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Country Discussion Topics
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RGC    Posted 12-08-2002 at 06:03:02       [Reply]  [No Email]
Howdy folks, anyone out there drive a minivan ? if so what kind and what do you think of it ? The wife does a lot of quilting and an open pickup truck just aint practical for her , even with a cap on, she says its eaiser to get stuff in and out of a van, also are there any mechanics who can shed some light on which make and models to stay away from ? Thanks.

Lynch    Posted 12-08-2002 at 19:50:19       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager are the best, followed by Ford Windstar. The Windstars are real good but once-in-a-while there's a real bad one. You can't go wrong with a Caravan or a Voyager. And they will be the best priced by far.

Phred MN    Posted 12-09-2002 at 09:51:06       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I drive a Caravan. Fully agree Lynch. Early models had tranny problems. Chrysler corrected the problems in 1995. Try to buy the larger engines.(3.3 V6 or larger)

Dave 2N    Posted 12-08-2002 at 18:47:14       [Reply]  [Send Email]
We are on our 5th Chrysler Corp. mini-van. The first was an 87 Voyager that we sold when it had 240,000 miles on it. Stadard tranny and low rpm's on the highway gave it a long life. New head gasket at 160,000 miles and a couple of new radiators and water pumps. I still see it on the road.
Then we had a '93 Voyager that we traded for the fun of it with 33,000 miles for a new '95 Caravan that we traded for the fun of it at 30,000 miles for a '97 Voyager that we just sold to my son and his wife; it has 116,000 miles on it and only major work done to it was tie rod ends and a water pump. Now have a new Chyrsler Voyager.
The mini-van concept is great; just look around. My wife loves them and won't even consider anything else.
My experiences and $.02.

RayP(MI)    Posted 12-08-2002 at 17:20:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
We have TWO of 'em: A 94 Olds Silhouette, and a 91 Chevy Lumina ATV. Wife does lots of rabbit and craft shows. With these, the seats are all "captain's chairs" and individually removable as you need. Lots of seting configurations. We really like'em. Fuel economy in the low 20's, which isn't real great, but comparable engines, 3.2, and 3800 in other cars are comparable. The room, ride, and versatility are great. Olds is above 1000,000 miles, the Chevy, above 200,000! No major repairs, and they don't show any serious problems. I would recommend these. These have the fibreglass bodies, no rust! (Since replaced by metal on the newer models.) I see a lot of these on the road: Lumina Apv, Olds Silhouette, Pontiac Transport. If you buy used, you should be sure of the vehicle's pedigree, but that's good advice for any used vehicle. (Got the Olds from wife's sister, when we got it we got folder with every service done to it documented.)

Ludwig    Posted 12-09-2002 at 06:47:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
You ment 100,000 miles on the Olds right? Seems like you crow more about a million miles.

RayP(MI)    Posted 12-09-2002 at 13:35:36       [Reply]  [No Email]
OOPS! - Slipped a decimal point, sorry!

Old Sarge    Posted 12-08-2002 at 14:40:53       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Own a 97 GMC Safari SLE (delux model) The only thing missing is rear air. Have 157,000 miles on it. Had to have the alternator replaced, under warranty, tires, one battery, regular oil changes and lube jobs work wonders. Might use 1/2 pint of oil between changes. Gets 20 mpg highway regular as clockwork. Bout 17-18 city.

Dennis    Posted 12-08-2002 at 09:59:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
Had a '88 dodge caravan. bought it with 117,000 highway miles from my boss. It had been well maintained. Had the trans (std) rebuilt and the van had over 350,000 miles on it when I sold it.

Total 2 transmissions,1 starter and 1 timming belt
were the total extent of repairs I made.

I enjoyed the ride and handling but it was a little underpowered at times. 4cyl.

That's my experience.

Dan G/Soganofla    Posted 12-08-2002 at 09:35:57       [Reply]  [No Email]
I drive 2 of'em. My wife has a '96 Dodge Caravan, and I use a '98 Chevy Astro, at work. The Caravan rides and drives better. It rides and handles more like a car. The Astro is a little skittish on the highway, because the steering is too quick, and there is too much lean in the turns. It does seem like a stronger vehicle, but the tranny in mine is starting to shift roughly, and it only has 36,000 miles on it. Our Caravan has 110,000 on it, and has given us no trouble, though we haven't had it very long. I recently crowded 8 people into it for a short haul, and was surprised at how well the van and it's little four-banger handled the load. Several of us were well over the 200lb mark.

