20th Dec 2002, 18:56
My 96 SE also has the mystery windshield wiper problem, but most troubling is the Trans. I had it replaced about a year ago (at just over 100,000) and now I have a huge fluid leak on my garage floor, it might be oil, but now I wonder if its trans. Also had a $250 horn job, and a couple of Oxygen sensors earlier, along with one connected to the trans.
21st Feb 2005, 13:06
We just traded our '96 Grand LE for a 2005 Honda Pilot. The minivan was ordered in August of '95. This was the first brand new vehicle we'd ever owned. Prior to its arrival, I'd ordered the Chrysler shop manual (the big, thick book--$100) which I recommend to ANYONE who, at the very least, wants to understand their new vehicle.
It now has 67K miles. The Honda dealer gave us 3K for the trade, mainly due to the low miles.
I've never bought Japanese before, so this is a leap of faith.
Overall, we've been extremely pleased with the van. It has been reliable, comfortable and fun to drive. We paid about $24K for it.
We experienced the occasional issues with the mystery wiper, but it was never an annoyance. The sliding door rattle on the 96's was rectified with different strike pads (rubber vs. the felt-lined ones on the original) as I am told. It was only apparent when going over rough streets and such. On the highway it didn't make a peep, other than some wind noise. I attribute this to the large windshield and subsequent size and design of the gasket.
It never leaked a drop of water into the interior, and we've had it in some pretty fierce rainstorms. Always had a confident road feel and solid tho comfortable ride.
The starter went at 55K, but I consider this routine maintenance on any vehicle. $250 for a Bosch replacement w/labor. The R-134a had to be refreshed twice after holding its own for 6 years (we had both front and rear A/C).
The transmission always shifted smoothly, although I am easy on starts and acceleration. We did, however, have a small leak at the ferrule connection to the radiator trans-cooler about a year ago. This was fixed and fluid replaced. While it was low, however, it would hesitate in locking up until about 3K RPM. Perhaps a less reputable trans. shop would have said it was a blown TC or something.
Some time back, I was told by a friend quite familiar with Chrysler trans-axles that the problems with the minivan transmissions were the result of people's varying driving habits. Had something to do with the computer's inability to identify and adjust to different driver's styles with respect to shift points, etc. Makes sense in a way, but who knows?
I replaced the rotors in front myself as well as the pads. No big deal. I do this as a matter of routine. Rotors cost about $30 apiece. No point in turning old ones down at this price. Also replaced rear drums and shoes, likewise as a matter of course.
Never any steering or handling problems. I replaced front and rear shocks/struts at 50K just due to mileage. This solidified the ride a bit, but it also started an occasional "clunk" when steering to the end of the radius limit. I think it was the tower bushings not being adequately lubed. An easy fix tho.
We had the wheel and handling package with its 16" Equinox wheels, etc. This is pretty low to the ground and did, on occasion, create clearance issues. Nothing severe tho.
Mileage was good. On long trips, 22 was easily achievable with the AC and 4 passengers and gear at 65+ MPH. Around town, 14-16 was the norm.
We ordered the optional 3.8L at the time. 177 HP and I think 22 ft/lbs. torque. Quite adequate for anything we ever needed. I changed oil religiously at 2,500 miles. Castrol 10-40 and Fram DG-16 filter.
Air filter was a bit of a PIA to change out. I still haven't changed the fuel filter although I've had it for 4 years!!
The only "complaint" I really have about this van--and this is highly subjective, I apologize--is that the windshield, perhaps owing to its large area, seems like a pebble/scratch magnet. We've had all manner of chips, scratches, etc. that for one reason or other never seemed to occur on our other vehicles.
In summary, I liked the van a lot. I will miss it, but my wife was ready for a change and so, I suppose, was I.
I'd rate it 3.5-4 stars out of a possible 5 overall, based on my own experiences.