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Chrysler Repair/Starting/Running issue: '03 3.3L minivan


QUESTION: 2003 Caravan 3.3 Cold start must put gas peddle on floor to start, lots of black "stuff" coming out exhaust, stinks really bad "rich!" when it does start, Burning LOTS of gas! Once warm starts normal still burns lots of gas. Drives normally. The cat has been hollowed out. The start issue started when I was welding the exhaust up while the engine was running...I assume something arced out. So is there a cold start sensor or maybe computer time? I'm stuck short of the shop...thanks Curtis

ANSWER: Hi Curtis,
Try for a fault code readout using the ignition key:"on-off-on-off-on and leave on" doing that in 5 seconds or less elapsed time. Then watch the odometer window to see if the mileage reading is replaced by and 4-digit numbers preceded by a P. Let me know what they are and we'll go from there.
The other possibility is that the exhaust gas recirculation valve is gummed and is sticking slightly ajar. Spray some WD-40 on the valve stem where it enter the body of valve, and then work it back and forth with the tip of a screwdriver inserted in slot of the valve stem. Verify that the internal spring-action is closing the valve to a dead-stop.
Sorry for the delay in responding but I just found your question in the "pool" to which it had been referred by Kevin.
Please 'rate' my answer (see the PS below).

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QUESTION: Thanks Roland the code was 1684, it died all together now...I'm guessing maybe crank posistion sensor, hope not computer thanks again Curtis

ANSWER: Hi Curtis,
The 1684 simply means the battery was disconnected in the past 50-100 key starts.
That being the case, with no other fault codes and clearly a mixture issue, I would encourage you to check out the egr valve as I described. Let me know if you need direction to find it/lubricate the stem. It is probably sticking ajar so you will want to move the stem back and forth with the tip of a screwdriver inserted in the slot of the valve stem after having sprayed the stem where it enters the valve body with some WD-40.
Please 'rate' my answer (see the PS below).

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QUESTION: Thanks again Roland, I'm fixin to attack the egr....I think I found it...kind of under the alternater? Silly question, how do I get at it? I'm gonna push it in the garage out of the snow and jack it up. I just changed an alternater on my '01 T&C, so I'm kinda familiar with the wheel and plastic cover removal. I'll be a little while yet before I get 'er in the air. I check for your answer before I get to carried away.Thanks ALOT! Curtisq

Hi Curtis,
The '02 manual has a figure showing the egr valve on the 3.3L to be located at the front of the engine mounted between the oil dipstick and the nearby windshield washer fluid bottle.
It may be obscured by the intake air filter box so remove that if necessry. The round top of the valve is on the very top and has a vacuum hose attached to it and it is situated so you would observe from the side of the valve to see the valve body which attaches to a small diatmeter exhaust pipe and a pipe that crosses over the engine to the rear. Between the round top and the valve body there is a flange which conceals the vertical valve stem which has a slit that goes around the valve stem into which you can insert the tip of a screwdriver. Spray the WD-40 on the stem where it enter the body of the valve and then work the stem up and down with the tip of a screwdriver, noticing the internal spring-action which tries to close the valve to a dead stop.
The drawing doesn't show the alternator to be below the valve rather than the valve to be under the alternator. But in any case it is a unique-looking device. The '04 manual doesn't discuss the egr in relation to the 3.3/3.8L engine (evidentally a way was found to not need it any more?) so in your '03 it may indeed still be where I have described it to be.
Please 'rate' my answer, and you may give me another 'nomination' if you believe I merit that. And you are welcome. I hope this turns out to be what solves the problem for you.

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Roland Finston


Get a Free Fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

I answer questions seven days a week and respond to you in about 30 minutes. "Maxed Out" means I am answering another question, briefly unavailable, or asleep overnight, so try again later.

I have do-it-yourself experience (50+ years) and a library of 100 1982-2012 Chrysler factory shop manuals and 20 multi-manual Chrysler Corp. CD's.

I was voted "Top Expert" 2010-2015, here at AllExperts, and have answered 20,000+ questions.


Five decades as a 'do-it-yourselfer' on domestic and imported cars.

Yahoo Autos Group called The Chrysler Lebaron Club (co-moderator)

Advanced degrees in Physics/bruised knuckles

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"Top expert" of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 here at Allexperts. Quickest "average response time" at Allexperts (currently no. 1).

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