JoeK...for DanG    Posted 12-08-2002 at 09:45:58       [Reply]  [No Email]
Friend was real happy with his Astro AWD except for the roll and lean in handling.Last time he put tires on it he went from the car type stock tire to same size in a light truck(LT)tire.Heavier carcass and stiffer sidewalls really made a big difference in handling without sacrificing ride to any degree.

JoeK    Posted 12-08-2002 at 08:45:37       [Reply]  [No Email]
No doubt that Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth mini vans were king of the heap for a long time.After all they invented the concept.My family drove several of them long and hard for yrs.One particular engine(2.8??unsure)was a problem child,lots of ads seen for nice van with bad engine regarding these.Past few yrs the line seems plagued by tranny problems.Also the Ford/Merc and GM models have really worked at getting better.Chev Astro seems to be a well built rig,in both 2wd and all wheel drive models.Dunno much about Lumina/Montana,etc GMs other than owners seem to like em.As far as closed vehicles go,some of the SUV class vehicles can be ordered in conventional 2wd configuration,giving the ride height,clearance etc of the SUV without the lower mileage/extra maintenance of 4wd.These are rare to find and would have lesser trade in value,but are a nice compromise.

Ludwig    Posted 12-09-2002 at 06:44:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
Ahh, but Dodge didn't invent the mini-van although they'd like to take that credit. Remember the microbus? VW was years ahead of it.
Strangely VW is much too upscale now and doesn't market their van hardly at all. You see a few of them, but not many.

Dodge also didn't do the first extra door in a minivan, VW had it in the mid-'60s.

JoeK    Posted 12-09-2002 at 07:55:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
True,VW transporters,Kombis,bus were first..what I was referring to was the low profile,front engine,front wheel drive that is currently the "norm" for these vehicles.Chrysler Corp took a big jump into an unknown market when it went to these concepts introducing a new class of vehicle.As to the doors,Ford Econoline,surpassed all others in 60s with the rare 8dr model with double doors on rear and both sides,besides the passenger

Dan    Posted 12-08-2002 at 08:40:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
I'm sort of like willie,I drive a 93 Safari GM,this :am showing 179,800 miles, first van I ever owned and when this one wears out the next will be an Astro or Safari,minimal maintenence and still reliable.

Okie-Dokie    Posted 12-08-2002 at 08:38:42       [Reply]  [Send Email]
My sentiments exactly, Carp. For years we drove around in an old post office 3/4 ton Chevy van. Other than looking like a bunch of hippies, we loved it. Carried everything from livestock to firewood in it. Didn't matter how many tree branches we scraped along the sides, it looked like the grapes of wrath any how! I have checked out the prices of new vans recently and was also surprized to find the full sized vans so much less expencive than the little tiny ones. I think the ins. is much cheaper to, because they are fixable after an accident and the new little ones just turn to scrap plastic.

willie    Posted 12-08-2002 at 07:33:32       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I drive a 93 Astro & love it. GMC Safari is same vehicle. Engine sits front-back, not cross wise like in Chrysler products. 4.3 liter v-6, around 18 mpg cruising speed, not great, but acceptable for what I have. Happens to be the 4wd version. Has 150,000 miles with few problems. The "dutch door" tailgate is nice. Glass lifts up, bottom half is split like regular barn doors. Have to get used to crowded engine compartment, such as access to sparkie plugs is easiest from the bottom. Rides nice, turns short, good visibility. Took 2600 mile trip with 4 people this fall. Popped out second seat, women sat in third seat, had 4 foot space for leg stretch-out room. Girl friend says rides better than her Merc Grand Marquis. I'm 6 ft 2 in, have 4 in head room, can wear a hat without touching roof.
p.s., I do NOT work for General Motors, just like my rig.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hannuka, or Bah Humbug, whichever is appropriate.

Willy-N    Posted 12-08-2002 at 07:27:54       [Reply]  [No Email]
I used to drive Vans all the time and loved them! They were full size ones 3/4 ton rigs. Worked in construction and they were nice to keep things dry. Had to sell mine after moveing to snow country with dirt roads and hills! The rear wheel drive ones do not do good in the snow unless you have a ton of weight in them. I needed 4 wheel drive to get around in the winter with out putting chains on all the time. I would like to get another one for non-winter driving lots of room. Mark H.

Ludwig    Posted 12-09-2002 at 06:41:07       [Reply]  [No Email]
Check into the Quigly conversions. They take a normal fullsize dorf van and put 4wd under it. They're very sweet. Theres a guy around here thats got one. Other than the locking front hubs and slightly higher (maybe 4 inches) ride you can't really tell.

JoeK    Posted 12-09-2002 at 15:03:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
Most common around here is "Quadravan",conversion on fullsize Ford.Believe they're built using mostly Ford parts.Seen the rigs in showrooms like conversion/camper vans.

