0'5s: Any thoughts on the new "disappearing" seats?/Transmissions

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Louis Block, Apr 1, 2004.

  1. Louis Block

    Louis Block Guest

    I just turned over 105k on my 99 Caravan SE. I had though that my next
    van would be a Honda Odyssey, till I saw the TV ads for the 05
    Chrysler/Caravans. I sure like the concept of the stowable seats. I've
    always though that if I ever throw my back out it will be while removing
    those seats unassisted. Does anybody have any firsthand experience with
    the new configuration? It seems like there is a large "boot" behind the
    rear seats (like on the Odyssey) when the seats are up. That seems like
    it would make it tough to lift heavy items up and over the tailgate. Any
    sacrifice to cargo space?

    Also, I've owned 3 Chrysler minivans over 13 years ('86,'93,'99), and
    replaced 5 transmissions. Maybe its too early to tell yet, but are the
    transmissions any more dependable now? I had an extended warranty on my
    last, so it didn't hurt as bad, but it was still damned inconvenient.

    Louis Block
    video/audio technician
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Louis Block, Apr 1, 2004
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  2. Louis Block

    Bill 2 Guest

    Yes the rear seats fold into a well behind the seats. While I don't have an
    05 caravan, I've found in my experience with vans, the well is kind of nice.
    With a flat floor it is hard to pack a lot of stuff (like groceries) in
    because the space is mostly vertical and if the load shifts stuff can fall
    out when you go to open the door. With the well stuff fits downward (like a
    car trunk) and you can pile more stuff in before it becomes a problem.
    Bill 2, Apr 1, 2004
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  3. Louis Block

    mic canic Guest

    the seats are really kool the way they work they are almost too easy to use
    the one thing i noticed is the spare is in the front portion of the body not
    the rear
    and the headlite switch doesn't lite up at nite anymore
    mic canic, Apr 2, 2004
  4. Louis Block

    jdoe Guest

    If you want tranny troubles than you'll LOVE an Oddyssey. HOnda's been
    having all kinds of issues with them. NOw for the good part. Not sure why
    you replaced a trans on the 99 maybe just bad luck but they are not the
    problem they had been (although even that was overblown imo with many
    replaced for nothing) but that's not the issue. I looked at the 05's and the
    fold in seats look like a MAJOR coups. BTW to keep the trans (and everything
    else for that matter) functionin properly follow the severe service
    jdoe, Apr 2, 2004
  5. You know, what I find really facinating about this post that everyone here
    really ought to take a look at, is that Louis is a perfect example of the
    typical new car buyer.

    If you are among the majority of us who can't afford new cars and buy
    used vehicles, and curse the way some things are so shittily built
    then this post does a HUGE amount to explain why:

    1) The poster considers a vehicle "used up" at 105k miles.

    2) The poster's FIRST interest in a new vehicle is some cosmetic thing.
    LAST on the list is a reliability concern.

    Louis, I'm really not dissing you, guy. You are exactly like just about
    ALL new car buyers. In short, all this group really cares about in a new
    vehicle is cosmetic fluff.

    So is it any wonder that the automakers treat reliability as LAST on the
    list of things to pay attention to, and cosmetic fluff FIRST? Can you
    blame them? None of their customers give a shit about reliability, why
    should they?


    PS: Louis, I do want to thank you for one thing - that you consider a
    used up at 100K. I have saved a huge amount of money and got many a fine
    vehicle buying from people who think like you do.
    Ted Mittelstaedt, Apr 3, 2004
  6. Louis Block

    RPhillips47 Guest

    We bought our '93 Grand Cherokee with 110,000 miles on it. It now has 195,000
    and is still going strong. We bought our '96 T&C LXi new. It now has 176,000
    miles on it and is still going strong. We bought our Pacifica in August. It now
    has 12,000 miles on it and eight years from now it will still be going strong.
    Reliability has always been at the top of my list, followed closely by styling,
    when purchasing a vehicle. Cosmetic "fluff" is rarely a consideration. I think
    automakers care about reliability more than you give them credit for.

