2004 Dodge Caravan Base 3.3L OHV V6 from North America
A decent vehicle. Will last if maintained
- Heater core O-ring.
- Electrical gremlins.
- Clock spring (controls horn, steering wheel controls, and air bag). Has not been repaired.
Not a bad vehicle. This is my girlfriend's van. It doesn't have many features, but it is much easier to work on than my Chevrolet Venture. She just gets in it and drives it without checking the fluids, therefore it ran low on oil and ruined rod bearings. It was not completely out of oil, but it was low enough where the oil pickup could not reach it when probably taking a sharp turn (not sure why the oil pump pickup is so short). I picked up a 2005 engine for $200 and "freshened" it up with new gaskets, oil pump, and everything but bearings. The previous engine did burn a ridiculous amount of oil. It also had leaked oil in every place imaginable including the crankshaft oil seal (which is a terrible design). The engine itself is very easy to repair. I was able to remove the engine from the top of the vehicle vs removing it from underneath. The timing chain, even when replaced, is loose and sloppy. The MLS headgaskets have proven to work very well on these 3.3L/3.8L Dodge engines. However, I did not enjoy prepping the gasket surfaces.
There were some electrical issues with the wiring above the transmission in the harness that connects to the fuel rail. Covering the wiring in that area with heat resistant tape/foil is a good idea. After installing the new engine, a short time later the alternator went bad. I went to the junkyard and picked up the upgraded 140-amp unit for $10 from the "loaded" Caravan model. It is a direct replacement.
We've never had any issues with the transmission, although I did give that a complete flush and drained the torque converter. The flexplates on these engines can be an issue with cracking but I did not have that problem. The clock spring in the steering column is due for replacement. This is a safety issue as it disables the airbag system (and horn) when the contacts in the steering column are unable to communicate with the electronics in the steering wheel. I have filed a complaint with the NTSA to complete a recall on newer models that suffer with the faulty clock spring, just like the previous years that do have the recall.
The strut bearings are ready to be replaced. They bind up when turning and create a clunking sound which sounds very much like a ball joint. Apparently this is a common issue on the Caravan of this style. That is the only part of the entire suspension I did not replace.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 13th December, 2015