a Scorpio for £75 inclusive of postage

8. On the non Grand Voyager model the boot space is pathetic when compared to the Grand Voyager BUT better than cars like the Zafira/Galaxy etc.

9. The 2.0 petrol engine is underpowered and the 3.3 horrendously heavy on fuel. The 2.5TD is DEFINITELY the one to go for as outlined previously.

10. Spares are hugely and unnecessarily expensive on this car from Chrysler. Ebay and your local Motor Factors is the place to buy as well as Rock Auto's in the USA. Shipping takes about a week. Even if you have a diesel variant most of the body parts, suspension, engine mounts etc are the same.

11. The seating is immensely flexible allowing you to rearrange the car in a multitude of arrangements. As stated previously however even with a full load of 7 passengers there is still a shed load of space IF you have the Grand Voyager. The standard Voyager has the same boot space as the Kia Sedona which is not great. The Kia Sedona is a direct copy of the Voyager if you did not already know that.

Summary

Great cars if you get a good one.

These websites are pretty good for finding owners reviews but there are others and it is well worth your while just getting a feel for what other owners have experienced.  You will find that the gearbox tends to be a common theme.

honestjohn
whatcar

Update:- 23-Apr-2010. So I have had my 2.5TD for almost two years now and have done over 20K miles. I have done a lot of work on her but on the road she has been as strong as a mule. However due to requiring a larger boot I have now acquired the Grand Voyager. So there you go. If they were rubbish cars I would not have bought another one.

Update:- 3-Apr-2012. Well the Grand Voyager is still going like a Boeing. Apart from an issue I had at purchase where the unscrupulous seller I purchased it from neglected to tell me that he had made a huge hole in the radiator which he then tried to conceal with K-Seal. In spite of that I have had the last laugh. That uneducated peasant had assumed that a new Chrysler Radiator would cost upwards of £600+, however being the ignorant SOB that he was he had obviously never heard of having a radiator re-cored. This  cost me a meagre £80 and I have now had a superb car for the last 2 years. The Grand Voyager is definitely the way to go as the boot space is SOOOOOO much better that that of the standard Voyager. Don't get me wrong though the standard model still has a decent sized boot when compared to things like the Zafira, Picasso etc etc but with 4 kids I needed the extra space. The long wheel base of the Grand Voyager also gives an extra 15cm of leg room in both middle and rear seats and that does make a big difference. Apart from that the cars are the same. Spares are very cheap off ebay and servicing is a doddle and the cars are VERY VERY easy to work on.

Update:- 26 Dec 2014. Yes still got the old bird and she is still going strong at 159565 miles on the clock. So since my last update I have had to change the #1 injector. As stated above I used one from a Ford Scorpio that I got brand new off eBay for £75. Note:- when doing this job or changing any of the injectors you will need to bleed the pump. Easy job, 15mm spanner to top return pipe on pump. Run car, open for a few seconds, tighten = job done. The re-cond RAD also gave up the ghost but considering I had it done almost 5  years ago it did well. I replaced it with an Aluminium one again off eBay at a cost of £85. There was black spot corrosion on the head light wires so I cut these back, installed new wires and new headlight sockets so all well there and have a rattle from the rear bumper because when trying to fit a tow bar I snapped off one of the mounting bolts and have just been too lazy to drill it out and put in a new one. Changed the right hand CV joint a while ago as well as the ball joint. In actual fact the balljoint did not need replacing. The noise I thought was the BJ was actually coming from the CV. Changed the drop links and Anti Roll Bar bushes and redid the wheel alignment. I also fitted a new water pump around a year ago along with a new battery.  She just sailed through MOT so happy days.

Do I still think these are great cars. Too damn right. Best bloody family car ever :-) As with all cars maintenance is the key. Do the basics and she will last a long time.


FINAL NOTE

Please BE Advised the 1996 to 2000 model uses a VERY different engine to the later models. Please do not assume that what I have written here goes for the later ones. Many things are common many are not. The actual running train of the newer cars e.g. Brakes, ball joints, struts, drop links etc etc are identical. The crank shafts seals are the same as both engines share the same block. However the newer engines have a 16V head and therefore use a cam belt. Also they are CRD (Common Rail Diesel) and so use very different and WAYYYY more expensive injectors. They are NOT dramatically lighter on fuel for all of this either BUT still very good cars. The newer 2.5CRD manuals ALSO need their gear box oil changing BUT to alleviate the service intervals Chrysler chose to put ATF4+ in the boxes rather than engine oil. You can however put 10W-40 in them but you will need to change it every 20K miles as per this guide if you do so. Even with ATF4+ I would still do it at least every 40K.

Final Update 10 Jan 2015
: Well a sad day but I have sold my car. With two kids having gone off to Uni my wife and I could no longer justify having such a big car. I will certainly miss it and can hand on heart say it was the most reliable car I have ever owned. I never had a single worry about getting into her and driving to Europe. They are truly great cars so don't be put off buying one irrespective of whether it be one of these models or the later ones. They are all great. So long as you ensure you get a good one and look after it the car will look after you.

 
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