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14 Common Dodge Promaster Problems You Should Know

What kind of problems does a Dodge Promaster usually have? In this blog, we’ve outlined the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for a Promaster. However, let’s first start with a quick answer:

The Dodge Promaster often has problems with the sliding doors and windows getting stuck. Also, interior coolant leaks and noises from the engine are common. Finally, electronics can cause issues because fuses wear out prematurely; this is mainly a problem with locking the doors using the key fob.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every single problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll let you know how to identify it, fix it and how much it costs to fix. Read on!

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Exterior Problems

1. Doors Won’t Close Properly

One of the common problems we face owning a RAM Promaster is the sliding door issue. No matter how hard we close the door, it won’t lock into its place. The same goes for the back door as well. It happens due to the air-tight cabin of the van, which prevents the doors from latching onto the locks.

The Promaster design has an integrated one-way vent system above the wheel wells area that channels the air out when the door closes. When the air vents are blocked or hindered, the air pressure inside prevents the doors from locking, and the sensor will show that the doors are not locked. There are two other ways to prevent this from happening if the vent area can’t be uncovered.

  • There is a magnetic link to the sensor that ensures whether the lock is engaged correctly or not. If this link is apart by a margin of even a single strand of hair, the lock will not engage,, and thus, the door will not close. You can make this a little less sensitive by tightening the 19mm bolt on the sliding rail just a bit.
  • Another way to close the door is to open a window or any of the front doors to relieve some of that pressure. When the air moves out while closing the door, there will not be that pressure to prevent the door from closing.

2. Windows Get Stuck

Another common problem that a RAM Promaster faces would be the window problem. They often get stuck that requires a lot of struggling, pushing & pulling before finally getting it to move but being the turtle they are, it takes forever to move them up or down. The window controls further add fuel to the fire. 

The thing that often goes bad in these Promaster’s windows is the regulator, which is the culprit almost always. They are known to fail and require replacement now and then; chances are, every van you are looking at had it replaced once or needs replacement.

The job requires removing the door panel, and a couple of connectors, along with the removal of rivets holding the panel in place. These rivets are drilled to get the panel out in the open, and after replacing the regulator, a rivet gun is required to punch them back where they belong.

This is not an easy DIY fix, but if you have sufficient mechanical knowledge and the essential tools, you can try to do this and save a couple of hundred bucks. Still, it’s not recommended because you might end up damaging more rather than fixing. These regulators cost around $250, and after including labor, it cost around $500+, which is quite a lot for just a window issue.

3. Front Doors Can’t Be Locked With Back Door Open

The programming prevents the front doors from locking when the back door is open. It prevents a mishap of forgetting the key inside when removing the cargo from the back door. The automatic locks will not engage when the back door is open, so you have to follow the procedure to trick the ECU.

Get into the van from the back door, lock the doors, manually open the back door, and come out; the front doors should remain closed. You can also manually lock the front passenger door and the sliding door with the help of some thin wires that go into the small circular rubber area beside the lock.

4. The Key Fob Unlocks The Doors But Won’t Lock Them

If you have to go somewhere and your van wouldn’t lock, you can close the doors manually before getting it fixed. To lock the front passenger door, open the door and search for a small circular rubber piece on the door panel beside the lock and pierce that rubber with a metal wire. After piercing, you would feel a plastic switch that will lock the door when pushed in.

Similarly, for the sliding door, search for that hole covered by that rubber and pierce that at an angle of 30 going down and then push it up like a liver; this would move the clip in the door upwards, and you will hear a click ensuring that the locks are engaged. Then close the door, and you are good to go. For a visual explanation, check the video below.

This problem is caused by a fuse responsible for locking the doors. It is located under the steering column to the left side. Open the panel, and just in the middle towards the right, you will find a fuse number 15, change this fuse and go wherever you have to. The van is secured. Make sure to have a big capacity fuse; otherwise, it will blow up with just locking once.

5. Headlights Go Out Prematurely

These headlights are a common failure that keeps happening; most Promaster owners tend to learn how to remove the headlights and change the bulb. It usually involves the driver’s side bulb. It occurs due to the poorly engineered drain from the driver’s side windshield wiper reservoir that is supposed to keep the rainwater away.