    RPhillips47, Apr 3, 2004
  7. Louis Block

    Joe Guest

    Well, think man. They sell new cars to new car buyers. They can't
    manufacture a used car. I figured this out 30 years ago, while I was trying
    to figure out why old cars all came with air conditioning from the factory,
    but the people who owned old cars always took it off. It's simple. The
    people taking it off weren't the same people ordering the cars.
    Joe, Apr 4, 2004
  8. Louis Block

    Louis Block Guest

    Okay...taking a deep breath...I promise to try not to get defensive. I'm
    not interested in starting another flame war like so many that populate
    Usenet these days. I appreciate your comments, Ted, and I'm trying to
    re-assess my own arguments.

    1) From experience, I've found that a point of diminishing returns is
    reached for me somewhere around 110-130k, in which I am paying out more
    in maintenance costs than it would cost to obtain a new (or new used)
    vehicle. I'd love to believe otherwise. I am NOT a mechanic, or the
    least bit savvy about automotive repairs. The (replaced) Aamco
    transmission in my current vehicle is only covered for another 5k.
    Again, from experience, I expect it to die shortly thereafter.
    I'm not sure if it proves your point or mine, but when I went to sell my
    '93 Grand Voyager, it took 8 months and I had to settle for much less
    than very conservative blue book.

    2) This is my primary business vehicle. I RELY on it daily for average
    trips of 100 miles per day. I transport large amounts of equipment and
    clients. On my off days, I transport my wife and 3 daughters. I'm VERY
    hard on my vehicles. Although it may have sounded as if the seats were
    my main concern, reliability IS first and foremost. From everything I'd
    read, I assumed that the Odyssey was still much more reliable. From
    posts here, I'm reevaluating that stance. I'll admit to having been
    intrigued by the new seat configuration, and that WAS my original reason
    for posting, but believe me, reliability is first in my mind. Next comes
    suitability for my particular applications (ie. being able to covert
    from cargo to passenger quickly and with minimal exertion, maximum cargo
    space, and comfort). I have NOT purchased all of my minivans new. In
    fact, only the '93 was purchased new from a dealer. The '86 was from a
    lot, and the '99 was a used fleet vehicle from Hertz.

    Even though I replaced my last transmission at 50k, I've been VERY happy
    with my 99 Grand Caravan. I would probably have a different opinion had
    I not opted for the extended warranty from Hertz. Any van I purchase
    next will also include such a warranty. Unfortunately I've been
    conditioned to consider this a 'necessary' expense. I wish this were not
    the case. I've been burned over the years reading good reviews (service
    and reliability ratings) of Chryslers current minivans in CR, buying,
    then having them revise their opinions a year later. This has been the
    case with all 3 of my vans.

    Again, I'm constantly reexamining my opinions on these things. I'd love
    to hear your (or anyone elses) opinions regarding my buying patterns. I
    hope I'm not opening myself up for a public whipping!
    Louis Block, Apr 4, 2004
  9. Hmm... I'd like to know more about that, frankly. When I bought our
    95 T&C a couple years ago, nothing that was worth having was below
    book. In fact a lot of them were asking significantly above book. I was
    looking in the 92-95 age range specifically. However I will add as a
    qualifier that I was only looking at 3.3/3.8 liter vehicles.

    However I will add that I live in Oregon, which does not salt the roads.
    30-40 year old vehicles usually have little to no rust underbody. The few
    vehicles I've seen used that have rusted panels all originated out of state.
    Also, vans and trucks here are the most popular sellers. People really go
    apeshit over used trucks.

