2001 dodge caravan - several isssues/need advice

Hi there.
I am not a pro mechanic at all by any means, so please bear with me. The girlfriend has been using my 2001 caravan for her business and
therefore I have not seen it in a bit, but she reported to me yesterday that several problems have cropped up. I had only several minutes this morning to verify the problems, and am getting ready to tackle them - probably this weekend, and thought I would get 'up front advice' if possible. This group has proven invaluable before in helping a relatively inexperienced person along with problem resolution.
1. The rear tail lights are out. Headlights come on, 4 way flashers, brakes, and signals work, but not the rear lights when the headlights are on. I did quick check and I did not see any blown fuses in the fuse/relay tray near the battery in the engine compartment.
- are there more fuses elsewhere to check?
- I have not checked the bulbs, but sort of surprising both would be gone, but will check first.
- I remember reading somewhere about a poor ground on the rear lights being an issue with all sorts of lighting problems. I can't find the blasted link on that one for the life of me, but I will check that when I see if I can get access to the bulbs.
- If not any of those - any other things I can check? I read that light problems could be a body computer problem? (Again - just those 2 lights? And I sort of know what it is but darned if I know where to find it to check connections...)
2. The van used to pump out heat in a few minutes. This am it ran for a bit and still no sign of heat.
- Check the thermostat to see if it closing and opening. Feel upper and lower rad hoses once running for a bit and see if both are hot?
- There must be a cable running into the engine compartment for that somewhere. I guess check to see if it moves or is broken/slipping?
- Other items if not the above?
Thanks and regards - just need to know if I am heading in the right direction to at least start with these repairs or if there are other fairly obvious items (to more knowledgeable people) that I should know about and check as well.
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Is there a fuse box under the dash ?????

That would be a good place to start. They both don't blow at the same time, it's just that they both happen to be out when you check them.

Check the bulbs first.

The temp gauge should read about mid way when the engine is fully warmed and being driven. If it doesn't read that high it would indicate a thermostat stuck open.

You can feel the radiator hoses but also check the hoses going to the heater core. They should all be hot to the touch with the engine warmed up. You can also remove the radiator cap while the vehicle is cold, start engine and look to see if coolant is circulating cold. If so thermostat is stuck open. If you haven't done any maitainence to the cooling system yet you should perform a flush, replace hoses and thermostat and install fresh coolant.

I don't think the heat is cable controlled on that vehicle, I think it is vacuum or, most likely, electric servo.

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