“I can fix that”

Since: Mar 09

Alhambra, CA

#22 Mar 22, 2009
Thank you everyone that posted! You saved me a lot of time and pain. In preparation for my move from Connecticut to California, I thought I would inspect my 2000 Caravan's spare tire. It wouldn't lower more than inch. Then I thought I'd Google my problem. The first hit was for this bulletin board. I read of all the travails, learned what the solution was, and 5 minutes later I had the captive tire freed. The best advice was to get on my back and use a flashlight to find the latch. A screwdriver helped free it and I was in business.
PJSaint

Paynesville, MN

#23 May 24, 2009
The only thing I would add is to wear protective goggles, not just glasses. There is a lot of dirt up there which falls down as you are right beneath the tire:)
DJR

Saint Paul, MN

#24 Jun 7, 2009
Thanks PJE!! The info you provided was just what I needed!

A week ago my wife had a flat on our 2000 Chrysler van. I managed (just barely, but that's another story) to break the lug nuts loose. Then I discovered what everyone else reading this thread has ... the cable would drop but the spare tire would not come down.(The engineers who disigned that piece of crap should be condemned to use it for the rest of their lives!) I was fortunate enough to be able to re-inflate the flat and limp to a service station for a patch.

Then I went looking for information about getting the spare tire down. Your post was just what I needed.

I was able to release the catch easily once I got the spare's weight off it. I could not move it while the spare's weight was still on the catch.

I used the van's jack to hold the spare up, loosened the cable a couple inches, and was able to easily pry the prongs loose with a screw driver through the center of the spare.

Using the jack had the added benefit of keeping the spare from falling onto my face once I got the latch free!
PJE wrote:
... The nylon "stem" of the wheel holder has a collar that gets caught by a spring latch inside the square tube protruding downward. This is the tube which the cable comes out from. The latch itself is a stamped piece of metal with two "claws" that extend into the tube through the slots on its rear-facing side. That piece is attached to the tube by means of a flat spring, whose one end is riveted to the latch and the other one to the tube, some 3" upward. To operate the latch, there is a rod which pulls it away from the tube (the claws have tabs on their ends so they cannot come out completely). The other end of the rod is hooked to a looped flat spring. The spring is shaped like a hose clamp with two long straight "ears", and the round portion is pressed onto the bottom end of the winch's main shaft. So, as you begin to unwind the cable, the clamp/spring should turn together with the shaft and pull on the rod, thus releasing the latch. And this must happen before the weight of the wheel transfers to the latch throgh the plastic holder (which would occur if the latch fails to move on the first few turns of the shaft). Apparently, when the latch claws get stuck in their slots due to dirt or rust, the shaft just slips inside the spring. It could be a fail-safe feature to prevent the parts from breaking, but it also easily prevents the latch from releasing ... If you can hold the wheel close to the floor pan, there's enough room to reach the latch with a finger, through the center hole of the wheel. If it's too difficult to hold the wheel up, you can insert a long screwdriver through one of the holes in the wheel and unhook the latch with it. It still helps to at least partially support the wheel so its full weight is not resting on the latch.
Ivan Rocha

Montclair, NJ

#25 Jun 9, 2009
I just got the same problem, spent almost 2 hours trying and no luck . Had to remove the flat tire and fix it.
Mark

Enfield, CT

#26 Jun 16, 2009
Frank Bartlett wrote:
I have owned a 2000 Dodge Caravan and now a 2003. Both had the spare tire problem. The cable will come down but the tire will not. There is a safety mechanism that will not release because of rust. Where I live the rust would be created after about two weeks from the new car lot. Bad design Dodge! Shame on you engineers for being so stupid!! Something so simple as a spare tire change is made complicated with the flawed design. I wonder how many people have been stranded on the road cursing the jerk who thought of that design. I eliminated the mechanism by cutting it out. There is so much friction when the tire is in the up position that it will never come down by itself. I have had no issue after that. You should send out a memo to all dodge dealers to ask their clients who own these vans to check the spare tire release. I checked my 2003 before I needed the spare. good thing I did. It would have never come down. without a flashlight one would never even be able to see what is holding it up. Once again I must stress the point that this design sucks!!!!!!!
Frankie, you are the man. I agree 100%!
David Robinson

Peterborough, Canada

#27 Jul 16, 2009
Same problem here with 2002 Grand Caravan. I don't think anyone at Chrysler has ever hard of corrosion. Fortunately I was at home in daylight when the flat occurred but I just spent 2 hours under the van trying to get that catch to release. Finally got out the sawsall and cut the cable. I am a retired Automotive Design Engineer so I am quite familiar with salt spray and durability testing. Here in Southwester Ontario where theses minivans are made you would have thought they would do a salt spray test on componenets exposed to the elements. I called the local dealer, $208 dollars for a new piece of crap pully system just like the last one. Just one more reason to add to my list of why I will be replacing this Grand Caravan, with only 84,000 km. on it with a Hyundi or Honda. I have had more things go oon this van that should last a lifetime.
J-Thomas