    My guess is your 93 had a 3.0 liter engine, that would knock it's value
    way down. But this is an exception - because the maintainence problems
    (oil leaks, timing belt & such) apparently didn't become well known
    until later on. (I say apparently because the 3.0 engine was still selling
    quite late in the 90's) Also, the '93 vans took a bad rap because of the
    brake recall fiasco. (even though yours might not have had ABS)
    And AWD turned out to be another maintainence pig too. If your
    93 had a 3.0, with ABS and AWD then it would have taken a triple
    wammy and no wonder it would have sold way below blue book. But,
    when I was looking, the 4 cylinder variants of that year were holding
    their blue book. (still are, in fact probably now are worth above blue
    book due to gas prices)

    Now, this much I'll say on mileage. There is NO QUESTION
    that ALL vehicles have a point of diminishing returns. EVEN if you
    are the worlds greatest mechanic with a bench full of tools, you
    just cannot keep a vehicle running forever. Sooner or later the
    parts themselves are going to be so hard to find because nobody
    stocks them anymore and all the cars that were of that model are
    crushed up and made into toasters, that the day will come when
    it's all over.

    And this point certainly does vary depending on the person. I
    would suggest for a non-mechanical person that this point is more
    in the 70K range - because right after 70K is when the book
    value starts depreciating quite rapidly. In short, since your goal is
    to spend nothing on repairs (save normal maintainence) you want
    to sell the vehicle right before a "knee" in the depreciation graph
    so you can extract the most money you can from it

    Another way of looking at it is this - for the 99 Caravan SE with
    75000 miles and a 3.3 engine the book value is $7K - for the same vehicle
    with another 20K miles on it, the book value drops nearly $1K, add
    another 10K miles on it, and the book value only drops an additional
    $200. In short, if your vehicle is at 110K miles now and you add on
    another 50K miles, the value only drops $400!

    By 110-130K miles if you still have the vehicle, you might as well
    keep driving it another 50K miles since by 110-130K you have just
    hit the bottom of a knee in the depreciation curve. There's another
    knee somewhere close to 200K miles I just haven't bothered figuring
    it out. Kelly Blue Book is online - you can run the numbers yourself
    with various years and mileages to get a more clear idea of what I'm
    talking about.

    Of course this all assumes that the difference between 110K miles and
    160K miles on a vehicle is nothing - and I think that today it is. 30 years
    ago - no!
    But your OP said you were attracted by the TV ads, which certainly don't
    feature reliability first and foremost.

    Don't get me wrong, I know there's lots of new car buyers that once they
    get past the showroom door and are looking seriously at a vehicle, they
    are going to look at different things than what attracted them in the first

    But you can't deny that your eye was caught by the seat thing.

    I don't really think that ANY auto manufacturers today emphasize reliability
    in their TV ads. Thus my submission to you is this - if reliability really
    number 1 for you, then you want to close your eyes whenever a car TV
    ad comes on lest your judgement become compromised.

    If you become aware of the level of advertising out there and how it
    controls and directs the typical buyers thinking, then you can immunize
    yourself against what the advertisers want you to think and what they
    want you to believe. That's the first step towards being a really informed
    consumer, instead of a consumer who is basing a decision on a "feel" they
    have, which in reality was manufactured by their subconscious as a
    result of all the advertising they have been bombarded with and aren't
    aware of.

    You have to come to terms with the fact that at some level, the TV ad
    got to you with that initial hook. And that would never have happened if
    the TV advertising wasn't working away in your subconscious. Once you
    come to terms with this, then you can direct your "gut feels" with logic
    from your conscious mind. And it doesen't take that long before doing
    this becomes second nature, and you will end up frankly revolted by
    99% of the advertising you see.

    From everything I'd
    Everyone knows that people beat the shit out of rentals. Thus an extended
    warranty on a used rental is almost a no-brainer.
    The big bugaboo that any Chrysler guy that knows his stuff would have
    told you is the electronic Ultradrive transmission that has been hitched
    to the 3.3/3.8 engines in these vans for time out of mind. The number of
    revisions that this trans has gone through over the years is quite
    espically considering what some of the revs are for. For example, the
    original trans computers having dumb programming in them that ate
    the trans clutches.

    These trans today have by most accounts finally reached the reliability
    level of the hydraulic trans that they replaced. But it is only because
    Chrysler kept doggedly at it with them. Clearly the design itself was
    not well thought out in the beginning.

