View Full Version : Dodge Grand Caravan or Chrysler T&C buying tips?

the gman
February 27, 2011, 11:48
Looking at another vehicle for the family & have been looking at 'Mommy mobiles' as the wife calls them. Cannot spend over $5K cuz that is what I have in cash & I will not take out another loan. Would prefer to be less than $4K if possible.

Have driven/rented the Dodge Grand Caravan & Chrysler Town & Country in the past & was very pleasantly impressed with them. Any problems with them that I need to be aware of?

Looking on Autotrader.com, prices are all over the place; anything from sub $3K for late 90's models with between 100-150K miles up to $5K for '06 models with 170+K miles.

I guess the real question concerns mileage; do I go newer with higher miles or older with less miles to get the best bang for my buck? Not really concerned with lots of gadgets or DVD players etc but do want stone cold reliability as it will be the wife & baby in the vehicle 90% of the time. TIA.

February 27, 2011, 13:40
I have two. The 2000 "sport" I am driving now gets around 17 m.p.g. in town. the 1996 gets around 18. I got the 2000 cheap because of a bad A.C. evaporator. (cost me $100 to fix). It cost me $1700 with 90K miles. Get the dodge 3.3L V6 (shaved 318). The weakest link is the auto trans. Knowing that I change the filter and every 45K and they still work fine. The only things I have had to replace are starter, window lift, and a serpentine belt. I may just be lucky, but they have been the most reliable vehicles I have owned. One has 150K and the other has 115K miles.

February 27, 2011, 14:01
George have the TRANS checked as well as the REAR A/C.. IIRC there is a line running the entire length of the van that runs the rear A/C. I have heard it is prone to failure and an expensive fix..
My Sister & BIL drove Dodge Caravans for a number of years (6 kids) and that was one of the complaints he shared with me.

John Culver
February 27, 2011, 14:17
Had to replace the vehicle speed sensors on one, (they fail from time to time) but its fairly easy, and cheap if you do it yourself.

February 27, 2011, 14:47
+1 on the trans. Had one to go out with less than 30,000.It was my Moms van a 94 Caravan and the warranty didn't cover it. I'm sure the newer ones have a longer warranty but it probably wouldn't apply in your case.

John Culver
February 27, 2011, 14:56
Originally posted by garyd1961
+1 on the trans. Had one to go out with less than 30,000.It was my Moms van a 94 Caravan and the warranty didn't cover it. I'm sure the newer ones have a longer warranty but it probably wouldn't apply in your case.

that was the gen 2 vans, which were epic crap, the third gens started in 1996 and while not fantastic, are worlds better then the '91-'95

February 27, 2011, 16:38
Whatever model year you get, by all means AVOID the AWD model. The rear drive line fails in short order and is near impossible to locate used. New cost is about $1800.00 on a replacement, when available from the dealer.

the gman
February 27, 2011, 17:46
Originally posted by 308bolt
Dodge Grand Caravan or Chrysler T&C buying tips?

Don't do it.

Buy a Ford.

Rented a Windstar & was singularly unimpressed. This was disappointing for me as most of my vehicles have been Ford products for the last 25 years.

Also looks ugly as sin & from what I can gather, has a poor reputation all round.

If money was no object, I would be casting my net wider but with the restrictions I currently have, the models I asked about are my focus. I appreciate the input from the collective & I'll be sure to check out those issues, thanks folks!:biggrin:

February 27, 2011, 18:04
The wife has a 1999 T&C, 110K and still runs great. She is not good at getting it serviced. Never had a major problem and she likes it better than the new ones with all the fancy features.

February 27, 2011, 18:08
Bought a 2004 T&C with the 3.8 new.
Great van and loved it. (Unless you have an extended warranty, stay away from the power doors as they're expensive to repair.)
We sold it when the kids moved out.
A year later, my wife got involved with a youth group and asked for another mini-van.
Found an '88 Caravan 3.0 and we are very happy with it as well.

Have the transmission checked prior to buying.

Check out The Chrysler Mini-Van forum (http://forum.chryslerminivan.net/forum.php) for a wealth of info on these.

February 28, 2011, 01:22
Look for a Toyota (or Honda) instead. Bad transmissions are just one of the Chrysler minivan issues I can think of. That said, some guys are getting 12 second quarters out of the vans with the 2.5L turbo four, after some modest mods.