Greensboro, NC

#28 Oct 26, 2009
1997 Grand Caravan
Was in the process of installing a tailer hitch and
needed to drop the spare to get more working room.
Same story and I banged and kicked at the thing for several minutes and finally got on the web and
found this (and a hundred other forums with the same stories). I still love my Caravan ( and learned how to fix my own transmission problems ha ha...just replace the control solenoid). But the spare tire is absurd. Class action time!
Louie

Linden, NJ

#29 Feb 21, 2010
I have the same problem with my 2003 Town & Country LXi.
Brought the car to a gas station, they lubed it & everything else & still could not take it off. I brought the car to a chrysler dealership but wnated to charge me by the hour to remove the tire. They must have encountered this problem before. I am still looking for a solution. I have just been applying wd40 every so often & try.
Frank Bartlett wrote:
I have owned a 2000 Dodge Caravan and now a 2003. Both had the spare tire problem. The cable will come down but the tire will not. There is a safety mechanism that will not release because of rust. Where I live the rust would be created after about two weeks from the new car lot. Bad design Dodge! Shame on you engineers for being so stupid!! Something so simple as a spare tire change is made complicated with the flawed design. I wonder how many people have been stranded on the road cursing the jerk who thought of that design. I eliminated the mechanism by cutting it out. There is so much friction when the tire is in the up position that it will never come down by itself. I have had no issue after that. You should send out a memo to all dodge dealers to ask their clients who own these vans to check the spare tire release. I checked my 2003 before I needed the spare. good thing I did. It would have never come down. without a flashlight one would never even be able to see what is holding it up. Once again I must stress the point that this design sucks!!!!!!!
Earl

United States

#30 Mar 10, 2010
I found out the hard way that my spare tire would not lower. I had a flat tire on my way home from work on interstate 70. Everything I tried would not lower the spare tire. Thanks to everyone here. My spare tire will now raise and lower. I followed your advice and cleaned the mechanism and placed grease on it. Since my flat three weeks ago, I have seen several Chrysler/Dodge minivans along the road with flat tires. I called the local dealer and received no help with the probelm. Chrysler needs to do something to fix the issue or notify minivan usersof the potential problem.
Benny sapienza

Montréal, Canada

#31 Apr 5, 2010
On the spare tire wench you can lower the tire to a certain point and then it just stops. The cable continues to drop but the metal bracket holding the tire stops moving. It seems to be stuck inside the housing. Does anyone know what is causing this and how to fix it?
Ken

Canada

#32 Apr 9, 2010
paul t werner wrote:
Do what my wife does. Look cute and helpless.Let someone else do it.
maybe she can't look cute
Sonny from NY

Deer Park, NY

#33 Apr 14, 2010
I had a flat 2 long country blocks from my home and could not get the spare down. It was so frustrating. I drove back to the house on the flat and distroyed the tire. you explanation was so precise that i got the flat down in less then 5 minutes once i knew what to do. A good trick is to use the van jack to hold the tire up in place and release 2 to 3 inches of cable then use the small screwdriver to move the safty outward from the square tube a 1/2 inch or so to break it free of the rust and deposites then let the tire down....
PJE wrote:
BTW - Thanks for all the useful comments here that helped me rectify this annoying issue.
On another forum, I found the following well written, detailed description which others may find useful:-
"How do you remove the spare tire from a 2003 dodge caravan when it is stuck for some reason in the hole that the plastic tire holder goes up into The cable comes down but the tire stays stuck up in?"
In: American Cars
Answer
"The design of the spare tire winch has been the same from 1996 up to now, perhaps excepting Stow&Go minivans. It works as follows. The nylon "stem" of the wheel holder has a collar that gets caught by a spring latch inside the square tube protruding downward. This is the tube which the cable comes out from. The latch itself is a stamped piece of metal with two "claws" that extend into the tube through the slots on its rear-facing side. That piece is attached to the tube by means of a flat spring, whose one end is riveted to the latch and the other one to the tube, some 3" upward. To operate the latch, there is a rod which pulls it away from the tube (the claws have tabs on their ends so they cannot come out completely). The other end of the rod is hooked to a looped flat spring. The spring is shaped like a hose clamp with two long straight "ears", and the round portion is pressed onto the bottom end of the winch's main shaft. So, as you begin to unwind the cable, the clamp/spring should turn together with the shaft and pull on the rod, thus releasing the latch. And this must happen before the weight of the wheel transfers to the latch throgh the plastic holder (which would occur if the latch fails to move on the first few turns of the shaft). Apparently, when the latch claws get stuck in their slots due to dirt or rust, the shaft just slips inside the spring. It could be a fail-safe feature to prevent the parts from breaking, but it also easily prevents the latch from releasing. Recently (as of this writing), I inspected the winch on my minivan and the wheel was found to be stuck. The previous inspection was two years ago. Back then, the latch did work and I sprayed it with silicone grease. A stuck latch should be easy to release if you lie down on your back and support the weight of the wheel by pushing it up. If you can hold the wheel close to the floor pan, there's enough room to reach the latch with a finger, through the center hole of the wheel. If it's too difficult to hold the wheel up, you can insert a long screwdriver through one of the holes in the wheel and unhook the latch with it. It still helps to at least partially support the wheel so its full weight is not resting on the latch. This time around, I cleaned the mechanism with WD-40 and then brush-painted the claws and their slots with anti-seize, and also applied it between the flat spring and the square tube, to make sure nothing holds it there. Do not lubricate the spring itself, and the machined neck on the shaft where it is clamped on. Now I believe that the winch has to be inspected and serviced at least annually. Don't forget to pump up the spare tire at the same time. Hope this helps."
Paul M Morgan