    The other problem with these trans besides the design is that few
    trans shops it seems know how to diagnose and repair them properly.
    Aamco has been cited before in this group for doing poor rebuilds
    on these trans. And it is stunning the number of trans shops that
    even today claim that you can use Dexron fluid in these trans instead
    of ATF +4. Of course, none of this is your fault, you didn't know any
    of this when you got your trans rebuilt.
    Well there's a couple things that are going for you with a new Caravan
    purchase. First is the 7 year/70,000 mile warranty on the drivetrain.
    The Odyssey is a 3/30,000 The second thing is this, your buying
    a model (Caravan) that has been around for 20 years now, and
    your benefiting from a very long, long period of time that Chrysler has
    been putting in refinements into this vehicle.

    Also, if your using this for business, you can order the cargo van
    option and instead of back rear side windows you get a nice expanse
    of sheetmetal for your company logo. :)

    Seriously, though, I certainly don't mean to hold you up for a public
    whipping. It is just this - that as you might expect, a huge number of
    posters in this group are dedicated used car buyers. Sometimes this
    is by choice, like myself, simply because since we can do our own
    wrenching, the temptation to get a great deal by buying used and
    fixing it ourselves is irresistable. Other times it is by force - the
    is simply not making enough money for anyone to finance them on
    a new vehicle. But of the group of used car owners who post here,
    a great many of them seem to have a total disconnect as to what
    motivates the automakers to make and sell the cars they do.

    How many times have I seen people complaining about the butt-ugly
    front ends on the new Chrysler cars here? Well, folks, Chrysler isn't
    makig them for YOU. They are making them for people like Louis

    The only point I was trying to make is that new car buyers don't
    have the same criteria as used car buyers. Louis, your post illustrated
    this perfectly. But you should pat yourself on the back,
    anyway. 99% of new minivan buyers don't even make it to
    this forum, at least.

    Ted Mittelstaedt, Apr 4, 2004
  10. Excellent approach.

    You are very unlucky as this is very uncommon. I've never had a used
    vehicle get the point that it cost more in repairs per year than what
    the cost of a new vehicle is per year. I've always traded because I
    simply wanted a new vehicle or a different type of vehicle. Also,
    Consumer reports did an analysis some years ago and found that this is
    really a myth, on average. Obviously, some folks have lemons that may
    cost more than a new car would be, but this is the exception. CR went
    back something like 15 years and found that even cars THAT old still
    cost less to operate per year than what a new car costs. My 96 GV has
    148,000 miles now and I take it into the garage once a year on average
    for a fair bit of work (I tend to save up the little stuff and get it
    done when something bigger needs attention). I average probably $500 on
    these visits. My highest ever was just shy of $800, but that included
    four new tires as well. Even that is less than 3 months of new car
    payments so I could have a repair that bad 4 times a year and still be
    money ahead. I'd break even on repairs, but still save lots on
    insurance costs. I don't carry collision on this vehicle anymore and
    that saves another few hundred a year.

    Why are you hard on vehicles? Driving a lot doesn't have to equate to
    being hard on the vehicle. Actually, driving a lot is better for them
    in most cases, assuming you aren't abusing them and maintain them properly.

    I've never had a Chrysler tranny fail, so I can't relate to that. Why
    do you car what CR says or if they revise their ratings? All that
    matters is what your van does, not what CR says.

    I have nothing against your buying pattern. If it works for you, that
    is all that matters. Many people just don't feel comfortable driving a
    vehicle with more than 100,000 miles. That is a fine reason for buying
    a newer one. I like to see how far I can make a vehicle go and I like
    to save money on vehicles so I can spend it on other things I like to
    do. Driving a car for 10+ years and 200,000 miles saves a lot of money
    on average.

