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1999 Chrysler Town & Country Limited; 2001 Chrysler Town & Country LXi
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Discussion Starter #1
I bought a very pristine 2001 Town and Country (3.3L) in December in anticipation of my sons getting their drivers license soon. I was going to give them my 1999 T&C, but since COVID has delayed their plans, I have not needed to use the 2001. This has afforded me the time to pretty much go through the 2001 with a fine toothed comb.

The 2001 ran and drove fine, but threw a few codes which allowed me to buy it cheap. The codes were pretty much all remedied with just a new fuel injector wiring harness and transmission solenoid.

But the van still made some very minor noise coming from one of the accessory pulleys on the front of the engine. I determined it was the alternator and decided to replace it. Upon doing so, I found that the lower (of the two) mounting tabs on the timing chain cover was broken off and missing (I have since learned in this forum that this is not all that uncommon and probably resulted from someone mis-tightening the other mounting bolts at some point in the vehicles history). As I remain fortunate enough to not NEED this van, I decided to undertake the task of removing the timing chain cover. I have scoured these forums and found great advice and tips to tackle the project like these:
But I also found another great link to the service repair manual which I had not stumbled upon in these forums. I just thought I would share it for anyone else that tackles this project:
I was disappointed to learn that there is so much variation in these 4th gen timing chain covers and that they are not necessarily interchangeable. I could not find a readily available used one to match mine (04781547AA) and I am not paying $500 plus for a new one. Fortunately, I have a friend who is an absolute wizard at welding aluminum and he said is going to build up the area where the tab was so that I can retap the mounting hole. I will also have him run a few beads to the other tabs for a little bit of added strength. I will add pictures to this thread when I have them.

As I prepare to reassemble, I do have a few questions I was hoping someone can assist with:

  1. I bought a new Felpro timing chain cover gasket, but it sure seems cheap and flimsy compared to the carbon fiber (I think) gasket that came off of the van. I think I am going to return this one and buy an OEM gasket from the dealership. But the gasket I took off the engine came off in one piece and is in great condition. Any thoughts about cleaning up and reusing the old gasket? Does anyone have experience with the Felpro gasket? Or am I damn fool to come this far to skimp on a $50-$75 OEM gasket?
  2. I have read a lot about o-rings for the water ports between the block and timing chain cover, but I sure didn't see any when I removed the old cover. The Felpro kit comes with crank shaft seal, water pump seal and four (4) o-rings, but I sure can't figure out if they are needed for reassembly. There is no mention of o-rings in the service manual link above. Does anyone know for certain about the need for them?
  3. Before removing the power steering pump, I had read somewhere about not loosing a "spacer".....so I was very careful to watch for one, but I sure did not see one. And now, I can not find the thread that mentioned the "spacer". Is there some kind of power steering pump spacer or did a misread something.
  4. I have thoroughly cleaned the exposed front of the engine, mating surface and timing chain area. I want to re-lubricate the timing chain, but do not want to introduce anything that it will drip down to my clean/dry mating surfaces for either the timing chain cover or oil pan gaskets. Can I just dab on some light grease? Someone suggested using funnel to drip engine oil down through the camshaft sensor hole once I have the cover all buttoned up. Any suggestions as to the best option for re-lubricating that chain?
  5. Lastly, the torque specs call for 20 ft/lbs for the M8 bolts and 40 ft-lbs for the M10 bolts. While I have the time, I want to clean out all of the mounting holes in the block before reassembly. Is a shot of brake cleaner in each sufficient to do the job? Then blow each out with compressed air? Is there a better method? And should I use thread locker on reassembly of the timing chain cover?
That is all for now. I will add a bunch of pictures later today as a reference for anyone else tackling this job in the future. But I will say that this job would really really suck if you are in a rush. It is nice to have the luxury of time in order to do it correctly.

Best to all...
 

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1) Not familiar with Felpro for out vehicles although I have used them on other vehicles. I believe them to be a good company, BUT for our vans, I like Mahle gaskets. Now I am not saying that Mahle is going to be any different as this gasket is thin for its position and use.

Now, while you are at it, and the vehicle has some "time out of service" you may want to consider changing the oil pan gasket while you are there. Mahle oil pan gasket set for my 2002 was like $22 on Amazon and included a new oil pickup oring and a fresh gasket for the oil drain plug. ** either way (with or without changing the oil pan gasket too) you will require some Permatex ULTRA black silicon sealant for the timing cover joint where it meets the oil pan gasket (and the rear seal seam if with oil pan gasket)

*also, I would use permatex orange tread locker for the fasteners (or blue, medium). It glues the bolts in but also allows them to be removed in the future. Do Not Use Red thread locker for these parts (wrong application for these covers)

On that matter, for about $3, please replace the main crankshaft seal in the timing cover, too. Knock it out and push a new one in...

