Best Used Minivan

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I am in the market for a used minivan for my family. There are so many to choose from and I was hoping some people out there can help me decide exactly
which one is the best and give me a few reasons why they feel this way.
Laurie
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exactly
Hate to say it, but it's the God's Honest Truth, you can't go wrong with a well maintained Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna where money is no object for routine maintenance and repairs. They are safe and reliable, but cost more to repair when they do break, and cost more up front.
For less $$, look for a 3.0 Windstar or later model 3.8 Windstars or V-6 Caravans/Voyagers/Town & Countrys... these are bigger, but the Quest/Villager is a nice, smaller, but sporty van that is often overlooked.
The rear wheel drive & AWD Aerostars are almost begging to go to the shop all the time. The Astro/Safari is a much bigger vehicle, but probably offers the best 4WD system... not very good on gas either.
There are a lot of choices in vans! My pick would be a Taurus wagon though, which we had before, and will replace, our Aerostar. Lots of room, seating for six to eight, great on gas, reliable & inexpensive.
Rob * * *
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to
Astros and Safaris have more power than anything else in the class. They have everything else beat if you ever pull a small trailer or camp trailer. If you don't put a lot of miles on it the difference in mleage isn't that noticeable. They look to me to be safer in case of an accident. You sit much higher in them.
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Asking others in a NG is an effort in futility. Generally those in a NG will suggest the brand that they bought as the best. The used one you buy on that recommendation may very well be a dog based on how well it was serviced, or not serviced, used, or abused... In the real world suggesting to someone that they should, or should not, buy a particular vehicle based on the particular one they own is a bit ingenuous. Making a judgment in a NG of any of the used vehicle that are available in you local market, good or bad, is impossible in any event. From what I see of the thousands of vehicles we service every year in our fleet service business, all manufactures are building good vehicles today. The only real difference is style and price. Since you are buying used, not new, I would suggest you drive and price all of those that you believe best suits you needs and budget, then buy the one among them in the best condition at the best total drive home price.
mike hunt
LaurieAppIeton wrote:

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There has been lots of negative press about he Chrysler transitions and of the three people I now who bought Caravans, all three have had transition trouble. IMHO, I'd steer clear of Chrysler. I had two Aerostar vans, both acted up around 90,000 miles. With one it was the injectors and the clutch, with the other it was the power steering pump and the air conditioning. I would recommend you steer clear of these as well.
--
R. J. Talley
Teacher/James Madison Fellow
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That post proves my point. Chrysler has sold more minivans, since the created the niche, than any other manufacture. Even with all of the numerous competators on the market today they are still the number one seller. Surly buyers would not continue to buy them for more than twenty years if they were the bad vehicles this poster would have you believe. As to the recommendation on the Aerostar, that vehicle has not been sold since 1989. Just the fact that there are still any available used to be had would prove there viability.
mike hunt
Reece Talley wrote:

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I don't know what year Ford ended the production of the Aerostar.I can tell you for certain that I owned a 1993.I also owned a 1988.They were both good dependable vehicles that were properly maintained.The person to whom I sold the 88 told me last summer he had 234,000 miles on it.Sure,there are some of the constant use parts of a vehicle that wear out,like tires,battery,starter,alternator,brakes,belts,and hoses.(including heater hoses) As a general practice,lubrication and monitoring fluid levels will give you good service out of almost any vehicle.In our family of 11(yes,eleven)drivers,we have owned 10 vans. 2 Chevys,3 Fords,2 Dodges,2 Toyotas and 1 Honda.I could not pick any one over the others because I cannot support any reason with facts or information. Now that all my 9 children are gone,I see that they choose to drive SUV's. I tend to agree with those that recommend Chrysler,the statistics prove that.They are also cost less to insure.I try my best to be fair.

many
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This post is yet another example of why one can not make a judgment based on what is posted in NG. Very few will come into a NG to post about their good vehicles, while many will post of their problems. The same can be said for magazines like CR in that respect. The only way to make a reasonable decision on which to buy, of those that are available in ones marketing area, is to drive evaluate and price those vehicles at hand to do so. The experience of others, good or bad, is of no consequence to those from which one can choose
mike hunt
Ynocencio Zamora wrote:

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.As to the recommendation on

That's going to surprise a lot of Aerostar buyers who bought these vans new at dealers up into 1998. The last model year was 1997... at Ford you had your choice of minivans (Windstar v Aerostar) for 3 model years.
I currently have an Aerostar with just shy of 170,000 miles. I don't recommend buying one unless it's in perfect condition, very low miles, and VERY cheap. Fortunately(except to current owners), they're all pretty cheap now...
Rob * * *
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You are correct, it was '97
mike hunt
Trainfan1 wrote:

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On Mon, 5 Jan 2004 15:31:53 -0500, "Trainfan1"