    Matthew S. Whiting, Apr 4, 2004
  11. Louis Block

    Occupant Guest

    The last several "good" vehicles I have owned have over *200,000*
    miles let alone 100,000. 1995 (parents bought new, gave to me at
    224K, up to 242K and still have) , 1989 (229-238K, city impounded
    before I could fix broken windows and keep driving), and 1988
    (217-231K, sold for twice what I paid, buyer took it over 240K and
    traded on a new Kia) Buick Centurys, as well as a 1989 Escort 5-door
    5-speed with no AC and with 350K+, and a 1989 Voyager van (4-cylinder
    with 5-speed stick) with 215K.

    I had more trouble with my 1993 Dynasty (bought at 77K, wrecked at
    142K) than any of the 200K+ cars. If a car makes it that far, it's
    more likely to go farther as long as it was cared for. In the case of
    my 1995 Century, it was babied and driven 50 miles a day for work
    purposes by my father, now I drive it 250 miles a day for a courier
    service and I'm gentle as can be, knowing this car will run well over
    300K and probably to 400K before I need to tear it down. And yes, it
    does have the 2.2 liter engine so prone to head gasket failures and
    valvetrain noise. Neither of which have occured on this one.

    I don't think any of today's vehicles would be worth putting money
    into (car payment, full coverage insurance, maintenance and repairs)
    versus an older car. Cars have been built so well for so many years
    now that a 2003 Century used with 30K is no better than the 1993
    Century used with 130K.

    But I like the idea of disappearing seats. With delivery work, I
    could keep the seats in the van in the floor and save garage/patio
    space at home, and still be able to carry people or cargo in minutes.
    New Freestar has a disappearing back seat too. I'm not sure about the
    new Quest or new Sienna. Now if only Chrysler would get rid of those
    awful black text on white face gauges. Fine at night, but during the
    day it's annoying to have all this gray and black on the dash and then
    these solid white circles looming at you, saying, "stare at me, I'm
    wierd, look at me, don't bother watching the road, I'm white, I'm easy
    to see, look here".

    I'm strange, I know, I'd rather have a thin strip of poorly contrasted
    speedometer numbers well below my sight line in a ten-year old Buick,
    than have the numbers right in front of me where I can see them.

    Alan Moore
    Dallas, TX
    Occupant, Apr 4, 2004
  12. Louis Block

    Joe Guest

    There's no reason to be defensive. If you've got the money, and you enjoy
    it, you ought to buy a new one every year. There are plenty of folks that
    would love to have your old one.

    I am impressed that you have an idea what you pay out in maintenance vs. car
    payments. I don't ever mention analysis of any kind on usenet, because
    people can't handle it, but obviously a financial justification is
    completely appropriate if you have the training. The concept is sound.
    HOWEVER, few of us will long enough and drive enough cars 100,000 miles to
    really generate a decent data set. If a bunch of people got together, you
    really could do this in a predictive way as you've stated.

    It doesn't apply to everyone, though. My mechanical skills are such that I
    would never be able to pay for a new car out of my repair bills. I just have
    to move on because I get tired of the old one. It's not unusual for me to go
    an entire year with $50 or $100 per car in repairs.
    Joe, Apr 5, 2004
  13. Some organizations like Consumer Reports have done analysis much like
    this so that all of us don't have to. However, I track my expenses
    using MS Money and I've yet to keep a car long enough for its repairs to
    exceed the cost of a new car. Even a low-priced car will have a payment
    of $200/month unless you go with a ridiculously long-term loan. $2,400
    a year will buy a LOT of repairs on most cars (not counting cars like
    M-B, etc., that have very high repair costs, but then their new cost is
    MUCH more than $200/month). You could lose a transmission or engine
    every year and still about break even as you need to factor in another
    $200-500/year for collision insurance that your new car loan holder will

    Matthew S. Whiting, Apr 6, 2004
  14. Louis Block

    Mavrick Guest

    Hmm, seat hiding is not cosmetic. I use my vehicle for work and family. I
    need to remove the seats on a regular business. Those captain and back
    seats of the 2000 are heavy and awkward and have to be stored. I am looking
    at the 05s because of that right now.

