The trend that just wont go away. I remember an old timer named Ed who I worked with about a decade ago. Ed was a long time Dodge/Chrysler mechanic and it showed. While that may paint a picture of the humpback of Notre Dame Ed was (and still is) pretty spry. Ed used to complain about weird noise symptoms and running quirks that Dodge Caravans, Chrysler Town & Countrys and Plymouth Voyagers (all the same game, different name) would have and were always tough to pinpoint and verify. The bucking, jerking, banging, and sometimes rattling symptoms were always caused by a broken flexplate. The main impulse absorbing, thin tensile disc that couples an engine to the torque converter of an automatic transmission. But now, its nice to see, fast forward about a decade and change, that they are still common failures and gremlin sources for the newer models.[slideshow]
To paint the picture for you, the inner bolt circle is what bolts up to the engine crankshaft. The outer bolt circle is what bolts up to (on the opposite side) to the torque converter. When test driving this van, it would accelerate normally off of the line and shift fine all the way through the gears. However, if you really ‘got on it’ you would feel a jerk, hesitation, and of course set a myriad of trouble codes in the computer. The codes would suggest a problem with the camshaft position sensor. Just imagine how many unnecessary cam sensors Autozone sold off of these failures! In reality, the cam sensor position was in conflict with where the computer ‘thought’ the crankshaft was simply because the crankshaft exciter ring mounts to the edge of the flexplate. At any moment, depending on where the outer portion of the flexplate had landed after popping loose and then binding up again, the vehicle would still drive forward, but the computer was being lied to by the crank position sensor. In the end, nothing ate my flexplate, but it was pretty chewed up.