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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all you devoted Dodge fans!
I'm looking at a 2001 and a 2002 Grand Caravan tomorrow and would like to get one that's not going to drain my bank account. A recent major heart surgery has me financially on my knees so any advice would be greatly appreciated. I owned a Dodge Dakota for 17 years and have very fond memories driving it. Thank you in advance for your thoughts馃槑
 

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They're as good as the person who owns them and the mechanic that maintains them.
Find one with loads of maintenance/service records and receipts proving things have been fixed as they need to be.
 

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You are shopping for a 20 year old vehicle, which is 5 years from historic (antique) license plates.

It is likely to need a whole bunch of work in different areas like brakes, suspension, etc. It could also be a rust bucket with fatal body cancer. Unless you are a skilled mechanic yourself, you should arrange with your own mechanic to get it on a lift, pull a wheel, look at exhaust system, etc. Check A/C, all electrical accessories, all door locks and door operation.

In the end, it could cost you far more than a newer vehicle if you have to end up replacing the transmission, engine, or other major parts.
 

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Ownership records and service records will be essential to picking a reliable vehicle. Tires cost $ too. You can kick those. :)
Brake jobs cost $. They are easy to check, so is the exhaust.

Yes, get a mechanic to assess the vehicle for you. If he would buy it, it may be good for you.
 
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I rarely sell a vehicle, but when I do I never provide service records.

When I buy a vehicle, I don't ask for service records elther.

As already noted, you are buying an old vehicle, but there are good old vehicles out there, just follow your instincts.

Depending on where you live, rust might be your worst enemy.

If engine is quiet, transmission shifts smoothly and price is right, you shoukd be ok.

Good luck.
 

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Have you any connection to the seller or are you responding to an ad or "FOR SALE" sign in the window?

I must disagree with Levy re discounting of service records. Your car buying instincts depend on your accumulated vehicle savvy. You may have none.

If a seller does produce a fat, disorganized envelope of receipts it can take time to sort through 'em.
I hand a buyer a typed listing of receipts and tell the him if he wants to sit down and look through the actual receipts he's welcome to do so.
I yellow highlight the big jobs.
I use black dots to designate oil changes as many mechanically disinclined buyers have heard of oil changing. Many are clueless.

Do you have the odometer reading and asking price at this time?

Look at and stick your nose in the coolant reservoir. Coolant and reservoir filthy? Does the coolant resemble one color or is it brown. Brown can mean a hodgepodge of added coolants or even rust. Does it smell at all of exhaust? That's the old head gasket test.
Is startup accompanied by loud pulley noises?
Battery condition?
Many would dismiss any vehicle with a tow hitch.
How long the transmission takes to engage (P to D or R) can gauge wear SOMETIMES.
Warm it up as best you can. Do piddling local driving so you can hear it operate (clicks, pops and left-to-right imbalances) and get 'er on the highway too.
At speed and when there's nobody aside you, loosen your grip on the steering wheel and hit the brakes.

Locate an empty parking lot ahead of time and do tight circles in both directions. Leave the vehicle's front wheels turned, get out and examine the CV boots.

Before any test drive, start it up, turn on the lights and walk around the thing. Burnt out bulbs are just indicia of neglect. Bad sockets can be the problem here.
Look under the oil fill cap for chunks. See if the oil filter is a no-name cheapy or a good brand.

As stated, you're looking at a 20 year old car. Your people instincts can help. Is the seller a know-it-all smart @$$?
Does he comport himself as one who's unloading an old vehicle or as a half-truth telling rat seeking a pigeon?
Always question if the registration doesn't match the seller's name and location.

Bring a friend as 2 heads (and as many ears and eyes as that provides) are better than one.
 

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Locate an empty parking lot ahead of time and do tight circles in both directions. Leave the vehicle's front wheels turned, get out and examine the CV boots.

Bring a friend as 2 heads (and as many ears and eyes as that provides) are better than one.
He will certainly look funny! 馃ぃ

Don't get paranoid or you will never find your dream car.
 

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Some vehicles give their Owners very few problems and their parts seem to last forever. Well, no part lasts forever, there comes a day, not if but when.

If the vehicle has had a lot of parts replaced, that could be a plus. Water pump, starter, belt tensioner for examples. I would tend to tick off which parts have been replaced already.

My 2002 DGC, when sold in 2017, at 370,000 km +/-, had a lot of OE parts still working fine. Starter, front struts, water pumper, radiator, heater cores, rear air and heat, all power accessories (except for blower motor, window regulators, rear wiper which needed work), engine, transmission, 80% of the exhaust system, inner tie rod ends, ball joints, control arms/bushings, rear springs/shackles/boxes, valve pan covers/gaskets, cv joints and more

Things like wheel bearings/hubs, dust shields, rotors, pads, calipers, rear caliper brackets, muffler, window regulators, blower motor, muffler, rear brake lines, oil pan, alternator, windshield, wheel lug nuts, sway bar bushings/links, rear shocks, power steering pump, power steering reservoir, steering rack, outer tie rod ends, serpentine belt, pcv valve, transmission solenoid pack had been replaced over the years.