Don't use the old timing cover gasket.

2) I don't know here... perhaps someone else has this info
New timing cover main seal is good, I'd imagine Mahle kit having seal too.

3) I don't know here, again... perhaps someone else has this info.

4)Pretty sure the timing chain 'swims' in engine oil when the engine is running. Additional lubrication usually not required.
How many miles on this engine? If high mileage we should talk about changing the chain set and gears.

5) Usually brake cleaner and compressed air is all you should need to clean bolt holes. You can have one of the boys clean up bolts with a little gasoline or mineral spirits in a jar or tray. Blast bolt threads with compressed air after a soak and you can use a wire brush for any tough spots.
All the bolts should hand thread into the holes easily until bottom. If you feel any resistance, you may get 'false torque' and that may lead to oil seep or leak because a joint did not get tightened evenly. If we find we have a threaded bolt hole that we just cant get it to hand thread smoothly, we'll sometimes "chase the threads" with the correct thread tap, but that usually is not required. Again, I like to use a blue (medium) or now the new orange thread lock for bolts that I don't intend on needing to remove that part any time soon.

@ be practical, in that new drivers, sometimes, may have a tendency to smash a vehicle or two in the beginning. So I would consider that this van may not be in the family forever. I wouldn't spend an exorbitant amount of money making this thing perfect fresh out of the gate. I would be looking for 'safe' and 'reliable' for our offspring.

That being said, i think it is a great vehicle for a new driver to learn in. It has good visibility, handles well, and if maintained properly, it should be dependable. Now, if only we can fill the rear area with styrofoam packing material so we don't have a van full of raucous teenager distractions for our new drivers. I was going to suggest removing the rear seats, but then my kids would be sitting on the floor without seat belts...
 

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2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT 4.0
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Regarding #5, the best way to clean out the bolt holes is with a thread chaser, not a tap (aka thread cutter). I bought a set when I replaced the heads and intake on my GTO, especially handy cleaning out the head bolt holes in the block, pulling out the old thread sealant.
 

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Regarding #5, the best way to clean out the bolt holes is with a thread chaser, not a tap (aka thread cutter). I bought a set when I replaced the heads and intake on my GTO, especially handy cleaning out the head bolt holes in the block, pulling out the old thread sealant.
Westphal is correct, a thread chaser, but I have used a tap as long as I am certain I am in the same threads.

And I'd only need to do something like chase the threads if I couldn't hand screw the bolts.
 

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I had to do this job on my 2000 3.8 - - twice, because I used a Felpro gasket kit the first time and it failed in 20,000 miles. So I guess this will tell you about the felpro gaskets.

The OEM gasket is much better quality then the felpro. The o-rings I bought at the dealership parts dept. for my van were fatter then the felpro-supplied ones, which failed to seal and sprayed coolant out the front of the block. The ONLY felpro parts I used were the oil galley o-ring (it was thick and square cut vs. round) and the oil pan gasket (that I reused the second time). The second time I did the job the van had 200,000 miles on it, so I also replaced the timing chain and gears, and the oil pump. Supposedly you get better power and mileage getting rid of the slop in the worn timing set. The van now has 225,000 miles and no leaks from anything I had to fix again.

Did you run across the posts showing how to make inner "collars" for the two water port o-rings to keep them from imploding and leaking? Or about filling in any pitted corrosion with epoxy and smoothing it with a file and sandpaper? I did those two things during the second repair, which remains successful.
 

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2005 DGCV 3.3L
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Simpleton7016,
Please review my timing chain replacement post on my 2005 DGCV 3.3L... FYI, 05 DGCV 3.3L: Oil Pump rebuild kit install; Timing...
I have not had any issues with the Felpro oil pan gasket & Felpro Timing cover gasket & MELLING K117 Oil Pump Repair Kit .
An oil pickup tube o-ring replacement is highly recommended in order to restore system pressure lost due to an old o-ring.
I'd also recommend an oil pan light sanding & repaint while you are there.
 

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1999 Chrysler Town & Country Limited; 2001 Chrysler Town & Country LXi
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Discussion Starter #7
I had to do this job on my 2000 3.8 - - twice, because I used a Felpro gasket kit the first time and it failed in 20,000 miles. So I guess this will tell you about the felpro gaskets.

The OEM gasket is much better quality then the felpro. The o-rings I bought at the dealership parts dept. for my van were fatter then the felpro-supplied ones, which failed to seal and sprayed coolant out the front of the block. The ONLY felpro parts I used were the oil galley o-ring (it was thick and square cut vs. round) and the oil pan gasket (that I reused the second time). The second time I did the job the van had 200,000 miles on it, so I also replaced the timing chain and gears, and the oil pump. Supposedly you get better power and mileage getting rid of the slop in the worn timing set. The van now has 225,000 miles and no leaks from anything I had to fix again.

