Reliability of 3.8L V6

I'm looking to buy a used minivan. I want either a Town & Country or Grand Caravan from either 2003, 2004 or 2005.
I'd love a 2005 if I can get it with Stow N Go seats, for around $15K
or less at an auction.
I spoke to my mechanic about this. He recommends that I get the 3.3L engine and not the 3.8. He thinks the 3.8L engines aren't as good, don't last as long, and that the bad tranny problem that these cars are infamous for tend to me more of a problem with the 3.8.
Can anybody comment? Although I do trust his opinion, I'm afraid the 3.3L won't have enough power for a 4000lb + van loaded with 7 passengers. Also, if I get a 2005 GC, the lowest model that offers Stow N Go is the SE Plus, but the SE Plus also comes with the 3.8L engine. That would mean I'd have to go with a Town and Country LX if I want Stow N Go and the 3.3L.
Does anybody have an opinion on the engine choice? Also, do these vans still have bad transmissions or has that problem been corrected?
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Obviously you need to get a better mechanic. The 3.3 and 3.8 are the same engine besides bore size. They are both extremelly reliable. Your mechanic is an idiot! No seriously! he is stupid for making any of these suggestions to you. By the way, the tranny problem was corrected years ago. Gm & Honda has far more tranny problems in there minivans. And an engine does not cause tranny problems. What type of mechanic is this?

I have the 3.3L in my current minivan, and I prefer the 3.8L from my older van.
I find the 3.3 does struggle more then the 3.8 when pulling a loaded minivan around.
Also, if I get a 2005 GC, the lowest model that offers

As I stated the 3.3 and 3.8 are extremelly reliable, either of them are ok!

Corrected long ago.
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the Chrysler gearboox problems were something like 96-01, the Ody's was 98-01 Not sure how you get thats more?
(watching as the wifes 96 with the 3.8 is about to go for its 3rd transmission at 165k miles)

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Thanks for the advice about the Stow N Go seats. I'll take the kids to check one out before I decide to buy it. It would be too bad if they're not comfortable because it's such a great idea.
I probably won't need the space too often but sometimes I go to Home Depot or Lowes and load the back up (I'm going to replace my 1987 Caprice Wagon with this minivan). It'll be a pain to take the seats in / out every time I need to haul stuff.
Just wondering. What about the stow-away third row seats in the other vans - the Odyssey, Sienna etc? Are they equally as uncomfortable as the Chrysler's?
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snipped-for-privacy@programmer.net wrote in

Again, my own experience and of course IMHO, the third row is not a big issue for any of the mini-van comfort-wise. They have reloacted the spare tire from the rear to accomdate a deeper well which the rear seats fold into. For the third row there are some differences in the style, single bench, 50/50, or 60/40. Each has pros and cons for comfort and convenience. I currently have a 50/50 and preferred the 60/40 for those times when we put adults in the rear.
My opinion of the stow and go middle seats is not so high as stated. My colleague has a 04 chrsyler with the stow and go and I feel the seats lack substance (strength). Plus they are very short (compact) and must be raised in what I believe to be a cumbersome way to provide head/neck protection.
The few times I would need to fold the seats flat, I just as easily accomadate by pulling them out, running the errand and replacing them. An added benefit also is while "stowing" the stow and go seats you are not losing any weight versus removing them and lightenign the weight of the vehicle.
On a few recent long trips I removed one middle row captains seat to give us more room and lessen ther weigth by fifty pounds or so. Miniscule advantages in MPG, but every little bit helps in my mind.
Also the stow compartments, although highly appealing, unfortnately for my family would soon become stuffed with junk - rendering the "stow" feature unuseable unless we dumped out the storage compartments into the main cabin first.
YMMV of course
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I spoke to my mechanic again about this. I misunderstood him. He said the engines themselves are great - either 3.3 or 3.8 and he confirmed that they're the same engine, just larger.
Regarding the transmission, he said a user car dealer / customer of his told him once that these cars have tranny problems when mated to the 3.8.
But he said he heard this a number of years ago and it may very well have been corrected since.
He also said that he sees almost no Caravans with the 3.8. I guess either they're not common or they're so good, he doesn't have to work on them!
So I think I'll opt for the 3.8L. After doing research (thanks for all the responses here), it seems that Chrysler fixed their transmissions after 2001. The 2003 thru 2005 I'm looking for should be okay (I hope).
David wrote:

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The two engines are near the same, differing in bore and stroke only. Both are very reliable and have fantastic track records. I have a 3.8 in my '02 and with the van loaded with 3 kids and luggage, the power in the mountains out west is not a problem. My old 3.3 would be down in 2nd gear chugging at 35 mph and the new van may just downshift out of overdrive..Mpg is about 1 mpg less with the 3.8 but the power is worth it. The transmission problems were fixed when the new body style came out in '01
Denny
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snipped-for-privacy@programmer.net wrote in

My $0.02 worth. Pre-2000 models with the 3.8L did have some strange tranny problems - speaking from my own 1997 GC ES model experience. But my 2002 has been solid, other than having to have the tranny computer reflashed with any major servicing.
Also, think twice (or even three times) about the stow-n-go seats. Are you going to be carrying only kids? Try actually sitting in them as an adult -- they do not feel comfortable or strong/sfe to me (190 lbs.). I'll keep the standard roll-away seats and just pull them out when I need the room.
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