DeadCarp    Posted 12-08-2002 at 07:14:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
No minivan, but we went shopping for a pickup and found we could get a fullsize (Ford) van for $3000 cheaper. and it's waterproof and windproof and locks up all the way back. and has big doors. and a 10-foot bed. and lets you see over traffic on a pickup frame! That was 12 years ago and i've hauled everything from plywood to firewood to venison ever since - wouldn't go back. BUT you need a magician and priest to change the front sparkplug! :)
Really, in the long run, lousy access is not necessarily a bad thing - When John Deere designed the 2-cylinders tractors in the 40s, they offered 2 big advantages. They would last a long time and the average farmer could work on them. Once these wonderful features had darn near bankrupted the company and dealerships, they realized there are other considerations to building a vehicle :)

LH    Posted 12-08-2002 at 07:12:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
We had a Dodge Gran Caravan and it was nice, but the transmissions thye put in those things are not any good unless they've made major improvments in the past few years.

Ludwig    Posted 12-08-2002 at 07:05:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
One bit of advice, stay away from used ones!
See its like this your average suburban yuppie (or educated wool as Hawkeye Piece might say) don't no doodle about preventative maintenance. Car runs and drives? Got gas in it? Then its good.
My bil had one just before he graduated from college. His was a Dodge with a 4cyl. I helped him or rather he assisted me, putting a headgasket in. From the amount of gasket goop it was not the first replacement. The head was fairly crooked so we had it shaved. The guy didn't want to but I told him to just get it close and I'd goop up the difference. 2months later the trans went. Mechanic wanted $1000 to replace it with a used, which I thought was reasonable, but the inlaws were tapped out. I put a couple cans of trans goop in it and she limped out another couple months until he replaced it.

As far as I know for the Dodge units those are the two very common failures, headgasket and trans. I had friends that had a standard though and it went a billion miles, no sweat. So it seems to me the autos are weak.

Another alternative would be something like a Yukon/Blazer/Suburban. Look for an older (like '99) model and you can get the ambulance type doors that swing open. I vastly prefer them as theres no lift struts to wear out and you don't have to clamber over the tailgate. But they stopped making them in '99 or 2000.

A final alternative, which is close to my heart, and wallet, is something like a Mercedes station wagon.
They're cheap, our '80 cost me $300, and surprisingly cheap to repair, the last time in we got 5 new glow plugs (its a diesel, which I consider a plus) tracked down a coolant leak, set the valves (which I could do myself, but its cold out) fixed a heater diaphram, and a trim strip that kept falling off for $418. It rides NICE and is a very cool car. Ours has 224k miles but the motors average about 500k so its only half worn.

Geo!    Posted 12-08-2002 at 07:55:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
I've had old Mercedes and old BMW's--parts around here cost an arm and leg, if you can get them, and IF you can find someone that will work on them. Better check out your area before you go this route. Myself, I'd definitely consider a station wagon of some kind for your/her needs--my wife loves them. She swears she can haul anything (and does) and doesn't have to lift them up high to get them in. Wagons are cheaper than vans and won't upset your mechanic who upsets the pocketbook. Vans are very expensive to be worked on around here. Check your area on this too. Just my opinion. Thanks.

Ludwig    Posted 12-09-2002 at 06:38:57       [Reply]  [No Email]
Your right about finding somebody to work on it. If I had to go to the dealership it'd cost an arm and a leg. I order my parts online ( and haul them to the mechanic. He does a good job. If you could see his shop you'd understand why I trust him.

Grove r    Posted 12-08-2002 at 06:20:12       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hi, RGC, can't say what kind of van you should buy, but in my case, we own a 93 Aerostar, Ford, bought it for the wife when she was working out... have well over three hundred thousand klicks on it , and does not use oil, runs realy well, wouldn't trade it for any other....reasonable on fuel, is a real pleasure to drive....and on another note, ours is a two wheel drive.....realy can't see much need for a four wheel drive when all we drive on is pavement, and we stay home when the wheather goes sour. these are just my thoughts....also, I think all mini vans are a b---- to work on...which doesn't bother me, but it sure raises heck with the mecs. Have a gooder, R.E.L.

WallSal55    Posted 12-08-2002 at 06:15:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
I used to drive one, a Plymouth/Chrysler.
I loved the back door the way it opened, stayed
open and up, stayed clean, no black grease (to get on quilts), while I loaded my packages, boxes.
I do remember replacing Transmissions was a
favorite past-time for our mechanics, so I
hope there's some mechanics on board to recommend
the right model.
(We once owned an AeroStar, too.)

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