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Greetings- I am looking for another Dodge Grand Caravan- I previously owned a 2005 and a 2014. My last real job was with Chrysler from 1994-2008. I retired about 6 months before Fiat took over. I helped make the 3.3/3.8L engine blocks at Indianapolis foundry, until Daimler decided to close us down in 2005 and buy the blocks overseas. I spent almost 2 years getting paid to wait for a transfer, then ended up at the Kokomo transmission plant KTP- over 70 acres under roof. I finally had it with their stupidity and accepted the 3rd offer of early retirement at age 58. December 1st of 2008 was my freedom day.
I just decided this past week to start looking for a Dodge minivan of around 2008-2010 vintage. I worked on the CNC machines that made the gears for the 41TE tranny (electrician) and the 62TE. I also helped make a ton of the 3.3/3.8L engine blocks up until October of 2005, when they transferred the casting to Germany on those engines - it was 2x more expensive for Daimler to do that! The rest of the engine block work went to Brazil.
Anyway, enough belly-aching-
It took me a month to find my last car, which I am selling- a Honda Element. I decided the other day, I want the capability to haul some 4x8 sheets again- stow and go is what I need! 236 K on this Honda- runs like a sewing machine- but it's time to sell it to a 20-something guy who wants to party with it.
I have to decide- get the cheaper SE version with the 3.3L 4-speed or the 3.8L SXT with the newer six speed- looking at the salvage websites, it appears the wrecked minivans with the 3.3L are good for 300K- the 3.8L seem to go closer to 250K and the 4.0L vans have a 200K life. I would have thought the 3.8L would last longer, but I have a hunch- maybe the simpler 3.3L SE minivans were cheaper to drive and cheaper to keep repaired.
So what should it be- a 3.3L or a 3.8L?
I did like my 2014 with the 3.6L and six speed- 28mpg on long trips.
Mark
 

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Welcome to the forum, I find it amazing to meet people who worked on designing and making these vans, would have loved to be there and see it, possibly do some myself!

As far the reliability of these vans goes, they are decently reliable, as long as you take good care of it and treat it well, it will last you those 300K regardless what engine/transmission you have.
I believe that a part of why the 3.3L engines seem to have higher mileage, is those who have less money go for and buy the lower end vehicles, while the ones with more money tend to buy the more high end fully loaded ones. The people with less money will take care to do oil changes on time and such, because they won't be able to afford fixes and such, the people with more money worry less, and sometimes overdue oil changes and regular maintenance. This is not the case for some, but it does count for quite a large percent of people out there today.
It also needs to be factored that there are more lower end caravans/town and countries out there with the 3.3L engines, and less 3.8L and 4.0L, simply because there are more lower class people then higher class people, again, not completely true but it does factor in quite a bit.

I ended up with an 09 SE with the 3.3L, and while it's not a bad engine or a transmission, it has weak points that I wish it didn't have. It's quite a small engine when you travel with a full load of family and cargo, passing is quite hard in the mountains. The transmission also seems quite weak, on a moderately sloped hill it will roll down the hill the moment you inch off the brake. I drove it in san Francisco, those steep inclines were terrifying, and the amount of throttle needed to go was quite worry some. And it is a 4 speed transmission, I really wish it was a 6 speed for improved fuel economy.
But otherwise, it always starts up without issues and so far apart from replacing all the fluids (minus the transmission fluid), oil changes and oil filters, I have not spent anything to keep this van running. It currently has 100K miles, and it can easily do another 100K, it sounds perfect, no check engine light, no codes, a small leak from the oil pan gasket but that will be fixed soon.

I would suggest pick the one you would like more, unless you find one with very low mileage in great shape for a bargain. If you think you will need the extra power, I suggest the 3.8L or 4.0L, but for normal driving the 3.3L will do just fine. Some of the power options are quite convenient to have as well on the SXT vs the SE without. I wish I had a 4.0L to compare my 3.3L to, but I don't, hopefully I will sometime in the next few years.