The air conditioning, which always produced ice cold air, and had never been recharged to do it, gave up the ghost (compressor clutch) a few months under the new Ownership. Just sayin.:)

That should make a pretty good checklist for you..
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Have you any connection to the seller or are you responding to an ad or "FOR SALE" sign in the window?

I must disagree with Levy re discounting of service records. Your car buying instincts depend on your accumulated vehicle savvy. You may have none.

If a seller does produce a fat, disorganized envelope of receipts it can take time to sort through 'em.
I hand a buyer a typed listing of receipts and tell the him if he wants to sit down and look through the actual receipts he's welcome to do so.
I yellow highlight the big jobs.
I use black dots to designate oil changes as many mechanically disinclined buyers have heard of oil changing. Many are clueless.

Do you have the odometer reading and asking price at this time?

Look at and stick your nose in the coolant reservoir. Coolant and reservoir filthy? Does the coolant resemble one color or is it brown. Brown can mean a hodgepodge of added coolants or even rust. Does it smell at all of exhaust? That's the old head gasket test.
Is startup accompanied by loud pulley noises?
Battery condition?
Many would dismiss any vehicle with a tow hitch.
How long the transmission takes to engage (P to D or R) can gauge wear SOMETIMES.
Warm it up as best you can. Do piddling local driving so you can hear it operate (clicks, pops and left-to-right imbalances) and get 'er on the highway too.
At speed and when there's nobody aside you, loosen your grip on the steering wheel and hit the brakes.

Locate an empty parking lot ahead of time and do tight circles in both directions. Leave the vehicle's front wheels turned, get out and examine the CV boots.

Before any test drive, start it up, turn on the lights and walk around the thing. Burnt out bulbs are just indicia of neglect. Bad sockets can be the problem here.
Look under the oil fill cap for chunks. See if the oil filter is a no-name cheapy or a good brand.

As stated, you're looking at a 20 year old car. Your people instincts can help. Is the seller a know-it-all smart @$$?
Does he comport himself as one who's unloading an old vehicle or as a half-truth telling rat seeking a pigeon?
Always question if the registration doesn't match the seller's name and location.

Bring a friend as 2 heads (and as many ears and eyes as that provides) are better than one.
Wow, that's allot of great information. I test drove the 2001 Dodge caravan sport and it actually drove nice for the year. Tranny shifted well and it stopped like a way newer vehicle. I just learned that the 2005 and newer ones only have the stow and go steats so I'm refining my search accordingly because of my health issues.

Thank you for your help馃檪
 

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2001 - 2002, and 2006 - 2007 are the best years for 4th gen IMO

Interesting. I had a 2002 DGC Sport 3.3L which was maybe the best vehicle I ever had. I also had a 2007 DGC SXT Stow and Go 3.8L, which great but not as great. The build quality of the 2002 was better. The interior was more plush. It also had things like the heated wiper park area and lighted controls, for examples, that weren't available in 2007.
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Interesting. I had a 2002 DGC Sport 3.3L which was maybe the best vehicle I ever had. I also had a 2007 DGC SXT Stow and Go 3.8L, which great but not as great. The build quality of the 2002 was better. The interior was more plush. It also had things like the heated wiper park area and lighted controls, for examples, that weren't available in 2007.
Really?

Maybe I should be rethinking my desire for the Stow and Go feature.

If the build quality is better I'd find a work around the seat issue.

I wonder if other's are having the same experience and is it because they're being built in another country now?

Thank you for the great feedback!
 

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Now, if Carbuff2 would sell you his nice 2002 DGC ES, you would have some nice vehicle. :)

I gave a quasi history of service with my 2002 DGC Sport back in Post #8, a pretty impressive vehicle. Built in Canada.

The stow and go gives you lots of flexibility/utility but they had to thin the seats down some to make it work. It's noticeable but not a deal breaker, I don't think. From about 2005 on, the 3.8L tended to use oil which required frequent monitoring. The 3.3L was fine apparently.
 
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Do you need the Sto 'n' Go feature? If you don't expect to be changing between cargo and passengers often then maybe you can get by without. Non-Sto 'n' Go vans have seats that can be relatively easily removed though they are heavy and bulky. You also need to store them somewhere when not in the van. We have a 2006 T&C and 2007 GCV both with Sto 'n' Go and we haven't changed the seating configuration in either one in years. We have the second row seats up and third row down for cargo in the rear. We use the 2nd row seat wells in the floor for storing stuff which is handy.