Did you run across the posts showing how to make inner "collars" for the two water port o-rings to keep them from imploding and leaking? Or about filling in any pitted corrosion with epoxy and smoothing it with a file and sandpaper? I did those two things during the second repair, which remains successful.
Thanks Road Ripper. I have not been able to find the posts on making inner "collars" for the two water port O-rings....but I still don't think there are O-rings in this early 4th generation 3.3L. I picked up an OEM timing chain cover gasket from the dealership today, and if did not come with any O-rings. And I asked the guy at the parts counter if he could look it up and he said there are no O-rings that go in there. I am planning on buttoning this thing back up tomorrow, so if I do not find a definitive answer otherwise (while scouring the forum tonight), I am going to button it up with no O-rings. The ones that came with the felpro gasket must be for a newer model 3.3.

There was not much pitting, but I did hit it with JB weld and the surfaces are good as new.

By the way, as an owner of several gen 3 and gen 4 Town and Country's, I totally agree with your avatar slogan that "3rd gen > all others".

Thanks!
 

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It must depend on what month the engine was made, because gasket kits for the 2001 still have the two o-rings for the water ports. 2002-on did away with the o-rings and use a gasket only to seal. The kits also seem to have the water pump o-ring/seal, water pump intake pipe o-ring, crankshaft seal and a smaller o-ring for either the oil pump pickup tube or the oil port to the block(?). Maybe your front timing cover is new enough to only use the gasket.

I made my avatar slogan when I only had the 3rd gen. I've grown to love my 4th gen as it is very similar, but miss the nostalgia of my 3rd gen.
 

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1999 Chrysler Town & Country Limited; 2001 Chrysler Town & Country LXi
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Discussion Starter #9
Ok, today is the day. I am 95% certain that this particular engine did not require o-rings between the block and the timing chain cover. Still, I am going to put a super thin layer of permatex around the water ports. Not enough to make up the difference if there are (in fact) supposed to be o-rings...but just enough to give me a little peace of mind.

There is nothing particularly difficult about doing this entire job, but it is time consuming. I sure don’t want to do it again, but I am mentally preparing for the fact that I may very well have to.

Attached are pictures of the welded up alternator mount. The broken off piece had long since disappeared, so there was a bit of guess work in tapping the hole. I used the new alternator as a guide for the spacing on the cover itself so I know that alignment is good. I kind of wish I hadn’t turned in the old alternator “core” because I could have used the wear marks as a better guide. The wild card is the third mounting hole into the block. I know I am real close and will mount the alternator first once the timing cover is torqued down. I figure I have a little bit of leeway on that third mounting point (pictured) and can “egg it out” a little bit if necessary.

worst case scenario is needing to do it all over again, and if I do, I think I will cough up the $500 for a new cover. But for those that come after me,keep the broken off tab if you have it and ask around for a good welder. My guy charged me $50 to build up the mounting tab. These guys know what they are doing and I am confident that the other tab will break off long before this repaired one. (I forgot to ask him to run a bead to strengthen the other tabs. I hope
58771
I do not hear and “clinks” when torquing down on the others! :)

Thanks for all the advice both here and in the archives!
 

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1999 Chrysler Town & Country Limited; 2001 Chrysler Town & Country LXi
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Discussion Starter #10
58772

58773


58774


sorry, I thought I could upload multiple pictures at once up above, but it only loaded the alternator ome.
 

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1999 Chrysler Town & Country Limited; 2001 Chrysler Town & Country LXi
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Discussion Starter #11
And one last thing...

Here is a picture of the three different gaskets. From left to right are the original gasket (which I am soooo tempted to reuse because it is in such great shape). The Felpro one which totally appears to be the wrong one due to the size of the water port holes (this is probably why o-rings were included in the kit....sure wish I had the time back I spent researching the o-ring issue). And on the far right is the OEM one I picked up from the dealership.

I am going with #3, but it was not an easy decision.
58775
 

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I say use the pink.

While there is that extra hole, I think I can see by the depression on the old that it may not be a factor.

Show a picture of the timing cover with the pink gasket laying atop of it.
 

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If you required o-rings, either the timing cover or the block would be machined out to make room for them. I do not see that on the timing cover.

Road Ripper, confirm?
 

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Yeah, that blue gasket would likely have been the wrong gasket. Felpro?

Don't forget to dab engine silicon onto the oil pan gasket down where it meets the timing cover seam. Just a little transition dab. ** use something to degrease the oil pan gasket and mating surfaces in that area that you want the silicon to seal. Alcohol, gasoline, brake cleaner, and wipe dry to carry the oil residue away. Smear thin silicon to adhere to the surface area.

I presume you decided to not take my suggestion to change the oil pan gasket and oil pickup tube o-ring at this time. It can always be done later if required....

