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Discussion Starter #1
Looking to buy a gently used PM 3500. I recall reading about a few notorious problems with the early models, what year model is a good turning point for when they started getting these issues worked out?

Just asking as a general question, a lot is going to depend on the individual van obviously. Thanks.
 

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2015 middle of the year or newer.
 

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What happened in 2015 that I dont know about? Radiator fix covered all vans, ecu updates have already been done on all vans. Zero difference between 14 and 15 vans parts wise.
 

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Kip,
I know there were no significant part changes but the assembly seemed to get much better by mid 2015. We heard about fewer door issues, fewer leaks, less paint variation on the metallic colors, less rear door wiring breaks, diesels started to be reliable, etc. Some of these things persist in lesser amounts today. I watched carefully for that time and although I didn’t keep a log I felt the van got better. I waited to order my diesel so it would be made in mid 2015 for that reason. I am willing to be corrected on this id others feel it is unfair of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What happened in 2015 that I dont know about? Radiator fix covered all vans, ecu updates have already been done on all vans. Zero difference between 14 and 15 vans parts wise.
So what all stardard repairs should I look out for to be done if I looked into a 14? Everything you listed?
 

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They likely will have been addressed in any used van but any or all those might show up. If you buy a later van there is just less likely hood of seeing any of them.
 

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Since there haven't been any recalls on the 2019s yet, as well as a new grill design and a few claimed upgrades, I assumed that many of the issues and recalls had been addressed for the 2019 model year.
But I'm only going on 3000 mi on my 2019 and again, it's an assumption on my part. At around 1000 mi, I developed the infamous engine tick. About a month ago, I smelled hot wires through the heater vent, which I assumed was the beginning of the electric cooling fan meltdown. It hasn't happened again and the fan is working, but who knows what's going on.
Point is, I very well may end up with several of the issues that have been common since 2014. In reality, nothing has really changed design or mechanical wise. Time will tell.
Considering the history and user feedback on these vans, if I were purchasing one that was 4-6 yrs old with 100k + on the clock, I would actually feel better about a van that already had all the failures and recalls addressed and already had a new engine and trans installed. Seems typical that once these things have been repaired, the replacement parts outlast the originals.
 

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I take you point RD, and as you know I cant really speak to the diesels.
As to what to look for, I will be brief. Literally the only thing to look for with the engine and trans is the ticking, which can be huge or can be nothing. Either way, you have 100k drivetrain warranty to find out. With any used van up to 200k, I’d be listening for strut bearing clunking, bad front alignment, gear whine from the diff, and that’s about it. All repairable, but a chip against the asking price. The vans dont seem to rust, and the interiors hold up well.
I’d also be looking for signs/proof of regular maintenance. Oil around the fill tube and filter means at least someone has been changing it. I’d look at the trans pan gasket to see if it’s ever been changed.
Thought of one:with the seller present try lowering the spare tire. The winch will be seized, and that should knock off several hundred from the price.
The rest is normal car stuff. If the check engine light is on, get the code read. It will either steer you away from buying it, or lower the price if it’s minor.
I just bought a 3rd van, a 2014 2500 159”. So I’ve been watching the prices. If you wait for the right one, 14 and 15 vans can be had for around $13,000 with well under 200k. Vans at around 100k go for around $18000. 1500 vans are substantially cheaper too, though comically tiny.
 

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The ticking is caused by clearance between the rocker arm and the lifter. This, in itself, is totally harmless. One of my vans ticked when I bought it used with 88k. It still ticks with 560k 4 years later. The sound will be worse when it’s cold, getting quieter as it warms.
If the clearance gets worse, or the clearance causes wear in the rocker or lifter, eventually it will start affecting that valve’s lift, usually an intake valve. This will cause a single cylinder misfire. The definitive test will be a compression test, which will show that cylinder low. It will take about 5-10 thousand miles of misfiring before it gets bad enough where you wont be able to hold speed in high gear. Eventually, it will suck and eat the valve, and your motor is toast.
Solutions: once it has compression loss, there are three stages of repair. If the bad cylinder is toward the trans side, it may be possible to tip up the cam and get that lifter and rocker out. $20 in parts and maybe 3 hours labor.
If that doesnt work, you need a new cylinder head. Dealers charge a reasonable $300 for the head and it comes with a 150,000 mile warranty. The problem is the labor. It’s a big job, and probably books at 12-15 hours, possibly more.
The worst case is the valve drstroys the engine. Junkyard engines with less than 40k on them are $1600. Labor is the problem - something like 20 hours.
This valve tick problem is the achilles heel of the pentastar. It doesnt affect all engines, but it’s common. Maybe 5%? It seems like it pops up at 110-140k. If you dont have it by 140, odds are you’ll never have it. Both my vans have over 500k. One had it twice, the other never (and the never one is the ticky one!)
Advice: go to a dealer and stick your head under some jeep hoods to get an idea of how much a brand new engine ticks. This way, you’ll know what you are listening for when looking at used vans. Also, get a cheapie code reader and read stored codes on any van you are looking at. Any van that comes up with misfire codes is to be avoided, or discounted deeply.
 

