1998 Dodge Caravan LE 3.3 Litre from North America

Summary:

One of the best vehicles we've ever owned - will be seriously sad when she finally packs it in

Faults:

It leaks a little oil - that started happening around 350,000 kms. Apart from that, nothing!

General Comments:

We purchased this vehicle for $1,200 when it had 361,000 kms on it. We figured if we got one year out of it for another camping trip or two, we'd be good with that.

It is now approaching 400,000 kms and EVERYTHING still works perfectly. It leaks a little oil, and now we use Stop Leak in the transmission fluid to keep her going. We just put all new tires on her because she just keeps on ticking.

The trick is to get your vehicles serviced like clock-work. This one was babied by the previous owner, and we are doing the same. I think we'll hit 400,000 kms no problem :) Unlike my 1996 Windstar, which died (leaky head gasket, sound familiar Ford owners??) at 134,000 kms. And that was just the start of my troubles with that hunkajunk, but this is a Dodge Caravan review...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th September, 2011

30th Jul 2012, 14:38

This is actually an update to this review, since I'm the owner of the 1998 Caravan.

Just wanted to report that that we now have 408,000 kms on her. Original engine and transmission.

We took her in to have the transmission flushed, and the technician wouldn't do it! He advised that he'd never seen a Caravan with such high mileage, and he wouldn't want to mess with it. Instead, he just drained and replaced the fluid, and showed us all the small metal particles in the old fluid. We faithfully keep up with the regular oil changes/service, and check the fluid levels every few weeks.

With the seats out, she's a great utility vehicle. We've moved our children's apartments full of furniture, often throw a tarp in the back and take garden waste to the dump, and can still take 7 people out when we need to. She's amazing :) Hopefully I can post another update in year!

1998 Dodge Caravan SE 3.3L V6 gas from North America

Summary:

Dodge pinched pennies to lose a customer

Faults:

Transmission manufacturer defect at 45,000.

Tires wear unevenly.

Alternator.

Air conditioner at 110000.

Severe water leak into cabin, passenger side, from inside the dashboard. Dumps water onto feet. Soaks the carpet.

Breeding cockroaches.

Windshield wiper mechanism breaks permanently, both in the linkage and the electronic control.

Blower stopped working, too expensive to fix, the car is not worth it.

Heater - no heat in winter, heats in summer, no ventilation.

Defroster not working, does not defog windshield.

Headliner sagging.

Spare tire winch mechanism broken at 110,000~.

Tie rod needs replacing, car sways on road around corners.

Must keep steering wheel at -30deg. position to stay straight down the road.

Power steering fluid leaking a quart per month winter, a quart every 2 months in warm weather.

Power window cable threw a guide wheel. The pulley axle fell out through the door rainwater drain hole.

Driver side power window not working.

Transmission losing oil, and slips especially bad in cold weather here in south Florida.

Fuel pump replaced at 150,000~ located in gas tank.

Air cleaner is bulky and clumsy to handle. Replaced it with K&N cone filter attached to swivel stove pipe joint.

General Comments:

Upright seating position is good.

Cruise control has never failed.

Radio/stereo has never failed.

Engine starts readily every time needed.

Steering wheel obscures idiot lights on dash 'eyebrow' when at comfortable driving position.

The spare tire storage and tire jack/tool storage is very clumsy and fussy.

With factory tinted windows, the van does not give you confidence in parking lots, which is where mom's and dad's spend most of their life.

The power locks and the doors have never failed, including the sliding ones in back. Neither has the hatchback assist rods failed.

Cab forward design made engine access horrible and expensive.

Can't easily clean windshield inside. Arms not long enough, fingers not small enough to access window at dashboard. Too cramped to easily take care of dusting and wiping.

I never used the roof rack; it was complex to clean around thus.

The paint has held up extremely well. White paint still has shine. Has been outdoors under trees and direct sun entire life in a coastal community.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 21st June, 2011

27th Jun 2011, 01:25

Sounds like quite the beater at this point. I've had a few these vans as work vans, they are OK, lots of small little problems, but at least they keep running. I was never able to kill one of these vans actually, they are pretty tough. They may burn oil and leak power steering fluid, but they still work. Transmission problems are common with these, but they are common in all other minivans too, as people tend to overload them or use them as commercial vehicles.

The good thing about these vans is you can usually find a running one for $500 on any day of the week, they are a good bargain buy. I prefer full size sedans such as the Crown Victoria, Cadillac Fleetwood and Chevy Caprice, I have never had any problems with these cars. I take good care of my cars, but when I need a cheap work van for a work contract, I usually go with a $500 Dodge Caravan as they are great value. Sure, they are beaters and there are usually a few electrical problems, engine leaks, no AC, weak tranny, burning oil, the usual Caravan problems.

But they always work and don't let me down, and I can usually sell it for what I paid for it when I'm done the contract. You get what you pay for I guess..

27th Jun 2011, 13:17

I have driven Chrysler products, and found the dealer service horrible, but the vehicles themselves very reliable. Two of our good friends have been sold on Dodge Caravans since they were introduced in the 80's. They both have put well over 200,000 miles on several vans over the past 3 decades. Their vans have proven to be bullet-proof, with very few mechanical problems at all. Like the last commenter, my nephew bought an old Caravan beater for $500 to haul his musical equipment. It had well over 100,000 miles, but proved to be a very solid and reliable van.