Question about 1999 Chrysler Town & Country

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WATER PUMP AND SERPENTINE BELT PROBLEMS

I HAVE JUST BOUGHT A USED 1999 TOWN AND COUNTRY LXI, WITH A 140000 MILES. I DIDN'T RESEARCH THE VEHICLE WELL B/C WE WERE IN NEED OF A CAR FOR 3 KIDS FAST. SINCE YESTERDAY 6/9/08, THE SERPENTINE BELT HAS COME OFF AND I AM TOLD IT WAS BECAUSE THE WATER PUMP SEIZED UP. IN REVIEWING THE REPAIR RECORDS FROM THE PREVIOUS OWNER AFTER THE FACT. IT SEEMS THAT THIS CAR HAS HAD QUITE A FEW REPAIRS FOR THE SAME PROBLEM. WAS /IS THIS A PROBLEM FOR THIS MODEL 1999 V6 3.8L ENGINE I bought a 1999 T&C LXI four months ago. The serpentine belt has come off twice, both times it was raining and streets had a lot of water on them. Due to the weather conditions I had to drive very slow. On both occasions I had just accelerated from a stop position when I heard a loud pop and lost steering ability, alarms on van went crazy. I was lucky enough to be close to my house both times it broke. I may not be so lucky next time. The mechanic who put it back on charged me $20 and told me it was a common problem with 1999 Chrysler/Dodge vans. I can not afford to trade it and I have two kids so I can't afford to be stranded any time it rains. Please help!

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Dear Sir/madam,

Belt Life The service life of a V-belt depends on mileage as well as load, tension and heat. Every time a belt passes around a pulley, it bends and flexes. This produces heat which age hardens the rubber over time. The wear process can be greatly accelerated if the belt is loose and slips because any added friction between belt and pulley makes the belt run even hotter. This can cause glazing on the faces of the belt and cause it to slip even more. So one of the most important factors that affects belt life is making sure it is properly tensioned when it is installed and that the proper tension is maintained throughout its service life.
Symptoms that may be the result of improper belt tension include:

  • Belt squeal, especially on the fan, A/C compressor or power steering drives.
  • A battery that keeps running down (due to belt slippage).
  • Excessive sidewall wear on a V-belt that causes it to ride lower than normal in the pulley grooves.
  • Severe cracking along the underside of a V-belt.
  • Noisy alternator, power steering pump, air pump, A/C compressor or water pump bearings (from excessive belt tension). Belt Replacement Replacement V-belts must be the same length and width as the original. A belt that’s too long or too short may not allow enough adjustment for proper tension. A belt that’s too wide or too narrow will not ride at the right depth in the pulley grooves.
    CAUTION: When installing a new belt, do not attempt to "stretch" it over pulleys. Doing so can break the internal cords causing the belt to fail. Always loosen the pulleys so there is adequate clearance to slip the belt over the pulleys.
    Once the belt has been installed on the pulleys, a belt gauge should be used to adjust belt tension to factory specifications. The old rule of thumb of allowing 1/2 inch of "give" between the furthest pulleys is not a very accurate guide for today’s engines. So follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for belt tension.
    Once tension has been adjusted, it should be rechecked and readjusted (if necessary) after a short break-in period (say after 500 to 1,000 miles of driving). It should then be checked twice a year or every 5,000 or 6,000 miles thereafter.
    On vehicles with a single serpentine belt, tension is usually self-adjusted automatically via a spring loaded tensioner. No additional adjustment is necessary.
    If your engine has been eating or twisting belts, misaligned pulleys may be your problem. Alignment can be checked with a straightedge. If a pulley is bent or not in the same plane as the rest, the problem should be corrected otherwise the "bad" pulley will continue to ruin belts.

  • thanks
    goodluck

    Posted on Aug 20, 2008

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    Sounds like one of 3 things i seen with similar engine.
    1: bad idler or tensioner pulley or missing a washer behind it.
    2: bad a/c compressor bearing on pulley
    3: main pulley on bottom has bad main crank dampener and wobbles.

    (i quit working on cars in 99)

    Posted on Aug 20, 2008

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    Yes this is a very common problem with that model. If you have an autozone nearby they sell a gator back serpentine belt that will help to prevent this issue in the future and if the gator back belt breaks they will exchange the belt for free. Please rate. Thanks

    Posted on Aug 20, 2008

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