Went to change a flat tire on my wife's 99 Grand Caravan yesterday, only to find that the spare wouldn't lower more than 6". the cable itself came out of the spindle (3 feet of it...), but I couldn't get the spare to drop. I tried spinning the spare and the spindle, but nothing I did could get it to drop. Any hints or tricks to this? thanks...
Yeah thats a bitch, same ting happened on my 2000 GC. It took a while to figure out, dealer will tell you that it has to be cut down. What happens is there is a safety lock mechanism on the winch. It locks the wheel up so that if the cable rusts and breaks the tire won't fall out from underneath. It is held up by a plastic rod which looks like large bolt. Go to the dealer and have the parts guy show you ALL the views of the winch assembly, you can get the spare down by spending a few hours underneath, prying and twisting at the lock mechanism. Then clean up the road dirt and lube the heck out of the cable and mechanism, preferably with a dry lube so it does not attract dirt easily. I wish I could explain it better, but I did this last winter and can't explain the exact procedure I used and its not in any manual or Caravan book I saw. I was not willing to pay the 150$ the dealer wanted for the part.
P.S. Did you follow the procedure in the owners manual to drop the tire or did you just start cranking. If you don't do it right you will never get the tire down after cleaning up the lock mechanism anyhow. It is very specific on how to do it and after cleaning mine worked fine.
Seeing this discussion made me wonder about my wife's 2000 GC so last night I got the owners manual out and it says nothing about a latch, just the nut to lower the cable. Obviously I've never had to access the spare but I guess on the next warm day I better give it a try to find out what the real story is.
John Keith email@example.com
Had the same thing on my 99 T&C. Jack the rear of the vehicle up. Wind the spare "up". Now put your jack under the spare to support it's weight. Than "unwind it" now look up through the spare to the winch assy. You'll see a a latch. at the back (toward rear of car). reach in with a long screw driver and release it (move it towards rear of car). If you've uunwound the winch prior to this point you should be able to move the plastic holder downwards. Once you've done this you can now allow the tire to come down. Once the tire is down and off the cable remove the jack assy. 5 or 6 bolts. Odds are you'll see a piece of "wire" hanging or may have fallen out. You'll also seea spring clip (again either laying on ground or look at the assy. itself. It clips on the underside so when you unwind the unit it should pull the aforementioned latch to release the tire. If you fiddle enough you should be able to get it back into place. It is definitely rube goldberg. You could just attacha wire to the latch and keep it over the tire so you can release it manually or live dangerously and disable it all together. Or buy a new winch. Larry
Another good reason to drive sedans over vans/SUVs...just lift the (clean) spare out of the trunk well.
I do have a 1997 Caravan and hadn't noticed this partucular problem when I've needed to change a flat. Just generally cumbersome and a VERY dirty job since the spare tire is under the vehicle collecting all that road grime!