Things to look for on used mini-vans?

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by Steve Moore, Mar 26, 2007.

  1. Steve Moore

    Steve Moore Guest

    I'm looking at Caravan/Voyagers in the 4-6k price range. Are there any
    models in the 98-2004 range that have problems to be avoided? Any
    particular engine or tranny prone to problems? The last van I had was a 92
    Caravan, great vehicle. Any info or a good link would be appreciated.

    Steve Moore, Mar 26, 2007
  2. Steve Moore

    Dll Guest

    "Steve Moore"
    IMO, very little of that Consumer Reports stuff applies on a car in that
    price range. By the time a vehicle enters the 4-6k price range, everything
    that could go wrong probably has. What you are looking for are major
    problems that may or may not have to do with design issues. Usually
    maintenance issues at this point. Keep in mind you will be dealing mostly
    with low end dealers that lie, and private sellers looking to get rid of
    problem vehicles - they'll be lying, too. Nobody sells a good used car.
    Maybe keep that rule of thumb in mind. Good luck. Frankly, if you are the
    kind that has to ask, you might look at spending a little more and getting a
    car with maybe 10-20k miles of warranty left on it.

    - D
    Dll, Mar 26, 2007
  3. Steve Moore

    dave gower Guest

    There are people like that, but it's certainly not true that "nobody" sells
    a good car. Often people are just tired of them, or something happens i.e.
    death in the family or someone quits driving and they have a surplus
    vehicle. I've had some luck at sniffing out these deals. But you're right
    it's a crapshoot. And you're also right that in this price range maintenance
    not brand is what's important.
    dave gower, Mar 26, 2007
  4. Steve Moore

    Steve Moore Guest

    Thanks guys. "I have to ask" because I haven't really followed the minivans
    for several years. I vaguely remember with the last generation there was a
    certain run of engines, and at least one particular transmission that were
    prone to multiple problems. Just looking to avoid anything obvious. It is
    a crapshoot, but at the same time it's usually easy to spot something
    that's been abused. If it hasn't, something with 90k - 100k miles stll has
    a lot of life left in it. I'm willing and able to do things like exhaust,
    brakes, etc. I just don't want to be dropping trannys or pulling engines.

    Maybe I'll find a preacher-owned special:)
    Steve Moore, Mar 26, 2007
  5. Steve Moore

    kmatheson Guest

    The 3.3 and 3.8 engines seem to do better as opposed to the 2.4 and
    3.0 for the years that you are considering.

    The 3.0 was better in later years, but still had problems with leaking
    valve cover gaskets.

    The 2.4 had headgasket problems until mid-way through 1999. Some feel
    that the 2.4 is not powerful enough for van applications.

    Transmissions from the late 1990's and into this century are better
    than their predecessors. ATF+4, which is a synthetic fluid became
    universal for Chrysler during 2000 - 2001. The 2000 Chrysler Cirrus
    that I recently got, calls for ATF+4 in the owner's manual. The Mopar
    branded fluid is available, as is the aftermarket flavor.

    More info about all this is available at

    kmatheson, Mar 26, 2007
  6. Steve Moore

    Bill Putney Guest

    Only those labeled as ATF+4™ - *NOT* those with a shopping list of
    various types of tranny fluids that the contents can be substituted for
    (i.e., if the label says "Can be used for vehicles that require W, X, Y,
    Chrysler ATF+4, Z, etc., etc.", don't use that).

    Bill Putney
    (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my
    address with the letter 'x')
    Bill Putney, Mar 26, 2007
  7. Steve Moore

    Dll Guest

    "Steve Moore"
    You and everyone else.

    Minivans are especially tough. I've owned 3 myself, all used. I love their
    functionality. But most are owned by idiots. It's a tough class of owner.
    You could only do worse by trying to find a good used Ford Explorer.

    Dll, Mar 27, 2007
  8. Most of them smell like spilled milk.
    Robert Reynolds, Mar 27, 2007
  9. Steve Moore

    Dll Guest

    "Robert Reynolds"

    When you pull the tranny dipstick?

    - D
    Dll, Mar 27, 2007
  10. Steve Moore

    dave gower Guest

    It can be OK if used in light-duty applications i.e mom's taxi. The problem
    for heavier-duty use is not only the engine but the tranny has to do a lot
    more downshifting than with the sixes.
    dave gower, Mar 27, 2007
  11. Steve Moore

    SRN Guest

    On the 1996-2000 models be sure to check the strut towers for rust.
    SRN, Mar 27, 2007

  12. I like my 1999 Voyager with the 2.4 engine. It's a nice combination,
    although it doesn't get a lot better gas mileage than the 3.0. My
    theory about the transmission is that it is more likely to hold up
    without such a big engine wearing it out.
    Robert Reynolds, Mar 27, 2007
  13. Steve Moore

    kmatheson Guest

    Also check to make sure the air bag and ABS (if equipped) lights come
    on and turn off when started. Bulb removal is one way to attempt to
    mask a problem with either of these systems.

    I guess this applies to all other warning lights as well.

    kmatheson, Mar 28, 2007
  14. Steve Moore

    who Guest

    I'm not so sure the transmission will do better with the 2.4 engine.
    With the smaller engine the transmission has to do more shifting.
    who, May 17, 2007
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