AOL

#34 Jul 17, 2010
Spare tire hoist. Big, big problem. I will see what the NHTSA people have to say about the problem. Anybody been killed yet?
Andrew Nierescher

Oxford, MI

#35 Aug 29, 2010
Dan wrote:
I had the same problem. There is a safety catch on the plastic wench bracket for the dog bone.
Here is how to fix it:
The tire will lower about 2 inches then stop. Lower the cable another couple of inches. Lie on your back under the tire and lift weight off the cable. With your third hand (get a helper - I used one hand to lift the tire) reach up and over the tire to the wench down tube. You will feel a wire connected to a square piece of metal. Pull on that metal piece, it should pop back for you releasing the tire.(You may have to pull up-and-out if it has a little rust on it.)
While you have the tire down, clean up the mechanism and apply some grease.
PS Make sure the spare has 60lbs of air before using it.
or raise the tire a little bit with a floor jack makes it alot easier
woody

Fredericton, Canada

#38 Oct 6, 2010
I have two dodge caravans. My wife called me at work and told me she had a flat tire with her 2003. I have to take time off work to go help her change the tire. Tried to get the spare to release on her van to no avail. Cable would go all the way to the ground and tire would drop about two inches and no further! So...I thought fine - I'll use the spare off my 2005 Caravan. Same problem!! What an IDIOTIC design!!!!!
Cynical Genius

Calgary, Canada

#39 Nov 20, 2010
I had to change out a flat today on my 1996 Voyager in -20 degree temperature. The plastic T-handle, in no way will push through the center hole on the spare and there is absolutely nothing in the owner's manual about any special release mechanism. After 6 hours fighting with it in the freezing cold, I ended up cutting the plastic at the neck of the T-handle. This allowed me to bend the part of the "T" holding up the spare through the center hole.

Thanks Dodge, for making such a simple repair as complicated as possible. You should fire whoever thought this up. Something as potentially dangerous as changing a tire on the side of an expressway should be made impossibe to repair.
MrFixitMyDamnSel f

Cape Neddick, ME

#40 Mar 3, 2011
marsha c wrote:
hello guys, I have a flat on my '92 caravan and was trying to get the spare off from under the back and can't figure it out lol. Can some one explain to me how to get it off, keep in mind you are explaining this to a weak-minded car knowledge soccer mom
Just uncrew the cable a few turns or enough to let the cable come out one inch and then stick a screw driver up through the spare tire rim holes if it's a spare tire and pry behind sides and bottom of a square metal block that you can see one the side of the rod coming down beside the plastic rod.Pry that damn thing until it pops out of the side of the metal rod it's stuck through.It has one metal tab slotted in both sides that need to come out before the tire will fall.After that just uncrew the cable as far as you can and angle the plastic nut so you can pull the plastic through the rim sideways.Greese the metal block that you had to pry on,especially where it slots into the rod coming down.
Dave Davis

Dayton, OH

#41 Mar 5, 2011
Just had a flat on a 2000 Voyager - same problem as above, fiddled with it for an hour. Stubborn. Then got on the internet and found the posts above. Not many have internet along side the road to find out how stupid the Chrysler engineers really are - I wonder if they drive Fords?
George

Belgrade, Serbia

#42 Mar 8, 2011
The SAME SHIT here!!! I will do the job tomorrow since it is night time now and it happened to me in front of the house.I spent more than an hour earlier today on this issue with no results but as I got home I checked internet and found your useful posts. Not many 1998 Plymouth Voyagers in Serbia but bad design expands countries borders!
Peter G

Edmonton, Canada

#43 Apr 10, 2011
Thanks for the info. We are going on a long trip for the Easter weekend, in our Grand Caravan, and I thought I should try getting the spare down, in advance, just in case. My grandson and I worked on it for just under 2 hours - it would drop a couple of inches and that was it. We rotated the tire, kicked it, beat the plastic retainer with a rubber mallet, wound the cable up and down numerous times and then gave up in frustration. My grandson suggested an Internet inquiry and I found this thread. We'll work on the tire again tomorrow when grandson gets off school and I'm sure it will work based on all the success stories written here. Thank you again -

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