1996 Dodge Caravan LE 3.8 from North America


Chrysler buyers beware!


Valve lifter broke at 65,000 destroying engine.

Transmission leaks fluid like a sieve since 70,000 but works good, as long as we add fluid.

Windshield wipers turn on an off by themselves. Never fixed.

Replaced starter 3 times.

Air conditioner compressor fell apart (on highway) at 80,000. Because of leaks that "could not" be fixed properly, have not experienced air conditioning in this car since first summer... 1996.

Water pump exploded at 55,000, disabled us on highway.

Rear end has made rumbling sound shortly after purchase, in which Chrysler was never able to fix.

The vehicle simply chews up tires.

General Comments:

The only reason why we still drive this heap is for around town use. We bought the thing with one of those bubble payment plans. It will finally be paid off next month. 9 YEARS! Too much money invested, to sell. Would loose everything!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 22nd September, 2004

1996 Dodge Caravan Base 3.0L from North America




Air Conditioning - was never cold

Valve Cover Gaskets - replaced 3 times

Blower Motor - needed replacing

Windshield Wipers - did what they wanted

Valve Grind - wasn't really that cheap

Tranny made funny noises from day 1.

General Comments:

Perhaps the upper models are a better build, however I will never buy another. Thankfully someone stole it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 18th September, 2004

1996 Dodge Caravan ES 3.6 from North America




Clock spring wiring harness has been replaced.

General Comments:

I too am having the problem with the belt coming off in the rain. I believe the problem is that the engine splash shield is too close to the drive pulley and it is knocking the belt off. It has happened 4 times in 10 months. Each time has been in the rain and as I was going through a puddle. When I went to put belt back on it was wrapped around the splash shield.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 6th August, 2004

1996 Dodge Caravan 3.0 6 cylinder from North America


Good, reliable transportation


Front struts replaced at 90,000 miles under warranty.

Intermittent problem with wipers mysteriously activating.

Transmission started acting up at 167,000 miles and causing a "check engine" alert. The trouble, which according to the computer code is the Torque Clutch, sometimes prevents the transmission from downshifting into first when at a full stop. A quick manual shift into first corrects the problem.

General Comments:

Overall, this is the second best car I've ever had. Although this Caravan has a small 6 (3.0 liter), it has more than enough power for normal driving, gets reasonable mileage (23 normally, 26-28 highway) and has been utterly reliable.

My version is the stripped, basic, no frills model, bought used. If I could do it over, I would have tried to exchange the awkward, uncomfortable middle bench seat for two captains chairs.

Other minor carps include overly large front pillars that cause blind spots, and front headlights that are too easily abraded.

Overall, I have been most happy with this model, and after having the transmission repaired, I intend to pass this on to my daughter.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th July, 2004

1996 Dodge Caravan ES 3.8 V6 from North America


A good car, but watch the transmission


The van has had the transmission replaced 7 times of which about 4 were covered under warranties. This equates to a new transmission every 30,000 miles. The best transmission was the second and it lasted ~50,000 miles. The last 5 have been the newer 97 design.

Electrically there has been a "fluke" which has caused the wipers to turn on and off at random. This has plagued the car since the day it was new, however is too intermittent to be verified by a dealer.

The radio buttons and illumination have gone bad, however the buttons still work after multiple tries.

The air conditioning has developed a leak which cannot be found by the dealers. In the last 20,000 miles the system has entirely failed despite multiple recharges.

The rear vent motors have also failed, at about 100,000 miles. The vents will only open about half way. I believe it has something to do with motors overheating and/or the grease becoming hardened.

The vehicle has also developed an intermittent vibration at highway speeds. Have replaced ball joints, tie rod ends, CV-joints, and had wheel alignments and balances to no avail.

The gas tank had a seal leak which was fixed under a recall only to return again at about 150,000 miles. This can be avoided by not fully filling the car.

The power steering pump rusted out at about 180,000 miles.

The head light lenses have developed what I describe as a "cracking of the glaze" on the inside of the headlight housing. It is as if some sort of coating has started to crack and peel off. It causes the headlights to appear very dim.

One of the taillights covers was "sucked" off the car while driving on the freeway. It left the light reflector on the car.

The have been random time when the vehicle will not shift into gears, but this is corrected when the vehicle is rebooted.

There have also been times when nothing electrical will work in the car, and these again can be solved, but these can be solved by disconnecting and reconnecting the battery.

General Comments:

The vehicle was purchased "new" as a demo.

I understand I have written a bit of a troubling review, but neglecting the transmission trouble, this has been a remarkably good car.

The two minivans before this were also Caravans/Voyagers. The first an 84 caravan, the second an 87 grand voyager. Both died of a blown head-gasket and warped head at about 140,000 miles. I upgraded to the 3.8 V6 with the 96 ES to extend the engine life, in retrospect at the cost of the transmissions.

Would highly recommend this car, provided there is a good transmission history (if such a van exists). There has been no powertrain work done to this car other than transmission related. We jokingly started a transmission of the month club, and a betting pool on mileage. The last transmission only lasted 23,000 miles which secured the van a place as the backup car in the garage.

The replacement was a 2003 Honda Odyssey. Solely purchased for its much higher marks in reliability and higher marks in safety.

The numerous Dodge dealers have been helpful, thought warranty claims have not always gone smoothly. One of the best was a Suburban Chrysler in Novi MI, in case you are in the area.

The almost all of the gimmicky features of the car (ie cupholders, rolling seats) are performing fine, despite their original cheap feel.

Despite the engine temperature gauge reading normal, the engine runs very hot, to the point of browning grass when parked on the lawn. I assume this has something to do with transmission longevity, and might suggest a transmission cooler. My vehicle does not have one. I have not looked into getting one installed aftermarket. The towing package included this if I am not mistaken.

There are new aftermarket headlights available which could replace the cracking old ones and provide much better illumination.

So if you are looking at one of these used, I recommend asking about the transmission.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 8th July, 2004

9th Jul 2004, 06:55

A transmission cooler would solve your problem of tranny failures. If it's browning the grass that's the tranny over heating and not the engine of the van.

30th Sep 2005, 10:48

I have a 1996 Caravan SE. The transmission went into a "lockdown" mode. I was told it would have to be rebuilt, but my "do-it-yourself" husband looked and found that the wires were being grounded out!...Simply rerouted them (took about 1 minute) and we haven't had any trouble since! Worth looking into.