Thank you for the pictures, it makes my prison sentence seem like I still have a connection to the outside world.
 

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1999 Chrysler Town & Country Limited; 2001 Chrysler Town & Country LXi
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Discussion Starter #15
Yeah, that blue gasket would likely have been the wrong gasket. Felpro?

Don't forget to dab engine silicon onto the oil pan gasket down where it meets the timing cover seam. Just a little transition dab. ** use something to degrease the oil pan gasket and mating surfaces in that area that you want the silicon to seal. Alcohol, gasoline, brake cleaner, and wipe dry to carry the oil residue away. Smear thin silicon to adhere to the surface area.

I presume you decided to not take my suggestion to change the oil pan gasket and oil pickup tube o-ring at this time. It can always be done later if required....

Thank you for the pictures, it makes my prison sentence seem like I still have a connection to the outside world.
Oh no, I will definitely be changing the oil pan gasket and oil pickup tube o-ring (as well as the water pump seal, inlet tube o-ring, crankshaft seal and pretty much everything on the front of the engine). I just haven't gotten the far yet. But I have the timing chain cover torqued down and tested fitment of the alternator. It bolted right up!!

Now to piece the rest of it all back together. Not in a hurry, but will come into the air condition for breaks and post any tips or questions as they arise.
 

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The timing cover would have been machined out if it had used the o-rings. No o-rings used on that one, so it must be a late 2001 engine.

Weird that the pink gasket has two oil port holes where there should only be one. That second hole in the gasket started in 2007. Maybe Chrysler realized the late gasket would work for the earlier ones, and just use the 2007 gasket for 2002-2007 applications in an effort to reduce different parts.

The felpro gasket holes are cut out larger because it is used with the o-rings. Since yours doesn't use them, you used the gasket that I would have also used. I also would smear rtv around the coolant ports and other ports to seal them. You're doing a great job! You shouldn't have to do it again, at least not for anything leaking.
 

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Was it here, iMickey, I think he did a alternator lug weld write up...

That blue felpro I would not be comfortable with the larger diameter coolant gasket without seein it lay atop the timing cover, in position. I think the edge distance may had been a weak link for me.

RR (Dan) if you look at the oil passage hole and then where the second hole in the gasket would be, I can see it is vented to crankcase atmosphere so hole / no hole - is the same same.

YES, Great job. You should hang around and field some question while jeepman is on vacation.... I think he takes what?? Three months, three and a half vacation this time of year...
 

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1999 Chrysler Town & Country Limited; 2001 Chrysler Town & Country LXi
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Discussion Starter #18
Well the job is complete. I can't stress enough how much "not being rushed" matters on this job. It fired right up and was soooo quite it was like new. It helps that I bit the bullet and basically replaced everything on the front of the engine [PS Pump (OEM), alternator (OEM), idler pulley (OEM), tensioner (el cheapo)]. I let it run for 15 mins to bring it up to heat and topped off all the fluids. No leaks. But when I took it for a test run, it died a few times and ran choppy. I pulled back in the garage and ran diagnostics: P1391 - Intermittent Loss of CMP or CKP

If there was a code that I kind of anticipated, that was the one. It was a last minute decision to replace the camshaft sensor mainly because I wasn't sure what thickness I should use for the piece of paper/spacer. So I bought a new CMP sensor from Amazon (should have bought OEM). It did have the spacer attached and I am certain that I installed it correctly. Is it possible that the spacer just hasn't worked its way off the tip yet? I am a little perplexed that it ran fine at start up and for a few blocks on my test run. AND, it still runs smooth and fine in park in my garage. I will search the archives later today, but if anyone has an opinion they can share, that would be greatly appreciated.

Otherwise, the whole project went very smoothly and I am grateful for all the advice in this thread and the vast database of experiences in the archives. The only snafu I had was swapping out that top elbow/hose nipple from the old power steering pump. I thought that the allen wrench I chose to do the job was a snug fit, but it must not have been metric. I stripped it out and had to grind the bolt head off of it. But otherwise, everything went smoothly.

Thanks again and thanks in advance for any opinions on the P1391 code.
 

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1999 Chrysler Town & Country Limited; 2001 Chrysler Town & Country LXi
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Discussion Starter #19
I had a few moments so I pulled the new CMP sensor out and sure enough, the "paper" spacer was still affixed to it. Still, after researching more here, I opted to clean up the original CMP sensor, swapped o-rings and reinstalled. Using the spacer from the new CMP sensor as a template, I cut a piece of paper towel tubing and attached it to the end of the sensor with some thick grease. I reinstalled and voila, problem solved. I would have used the spacer from the Amazon CMP sensor, but it seemed awfully solid. Almost like an old Tiddly Wink chip - for those who remember that board game. I wanted to use something that would break down easier and not clog up the oil intake.

Anyway, problem solved for the time being.
 
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