I will also recommend talking to the people who actually drove the van before you buy it. If it's a 18 year old with a purple beard wearing a "VTEC" shirt run away, but if the person seems reasonable and seems like they didn't drive it like there's no tomorrow then maybe it's worth the buy. It does also help to check the engine condition and see if it's been breaking down lots before or if it's been reliable, but it's different with every vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you- my 2005 SXT had the tow package and the 3.8L- we sold it after we retired and moved to Florida and bought an 2007 Prius with 35k miles- tran it for 90K with nothing but tires and oil changes, traded it for the 2014 AVP minivan. I would have kept it, but my cataracts made driving a bigger van worrisome. So we sold it. MY surgery took place on the 1st week of May- hooray, I have my 20/15 vision back.
I think your analysis is right about the maintenance part- that is the case with the Honda Vtec engines- delay oil changes and the engine block/heads will sludge up and then the engine has expensive repairs at about 150K-
The 62TE tranny certainly looked more robust when I looked at them on the assembly line- part of this is the compounder assembly, which added two extra gears- this actually spreads the wear out. The Honda transmissions use one gear for each speed, hence they last a very long time.
My alternate plan is to just buy a 2019 model- they have dumped a zillion rental minivans on the market here in FL- I can buy a 2019 SXT with around 38K miles for under 14K right now - that is insane- The best I could have done for a new one, is around $27-28K with my retiree discount.
 

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....It also needs to be factored that there are more lower end caravans/town and countries out there with the 3.3L engines, and less 3.8L and 4.0L, simply because there are more lower class people then higher class people, again, not completely true but it does factor in quite a bit.
People with lower end Caravans/Town and Country are lower class people? :oops:

Wow!
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Well, it's true, I am a lower income class retiree now, without the $100K+ Chrysler income. I take no offense at that. I have kinda become a JackBenny as I get older, when it comes to cars and car payments. Wish I had been more frugal when I was working.
Virtue signalling gets no points from me--
 

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People with lower end Caravans/Town and Country are lower class people? :oops:

Wow!
Well, I don't mean to say that everyone is, but generally people buy what they can afford or what they know they can pay off if they are taking a loan. If they didn't need a loan and money wasn't really an issue, they would most likely chosen a more loaded version, like the limited or SXT.
 

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Well, I don't mean to say that everyone is, but generally people buy what they can afford or what they know they can pay off if they are taking a loan. If they didn't need a loan and money wasn't really an issue, they would most likely chosen a more loaded version, like the limited or SXT.
You are getting deeper and depper! 🤣

Just revise your wording! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I drove a $13,000, 2019 Grand Caravan SXT today- the local Honda dealer bought a lot of 50 caravans and Journeys from a rental car sell-off - I did not care for it. It was too heavy on the steering for my taste, A/c was weak, and the alignment was off. They were basically selling them as is- no warranty, no repairs, either. (over 36K miles for all of them). I have a feeling they culled out all the cars that were needing maintenance and just sold them.
Then I looked at a 2008 SE model with 92K miles--A/C was weak and it was heavily worn inside- some plastic trim pieces wer missing. You can sure tell it was all city miles from the wear on the driver's side.
Driving by our Hertz Arena on I-75, you could see parked rental vehicles crammed on every square foot of asphalt-
 

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I drove a $13,000, 2019 Grand Caravan SXT today- the local Honda dealer bought a lot of 50 caravans and Journeys from a rental car sell-off - I did not care for it. It was too heavy on the steering for my taste, A/c was weak, and the alignment was off. They were basically selling them as is- no warranty, no repairs, either. (over 36K miles for all of them). I have a feeling they culled out all the cars that were needing maintenance and just sold them.
Then I looked at a 2008 SE model with 92K miles--A/C was weak and it was heavily worn inside- some plastic trim pieces wer missing. You can sure tell it was all city miles from the wear on the driver's side.
Driving by our Hertz Arena on I-75, you could see parked rental vehicles crammed on every square foot of asphalt-
The trim bits inside do break quite easily, especially the drivers seat the plastic on the bottom piece with the buttons attached. Apparently it's held in by 3 or 4 clips. The foam on the seats is quite cheap as well, it starts to form where you sit, a leather set might be a better option for the 08-10 years as the seat itself is metal with the leather cover.

