I recently bought a Dodge Ram Van I bought the...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently bought a 1992 Dodge Ram 250 Van. I bought the optional "Magnum V8" so I wouldn't have to concern myself with overheating while towing my 20 foot boat and running the air conditioning. I have no problem with overheating. But the air conditioning IS a problem. Everytime I encounter the smallest hill, the air conditioning shuts down. I can hear air rushing inside the dashboard, but nothing comes through the vents. I noticed, however, when I take the car out of overdrive while going up a smaller hill, the air conditioning flow returns to normal. Unfortunately, I'm having to delete the overdrive at every small hill, even when I'm not towing anything. And at every large hill, I get no air conditioning at all. How much should I expect to pay to fix this problem?

RAY: Well, a year ago, Floyd, it would have cost you about $18,000.... the price of a new Ford Econoline Van. But fortunately, Chrysler recently came up with a less expensive solution.

TOM: The problem seems to be a poorly designed vacuum-servo system. Under low-vacuum conditions (like full acceleration or climbing hills), the engine can't spare enough extra vacuum to keep the ventilation doors open in the passenger compartment.

RAY: This has been an annoying problem in Chrysler vehicles for at least six years. I happen to know, because I own an 87 Dodge Dakota pick up truck AND a 92 Dodge Caravan, and they both do exactly the same thing.

TOM: Finally, last year, Chrysler came out with a new vacuum check valve that solves the problem. I just put one in my brother's truck the other day. The part itself costs about five bucks, and it took me less than an hour to put it in (of course, I charged him for three hours labor).

RAY: Actually, Floyd, if you wave your warranty in the air and get several large friends holding violin cases to stand menacingly behind you, you might even convince the dealer to fix it for nothing. Good luck.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One