    For instance, a few years ago, my sister wanted to use the vehicle as her
    wedding vehicle. We drove for 14 hours with 2 kids to go to her wedding,
    clean out the van of our junk and prepare it for wedding vehicle use. I
    would have loved to have been able to drive down with the back seat out to
    store all of our stuff, but then they needed it for the wedding party. If I
    could have been able to pop the seat down and then back up when we got there
    would have been great!!!! Hmm I suppose I could have strapped the seat to
    the roof rack.

    BTW we are at 97,000K and I am beginning my search for the next van. Want
    to buy mine?
    Mavrick, Apr 6, 2004
  15. Louis Block

    Mavrick Guest

    Who takes air conditioning off a used car and why?
    Mavrick, Apr 6, 2004
  16. Louis Block

    Steve Guest

    Really? I've put 400,000 miles on one car, 265,000 on another, and my
    wife has put 210,000 on a third. And we don't even drive much compared
    to people that are in businesses that use their cars (eg sales).

    And no, the repair costs haven't matched the initial price on any of
    them, at least not if you use corrected dollars. Since the 265,000 mile
    car is a '66 model and probably sold for under $3k new, it would be
    pretty easy to add up that much in maintenance in non-corrected dollars.
    It would be a $25-30k car today. The 210k mile car is a 93 model, and it
    hasn't even matched its purchase price in NON-corrected dollars.
    Steve, Apr 6, 2004
  17. But, those captains are comfy! 14 hours in one is bearable. Do you think a
    fold-down would have as much comfort?
    What's I'd really like to find is one of these:


    Ted Mittelstaedt, Apr 7, 2004
  18. Daniel J. Stern, Apr 7, 2004
  19. Louis Block

    NthDegree Guest

    This really brings to mind old Datsun ads from the '70s, which show
    dust-slinging rally cars and rave about fuel efficiency.

    Now, all of the major manufacturers, including Nissan, are jumping on the
    "super-huge mega-power" bandwagon. The other day I passed a diesel
    Excursion in traffic being driven by a soccer mom.

    In a bizarre evolutionary way, it's the customer base at large that designs
    a vehicle, and expresses their wishes with the power of the dollar. Okay,
    so a dollar doesn't have a ton of power, but 20,000 of them do.

    Hybrid cars are a curiosity for eccentric types and tree-huggers. Not that
    they're the only ones who buy them, but they're the target market. A few
    days ago, I saw an 80-something Datsun coupe, running, with a tiny 1.2l RWD
    4-cylinder whose owner sadly confided that his mileage was down to 38mpg.
    Has technology gone downhill such that we can no longer make such a car? Of
    course not! We're just too concerned about whether it'll spin the tires
    once in awhile.

    Perhaps if the price of gas gets ridiculous again, we'll be able to buy
    better-engineered, cheaper cars from a dealership. Who knows. Maybe
    someone will decide it's important enough to make a car with the economy of
    the Geo, with the reliability of a tank.

    NthDegree, May 12, 2004
  20. Louis Block

    Jack Baruth Guest

    Technolgy hasn't gone downhill; regulation has gone uphill. A Datsun 210,
    Toyota Starlet, or Honda CRX HF would fail every crash test we have today.

    The government mandates side impact standards which make for heavy,
    wide doors. There is a two-bag minimum and the market seems to be
    learning towards four airbags - that's a lot of weight right there.
    Subcompacts have to be beefed up for offset crash testing. Engines
    have to meet ever-lower emissions standards. Meanwhile you have all
    this aero tumblehome in the sides of the cars so headroom is cramped.
    You can wear a helmet in a 1977 Rabbit much easier than in a 2004
    Golf, which has to be part of why ITB race fields are still full of

    The most telling factoids about all this: the last three generations
    of Honda Civics have been larger and heavier than the original Accord.
    The current Accord is larger and heavier than the original Acura
    Legend. The new Audi S4 cabrio weighs as much as a 1982 Lincoln
    Continental Mark VI.

    Higher impact standards and more desired standard equipment means
    more weight, which means bigger motor, which means more weight...
    Jack Baruth, May 12, 2004
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