1997 Dodge Caravan SE 3.0L V6 from North America


A modest family wagon that gives good maneuverability, comfort and flexibility


At 52000 miles, the engine drive belt split and came off. We learned the value of our auto club membership tow feature that day.

At about the same time, the A/C system had to be recharged due to a loss of cooling ability.

There have been at least two factory recalls that we remember. The first was for a defect in the built-in child seat. The second was for a third-seat roof defect. Both items were fixed promptly to our satisfaction by local dealers in Honolulu, HI and Seattle, WA.

The center cup holders lost their ability to close down and hold smaller cups tightly.

The wipers occasionally go on and off for no reason. Dealer mentioned this was a rare problem, but no solution has been identified or offered by the manufacturer or dealer.

General Comments:

We use this car as an in-city family mover for 2 adults and 2 kids.

This is the smaller-length version of the Caravan.

We can parallel park easily yet hold a good amount of cargo.

The roller seats are nice, but it helps to have a smooth garage floor to roll them on. Grass or a bumpy driveway make it difficult, but not impossible to move the seats.

The built-in child seat (two of them) has been great. No child seats to lug around. The bench converts to adult seating very easily.

Too bad the 2nd and 3rd seats are not interchangeable in this smaller-chassis Caravan.

The velour cloth interior has been easy to clean and still looks good.

The V-6 engine has been a good performer and we still get at least 20 mpg.

Replacing the air filter is more involved than it should be - you need a socket wrench and good eye-hand coordination to maneuver the plastic housings and filter.

The factory above-grade sound system still sounds great.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th August, 2002

30th Jul 2004, 09:16

I have experienced many of the same issues as the reviewer. There has been a recall for the "intermittent wiper" problem.

16th Sep 2006, 10:27

I bought the 1997 Dodge Caravan used at 40K miles and have experienced much the same as your family.

I need to add to the above that there has been a recall for the loss of use of the horn, and use of the left turn signal seemed to turn the wipers on occasionally. The recall remedied these problems as well as the air bag light.

It appears that we experienced the air conditioner coolant issue for the 2nd time this summer.

We are having to replace the timing belt and water pump this coming week for the 2nd time as well. Replacing the timing belt, which is what drives the engine cooling in this car, is wise to do at this time we because the belt is exposed when the pump is removed.

Overall we have seen acceptable service from this car. It has been more useful we feel than a pickup truck would have been because what we carry stays put and dry inside until we are ready to remove it.

We have 107,000 miles so far.

As a side note she may be small for some tasks, but this car will take a wheelchair ramp and transport an adult who is not too tall in his wheelchair safely.

Spout Spring, VA.

1997 Dodge Caravan Sport from North America


A lemon


Have had to had the transmission replaced once and overhauled a second time.

Electrical problems including airbag light staying on, horn not working, cruise control not working.

Cup holders have broke. Cigarette lighter has stopped working. Screws fall out on floor, presumably from under dash.

General Comments:

I'll never buy another American-made car again. I had four Hondas previously, and never had a single problem with any of them. Compared to my previous Hondas, my Dodge Caravan Sport is a piece of junk.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 28th July, 2002

13th Oct 2002, 19:17

I have the same problem with the cruise control, the air bag light and the horn doesn't work. What did you find was wrong.

13th Oct 2004, 01:43

Clock spring (what ever that is) they have a recall on this spring.