My ac is quite weak as well now, but overtime the system looses pressure just because every time it runs a tiny amount of the refrigerant leaks out of the compressor to actually lubricate the seals and such. This happens as the compressor spins while it's engaged. If it's never been recharged, the system might be good, but if it's been recharged a number of times already, that is when you realize there is another leak or issue within the system itself.
 

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seems to have evolved into a product longevity thread; and I need to vent; so - I have mixed feelings on my 2012 t&c limited - goes through brakes like nobodys business (and im a "downshift" driver); and I hate that the back up sensors; cross path sensors; and back up camera have all failed. Trying to figure out a brake upgrade to increase performance and longevity has not been successful (aren't there owners out there towing or driving full vans of passengers out there that similarly feel that even the "hd" brakes aren't confidence inspiring that have figured out a dodge performance or Brembo swap that works? - I know its a van, but usually theres someone that's pushing the limits and experimenting?)

Really been suspect of the transmission in reverse; another common comment is that in reverse when underload (ie backing up an incline) that it shudders/lunges. mine does that. amazed there isn't a class action yet; I don't tow; and thank goodness I don't because between my comments re back up sensors and cameras and trying to explain to someone who wants to help guide you to a hitch that they need stand well to the side (I know, should be common practice, but have you watched people hitching trailers and boats!) I couldn't deal with the controversy - seriously this is a big safety fail that Ive seen no indication of dodge acknowledging or attempting to fix

And the electronics are laughable; the blind spot sensors were 1700 ea plus labour when I had first the dealer and then a 3rd party quote them (and from what I see its a common, common, problem) ( oh, and from quick looking dodge wants way more for these parts than the equivalent from Mercedes, Audi, Toyota, and any number of other makers with similar systems) - I didn't even bother looking into the back up camera and the back up sensor when then choked after pricing and follow up inquiries (I suspect that if I quoted these 3 items they would now exceed the black book price for the van).

Ive also had the seat plastic break as described above, the seat heaters burn out, the power seats work intermittently (hope you can reach the pedals in the last position it was in!), and the power sliding doors constantly rubbing the paint when retracting. The local dodge dealer hasn't been great either, re the door issue I pointed them to the "kit" that dodge has issued and asked that it be done before the paint was worn through (Im a prairie person and have it in my head that that paint on a wheel arch is the first and most important protection against corrosion); after 3 go backs and the door making crazy noises I took it to a body shop that told me that the door had had multiple "spacers and washers" installed as a failed attempt to adjust it. None of this mentions the tick that the 3.6 pentastar has developed; which seems to come and go in severity (started at appros 65000 km; now at 120000km). despite oil flushes and treatments still comes and goes. ? Im afraid it could, and will, "randomly", "stop" in a puff of smoke one day and leave me with a pile of salvage in the driveway one day. . . now you started with "a sheet of plywood"; I have a 2000 f150 in the driveway, and had the displeasure of swapping a flat in a ski hill parking lot at the end of the day having never used the included tools and without a manual; 30 min later and a smile on my face as I said "thank you, not required, I just finished" to the resort personnel that wondered over to see if they could help or lend tools; well, I blather; I guess my farm was a Ford family. Good van though; just wish it had been made (a lot) more robust. If only Ford and Dodge could colab on a minivan - (Ford all mechanical, Dodge ergonomics and cabin design)! Really love the Grand Cherokee, but concerned I would have a similar experience (in part because those blind spot sensors are the same as I understand it!)
 

