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?
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
I find the 3.3 does struggle more then the 3.8 when pulling a loaded minivan
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!
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
But he said he heard this a number of years ago and it may very well
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
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
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
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
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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