Funny, my Aerostar is about 170k miles right now and has never had a serious problem. It's still running on the original engine and transmission and everything works perfectly except for a bad fan switch that I need to change out. I know a lot of people with similar experiences too.
Guess the Aerostar isn't bad after all.
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The most "serious" problem was a transmission replacement at about 115K, with a used recycler unit. It was still working, but there was a terrible noise in 1st and a LOT of metal in the ATF after a very mild rocking on sheer ice at about 15 below... busted planetary or something of that nature, still shifted fine. Had to drive it 300 miles to the shop, it made it... in OD most of the way.
-The 3.0 is unbeatable for reliability. -The roofline is the same height as a C/K 1500 Suburban, but the floor is MUCH lower, there is lots of hauling room especially with the seats out. More comfortable seating / leg positioning than the Suburban too, except there is no fore/aft adjustment to the passenger side front chair. 5 seating configurations not counting the fold-fully-flat center and rear benches (camper benches only) -It has a nice fuel/trip computer. -tows rather nicely in (D) (not OD) Drive, with a frame hitch - good tracking, low end torque, and ride attitude, with a 5000 lb. rated capacity. -OK fuel economy, but WAY below my 3.0 Taurus
But,
-The van is useless in snow without actual snow tires. -All the interior trim (Eddie Bauer Model) is loose, bowed, or warped in some fashion. -four winters in upstate/northern NY have killed a body that was Indiana rust-free in the fall of 1999.
Usual wear items done:
-water pump -alternator -just replaced starter at 165K (starter motor was OK, bendix gear would not stay engaged) -outer tie rod ends -just put tires #11 & #12 on... not too bad for this size vehicle -regular rear brake adjustments (makes a big difference!) -just put third set of front brake pads on at 165K. Still original rotors too...
MANY little things break down at the most inconvenient times - unrelated to maintenance...
-front heater core -rear heater core -front heater blower -TFI module -steering rack pinion seal(s) failed, was cheaper ($98.00) to replace the whole thing w/lifetime warranty unit -fuel pump -fuel pressure regulator -fuel level sending unit -trip computer bulbs -headlamps -oil pressure switch is on its own - will come on whenever
Other things...:
-Hatch latch needs regular disassembly to lubricate or it wont close (solved finally with Mobil 1 oil) -center and rear seats are extremely heavy to move & reconfigure -hard to keep speed in top gear (OD) on highway especially over 65 with headwinds, worse with hills -irregular water leak somewhere near rear fixed glass windows
So... it keeps me busy it seems with something every week or two, but it is running too well to retire as yet. I'm just glad I don't have to wander into a shop or dealer to keep it going. Gotta love the $18.00 per axle brake jobs at home!
Rob * * *
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The A-star was available till I believe 96 or 97. We still have several in our fleet.

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The Aerostar was indeed a good van, that last ones were sold in '97. I consult to a fleet service company, that I once owned, that operates in six eastern states. The vast majority of corporate fleets that we service generally only keep their vehicles in service for 5 years or 300K WOF. I'm curios as to why your fleet is still running '97s. Is it because they are RWD?
mike hunt
Thomas Moats wrote:

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Our light vehicles are turned at about 7 years. It also depends on the type of duty the vehicle is in. Then sometimes if a high enough supervisor can pull the correct strings, it will stay longer. In this case the few that are still around, and I do mean few, are there to appease a near retiring "worker".

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Do they run them over 300K?
mike hunt
Thomas Moats wrote:

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Some do, some do not. I'm not sure of the average mileage per year on like units as that they are all in very different areas of the state. The light vehicles in my area see between 200k to 300k by the end of the cycle. There are some areas that see less than 50 miles a year. It all depends on the area and duty of the vehicle. So it's an impossible question to answer with a true accurate answer. Even out medium and heavy trucks do not average out.

so
this
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On Mon, 05 Jan 2004 10:06:07 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@mailcity.com wrote:

Uh, 1997 was the last model year for the Aerostar. The thing only came on the market in 1986. 1995 was the first year for the Windstar, now 2003 is the last year for those, they've been replaced by the Freestar.

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The fact that Chrysler sells a lot of mini vans is not a real indication of how good they are, but rather an indication of how effective their marketing is. The Chrysler vans look fantastic and they ride very well. My sister had one, my co-worker had two, two of my buddies in my rocketry club have each had one and all had transmission trouble that caused them to go through two or more rebuilds and/or replacements long before 80,000 miles. This just can't be a coincidence. In my sister's case, she had the top of the line Plymouth model and between the radiator failing twice, and the tranny going out twice, the van just killed her financially. She replaced it with a Honda a year ago and so far, has had no problems at all. Even the service department is better. So I don't know what to tell you really except beware. The Aerostar is defunct, that is reason enough to stay away. Buy a Chrysler at your own risk.
BTW, I really do know how to spell transmission...really! Geez, late nights and early mornings take their toll on my brain.
--
R. J. Talley
Teacher/James Madison Fellow
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Here, here! Friend at work also had substantial and repetitive trans. problems on his late-model Caravan I had an '86 lancer that was a nightmare (rollback car). I'll not take one in for free - my garage space is precious to me. I know the Villager and Quest have had great reviews* in the past as a smart choice on a used mini. Check those out before you decide. Bob/Orlando *Consumer Reports Magazine.net> wrote in message

this
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