This drain that channels the water away from the headlights’ electrical system often gets clogged up, and water starts coming into the electrical stuff causing the bulb to blow up, and thus, you would have to change the bulb. Make sure this reservoir drain is not clogged, and if it is, you have to unclog the pipe and change the bulb. 

6. Rock Chips Are Very Common

The Promaster’s windshield shape is quite peculiar, and its vast size contributes to an awful experience: the rock chips. You find a lot of these with cracks on their windshields. Small rocks often hit the screen because of their size and shape, causing huge cracks.

This eyesore problem can not be nipped in the bud, but we can have it repaired if the damage is 12 inches. If the crack is more than that, you must change the windshield. The windshield costs about $400, and with labor, the price would be about $500-$600. 

This happens because the vehicle in the front throws chips carrying the wheels’ inertia, making a tangent at an angle that directly touches the Promaster windshield; thus, the broken glass is what we get. All of that happened because of Physics.     

Interior Problems

7. Coolant Smell or Phantom Smell

A lot of these vans will have a burnt coolant smell or better known as the phantom smell. It happens due to a coolant leakage that drips somewhere on the hot engine bay and produces a burnt smell, but ironically the leak is nowhere to be found. If you experience this phenomenon, you can check the hose going to the thermostat for any leakages. Also, check for coolant puddles on your transmission, as can be seen in the image below.

The coolant level keeps going down regardless of a known leakage. The dealers have no clue either, and even if the level keeps going down after some time, they would say that the compression is fine and everything is okay. Because of that, all the Promaster owners keep spare coolant bottles with them as they would have to fill them up now and then.

8. Turn Signal/Light Problem

A common issue that occurs in this van is the weird HighBeam signal placement. The turn signal turns on whenever you are engaging with the high beams, and no matter how much experience you have, you will no doubt have the turn signal turned on, which goes for 3 seconds every time.   

9. The Squishy Spot Between Seats

This area has a lot of delicate wires going through and often gets damaged due to walking over it. It is poorly placed as you would be walking around that area quite often whenever you get up from your seat to go to the back. You can come up with whatever sits right with you and cover that area.

The area should be covered with something hard, so when someone steps over it, the wires under it will not be squished and damaged due to the weight. So the covering should cover the area to prevent the squishy area from going down completely. Some owners have come up with their solutions, as pictured below.

Engine/Transmission Problems

10. Engine Ticking

If you hear this ticking sound from the engine, you should have it fixed. Most dealers would say that all of the Pentastar engines do that, and it’s not a big deal, don’t listen to them. The main issue costs around $300-$400, but the labor is quite expensive. The bill will be around $900 for this fix.

It is known as the valvetrain tick caused by the rocker needle bearings. If this is not dealt with, it can potentially cause more damage, and then, your engine is done. Another thing to check is the compression when replacing the sparkplugs. It is good to check for compression because a misfiring cylinder may ruin the engine.

These engines have a particular design that puts a lot of heat stress, especially on the first cylinder, so make sure that everything is okay. If you have this ticking sound, but your compression is good, you will go away with just the rockers, priced at $4 each plus the labor cost.

12. Clunking Noises Are Coming From The Van

The transmission on these is quite notorious, so you would have to look for any out-of-norm sounds, especially after a cold start and while driving. A lousy transmission start jerking while shifting from parking to reverse/drive. You will experience untimely gearshifts and a harsh ride overall.

Electronics Problems

13. Fuses Go Out

If something is not working right, it is probably the fuse problem. Often the issue comes out to be a faulty fuse. These fuses are not that reliable and require replacement every once in a while. The door locks receive the biggest hit from these fuses as they are known to fail due to blown fuses.

14. Alternator Not Working

All the electrical stuff will not work if the alternator is not working, or it might just barely work, i.e., as the condition where the headlights become dim and other lights are also considerably less bright. The cost to fix the alternator is also very high as the amount of time required to replace the alternator is around 5 hours as it involves the removal of other stuff to get to the alternator.  

If the alternator is our issue, the battery warning light will turn on, and the dead battery will not hold a charge. Make sure it’s the alternator and not just the battery. An alternator replacement can cost around $1000, including labor.