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seems to have evolved into a product longevity thread; and I need to vent; so - I have mixed feelings on my 2012 t&c limited - goes through brakes like nobodys business (and im a "downshift" driver); and I hate that the back up sensors; cross path sensors; and back up camera have all failed. Trying to figure out a brake upgrade to increase performance and longevity has not been successful (aren't there owners out there towing or driving full vans of passengers out there that similarly feel that even the "hd" brakes aren't confidence inspiring that have figured out a dodge performance or Brembo swap that works? - I know its a van, but usually theres someone that's pushing the limits and experimenting?)

Really been suspect of the transmission in reverse; another common comment is that in reverse when underload (ie backing up an incline) that it shudders/lunges. mine does that. amazed there isn't a class action yet; I don't tow; and thank goodness I don't because between my comments re back up sensors and cameras and trying to explain to someone who wants to help guide you to a hitch that they need stand well to the side (I know, should be common practice, but have you watched people hitching trailers and boats!) I couldn't deal with the controversy - seriously this is a big safety fail that Ive seen no indication of dodge acknowledging or attempting to fix

And the electronics are laughable; the blind spot sensors were 1700 ea plus labour when I had first the dealer and then a 3rd party quote them (and from what I see its a common, common, problem) ( oh, and from quick looking dodge wants way more for these parts than the equivalent from Mercedes, Audi, Toyota, and any number of other makers with similar systems) - I didn't even bother looking into the back up camera and the back up sensor when then choked after pricing and follow up inquiries (I suspect that if I quoted these 3 items they would now exceed the black book price for the van).

Ive also had the seat plastic break as described above, the seat heaters burn out, the power seats work intermittently (hope you can reach the pedals in the last position it was in!), and the power sliding doors constantly rubbing the paint when retracting. The local dodge dealer hasn't been great either, re the door issue I pointed them to the "kit" that dodge has issued and asked that it be done before the paint was worn through (Im a prairie person and have it in my head that that paint on a wheel arch is the first and most important protection against corrosion); after 3 go backs and the door making crazy noises I took it to a body shop that told me that the door had had multiple "spacers and washers" installed as a failed attempt to adjust it. None of this mentions the tick that the 3.6 pentastar has developed; which seems to come and go in severity (started at appros 65000 km; now at 120000km). despite oil flushes and treatments still comes and goes. ? Im afraid it could, and will, "randomly", "stop" in a puff of smoke one day and leave me with a pile of salvage in the driveway one day. . . now you started with "a sheet of plywood"; I have a 2000 f150 in the driveway, and had the displeasure of swapping a flat in a ski hill parking lot at the end of the day having never used the included tools and without a manual; 30 min later and a smile on my face as I said "thank you, not required, I just finished" to the resort personnel that wondered over to see if they could help or lend tools; well, I blather; I guess my farm was a Ford family. Good van though; just wish it had been made (a lot) more robust. If only Ford and Dodge could colab on a minivan - (Ford all mechanical, Dodge ergonomics and cabin design)! Really love the Grand Cherokee, but concerned I would have a similar experience (in part because those blind spot sensors are the same as I understand it!)
If you don't want it I'll gladly have it and try to fix everything!!

Anyways, these vans sure aren't the best of quality vehicles out there, the BSM and park assist do have issues, even with some dirt and dust gather over the sensors, so that's knows for failing. And unfortunately, that's actually not mandate to be on vehicles, so unless it causes a hazard to persons safety, no recalls will happen for those.

The brakes issue you are having seems odd, how many kilometers do you go before you have to replace them? It could be an issue with the caliper pistons not retracting the way they should, not sure if there's a spring inside or not but maybe that could be a reason. Also depends on how you drive, if you ride the brakes, you can run through pads within a few weeks of daily driving. That said, the brakes could use an upgrade to slightly bigger and more heavy duty.
{EDIT} there is actually a thread on here about upgrading the brakes, the pads, calipers and rotors for more heavy duty ones. If you ask Jeepman he can direct you where it actually is.

My transmission also does a little "shudder" when i move it, but it's done that since it was new, I'm going to be changing out the fluid in the transmission and I'll see if that changes anything.

You are the first person I've heard to have the heated seats fail. Other members have said "these seat heaters are indestructible".