February 28, 2011, 08:23
We have had 2 of them the first was an 02 TC Touring rang great but wife was in an accident that hit the front wheel and drive line. After it was fixed we traded it in on an 06 TC Touring both had the 3.8 they run great but get less than steller gas milage with the larger motor. The larger motor is nice on the highway and any where there are mountians. The only problems we have had with both vans are the electronic doors on the 02 had a bad "brain" that needed to be replaced and the 06 lost the water pump at 40k other than that they have been good vans.
Now that dosen't stop me from wanting to drive them into the bay because I can't stand them but it is my wifes car and it is what she likes so it lives in the drive way.

As far as getting a Toyota my sister had one that she liked but it had no power. It was ok when driving around town but merging at highway speeds took a bit of planing and when they drove it out west the 3.0 was week when they got into the mountians.

February 28, 2011, 11:46
I have had a 2000 Voyager since new. Its one of the best vehicles I have ever owned. The "transmission problem" that you are hearing about is confined to the 4 speed auto that they use on the V6 models. I have also had friends that had the "problem" and it is related to temperature. Add a supplemental cooler and it essentially goes away. If you buy a 4 banger (which is what I have) you get the plain jane 3 speed transaxle that has been around and reliable for ages. You also get much better gas mileage (we get around 22 city and 28 hwy) and from a driveablity standpoint, the four has so much torque you dont really notice the difference except at the top end on the highway. We pulled a big U-haul from Tennessee to TX one time through all the hills and valleys in between and it barely noticed it was there.

The 2000' vintage Voyagers around here sell in the $1500- 2000 range in good+ condition and well equipped. I am thinking about picking up another one!

February 28, 2011, 12:07
I've owned 8 of them since they came out with my earliest one a 1987 model. All of them have been Grand Caravans, btw. In my mind it's the only one I'd ever buy.

I never bought one new but always used with varying mileage on them, usually about 60,000 or so. The only one that gave me fits was an early one when Chrysler was having problems with the heads. They had a problem with valve seats dropping and allowing oil to get into the combustion. They fixed tens of thousands of them under a "silent recall", however.

Since then, I've never had a problem. They are workhorses. The one most important feature the Grand has for me is that with the rear seats all out, you can put a full 4 x 8 sheet of ply or sheet goods in there and close the door. I'm a cabinetmaker and use mine for that all the time. It's also really roomy and I can put a lot of finished product in there. To my knowledge, there are no other vans out there with that asset.

I tow with mine, too, and pull a small camper or a utility trailer with impunity. Even under a panic stop (I've had a few) the van stops straight and true. The ABS works great.

I've NEVER gotten stuck with any of the one's I've owned, either, and don't use snow tires but just a good general three season tire on it. The front wheel setup puts all the weight on the tires and handling is easy even in slushy snow. I rotate them every year, however, to spread the wear. You want the best rubber on the front.

I usually run my vans until they get up to 180,000+ miles and sell them for nothing to someone looking for a work truck. I've only run one to the salvage yard and that was because of rot that began on the door sills. That's their weak spot. Check any van you look at for the beginnings of that. When I did drive that van to the salvage yard, it had just shy of 200,000 on it and ran like a champ.

Your mileage will vary but I, too, get between 16 and 20 depending on the highway miles. It'll hold 70 all day long and get descent mileage while transporting seven adults and their luggage with the air on. I have received better mileage but only after a full tuneup and running medium grade fuel, not the regular.

Finally, if you do look for one that happens to have a rear a/c and heater, it's IMPERATIVE that you check the condition of the coolant lines that run from the engine compartment to the rear unit. The metal in those tubes tend to rot and you'll get a leak there. Two of mine that had rear A/C units had that problem. It's an easy fix but removing the bad metal line material and replacing it this heater hose and clamps. Still, it's the only other weak spot I'd bring to your attention.

They are a wonderful, roomy, comfortable, and rugged vehicle that has good lines and is safe for a family and the dog. There are millions of them out there and in the junk yards for parts. I'm running two right now; a 2000 one for my work and a 2001 one for my wife. Both have 150,000 then and I would not hesitate to drive either one from coast to coast. We've got a Jag in the garage, however, for fun driving.


March 01, 2011, 00:38
Originally posted by the gman

Rented a Windstar & was singularly unimpressed. This was disappointing for me as most of my vehicles have been Ford products for the last 25 years.

Also looks ugly as sin & from what I can gather, has a poor reputation all round.

i disagree the wife has a Windstar and it been a very reliable. i would take another Windstar over a Dodge Grand Caravan or Chrysler T&C. i had a Plymouth voyager and replaced one tranny at 75,000 miles and ended up getting rid of it at 125,000 when the second tranny went