After researching all the minivan offerings, I purchased a 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan about 6 weeks ago. To my wife ane I, no other van came close to the rock solid feel of the Dogde.
I was concerned about transmission problems, but could find no real data that gives the Dodge a worse rating than others. Several negative articles were so biased, I totally discounted their value in our decision. We know several neighbors with various makes of minivans and have heard as many opinions as there are owners. I can say that the most loyal owners are the Windstar fans who also seem to be spending a lot more time and money keeping the things running.
My past experience with FWD cars is limited to a 1996 Saturn and a 1999 Honda Civic. The Saturn has had no transmission trouble in 125,000 miles other than the GM clunk between first and second. The Honda at 48,000 miles is just off it's first rebuild on the tranny at $1,650. Anyone want a cute white Honda tin can.
So far, the Grand Caravan is quickly winning over all drivers in the house, it's peppy, quiet, and fun to drive. Time will tell.
the 41te tranny used in the dc minis is now a pretty decent unit. major internal seal upgrades were instituted in '96 and a significantly upgraded differential saw its way into the vans in late '99 or early '00. also, better electronic torque management and upgraded tranny fluid are now used. the dc mini's tranny is now at least on par with other trannys of the same type.
Emale, the current improved status of the Chrysler 41TE transmission that you speak of is true but I doubt you will convince many Honda owners of that. Many of them still refuse to believe that Chrysler has improved their products over the years.
As for me, my 2000 Town & Country LX with 33k miles continues to run great, and is still on it's origional transmission.
#941 of 4276 Fuel Rail Leak in DetNews Article
Dec 16, 2001 (7:55 pm)
This leak did not first start with the '96 model. My '91 Plymouth Grand Voyager sprang a leak in exactly the place described in the article. Chrysler would not pay for a fix, even though they were recalling the LH cars with the same engine for the same problem. I paid $890 to get it fixed at an independent shop.
Now it appears that Chrysler should pony up. Anybody else with a Chrysler van with the 3.3 or 3.8 engine have experience with this leak?
On the transmission issue raised here, I hope DC has fixed the problem. It started with the "Ultradrive" in '89. When I bought my '91, I specifically asked what was done to correct the problems. I was told that new seal material and an added internal seal was the fix, and my new van should be just fine. It failed at 58K. Mopar fluid only is all it ever saw. I don't think they meant to lie to me back in '91. I think they really thought they had it fixed. They really think they have it fixed, now, too. Just like in '92, '93, '94, '95, '96.... Get the extended warranty, just in case. It may indeed be fixed, but I would be more comfortable with a couple more years of good statistics and reports, from more than just two or three regular posters on the boards here.
my dad has owned two dc minis over the last 12 years. the first one, an '89 grand caravan, went through 2 transmissions in about a 2 year time span and 20k miles. my uncle bought that van from my dad when it had about 50k miles. as far as i know, that third tranny is still working.
when dad sold the '89 he bought a '96 town and country lxi, which now has around 90k miles and hasn't had any problems...for what that's worth. there is no doubt that the tranny has improved significantly since the time it first came out and was dubbed "ultradrive".
couple interesting things about the 41te. a mechanic friend of mine said that many of the so-called tranny failures weren't actually tranny failures at all, they were differential failures. the 41te has a diff/tranny all housed in one transaxle unit. i guess that with some abuse (such as excessive spinning, etc) it was rather easy to cause failure of the spider gears in the diff, occasionally the gears would actually pierce the transaxle casing when they broke...
I recently had my transmission pan re-sealed, and a fluid (ATF +4) and filter change in my 2000 Grand Caravan SE (50K miles). After the mechanic (a friend of mine) finished the job, he noticed another transmission leak. He recommended that I take the van to a Dodge dealer since I had the extended warranty. The dealer replaced the solenoid valve body which they said was leaking. When the guy from the dealership called to let me know it was ready, he said that the technician who did the job said the fluid was "dirty" and should be changed. When informed that the fluid and filter were just changed (2 weeks ago!), he just said, "Oh, ok." These shady business practices are why dealerships get the reputations they do. I try to stay away from them as much as possible. The total bill came to $314 which was covered under the warranty - $0 deductible (10yr, 100K miles)! BTW, my 2000 GC (bought used) has a three speed transmission, don't most have 4 speed trannys?
#945 of 4276 I have ZERO worries about fuel leak with our 99 GC SE w/3.3L V6
Dec 28, 2001 (6:15 pm)
And NO WAY is Chrysler (now DaimlerChrysler) the newer version of the Ford Pinto Story...or the infamous TV created HOAX on GM pickups with the exploding fuel tanks.
Most DC Owners would better spend their time worrying about debris falling from the sky aka Superman Story than fuel fires in DC minivans.
On your 97 Caravan, you have (somewhere) in your main wiring harness, a factory 'arm' wire, normally triggered by a double pulse to your lock circuit from your transmitter. Your circuit is reading that same type of pulse from somewhere else in the vehicle, my guess is a faulty lock switch on one of the doors. If not, check or replace relays, found behind the lower dash panels. Pull the face of the lower dash off, and trigger the locks, and listen for the clicks, you can't miss them. Cheap place to start. Next, pull the fuse to your power locks, and see if the problem continues. My gut feeling is that you will find the solve with one of these two ideas.