I guess you just got very unlucky with your vehicle, sometimes you get one that lasts long and never breaks down, but sometimes you get one with constant issues and when you fix one thing, another breaks or comes back. My 09 SE, with 170K kilometres has had 0 failures, no issues whatsoever, never left me stranded, and I have yet to see the check engine light! Although, the transmission shudder could go away, I will see what happens when i replace the tranny filter and fluid.
 

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lol - thanks for reading the post and taking time to reply - ill continue to suffer through; and try to find something with crank windows next time - I think you're spot on though, it could be a lot worse, but I got a "Monday production" van - lol - take care man.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I kept my 2014 AVP Caravan for 4-1/2 years, still had the original brakes and tires at 40K miles. Never had one issue with it that was warranty related- just regular oil changes- I did the air and cabin filters myself. The AVP was a budget SE, I guess-
Also, my 2005 SXT had only a few issues, none expensive- the water pump was done under my extended warranty.
There was a big influx of temporary part time workers at Chrysler, after Fiat took over- and the 2011 contract allowed Fiat to really hire more of them. These workers got about 1/2 pay, medical insurance (after 9 months) and some accrued holiday and vacation time.
I don't think the company got as good a caliber of workers paying 1/2 wages. Quality was bound to suffer- also about 1/2 of the engineers at Chrysler were let go with buy out packages in the last quarter of 2008- that was bound to affect future products- that is a lot of experience to lose.
here is another tidbit- around 2002, Daimler started outsourcing a lot of our Detroit engineering to their headquarters in Germany- they billed Chrysler about 2X the cost per man hour that it previously cost Chrysler in Auburn hills. We paid $$ to Daimler for fuel cell engineering for a hydrogen powered car design that WAS probably never going to happen in America.- and to rub salt in the wound, Daimler cancelled all our work and development on a hybrid vehicle that could have made it to market around 2004-5- Oh, that's because, fuel cell cars was the was to go, they told us-- Grrrr😡
Finally- our automotive electronics were made in Huntsville, Alabama . However, Daimler started hollowing/selling out that business for short term profits- after 2010, we didn't have any direct in house electronic work left. It's amazing to me that FCA can still build vehicles with so few direct employees- there are now about 2x as many UAW retirees as workers at FCA.
 

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I kept my 2014 AVP Caravan for 4-1/2 years, still had the original brakes and tires at 40K miles. Never had one issue with it that was warranty related- just regular oil changes- I did the air and cabin filters myself. The AVP was a budget SE, I guess-
Also, my 2005 SXT had only a few issues, none expensive- the water pump was done under my extended warranty.
There was a big influx of temporary part time workers at Chrysler, after Fiat took over- and the 2011 contract allowed Fiat to really hire more of them. These workers got about 1/2 pay, medical insurance (after 9 months) and some accrued holiday and vacation time.
I don't think the company got as good a caliber of workers paying 1/2 wages. Quality was bound to suffer- also about 1/2 of the engineers at Chrysler were let go with buy out packages in the last quarter of 2008- that was bound to affect future products- that is a lot of experience to lose.
here is another tidbit- around 2002, Daimler started outsourcing a lot of our Detroit engineering to their headquarters in Germany- they billed Chrysler about 2X the cost per man hour that it previously cost Chrysler in Auburn hills. We paid $$ to Daimler for fuel cell engineering for a hydrogen powered car design that WAS probably never going to happen in America.- and to rub salt in the wound, Daimler cancelled all our work and development on a hybrid vehicle that could have made it to market around 2004-5- Oh, that's because, fuel cell cars was the was to go, they told us-- Grrrr😡
Finally- our automotive electronics were made in Huntsville, Alabama . However, Daimler started hollowing/selling out that business for short term profits- after 2010, we didn't have any direct in house electronic work left. It's amazing to me that FCA can still build vehicles with so few direct employees- there are now about 2x as many UAW retirees as workers at FCA.
Wow!! Well that was not something i was expecting to hear!
 
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