Assuming that you are not extremely mechanically inclined, I would highly recommend that you have any vehicle you are considering purchasing checked out by an honest technician (might be hard to find, I know). Spending a hundred bucks or whatever to get it looked at could keep you from buying a vehicle that has major problems that may not be evident to you in a quick test drive.

Considering you are apparently buying a Canadian vehicle that has probably been exposed to the winter elements for many years it would be good to get it up on a hoist lift to give the underside a thorough check for rust of the body and chassis. I would be hesitant to buy a vehicle that the seller will not allow you to have checked by a third party. What do they not want you to find?

You have already gotten much good advice from others here. Good luck to you in your hunt.
 

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Yes corrosion is very important to watch out for. I saw a 2005ish today, short wheel base, that looked excellent. Guess what was on the window? A KROWN sticker.

Canada's #1 Rust Protection
 

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First of all, I hope that you will be much better on your health problems.

Friends told many things above for the van and, honestly I learned some points that I missed. Thanks everyone...

As per the Grand Caravan, you will not regret buying a minivan like this. My Chrysler Grand Voyager 2.8 CRD is my fourth one I have owned by the time. And, I am so happy for driving such a vehicle every day.

I am a retired Air Force military maintenance officer who has worked on the fighter aircraft such as F-16s for over 30 years. In Air Force, there is a saying: "there is no old aircraft but there is unmaintained one". Like aircraft, the cars must be well maintained. To make the long story short, if you have a known mechanic, you'd better have your potential van checked by that mechanic in terms of maintainability as explained above, so that you cannot spend your time and money for nothing.

Hope you will follow your dreams and find a good one soon...
 

Drivin' Maniac
2002 Grand Caravan ES 3.8L
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Our 2002 ES has split seats in the third row. So, each one is easy to lift out on their convenient handles built into the backrest. Some vans have a full-width single seat in back...MUCH HEAVIER.

For carrying plywood or lumber, all the seat backs fold flat providing a uniform 48" wide surface for loading.

Unless you have bulky cargo that requires seat removal (and no place to store them) I'd say that Stow n Go isn't required to make the most of the cargo area.

++++++++++++

@Jeepman if you want to buy our 2002 w 165K miles, I'll give you the 'special' price. :whistle: 馃槇
Soon as I find out why Apple CarPlay doesn't work.:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:

Just kidding.
 
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Everyone has given you great info here. (So I won't repeat any of that) I'm the primary driver of our 01 DGC EX with over 302K+ miles. Even after 18 years of ownership, she's still fun to drive and my daily driver. (Hint the miles) The EX trim level is just below the top high end ES trim level. Do your research on trim levels. All do not have the same features, engine, radiator, radio, etc. which might be important to you. For example, we have captain chairs in the first and second row, with the 50/50 split 3rd row. The second and third row seats fold and tumble forward. I really like this feature, because when needing extra cargo space, we don't have to remove the 3rd row seats.

Also, with the fold and tumble seats, you could purchase the rear cargo organizer. (which seats that fold into the floor couldn't have this feature)

If, you can find a good used van, you wouldn't regret your purchase. I do all of my own repairs/maintenance. There are good aftermarket parts that last as long as OEM parts. You have a tone of YouTube videos to diagnose/fix any issue.

As mentioned, rust is really a killer of these vans. (Ours is no exception) I can do my own rust repairs, so it's no big deal. Usually the rockers, door bottoms, hood and cargo door are the areas. Also, the rear heating lines need to be checked for rust too. The OEM ones was made of steel and rusted. We had our replaced, with aluminum lines, in year three of ownership.

The engine and trans. are bullet proof. (With proper maintenance)
1) We do 10K miles OCI, using 5W30 Pennzoil Fully Synthetic Motor Oil. (Yes the oil was lab tested to make sure 10K OCI's was good)

2) We do 40K miles OCI, using Castrol Transmax ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid. (Approved to use in Dodge/Chrysler vehicles) The filter is changed every other service. (Don't do flushes)

3) We do 150K miles/5 yrs. flush, using only Mopar coolant.

4) We have a hidden trailer hitch for a bike rack and I installed air adjustable shocks and helper springs in the rear. These give a better firmer ride, raises up the rear and helps not bottoming out under heavy loads.

5) We do 40K miles/2 yrs. power steering flushes. (Using the same trans. fluid)
 

Drivin' Maniac
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If you鈥檝e had heart surgery consider that the removable second and third row seats are heavy.
Agreed, you might need help lifting them in and out of the cargo area.

But once in there, they ROLL on their little wheels. :love:
 
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