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There was a turning point when quality improved? I missed that announcement. ;-) Sometimes I think my 2014 is better than the new ones. Mine has had a few of the common simple issues and none of the worse ones so far. (knock on wood!)
 

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FWIW
I thought I was hearing the tick, but the noise was coming from the thing on top of the engine, purge valve/solenoid?
 

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The ticking is caused by clearance between the rocker arm and the lifter. This, in itself, is totally harmless. One of my vans ticked when I bought it used with 88k. It still ticks with 560k 4 years later. The sound will be worse when it’s cold, getting quieter as it warms.
If the clearance gets worse, or the clearance causes wear in the rocker or lifter, eventually it will start affecting that valve’s lift, usually an intake valve. This will cause a single cylinder misfire. The definitive test will be a compression test, which will show that cylinder low. It will take about 5-10 thousand miles of misfiring before it gets bad enough where you wont be able to hold speed in high gear. Eventually, it will suck and eat the valve, and your motor is toast.
Solutions: once it has compression loss, there are three stages of repair. If the bad cylinder is toward the trans side, it may be possible to tip up the cam and get that lifter and rocker out. $20 in parts and maybe 3 hours labor.
If that doesnt work, you need a new cylinder head. Dealers charge a reasonable $300 for the head and it comes with a 150,000 mile warranty. The problem is the labor. It’s a big job, and probably books at 12-15 hours, possibly more.
The worst case is the valve drstroys the engine. Junkyard engines with less than 40k on them are $1600. Labor is the problem - something like 20 hours.
This valve tick problem is the achilles heel of the pentastar. It doesnt affect all engines, but it’s common. Maybe 5%? It seems like it pops up at 110-140k. If you dont have it by 140, odds are you’ll never have it. Both my vans have over 500k. One had it twice, the other never (and the never one is the ticky one!)
Advice: go to a dealer and stick your head under some jeep hoods to get an idea of how much a brand new engine ticks. This way, you’ll know what you are listening for when looking at used vans. Also, get a cheapie code reader and read stored codes on any van you are looking at. Any van that comes up with misfire codes is to be avoided, or discounted deeply.
Thanks for all this detailed info on the tick. Saving for when I get some miles (or ticking) on my new “used” 2018 with 272 miles on it. Could be very useful, I hope to never need it though
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Since there haven't been any recalls on the 2019s yet, as well as a new grill design and a few claimed upgrades, I assumed that many of the issues and recalls had been addressed for the 2019 model year.
But I'm only going on 3000 mi on my 2019 and again, it's an assumption on my part. At around 1000 mi, I developed the infamous engine tick. About a month ago, I smelled hot wires through the heater vent, which I assumed was the beginning of the electric cooling fan meltdown. It hasn't happened again and the fan is working, but who knows what's going on.
Point is, I very well may end up with several of the issues that have been common since 2014. In reality, nothing has really changed design or mechanical wise. Time will tell.
Considering the history and user feedback on these vans, if I were purchasing one that was 4-6 yrs old with 100k + on the clock, I would actually feel better about a van that already had all the failures and recalls addressed and already had a new engine and trans installed. Seems typical that once these things have been repaired, the replacement parts outlast the originals.
That's actually a great point. I can probably see what has been done through a Carfax. What are all the issues I should keep my eye out for already been taken care of?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I take you point RD, and as you know I cant really speak to the diesels.
As to what to look for, I will be brief. Literally the only thing to look for with the engine and trans is the ticking, which can be huge or can be nothing. Either way, you have 100k drivetrain warranty to find out. With any used van up to 200k, I’d be listening for strut bearing clunking, bad front alignment, gear whine from the diff, and that’s about it. All repairable, but a chip against the asking price. The vans dont seem to rust, and the interiors hold up well.
I’d also be looking for signs/proof of regular maintenance. Oil around the fill tube and filter means at least someone has been changing it. I’d look at the trans pan gasket to see if it’s ever been changed.
Thought of one:with the seller present try lowering the spare tire. The winch will be seized, and that should knock off several hundred from the price.
The rest is normal car stuff. If the check engine light is on, get the code read. It will either steer you away from buying it, or lower the price if it’s minor.
I just bought a 3rd van, a 2014 2500 159”. So I’ve been watching the prices. If you wait for the right one, 14 and 15 vans can be had for around $13,000 with well under 200k. Vans at around 100k go for around $18000. 1500 vans are substantially cheaper too, though comically tiny.
You are the absolute man. Thank you so much.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Forget the ProMaster and get a Transit or Sprinter van instead :p
Not against a transit but im specifically looking for the 3500 ext and the promasters seem to be more plentiful than the transit counterparts from what I see listed. I really wanna stick with a gas engine though so sprinters are out. I know they're coming out with a gas engine version but I'm sure it's out of my price range.
 
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